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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 22, 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.

Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it. - Steve Prefontaine

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Cancelled & postponed races:

Latest completed racing:

Joey Rosskopf wins US pro road title

Rosskopf’s Rally Cycling team sent me this report:

Joey Rosskopf claimed the men’s team’s first-ever US Pro Road Race national title in Knoxville, TN on Sunday. Rosskopf capped off a dominant display by the team which saw Kyle Murphy take the bronze medal while Gavin Mannion crossed the line in seventh.

Joey Rosskopf

Joey Rosskopf is the 2021 US Road Champion.

“It’s amazing,” said Rosskopf. “I didn’t expect it. We always had numbers up there and the way we raced it was only a matter of time before one of us got off the front. When I went, they hesitated, and that’s all it takes, especially when you have the team to support you.”

The team skipped Friday night’s criterium championships to focus fully on the road race. The gamble paid off.

“The team was incredible,” added Rosskopf. “Every time there was a selection, we had four or five guys in the front. In the last lap, it was anyone’s race. Everyone just taking their opportunity and making decisions super fast.”

Early in the 191km race, Kyle Murphy escaped the peloton on the third of 15 laps and wasn’t reeled in by the group of leaders until the final hour of racing. Despite this, Murphy still had the legs to follow dangerous moves in the finale along with Mannion and finish on the podium.

“Kyle was unbelievable,” said Rosskopf. “He was out there all day. I have no idea how he had the legs to do that and still finish on the podium. Every single person played a role and Kyle led the way.”

Murphy had added motivation with it being Father’s Day as his wife and kids were on hand for their first professional bike race.

“When I turned left onto the finish straight, I was thinking about my kiddos and how badly I wanted to stand on the podium with them,” said Murphy. “I went for it and held on for third. I can’t believe Joey won, he’s the nicest guy in the world.”

Jonas Carney has been the team’s Performance Manager since 2007 and the day’s result was as meaningful as you’d expect. “It feels great,” said Carney. “We’ve been trying to win this race for 15 years and we finally did it! The guys rode a superb race. Kyle Murphy was an absolute animal and we couldn’t have done it without his amazing ride. And on top of that, Clark Sheehan won the USPRO RR as a first-year director. Simply amazing.”

US Pro Road National Championships results:
1 ROSSKOPF Joey (Rally Cycling) 4:38:12
2 BOOKWALTER Brent (Team BikeExchange)  0:03
3 MURPHY Kyle (Rally Cycling)  0:05
4 VERMEULEN Alexey 0:06
5 CRADDOCK Lawson (EF Education – Nippo) 0:10
6 HAGA Chad (Team DSM)  0:13
7 MANNION Gavin (Rally Cycling) 1:13
8 BOARDMAN Samuel (L39ion of Los Angeles) 1:41
9 HECHT Gage (Aevolo) 1:43
10 MCGILL Scott (Aevolo) 2:32

Mark Cavendish replaces Sam Bennett on Deceuninck-Quick Step Tour de France squad

Here’s the team’s update:

More than 40 stage victories, almost 30 days in the yellow jersey and 8 secondary classification wins – our team has a long and beautiful history with the Tour de France, which we will look to enhance between 26 June and 18 July. The race will start from Bretagne for the fifth time in history – after 1952, 1964, 1974 and 2008 – and will conclude once again in Paris, in between scheduling three summit finishes, 58 kilometers of individual time trial and plenty of stages that will give chances to the sprinters, puncheurs and baroudeurs.

One of the riders who have already left an indelible mark on the Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe will return to the start hoping to animate again the race and show the same attacking style and panache that have captured the fans’ hearts two years ago, when he led the general classification for an astonishing 14 days. The 29-year-old will have extra motivation, as this time he will race clad in the rainbow jersey he conquered last September in Imola.

The most decorated sprinter in the history of the race, with 30 stage wins and a green jersey to his name, Mark Cavendish will also pin on a number for the Wolfpack, as he makes his first appearance in three years at the Grande Boucle. The Manxman, who so far has enjoyed a solid and impressive season that has seen him rack up five victories, replaces last year’s points classification winner Sam Bennett, who is out of the race due to a right knee injury.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish (shown in the 2016 TDF) gets another shot at the green jersey. Sirotti photo.

