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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, October 5, 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.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. - Carl Sagan

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Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, Volume 1, 1909 - 2070 is available as an audiobook here.

BORA-hansgrohe and Enrico Poitschke go separate ways: Rolf Aldag to become new Sports Director

The team sent me this news:

After more than 10 years of successful collaboration, in which countless successes were achieved and we built up the team together, BORA - hansgrohe will be bringing new impetus in the sportive management of the team. The 53-year-old Aldag brings with him wide-ranging experience and will be in charge of the sportive agenda of the Raubling-based WorldTeam from 2022.


Bora-hansgrohe (shown at the 2020 Tour de France) will have a new sports director for 2022. Sirotti photo

"This was probably the most difficult decision for me in the last 10 years, because I owe Enrico a great debt of gratitude. We worked our way up together from the third division to the WorldTour, going through pretty much all the highs and lows imaginable, and I will always have fond memories of these shared times. In the last few months, however, I have become more and more aware that if we want to develop further as a team, we will likely also need a change in sportive management. It's not that I'm not happy with the results - we've all done a good job together over the past few years – but cycling has changed and we have to adapt to those changes to keep up. During the long time we have been together, many routines have crept into the sportive management that are incredibly difficult to change. That's why I have decided to break new ground here. We have many young riders in our ranks and we’d like to build them up strategically and systematically. To this end, we have defined clear goals over the recent weeks and redistributed tasks internally. As far as the sportive management is concerned, we are in the final stages of our planning.

"Rolf brings vast experience to our team and I am very happy that I was able to inspire him with our project. I had already indicated that we’d like to use the changes that have been initiated this year to further develop ourselves in different areas. Strategically, the sportive management was a key area for us following departure of Enrico Poitschke, and I think the solution we have found is an optimal one. Rolf was instrumental in the success of HTC-Highroad, he was technical director at Omega Pharma-Quickstep, he has been involved in women's cycling and he has helped Dimension Data move up to the WorldTour, making cycling popular in Africa. I think one can see that cycling is his passion and that is something which connects us. Even from our first talks, we held the same vision regarding the direction we want to take BORA - hansgrohe in the future. In addition, Rolf has worked intensively with Specialized in the past and that is also an important factor for us. He will take over the sportive management of the team and will also be able to assist us thanks to his experience in material development. For me, Rolf is a clear asset to BORA - hansgrohe by virtue of his extensive experience, technical know-how and commitment." - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

"Of course, I am disappointed and the decision came as a surprise to me. I have built up the team together with Ralph Denk over the past ten years and I believe that we have done a very good job together. However, Ralph would like bring new impetus in the future and this decision must be accepted. Nevertheless, I will keep the past years in my memories, because despite the high level of commitment that was expected, there were undoubtedly wonderful moments - our first Tour de France appearance with Leopold König, the stage victories in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, and successes in the Tour with Peter, Lennard, Nils, Patrick and Emu. Of course, our victory at Paris-Roubaix in 2018 was outstanding. I am proud that all these successes also bear my signature. Cycling is my passion and we will see in which form I will continue to be connected to it." - Enrico Poitschke

"I am very much looking forward to my new role at BORA - hansgrohe and am pleased to see the trust that Ralph Denk has placed in me. The team has been an integral part of the international cycling scene for over a decade and is constantly growing. The reliability of its partners and the long-term thinking of the team management were very important factors in my decision to become part of BORA - hansgrohe. Ralph has managed to bring together a very talented group of riders for 2022. Now it's about forming a successful team with these athletes, the sportive management as well as the coaches, which will inspire cycling fans with an attacking riding style. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Enrico, because thanks to his continuous good work in the past, it’s now possible for us to tackle new goals at an absolute world class level." - Rolf Aldag

Nicholas Roche announces retirement from professional cycling

Roche’s Team DSM sent me this announcement:

Having spent 17 years in the men’s peloton, the last three of which were with Team DSM, Nicholas Roche is set to hang up his wheels at the end of the 2021 season.

