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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - Winston Churchill


Upcoming racing:

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Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, Vol 1: 1909 - 1970 is available as an audiobook here.

Chun-Kai Feng is Taiwan Road Champion

Here's the report from Team Bahrain Victorious:

In the road race of 160km, Chun-Kai Feng launched his attack early in the first 10km despite of head wind. His bold tactic made the selection successfully. In the leading group of 5, Feng made the decisive move in the final 15km and claimed the goal medal with another title of Taiwan Champion in his career.

Chun-Kai Fei

Chun-Kai Feng racing the 2015 Paris-Roubaix. Bettini photo

“I tried to push hard at the beginning part of the day. If I can split the peloton, I can better tell how my rivals’ condition is. We worked well in the leading group all day to keep the chasers at bay. I am happy that the race went as I planned and took this victory again by the end of the season.”

Elia Viviani returns to INEOS Grenadiers

The team sent me this release:

Elia Viviani has done ‘everything in his power’ to return to the INEOS Grenadiers – and is delighted to have signed a three-year deal that will take him through to the end of 2024 and the Paris Olympics.

The popular Italian raced with the team for three years, from 2015-2017, and says he always wanted to return one day.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani winning stage three of the 2021 Tour Poitou-Charentes. Photo: Amelie Barbotin/ Tour Poitou-Charentes

“From the moment I left the team, I had in my head that one day I would come back – and now that day has come and I couldn’t be happier,” said Viviani.

“In my years away, I’ve never lost contact with the team – with Dave [Brailsford], Rod [Ellingworth], and with the Italian riders and coaches. I am really good friends with lots of the team members and especially Dave. I never missed an opportunity to speak with him at races about cycling, my team, my season, and this team. This feels like coming back to a family for me.”

In his time away from the team, Viviani won eight Grand Tour stages, including his maiden Tour de France stage in 2019. But the 32 year old has incredibly fond memories of winning races with the team including his first-ever Grand Tour stage win as a Team Sky rider at the 2015 Giro d’Italia.

“In my final year with the team in 2017 I won nine races, including Hamburg and Plouay. I also won my first Giro d’Italia stage in my first year in the team. That was a dream goal for me and it was thanks to this team that I won. It really feels like I can start again from that point.

“Next year the goal is to win as many races as I can because that’s the job of a sprinter. But I can also support the young group of Grenadiers and pass on my experience. I hope I can be an example to follow and an experienced guy around the incredibly talented young group that is being built.”

INEOS Grenadiers Deputy Team Principal Rod Ellingworth said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome Elia back to the team. We value him as an experienced rider who can win races, but also as a person. He brings so much to any group he is a part of, and we hope he can inspire, drive and educate our developing group of riders. Above all though, Elia is a racer, and we can’t wait to see him winning as a Grenadier.”

Viviani won Olympic track Gold in the omnium in 2016, dovetailing his road and track ambitions with the support of the team. It’s that level of support that is a major factor in his return to the team, as he looks ahead to Paris

“My deal takes me to Paris 2024. I realised how important the Olympics are to me this year and I am privileged to be in a team that will support me. I look at how Filippo [Ganna] was able to perform on the road for the team this year and on the track in Tokyo. I also remember Rio 2016 like it was yesterday, and how the team helped me then too. That Gold medal also partly belonged to this team.

“I’ve had a tough two years and the Olympics gave me back what I’ve missed – the legs, confidence, conviction and belief in myself. My Bronze medal this year has given me the belief to step up to my level again.

“I think this is the best place for me to be at this stage in my career. I’ve done everything I can to come back and I feel proud as a person that I left on good terms and left something good here. Now that’s paid off.”

Ineos Grenadiers signs Omar Fraile and two other riders

Here are the news releases, one for each rider, starting with Omar Fraile:

The INEOS Grenadiers are happy to announce that Omar Fraile will be joining the team on a two year contract from January 2022.

