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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, October 2, 2021

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. - Charles Spurgeon

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Les Woodland's book Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story. The rocky roads of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is available as an audiobook here.

Giro di Sicilia final reports

We posted the report from winner Vincenzo Nibali's Trek-Segafredo team team with the results.

Here's the report from runner-up Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) came up just one step short to crowning a splendid comeback week following Thursday’s stage win in the Giro di Sicilia, the GC ultimately won by local hero Vincenzo Nibali (TFS).

Alejandro Valverde

A bandaged Alejandro Valverde is about to start the Tour of Sicily's final stage. Sirotti photo

The Italian went halfway through the climb of Sciarra di Scorciavacca, the last on Friday’s 180km journey between Sant’Agata di Militello and Mascali, to build an ever-growing gap over a pursuit group where Valverde initially fought to limit his losses, following the eve’s crash. ‘Lo Squalo’ would end up reaching the top with almost 40″ over the G2, where ‘Bala’, out of chances to win overall, had to content himself with staying in 2nd place in the GC -he crossed today’s finish in 6th-.

Alejandro will now travel with his team-mates to northern Italy to rest and recover during the weekend -there’s a significant wound to his left elbow-, then compete, barring any changes, at Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine, always TBC. The Movistar Team will return to action at Monday’s Coppa Bernocchi.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“Congratulations to Vincenzo for the victory. I wasn’t expecting neither him nor Bardet to attack from so far out into the last climb, but I knew they would try some moves to gain time. I didn’t go with Nibali into that move, thinking that I could catch him, yet he climbed so well. Once it was clear to me that we wouldn’t bridge back, I just made sure that no one could go from our group to secure 2nd place overall.

“It’s obvious that a crash like yesterday’s will never help you. That hit was felt today -I also have a deep wound to my elbow-, but I felt quite better than I expected today considering the crash. For me, this week means a lot. Being here, at this level after my injury and collarbone surgery – you can still see the bump on the shoulder (laughs) – I’m happy, after all. A stage win + 2nd overall, against the likes of Nibali, Bardet and Covi, really talented, in-form guys – can’t feel bad at all about that.”

Here's the report from third-place Alessandro Covi's UAE Team Emirates:

It was a thrilling finish to the final stage of the Giro di Sicilia with Alessandro Covi topping off a successful week of racing for the team with 3rd place on both the stage and the General Classification.

The race from Sant’Agata di Militello to Mascali (180km) came to life on the final ascent of the Sciara di Scorciavacca (9.7km, 6.4 %) where persistent work from David De La Cruz narrowed the group down to the main favourites including Covi.

Local hero Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) took flight from the group to build up a lead and win solo with Covi sprinting home to third in the group behind.

Nibali took the overall title in the process, while Covi ends the week in 3rd place and also scooping the young riders classification.


The final GC podium, from left: Alejandro Valverde (2nd), Vincenzo Nibali (1st) & Alessandro Covi (3rd). Sirotti photo

The result brings an end to a successful week for the team after a double stage victory and stint in the leaders jersey for Sebastian Molano.

Covi: "I’m happy with this third place in the overall, particularly to be on the podium next to two huge champions of cycling. Obviously personally I would have liked to have won a stage after coming so close, but we got two with Molano so we leave the race very happy. I’m now really looking forward to the final races of the season.”

Israel Start-Up Nation headed to Paris-Roubaix

Here’s the team’s update:

Sep Vanmarcke will be ISN’s first pick in Paris-Roubaix, next Sunday, the third of October. Together with the Belgian cobbles specialist, we are looking ahead to one of the biggest and hardest classics in professional cycling.

It will be the team’s very first Paris-Roubaix.

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke racing in the 2019 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

Normally, Paris-Roubaix is the final highlight of a series of cobbled classics early in the season. This year, however, it is rather ‘lonely’ on the calendar, being held on October 3rd, making Paris-Roubaix an Autumn instead of a Spring Classic.

Sep Vanmarcke, therefore, expects an interesting edition of the highly anticipated race. “Normally, this race is the last cobbled classic after a long period of Spring Classics, but now it is on its own, at the end of the cycling calendar. That will feature different racing. Some riders might already be looking forward to off-season after a long period of racing, while others might be even stronger than they normally are in spring.”

Then, there’s the weather forecast. It might very well be raining in the north of France next Sunday. The experienced Classic specialist Vanmarcke knows that racing on cobbles in the rain is a different discipline than racing on cobbles in the sun. “It could the first Paris-Roubaix in rainy conditions in a long time, since 2002 if I remember correctly”, Vanmarcke says.

It would be the first, rainy edition of the classic for most of the peloton, including Vanmarcke. “I have raced on cobbles in wet conditions before, but not Paris-Roubaix. Indeed, things get more slippery, technical, and treacherous.”

Rain or no rain, Israel Start-Up Nation did showcase, in the last few one-day races, that it is ready for Paris-Roubaix. “We finished multiple times in the top-10 with different riders in races that can be seen as a warm-up to Paris-Roubaix. That will definitely give us confidence towards Sunday,” says the Belgian.

He continues: “Apart from having a good line-up for this race, the Factor bike is ready, too. We did some recon rides last week on the course, and I tested out some of our material. I know which Maxxis tires I want to run and how much pressure is comfortable on the cobbles.”

Sports Director Dirk Demol, who won Paris-Roubaix in 1988, will cover the 257-kilometer race by car, directing the team over the cobbled sections. He says that doing the recon last week gave the team a lot of information. “Definitely material-wise, as Sep explained, but also about the condition of the sectors. Some of them have moss and grass in between the cobbles, which make them extra slippery. The farmers have already started harvesting their fields, meaning that there are sectors with mud on them.”

“I speak from experience”, he continues, “when it is wet, and now especially in this part of the season, it is going to be very treacherous. I did Paris-Roubaix in wet conditions, and it is another kind of race.”

Rudy Barbier
Hugo Hofstetter
Jenthe Biermans
Tom Van Asbroeck
Sep Vanmarcke
Guillaume Boivin
Mads Würtz Schmidt

Allan Davis becomes sports director at Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal sent me this news

Allan Davis will join the group of Lotto Soudal sports directors in 2022. The 41-year-old Australian will mainly focus on the sprint group. But as a full-time sports director, with experience in all kind of races, he will be happy to apply his knowledge to the entire team.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to join such a professionally established structure such as Lotto Soudal, and I am profoundly motivated to implement my time and professional work ethic to the entire team”, said Allan Davis in a first reaction.

The Australian was a professional rider for 12 years, in which he has taken some 30 victories. Among his best performances were his bronze medal at the World Championships (2010), a second place at Milan-Sanremo, gold and bronze at two Commonwealth Games and his overall victory at the Tour Down Under. After his cycling career Davis became head DS at Wiggle-High5. In 2021 he was sprint coordinator/DS at Israel Startup Nation. In between he took on the technical delegate job at the UCI.

“Allan was my successor at the UCI, so I know him quite well and we were already in close contact for a while”, said Lotto Soudal general manager John Lelangue. “Allan has the right profile which goes along with Caleb Ewan and the sprint group. We believe in what Allan can and will bring to the team.”

“I know Caleb quite well, but I will work for all the riders. I’ve started my research already. I would like to get to know all riders and staff. My Flemish is quite non existent, but with English, Italian, Spanish, quite good French you get everywhere in top level cycling. I cannot wait to start this new chapter”, concluded Allan Davis.

Allan Davis is currently living in the Basque Country with his family now for 20 years. Prior Allan lived in Italy as a young cyclist where he first turned professional.

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