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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, November 7, 2021

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. - William Butler Yeats


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Les Woodland's book Tour de France, The Inside Story: Making the World's Greatest Bicycle Race is available as an audiobook here.

Fausto Masnada extends with Deceuninck-Quick Step

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Fausto Masnada’s 2021 season was one filled with both ups and downs. The 28-year-old Italian took a strong third overall at the Tour de Romandie, but unfortunately bad luck was around the corner as knee tendinitis forced him to abandon the Giro d’Italia. Fausto came back at the Nationals with a second place, but a crash at the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana again put him off the bike for a long recovery period. Despite all these setbacks, he switched goals, kept working hard and ended his season in a fantastic way at Il Lombardia, as runner-up.

Fasuto Masnada

Fausto Masnada racing stage 14 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

The hard work paid off. Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, agreed on a three-year deal, being convinced about Fausto’s capacities: “Fausto had a hard year, with several setbacks. But he kept working hard, his positive mindset and attitude is what you need to take the most out of it. Every time Fausto raced, he showed what a great asset he is, how he can go full gas for a teammate or go for his own chance whenever he can. I’m happy he could finish off his season with such a strong result at Il Lombardia, and who knows what the future will bring. Having him with us for three more years is fantastic.”

Fausto couldn’t be happier about this extension: “When you’re in a squad like Deceuninck – Quick-Step, you realise it’s a dream. This year we won the World Team classification, we were the strongest team. If I would change teams, I would change for what? Secondly, I like how it’s all so professional here and how they study everything. Everything is perfect and each member of the group always aims to improve. I believe in the future of the squad and I’m here to continue to grow year by year, as I know I can still step up. It’s a magical team, it’s a big family. It’s not just a job, but you feel a real friendship”.

Looking back on his season, the Italian rider has a lot to remember, good and bad. “The first part of 2021 wasn’t bad, until the start of the Giro, that is. The team started the first races in a good way. I was super satisfied then as I took third in the GC at the Tour of Romandie. Until that moment my season went ahead in a good way. Then the Giro came and I couldn’t perform well as I had knee tendinitis. I was super sad about stepping out of the Giro, I worked so hard for this first goal and I couldn’t reach it.”

“I worked a lot on an altitude training camp together with João and Remco before the Giro, to help them and at the same time to perform well myself. The first ten days after I felt really bad, but then I switched my mind and I thought ‘okay the Giro returns every year’ and I looked forward.”

“I set my mind on other goals, less than one month after the Giro the National Championships took place and I didn’t know if I would reach my normal level. I really like this race, if you win you wear the Italian jersey for one year. In Italy that really means a lot, as everyone watches this race. In this case I don’t know if I was unlucky or I just met a stronger rider than myself, as I came second.”

“But again, bad luck was around the corner as I crashed during the third stage of the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana. To have to stop and recover again was harder than the first time. I prepared so well, stayed twenty days on altitude with the team, I worked so hard and then again this, I couldn’t believe it at first. I was still thinking that nothing was lost and everything would be fine, but when the team doctor told me I needed to recover one month, and it was such a difficult time. Fortunately, I had the support of the team and my family who stayed with me. I wanted to recover as fast as possible, I was scared about the fracture as well. It was the first time I had a fracture on my back, I called the doctor several times a day just to know what I could or couldn’t do. It was such a long time, it felt like ten months instead of one.”

“I tried to stay positive, it was the first time I also didn’t follow the cycling races. I just switched off, I didn’t read the news or watch the races. I read some books, watched some TV series, and friends came by to help me pass the time. Then I started to ride my bike again. After three, four rides I could train harder again. I was determined to come back stronger and to reach some goals before the end of the season.”

“I restarted at the Tour of Luxembourg, my comeback race. I was super happy for myself and the team, because I worked hard and I felt well. Before Luxembourg I felt good on training, so together with the team we decided I could race again already there. If I wouldn’t have felt well, I wouldn’t have restarted there, as in that case I prefer to train harder and then go to the race. I don’t like to just pin up a number without any goal, I race to perform well.”