The Basque rider, like many of his Northern Spanish compatriots, is a climbing and breakaway specialist. His palmares includes five mountain classification jerseys, two of which he collected at consecutive editions of the Vuelta a España, in 2015 and 2016.

This season saw him raise his arms in victory at the Spanish national road race championships, a result which he admitted has helped relieve some anxiety – having not had a victory for a while. The 183km hilly course provided Fraile with the opportunity of a late attack only a few hundred metres from the finish line, and outsprinting his competitors

Omar Fraile

Omar Fraile in his Spanish champion's jersey before the start of 2021 Tour de France stage 10. Sirotti photo

“My win at the Spanish National Championships this year was one that I worked really hard for. Normally I’m always the one working hard for my teammates, so when you have the chance to raise your arms and cross that finish line first, it’s always going to be super special,” Fraile says.  “To then have the opportunity to wear your national champs kit for the next season, that’s pretty special and rewarding too.”

When asked what’s been his most meaningful victory there’s no hesitation to his response, it’s his stage win at the Tour de France. “My stage victory in the Tour de France is the one I am most proud of, it’s the kind of victory you dream about when you’re a kid. Every cyclist knows how special that race is,” he says. “But when I think of other victories I’ve had, winning at Itzulia [Basque Country], my home race, in front of my family and friends, that's something you don’t forget either.”

Fraile’s other speciality is that of the ever loyal teammate, his commitment to ensuring he gives everything to help his leaders win is what has caught the attention of INEOS Grenadiers’ Deputy Team Principal, Rod Ellingworth: “Omar is a rider that has been on our radar for a while, he has shown time and again his versatility as a bike racer and his willingness to help and show unwavering support to his teammates. An attitude that fits so well with the INEOS Grenadiers’ ethos. We’re excited to have him on board for the coming season, I think he will be a great fit for the team.”

Fraile equals Ellingworth’s enthusiasm on becoming part of the team and having the chance to demonstrate just how much of a team player he is: “INEOS has always been the team that you dream of riding for, it’s always been the team that I’ve looked at and wanted to race for,” Fraile says.

“It’s a team where you see the riders really working together as a team, and that’s what I really enjoy doing, being there and working for my teammates. I think it’s going to be a good fit, and I’m really looking forward to working with everyone.”

Here's Ineos' release about the signing of Ben Turner:

As part of INEOS Grenadiers continued recruitment of young talent we are delighted to announce that 22-year-old, Ben Turner will be joining the team from January 2022.

The young British rider has experienced a similar journey to his compatriot, Tom Pidcock, having lived in Belgium and raced in the professional cyclocross scene, before becoming part of the Trinity Racing team. He believes that his move to Belgium at the age of 17 has been part of his success, due to it being such a steep learning curve.

“I think most importantly moving to Belgium on my own, it’s about the life lessons that you experience, you don’t know much at that age. I didn’t speak the language either, it was a big jump, but in those situations you learn quickly,” Turner says.

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, he appreciates coming from a part of the UK where cycling is prevalent. As an avid cyclist for most of his life, it was his father who introduced him to the cycling world, originally through BMX before they decided it would be best for him to move across to cyclocross due to how hazardous the BMX racing was.

“He took me to a BMX track when I was about seven and I did that for a long time. I was quite good at it, although I did keep crashing and breaking my bones so we moved over to cyclocross,” Turner says. “Then I got into the junior levels and was really good at cross, I was on the podium with Tom [Pidcock] at the Worlds.”

During his time in Belgium, Turner started to race road alongside cyclocross, a strategy that he believes is a good platform for success, and something that he’ll continue to do. 

“Tom [Pidcock] and I have been speaking a lot about going back into the cross season, we’ve been speaking about it all year actually,” Turner enthuses. “We’ll start in December, it’s going to feel weird not having turned up to race in October, but I can’t wait, I’m really excited to start racing again.

“I think it leads really well into next year, into the Classics. It complements that racing really well, you can see it in riders like Mathieu [Van de Poel], Wout [van Aert] and Tom, so I’m excited to do that.”

