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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 9, 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.

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. - Lao Tzu


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Paris-Nice stage two team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Richie Porte's INEOS Grenadiers tweeted this good news:

"We start a man down at Paris-Nice today, but thankfully we can confirm Richie Porte suffered no fractures in his crash yesterday.
He'll now head home, heal up and get ready to go again."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte tried to get back in the race after crashing in stage one, but couldn't. INEOS photo

Here's the report from stage winner Cees Bol's Team DSM:

Team DSM spectacularly opened their winning account for the 2021 season, with Cees Bol producing a dominant sprint victory on stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

On a day fret with crosswind danger, the team remained calm throughout the stage, always alert for any possible danger before turning their attention and focus on the sprint. Arriving with a plan and peeling off one-by-one in the finale, through the twisting and technical run in to the line, the team always ensured Bol was in the perfect position. Opening up his sprint at the perfect moment, Bol powered across the line in a dominant manner, raising his arms aloft victorious, after a brilliant performance from the team.

Racing resumed at Paris-Nice today as the peloton headed south, with a mostly flat 188 kilometres from Oinville-sur-Montcient to Amilly on the menu. It was a tentative start to the stage before a breakaway duo attacked and broke clear, gaining a maximum of over five minutes. Things were controlled in the bunch and the gap to the breakaway began to fall before it soon tumbled with 90 kilometres to go as the race reached a crosswind section.

The bunch split into pieces, with the team well represented in the front group before a change in direction saw things come back together. The process repeated itself with 70 kilometres to go, this time with the team driving the pace but yet again the race regrouped and things calmed down. The peloton continued on at a steady tempo, as the kilometres ticked by and the bunch approached the finale.

Heading into the finish the team did an excellent job to position sprinter Cees Bol for the finale, learning from yesterday and taking those improvement points into the finish. Tiesj Benoot strung things out on a hill just inisde the flamme rouge with the Team DSM sprint train tucked in behind him. Nils Eekhoff took over on the descent, positioning Bol perfectly into the sharp final corner, allowing him to take the inside line and not be boxed in. It was then over to Bol who produced his trademark powerful kick, stamping on the pedals and taking the win in dominant fashion; perfectly finishing off the great work from the team throughout the day.

Cees Bol

Cees Bol takes the second stage. Photo: ASO/F. Boukla

“It’s the best feeling there is,” smiled a jubilant Bol at the finish. “I had a bit of a struggle at the start of the season and wasn’t too good until now but we kept believing and today I got superb help from my teammates. We smashed it. We went well through the last corner, and were close to being boxed in but Nils recognised the moment and kept the door open for me and from there I was in a good wheel. Trek did a good lead out but I started my sprint in the right moment and had enough power to make it to the line. It’s a good boost for the confidence after we didn’t do too well yesterday but today we showed what we’re capable of as a team. It gives us confidence for the next sprint stages but also for on other days where we’ve got chances with other guys in the team.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was really nice that we were able to bring that one home today, especially with how we rode in the final, it was great to see. The guys moved up really well on the uphill section where Tiesj did a good job and we still had four guys up front. We made the right decisions and were able to bring Cees into a good spot. Trek took over and Nils made some space for Cees, who went around the last corner in fourth position. It wasn’t an easy day today, and it split a few times, but we were always in a good position which was great to see. We were sitting well together the whole day which made it a bit easier for us in the final. All in all it was a really good day for us and a really nice victory for the team. We’ll take confidence from this going into the coming stages now.”

Here's the report from GC leader Michael Matthews' Team BikeExchange:

Australian sprinter Michael Matthews has moved into the race lead at Paris-Nice today after powering to third place and accumulating valuable bonus seconds throughout the stage.

Like yesterday’s opening stage, the 30-year-old Team BikeExchange rider fought hard to take an additional five bonus seconds during the two intermediate sprints of the day, after the early breakaway was reeled back in.

With the help of his teammates, Matthews positioned himself in fifth wheel coming out of the final corner and bided his time before launching his sprint for third place, successfully claiming four more crucial seconds. This proved to be enough for the Australian rider to leapfrog Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Sam Bennet (Deceuninck-Quickstep) to move into the overall race lead.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews will be wearing yellow at the start of stage three. ASO photo

Michael Matthews:
“I came here to try everything I could. With the breakaways not really going, it gave us opportunities to go for the intermediate sprints, take seconds back and take the jersey.

“I knew I wasn’t the fastest guy here so I tried to position well and sprint as best I could and, in the end, today I was third. There was time bonuses for the third place and so I got it and will get to wear it tomorrow in the time trial.

“It is nice that the hard work from the last two days pays off and I can pull on the yellow jersey for the team. The team were positioning me all day to make sure I could get up for all the intermediate sprint and also for the final sprint, so it is a really good day for us.

“To be wearing the jersey at least for one-day, I am really looking forward to that. It is amazing, everybody is fully committed to the plan and I am just trying to execute it as best I can and I will try my best with every opportunity, I get to pay them back.

“I haven’t done a time trial yet (this season), everything has been going well with my time trial training so hopefully I do a good TT tomorrow and continue with the jersey.”

Second-place Mads Pedersen's Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

Mads Pedersen’s third place in Stage 1 in Paris Nice was topped by a second place in Stage 2 as he continues to capitalize on first-rate leadouts from his Trek-Segafredo teammates.

With Alex Kirsch and Edward Theuns taking up the early watch with some two kilometers to go, Jasper Stuyven finished off their work, his final push with Mads on his wheel, timed perfectly.  It was textbook.  Except for one rider – Cees Bol – had faster legs and spoiled a win.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen, I believe, before the start of stage two. Sam Bennet took over the green jersey after the stage. Photo: ASO/Fabien Boukla

Still, Mads crossed the line in second place, a second-straight podium for a rider who’s finding his niche in fast finishes. It’s quickly becoming apparent the young Dane can handle anything thrown his way and come out on top of many riders considered faster.