“The Tour of Luxembourg really gave me confidence for the Italian races. It really felt like a victory to me, to come back strong after a hard recovery period. I had some goals set for the end of the season. Especially Il Lombardia was in my mind. This is a race in my home country, I know the roads and that everyone would come to support me. The selection in this team is never easy with a lot of strong teammates, so you need to fight for your spot in a Monument like Il Lombardia. I tried my best in Milano-Torino, in Coppa Bernocchi I took third spot, and the team believed in me, so I got a place in the squad for Lombardia.”

“I think the second place there was the best possible result. I faced a strong rider on my way to Bergamo, he won two times the Tour de France, so I knew it would be difficult. I couldn’t do anything more. I’m happy with that second place. To finish in Bergamo was unbelievable. The last climb was amazing, everyone was supporting me, making a great atmosphere. And now when I analyse my season, seeing how I fought my way back, I think I can be satisfied.”

Israel Start-Up Nation re-signs four Israeli riders

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Israel Start-Up Nation has extended the contracts of its four Israeli riders after a strong season that saw the first Israeli victory on the professional scene.

Guy Niv (27), Omer Goldstein (25), Guy Sagiv (26), and Itamar Einhorn (24) will all continue to show off the blue and white ISN colors and represent Israel in the biggest races on the calendar next year.

Guy SAgiv

Guy Sagiv leads a break in the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico race. Sirotti photo

Niv impressed this season by taking on – and finishing – two Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, while Goldstein fought his way through a challenging Tour de France. Einhorn lined up for the Vuelta a España where he showed his high potential by making top five and top 10 in the bunch sprints.

The biggest Israeli moment this year undoubtedly came when Einhorn stormed to victory on the final stage of Tour of Slovakia, beating home favorite and multiple-time world champion Peter Sagan on the line. This was the first professional Israeli victory and another indicator that Israeli cycling has taken a huge step forward after Israel Start-Up Nation’s intake on the international scene.

ISN General Manager, Kjell Carlström: “The Israeli riders are constantly progressing. We have all seen some great results from them in the last year and we hope they will continue to progress like this. There is also a new generation of young Israeli riders coming up through the ranks of our development team. It’s great that we can help challenge them in order to evolve as riders. All in all, we are expecting to see more great performances by the Israeli riders in the coming years. Both in terms of personal results and in terms of helping their teammates succeed.”

Guy Sagiv: “I think the past year has been a turning point for the group. We Israelis have been given opportunities and leading positions due to the fact that we are truly riding at the level of the rest of the team, and not because we are the Israelis on an Israeli team. I expect this trend to continue, I expect to see the next generation coming up in our wake, and very much hope that the number of Israeli riders will increase.

“If I were to step out of the routine and look at things from a different perspective, outside of my own head, it feels even more special. Seeing and experiencing from the inside, the change the team has gone through from its first year as a small Continental team until now, as a WorldTour team at such a level, is just amazing.”’

Itamar Einhorn: “I am proud to continue with all my Israeli teammates, showing we are on the rise. I was able to up my game and got rewarded with a victory. Now, I feel that the sky is the limit for me.”

Guy Niv: “We saw a big improvement in the Israeli riders on the team over the last year, with achievements and results that we had not seen before, and I am convinced that in the coming year the trend will continue, and we will see much bigger things. Personally, in the coming season, I will be looking to continue to improve and move forward. I look forward to supporting the team and contributing to results in the big races as well as getting a chance in a smaller race to lead and try to win.”

Omer Goldstein: “I am very glad to continue with the team next year. I believe I have the chance to take another leap forward and I’m committed to keeping getting better.”

Also the young Israeli riders from the development team, Israel Cycling Academy, have shown impressive progress this season. Next year, they will continue to get a chance to ride with ISN in order to improve and develop and to take advantage of the big momentum that Israeli cycling is seeing at the moment.

ICA Team Manager, Aviad Izrael: “Our Israeli riders on the Israel Cycling Academy have proven themselves worthy of riding with the ISN WT team this year. I expect they will get plenty of more opportunities to do so again in 2022.”