Turner’s background in off-road racing has developed him into a punchy rider with a good turn of speed. “Coming from cross I’m probably a rider more tailored towards the Classics, races that are a bit punchy, I think that comes quite naturally from racing cross. I don’t want to say I’m an all-rounder, but I guess I can do a bit of everything.”

It’s an exciting time for British cycling, with a new wave of talent shining through, of which quite a few of them Turner will be teammates with next season. “The British youngsters in cycling are getting big now, I think there is a lot of strength and depth, if you look at INEOS there’s Tom and Ethan [Hayter] and Ben [Tulett] coming in as well, it’s really special to be a part of that.”

The team brings Turner on board as there is renewed focus on developing young talent, led by Deputy Team Principal, Rod Ellingworth who comments: “Ben has shown a real strength in character from a young age, it takes a lot of courage to move to a different country at the age of 17, and that kind of learning experience really helps young riders progress. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow within the team and think that he has the talent, experience and willingness to learn that will stand him in good stead for his first year in the WorldTour with us.” 

Turner is excited about the next stage in his career, stepping up into the WorldTour, and is happy that it’ll be with the INEOS Grenadiers.

“What I’m most looking forward to about joining the team is just how big it is and the level it’s at,” he says. “Being a British rider you just want to be in this British team, it’s an honour to be part of it, especially going into my first year in the WorldTour, for that to be in the biggest team in the world is definitely something to look forward to. It's a big step so when I think about what I want to achieve, it’s about learning a lot, that’s what you’re kind of there to do in the first year.”

Kim Heiduk:

The INEOS Grenadiers are delighted to confirm the signing of the German under 23 national road race champion Kim Heiduk.

Heiduk, 21, has spent three years with Team Lotto - Kern Hause and enjoyed some impressive results across 2021, catching the eye of the team.

The Neo-pro has signed a two-year deal with the team and can’t wait to get started and continue his development as a rider.

He said: “As soon as I heard about INEOS’ interest, I knew it was the right team for me. It was an incredible feeling. I’m delighted to become a Grenadier.

“I’m a very disciplined rider and I’m focused on what I need to improve over the next two years. I believe I can be good in the Classics and I’ve had a lot of fun in those races. I see myself as a pretty good sprinter but I don’t know where I’ll be with the pros. It’s not very easy to win a race solo, so it’s good to have a sprint!

“I can’t wait to experience lots of different races next year. It will be all about discovery and development.”

INEOS Grenadiers Deputy Team Principal Rod Ellingworth said: “Kim had an impressive start to 2021 and all of our interactions with him have been extremely positive. He’s determined to learn and improve and he’s starting his professional career from a great place. We’re excited to see him push on next year and adapt to life as a Grenadier.”

Heiduk raced to the under 23 German road race title in May and enjoyed further impressive results in the opening part of the season, at the Tour of Rhodes, Tour d'eure-et-Loir and Orlen Nations Grand Prix.

“The first part of my year was very good,” explained Kim. “In all of my races, I feel that I had good results or did a good job for the team. But the second half has been tough - I crashed in Tour de l’Avenir and after a few days off, I got back into racing at the Deutschland Tour, but the legs weren’t quite there as I hoped. I then had a training accident with a car and a week before the worlds the doctor said my shoulder was still not ready to compete. Mentally, that was quite hard, but I’ve put that behind me now and am enjoying my end to the season.”

Before signing his deal, Heiduk went for a training ride with the Grenadiers Development Sports Director Christian Knees in their native Germany. The pair have struck up a good relationship which has helped Kim integrate into the team.

“The first ride with Christian was great and we spoke a lot. He lives a few hours away from me so we’ve not been able to ride together much since but we’ve spoken a lot - we have contact nearly every day. I feel really comfortable and have nothing but good feelings about joining the team.”

Heiduk is also very thankful to Lotto - Kern Hause for their support over the last three years. “I was with the team for three seasons and I was very happy. They helped me feel confident and it was the right team for my development. I now feel the same about this next step and I can’t wait to start.”

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