Roche turned professional in 2005 and has spent an incredible 17 years riding at the highest echelons of the sport. Taking an impressive 12 wins throughout his career including two stages at the Vuelta a España, Roche has also started a mind-boggling 24 Grand Tours, completing a remarkable 22 of them. He’s also ended the Vuelta in fifth and sixth place on GC, alongside numerous other top 15 places in the overall classification at the Vuelta and Tour de France.

Nicholas Roche

Nicholas Roche at the start of the first stage of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour. Sirotti photo

Upon joining Team DSM in 2019, Roche helped the team to some strong results throughout the year before claiming a brilliant second place on stage two of the Vuelta; a result which saw him move into the race leader’s jersey for the team, something he had done previously in 2013. Sharing his wealth of experience with the team’s riders throughout his three years in Team DSM, Roche has contributed to several victories, particularly at the 2020 Tour de France where he was an important member of team’s successful campaign there. 2021 has seen Roche spend his final season riding strongly in support of others, while also still showing good legs himself with hard-fought and hotly contested stage podium finishes at the Tour of the Alps and Giro d’Italia.

Roche said: “After 17 years and over 1270 professional races days, with a lot of great memories, it is time for me to retire and look to a new horizon. My last race was the Irish championships, at home, with my friends and family. Cycling is my life and it has brought me so much over the years. It has allowed to meet and work with some incredible people and travel to some of the most remote and fantastic places on this planet.

"It was an experience to also work with Team DSM and it was very different to all the teams in the past. I continued to learn a lot with them and I really enjoyed being the “big brother” of the younger guys in the team. Spending another four days in the red jersey at the Vuelta in 2019 will always be a special memory. I want to thank you all, everyone who is reading this, for the incredible support I received during my cycling career. Thank you!”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “Nicholas has had a long and very successful career, and we were happy to have been a part of that for the last three seasons. Joining the team in 2019, his experience in the peloton has been really valuable for helping to guide our younger crop of riders, whether that be helping with positioning in the bunch, to showing them how to conduct themselves in off the bike activities. Nicholas has also shown a good level too in his time with us, helping the team to some strong results and we’ll always fondly remember his stint in the red jersey for us at the Vuelta in 2019. From everyone at Team DSM we wish Nicholas all the best and good luck with what’s next.”

Giulio Ciccone calls an end to a troubled yet encouraging season

Here's the announcement from Ciccone's Trek-Segafredo team:

The Italian rider will skip the end of season races in Italy to fully recover from an injury he suffered at the Vuelta

What before was a hypothesis, has become reality, and not without regret. Giulio Ciccone has called an end to his season because of the consequences of a crash that forced him to abandon Vuelta a España. He will miss the last races in Italy, including Il Lombardia, races that were once attractive targets. For Giulio and his coach Josu Larrazabal, now is a time of reflection: between many unexpected events this year, Giulio can reserve important and encouraging hints.

Giulio Ciccone

Giulio Ciccone finishing 2021 Vuelta stage 15, the stage before his bad crash. Sirotti photo

Team physician Dr Nino Daniele explains a non-dramatic context for his injury from the Vuelta crash, but complex to the point of keeping Giulio away from the bike until last week.

“Giulio’s biggest misfortune was the dynamics of the massive crash occurred at the Vuelta. He was among the first riders involved and, as a result, he was among the most affected by the pile of bikes and riders that crashed over him,” explained Dr. Daniele.

“The first and most evident problem was the contusive trauma to the right knee and the deep wound, in the medial region, caused by a gear tooth, to which were added other contusions, mainly the one on the right shoulder. The medical checks carried out in Italy then highlighted a knee sprain, with consequent strain to the medial collateral ligament. These problems imposed absolute rest for almost three weeks.