“Needless to say, I’m very disappointed to not be able to defend my green jersey at this year’s Tour de France. I had a very minor incident during training a couple of weeks ago, which effected my knee. While the injury I sustained is very short-term, it impacted my training for the biggest bike race in the world all too much and left me without enough time to be race fit. Le Tour deserves me at my best and it would do my team, and myself, an injustice to race in my current condition. I wish the whole Wolfpack a successful three weeks on the road of France”, explained Sam.

“I am delighted to be going back to the Tour de France with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Obviously, the circumstances with Sam could be better – he had a special Tour last year and I am sad for him not being able to defend his green jersey. But at the same time, I am excited to be going back to a race that I have such an affinity with and where I have so much history. It is the biggest bike race in the world, and I am going to do all I can to grab this opportunity with both hands”, added Mark Cavendish.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s team will be completed by Ronde van Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke champion Kasper Asgreen, the Italian duo of Davide Ballerini and Mattia Cattaneo, Belgians Tim Declercq and Dries Devenyns, as well as Danish lead-out master Michael Mørkøv.

“Our team is a balanced one. Julian came well out of the Tour de Suisse and the opening weekend suits him, so we’ll support him in his quest for a stage victory. Mark returns to the Tour, and it’s great to have someone with his history and experience on the team. He will have a superb lead-out with Ballerini and Mørkøv, and the plan is to take it day by day and see how things go. Kasper will also be one to watch, as there are a couple of stages where he can go in the breakaway, without mentioning the two individual time trials, where he can do something nice. Tim is one of the best helpers in the peloton, while Mattia and Dries will help Julian in the mountains and on the uphill finishes. We are confident and hopeful for a good three weeks”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.

Team BikeExchange announces Tour de France team

The team sent me this:

Team BikeExchange announced its diverse Tour de France team today boasting a powerful trio of opportunists, hunting down stage victories as a primary objective for the 108th edition, starting on Saturday, 26th June in Brest.

Former Tour de France stage winners Michael Matthews and Simon Yates, along with two-time Grand Tour podium finisher Esteban Chaves will lead the outfit’s offensive charge, while 25-year-old Lucas Hamilton looks to gather experience in the general classification battle, as he makes his debut appearance.

Team BikeExchange at the Tour de France (26th June – 18th July 2021):
Esteban Chaves (COL) - 3rd appearance
Luke Durbridge (AUS) - 7th appearance
Amund Grøndahl Jansen (NOR) - 4th appearance
Lucas Hamilton (AUS) - Debut appearance
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN) - 4th appearance
Michael Matthews (AUS) - 6th appearance
Luka Mezgec (SLO) - 2nd appearance
Simon Yates (GBR) - 5th appearance

The quality quartet will have experienced support riders guiding them through the 21-stages, with a trio of powerhouses in Denmark’s Chris Juul-Jensen and Norway’s Amund Grøndahl Jansen; both lining-up for their fourth Tour de France, plus Australia’s Luke Durbridge, who is set to make his seventh appearance at the ‘Grande Boucle.’

Luke Durbridge

Luke Durbridge has been riding the Tour de France for a while. Here he is in the 2016 edition. Sirotti photo

After finishing in second place on two occasions in his debut appearance last year, Slovenian sprinter Luka Mezgec is back for more in 2021 and rounds out the well-balanced eight-rider squad.

Having previously achieved three top-10 overall finishes (2016, 2017, 2020), seven-days in the Maillot Jaune (3x 2013, 4x 2020), one TTT victory, six individual stage victories from five different riders and two overall victories in the young rider classification (2016, 2017), Team BikeExchange return confident and ambitious for its 10th Tour de France start.

Brent Copeland – General Manager:
“We are coming into this year’s Tour de France really motivated after a fantastic podium at Giro d’Italia with Simon Yates. We have worked closely together with our team owner Gerry Ryan and Team BikeExchange’s technical staff and coaches to select the most competitive line-up of riders for this year’s edition.

It has not been an easy task by any means to make the final selection due to us having many riders in great condition at the moment, but we are confident in the process that we have followed.

Our goals and ambitions are different to that of the recent Giro d'Italia where we will be mostly concentrated in two areas; namely stage wins and experience for the younger riders. We are also very excited to have a strong presence of Australian riders at this year's edition and as always, we guarantee some very aggressive and exciting racing from Team BikeExchange for all our fans.

A big thanks also goes out to our team's medical staff and the ASO for the medical protocols which have been closely monitored in order for such a prestigious race to be held under the challenging conditions we all currently face."

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“We have assembled a very well-balanced unit for this year’s TDF. The group has multiple options as we go after stage wins across the entire three-weeks.