What happens on the road in bunched endings is a crazy story. Sprint finishes are sheer madness: the peloton, inches apart (or less), flying around corners and roundabouts at top speeds, all while trying to avoid road furniture (and each other) on two dreadfully narrow rubber tires. It’s unlike anything us mere mortals can comprehend.

It takes a big engine, superb bike handling skills, guts (perhaps a little craziness), and trust. All qualities the Trek-Segafredo leadout (aka Classics) squad owns.  Add a close friendship you don’t often find in pro teams, and you can see what makes this team so unique.

Sam Bennett's Deceuninck-Quick Step posted this stage two report:

Sam Bennett swapped the Paris-Nice yellow jersey for the green one, which he already had in his possession following his emphatic victory on the opening day, after sprinting to a top 5 in Amilly, where the peloton returned after four years.

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is now in green instead of yellow.

Apart from several echelons attempts, some which had Deceuninck – Quick-Step as protagonist, Monday’s 188km trek was a rather quiet one, as the peloton remained attentive at all times to avoid being caught out on the open roads of the Loiret department. The stage culminated in a bunch sprint, but a messy one, due to the numerous roundabouts, narrow roads and sharp corners that the riders had to navigate inside the closing kilometers.

Because of this, Sam Bennett had to start his sprint from far back, but he still produced an incredible turn of speed and finished fifth, as Cees Bol (Team DSM) took the win. Due to the bonifications game, the 30-year-old lost the yellow jersey, but on the bright side he got to retain the green jersey, which he will now sport during Tuesday’s individual time trial.

“It was a crazy finale and I just couldn’t get to the front. Then, after the last corner I was waiting and waiting, but it turns out I waited too much and the line came quicker than expected. I sprinted from too far back and couldn’t fight for victory, which is a shame, as the legs were there. The team was good again, we are confident and we’ll try again over the next days”, Sam said after the podium ceremony.

And here's the update from Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Team Jumbo-Visma is looking forward to tomorrow’s time trial with confidence after the second stage in Paris-Nice. The Dutch team brought their leader Primoz Roglic to the finish line in Amilly without any problems.

Peloton

The peloton with 5 kilometers to go.

The stage once again had a nervous and hectic outcome with the threat for echelons and several crashes. National Champion George Bennett crashed in the final of the stage, but was able to continue and reach the finish.

Sports director Grischa Niermann looked back on the stage with mixed feelings. “It was a nervous stage and the last fifty kilometres were very dangerous at some points. There was also not enough wind to split the peloton apart. In the end, we survived the stage with Primoz well. So that’s good. George’s crash was a setback. We will have to see how he is doing.”

Tomorrow is the first real test for the overall standings. The third stage is a time trial of a little over fourteen kilometres. Niermann looked forward to the race against the clock with confidence. “We know that Primoz can do a good time trial, but he is certainly not the top favourite for the stage victory.”

Specialized and Accell executives urge Taiwan to increase component capacity

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — For the remainder of this decade, Taiwan's component makers will leave millions of dollars on the table  — and risk having other nations pick up the slack — unless its component manufacturers increase capacity as soon as possible, two global industry leaders say.

"There's a gold mine today in the bike industry, but you have to invest," Specialized Bicycles' Executive Vice President Bob Margevicius said at a forum here as the Taipei Cycle Online expo opened.

He said component makers appear "very reluctant to invest in additional capacity."

Margevicius spoke live at the event, titled "2021 and Beyond: Smart Sporting and Smart Cycling," a kickoff for the month-long online bike expo and its sporting goods industry counterpart on Wednesday.

Ton Anbeek, the CEO of the Netherlands' Accell Group, also spoke to the group via a remote feed. Anbeek, whose company owns bike brands including Haibike, Winora, Ghost, Batavus, Koga, Lapierre, and Raleigh, said component makers could "profit enormously" if they invest.Accell Group CEO Ton Anbeek.

"To meet the growing demand in the coming years we need component suppliers to invest in extra capacity to produce more critical components and products as soon as possible," Anbeek urged.

"And this needs, more than ever before, to be based on a long-term commitment and partnership between branded bike manufactures and component suppliers," Anbeek said. "Accell and its brands look forward to working with you to profit enormously from this very green and favorable market circumstance and trends."

On Friday Accell announced that its 2020 sales were up 17%, but warned that its 2021 first-half results would be hampered by delayed deliveries from component suppliers and other supply chain problems.

The bulk of Anbeek's presentation was on the growth potential of the global bike market and on Accell's strength in particular. Margevicius, in contrast, barely mentioned Specialized. He also explained the growth of the market in the last 12 months and then shared projections for the coming years. And he pointedly noted the delta between the projected demand and projected production levels.

After an outlier year in 2020, Margevicius predicted that 2021 bike sales, globally, would be 9.5% lower than last year. But starting in 2022 he forecast sales to grow by 3.5% each year for the remainder of the decade.

He said despite increases in factory efficiencies in Taiwan, the industry lacks the capacity to fully respond to increased demand over the coming years.

"We are seeing a lot of factory efficiency gains of 10-15%. That isn't really helping us much, to be honest with ya," he told the forum.

A 10% annual increase in bike production will not keep pace with 8 years of steady 3.5% annual growth because the industry is starting over from a deficit — the 2020 boom depleted more than 8 months' of inventory that was in the system at the start of 2020. Rebuilding that inventory while also supplying current retail demand justifies a larger increase in capacity, he said.

You can read the entire story here.

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