Lotto Soudal completes 2022 Ladies and Men-U23 team rosters

The team sent me this update:

Both the women’s team and U23 team have been completed for 2022. There will be fourteen Lotto Soudal Ladies and the Lotto Soudal Development Team will consist of seventeen riders. With the women’s team, Lotto Soudal now also wants to focus on the youth.

“We want to take another direction with the women’s team and aim for development of young riders”, says Kurt Van de Wouwer sports manager at the Lotto Soudal Ladies and Lotto Soudal U23 team. “That’s what we have been doing, successfully, with the men’s U23 team for several years now and that’s what we now want to achieve with the women’s team as well. That’s why we have chosen to become a continental development team. We have Belgian talents in our team, but we also looked across the border. We want to offer the riders a balanced race programme with which they can get a taste of the Classics, but also with races that better match their current capacities. Then I think of the races that are part of the Lotto Cycling Cup for example. We want to offer these riders time to grow and learn, with the professional support of Lotto Soudal.”

As we already announced on our social media channels, German rider Marla Sigmund (18) and Dutch rider Mijntje Geurts (18) will be joining our team next year. At the Worlds in Leuven Mijntje Geurts conquered the tenth place in the junior road race and this season she won the Bizkaikoloreak, a stage race in the Spanish Basque Country. She has signed an agreement for two seasons. Marla Sigmund doesn’t only ride on the road, but also on the track. This year she became national champion in the madison and points race.

There are four other new riders who will be racing in the Lotto Soudal shirt next year. Two of them are Belgians: Esmée Gielkens (20) and Ines Van de Paar (18). Van de Paar claimed the Flemish junior title at the end of October. She signed a two-year contract.

British rider Josie Knight (24) won the silver medal in the team pursuit at the Olympics past summer. At the Worlds in Roubaix she and the national team claimed bronze. Knight wants to combine track and road and she chose for Lotto Soudal to make this possible. And also Czech rider Kristýna Burlová (19) will join Lotto Soudal. Last year, she got eighth at the junior road race at the European Championships in Plouay and she was fourteenth in the time trial.

Earlier, we already announced the transfers of Eefje Brandt, Katrijn De Clercq, Mieke Docx, Sterre Vervloet and Kylie Waterreus.

“In the future we fully focus on the youth with our women’s team”, continues Kurt Van de Wouwer. “These changes are reflected in the almost entirely new team for next season. Three riders remain in our team. Anna Plichta, who joined our team in 2021 and had a two-year contract, and Abby Mae Parkinson, who starts her third season in our team, are more experienced riders. Elise Vander Sande gets the chance to further develop herself as a rider.”

Dirk Onghena becomes sports director of the women’s team and will be in the car in most races. Since 2002 he was coach at Belgian Cycling and Cycling Vlaanderen.

While the women’s team will consist of fourteen riders, there will be seventeen male U23 riders. We already announced the ten newcomers, seven riders will remain in the team: Ramses Debruyne, Liam Slock, Luca Van Boven, Jarne Van de Paar, Aaron Van der Beken, Lennert Van Eetvelt and Lars Van Ryckeghem.

Lotto Soudal Ladies 2022: Eefje Brandt, Kristýna Burlová, Katrijn De Clercq, Mieke Docx, Mijntje Geurts, Esmée Gielkens, Josie Knight, Abby Mae Parkinson, Anna Plichta, Marla Sigmund, Ines Van de Paar, Elise Vander Sande, Sterre Vervloet and Kylie Waterreus.

Lotto Soudal Development Team 2022: Ramses Debruyne, Jelle Harteel, Branko Huys, William Junior Lecerf, Milan Paulus, Gianluca Pollefliet, Matthew Rice, Alec Segaert, Liam Slock, Luca Van Boven, Jarne Van de Paar, Noah Vandenbranden, Aaron Van der Beken, Lennert Van Eetvelt, Vincent Van Hemelen, Cédric Van Raemdonck and Lars Van Ryckeghem.

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