"We are welcoming Michael Matthews back into our TDF roster as we target selective sprints and medium mountain stages. In support of him, we have Luka Mezgec who was very impressive in his Tour debut last year and is capable winning in his own right.

"We have an engine room that is tried and tested with road captain Luke Durbridge working with our Scandinavian duo of Chris Juul-Jensen and Amund Grøndahl Jansen, who have plenty of experience in riding for world class leaders.

"Then our elite climbing unit is led by Simon Yates who is looking to add more stage wins to his tally and Esteban Chaves who has won stages at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España and is aiming to add wins at the TDF to his resume.

"Finally, we have our only Tour de France debutant in Lucas Hamilton who has had a very consistent year so far and he will be getting our full support as he rides for GC.”

Michael Matthews:
“We have a really good shot at going for stage wins with myself and a lot of other guys in the team we have. We can go in with Chaves and Yates for the climbs and the breakaway days and then for me with the sprint and more intermediate sort of stages.

"There’s a couple of stages in this year’s Tour that suit me really well, especially in the first week. So, hopefully we can start the Tour off well on those days and then continue the momentum through once we get to the climbs with the other guys.

"The Tour de France is always a special and important race for everyone, I am feeling in good shape and really motivated to try and go for a fourth Tour de France stage win."

Lucas Hamilton:
“The Tour is the biggest race in the world and growing up I always watched and dreamed of racing the Tour and so to be lining-up on Saturday, it can’t come quick enough.

"It’s my first Tour de France and also my first Grand Tour riding GC. I have only finished one Grand Tour, so for me I really want to continue with the progress I have made this season. I have done a lot of one-week races during the year and ridden GC at every race, so I feel like heading into a tough three-weeks of racing, I am as ready as I can be for the big stage.

"The team is full of super strong guys and I have raced a lot with all of them, so I am looking forward to getting back into it with them and trying to make it a successful Tour.”

Team BikeExchange – Tour de France Team Stats:
Youngest rider: Lucas Hamilton (25)
Oldest rider: Luka Mezgec (32)
Tour de France debutants: Lucas Hamilton
Most Tour de France appearances: Luke Durbridge (7x)
Total Tour de France appearances: 31

Astana-Premier Tech announces TDF squad

Here's the team's announcement:

The Kazakh – Canadian team has selected a versatile and experienced roster featuring Monument and Tour de France stage winners, national champions and Tour de France debutants, explained Team Performance Manager Dmitriy Fofonov.

“Our main focus at this year’s Tour de France is stage wins. We are coming to France with a strong and motivated team featuring Tour de France stage winners Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, and Omar Fraile, our new Spanish Road Race champion. We have two-time Monument winner Jakob Fuglsang, and Basque Country stage winner Alex Aranburu, who is set to make his Tour de France debut alongside South African Stefan de Bod. Last, but not least, our breakaway riders Hugo Houle, who showed his strength at this year´s Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Dmitriy Gruzdev, complete our line up,” said Fofonov.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey Lutesnko wins stage 6 of the 2020 Tour de France. ASO photo

“We have a versatile roster and will make the most of the freedom that comes with stage hunting. Winning a stage at any Grand Tour, let along the Tour de France, isn’t easy but I am confident that we will enjoy success, as we did last year, and show the Astana – Premier Tech jersey at the front of the race.”

The team’s focus will switch from the General Classification to hunting for stage wins for the upcoming 21 stages, with an emphasis on the mountain stages and punchy terrain, as well as the two time trials following Lutsenko and new Spanish Time Trial champion Izagirre’s success at the Criterium du Dauphine.

Astana – Premier Tech at the Tour de France (26/06 – 18/07):

Sports Directors: Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ), Steve Bauer (CAN), Stefano Zanini (ITA)

Alex Aranburu – Spain:
“I am extremely happy and proud to ride my first Tour de France. I think every athlete dreams of riding the Tour de France one day and of course to win there, as do I.  It would be amazing to take a stage win but I will take it day by day, as I know many strong riders are lining up. Of course, I will give my best to finish with a great result. But first of all, I want to finish my first Tour de France and gain experience.”

Stefan De Bod – South Africa:
“I am grateful for the opportunity to make my debut at the Tour de France together with a strong and experienced squad and I will give my best to pay back their confidence in me. I am excited to chase our team’s goals of winning stages. We had a good week of racing at the Tour de Suisse, where I felt already in good shape. This race is the dream of every cyclist and I will enjoy every day of racing, even if there will be some hard moments.”