“Since the beginning of the month, Giulio has faced physiotherapy treatments to reduce effects of trauma and recently started to ride his bike pain-free. These encouraging signs show that the problem is almost solved, but rushing the recovery to return to racing would be a big risk. The next races in Italy are hard ones and Giulio is not ready yet for such demanding efforts. By mutual agreement between team and rider, we decided to close earlier the competitions and to continue with a program to reach full recovery in view of 2022.”

For Ciccone it is yet another bitter pill to digest in a troubled season. His two most important goals of 2021, the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, went up in smoke due to a serious intestinal infection and a crash.

“I’ve said it many times: against bad luck I can do little and brooding is useless,” said Ciccone. “So, I want to focus only on what will be. Before thinking about 2022, my goal is to make a full recovery. Every day, since my return to Italy, I’m focused on this. First with the medical checks and physiotherapy, now with slowly increasing the time on my Émonda. I believe this is the best way to react. I count on completing this phase before the start of the off-season in November.

“In addition, there’s an important mental work of programming and analyzing: putting together the pieces of the season that ended and setting goals for the new one. I’m very confident from this point of view because the work done this year, although it hasn’t been rewarded with victories, has been important. I was able to confirm myself that I took steps forward and, above all, that I still have a margin to grow. I better understood my weakness, on which I have to work, and my strength, on which I have to insist.

“I prepared for the Giro and Vuelta thanks to great teamwork, of which I am proud and happy. First of all, with Josu (Larrazabal), my coach, and then with the medical and team staff. There has been a work of analysis to address training and preparation. We know more about me, and this will be my strength, my biggest stimulus. I’m not ending the season with only disappointing performances behind me. We are convinced of this, and it will be the new starting point”.

Rather a restarting point, as pointed out by Trek-Segafredo’s head performance Josu Larrazabal, the one who has followed every detail of Cicco’s preparation since his arrival in the team in 2019.

“In January we were looking at 2021 as an important season for Giulio and in many ways  it was. The work of performance analysis, with measurable data, indicates to us that there has been progress. And from this basis we will build the future and set new goals,” explained Larrazabal.

“We cannot ignore the absence of victories and we are not looking for alibis. However, a lucid and objective analysis must take into account all the elements. In Giulio’s case, there are several that have not played in his favor. The season has been much, maybe too much, influenced by external and sometimes unlucky events. At Catalunya he suffered a back problem that started from a knee inflammation. Then, at the Giro, the crash and the infection, followed by an expensive Olympic trip to Tokyo, that included another crash, and finally the chase of the best condition at the Vuelta, still ended with a crash.

“These are not victories, not UCI points, but they are fundamental indications for a rider who has not yet expressed his full potential. He almost won the first race of the year at the Tour de Provence, and he was strong at Tour du Var and Laigueglia.

“At the Giro he was second in a tough stage like Campo Felice behind Bernal and was firmly among the best in GC, as well as at the Vuelta. He has learned the management of a Grand Tour as a GC rider and has improved his TT skill, thanks to the help of Trek. These are measurable data that helps us to fully understand the season and marks the starting point for 2022.”

Vittoria to double tire production with new carbon-neutral facility

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

BANG PU, Thailand (BRAIN) — The Vittoria Group will invest $20 million into building the world's first carbon-neutral bicycle tire facility that will open at the end of next year.

Vittoria's tire production capacity will double at the Lion Tyres Thailand factory in the Bang Pu industrial district, which will employ 400 additional workers. The Lion Tyres Thailand factory premises also will grow to 560,000 square feet and be near the current headquarters. The facility is designed with sustainability in mind with solar panels, intelligent climate control, and increased use of biodegradable and recycled materials.

"We are very pleased to further invest in Thailand, the world's premium place for development and production of high-quality bicycle tyres," said Vittoria Group President and CEO Stijn Vriends. "The new factory is an important milestone in our journey toward sustainable and carbon-neutral manufacturing."

The 172,000-square-foot facility will feature product testing and research capabilities. Ground was broken Thursday.

You can read the entire story here.

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