Omar Fraile – Spain:
“I am looking forward to racing at the Tour de France, especially after yesterday. My last professional win was at the Tour de France back in 2018, so the win at the road race yesterday is something really special and gives me an extra motivation ahead of the Tour and a lot of confidence. Of course, winning a Tour de France stage in this jersey now would be the cherry on top but we will see. I feel good and I am in a good shape, so I will take every opportunity to achieve a top result.”

Jakob Fuglsang – Denmark:
“I feel really good but I will use the Tour de France more for fine-tuning, to be 100% ready for the Olympics so I am not focusing on the overall. But I will take it day by day because every day is important, especially in a Grand Tour, where the easiest days can turn out to be the most damaging days in terms of losing or winning the race. Every day is unpredictable. Some days I will go deep trying to win a stage and other days, like the sprint stages, I will take easy not fighting at the front all day long to save energy and build up for Tokyo.”

Dmitriy Gruzdev – Kazakhstan:
“I am looking forward to another Tour de France with the team. I’m feeling good and have had a good training block since the Criterium du Dauphine so I’m ready to race. I want to be as useful as possible for the team and help us achieve our goal of winning stages. I think we have a great team and will have many opportunities to show what we can.”

Hugo Houle – Canada:
“I am really happy and proud again be part of the Astana – Premier Tech team for the Tour de France. It is not easy to get selected for the biggest tour of the year, so for me it is really great to be there again. This year, I will have more freedom to go on the attack as we are not targeting the General Classification. My goal would be to win a stage in this year´s Tour de France, in honor of my brother. My form is going in the right direction towards the Tour and I am looking forward lining up in Brest, trying to be part in some of the breakaways and hopefully, finishing it off with a stage win.”

Ion Izagirre – Spain:
“After last year´s crash and the abrupt end to my Tour de France journey, I feel I have unfinished business and I am especially looking forward to racing the time trial stages. I think we have a strong team and we already showed good form at the recent stage races and again, yesterday at the Spanish road race. This year we don’t have specific General Classification ambitions, which gives us all the chance to battle for stage wins. It would be great to add another stage win after winning my first Grand Tour stage back in 2016.”

Alexey Lutsenko – Kazakhstan:
“I only have good memories from last year´s edition. Winning a stage at the Tour de France had been always a dream which I wanted to achieve. Returning to France having a stage win sticker on my race number makes me really proud. It would be great to repeat it this year. I feel good and, especially after the stage win at the Criterium du Dauphine, I am confident that I am able to compete for the another stage win. I want to reach the peak of my shape towards the Olympic Games after the Tour de France.”

Carlos Barbero replaces Fabio Aru on Qhubeka-Assos TDF squad

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Spain’s Carlos Barbero has been called up as a replacement for Fabio Aru in the Team Qhubeka ASSOS line-up to tackle the 108th Tour de France.

Barbero (30) will join three other riders on our roster who will make their first appearances at the race: Nicholas Dlamini, Sean Bennett and Victor Campenaerts.

Carlos Barbero

Carlos Barbero emphatically wins the first stage of the 2018 Castille-Leon.

His selection will further compliment the team’s ambitions to race aggressively, a style which saw him net two top-10 stage finishes at the recent completed Criterium du Dauphine.

Barbero has twice raced the Vuelta a Espana and has 12 career victories as a professional on his palmares.

Revised Team Qhubeka ASSOS line-up:

Simon Clarke – Australia
Michael Gogl – Austria
Victor Campenaerts – Belgium
Max Walscheid – Germany
Sean Bennett – USA
Nic Dlamini – South Africa
Sergio Henao – Colombia
Carlos Barbero – Spain

Carlos Barbero:
I am very excited to start my first-ever Tour de France. It was not on my initial plan for the season but in cycling, as in life, there can be changes and you have to be prepared for when those happen. 

I am incredibly happy and will look to continue the way in which the team have raced this year as we look to be as successful as possible.

Fabio Aru:
I know what it takes to compete at the Tour and I felt that with the physical problems that I had over the weekend, my body is just not where it needs to be for me to be at my very best for the Grande Depart.

After discussing the situation with the team I decided that it in was our best interests to withdraw from the selection.

I want to wish the team, who have given me such great support all the very best, and I’ll be cheering along with the fans as we compete in the true spirit of Ubuntu.

Our team races to continue to raise the awareness of how bicycles can change lives and I know that during the Tour de France this message will continue to make a huge difference in the world.

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