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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 8, 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.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

Upcoming racing:

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Les Woodland's Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions is available as an audiobook here.

Following positive COVID test results, BORA - hansgrohe changes line-up for Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours

The team sent me this update:

After displaying slight symptoms of a cold, Pascal Ackermann and Michael Schwarzmann had a PCR test carried out on short notice ahead of their trip to France, which returned a positive result. A second test confirmed the positive result for both riders. Ackermann and Schwarzmann therefore did not commence their trip and are now at home, following the guidelines of the relevant health authorities.

PAscal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann (shown racing in Italy earlier this year) will not be racing in France this week. Sirotti photo.

Maciej Bodnar will take part in the two races as a substitute, but the team will only start with six riders.

Team Jumbo-Visma Women signs Coryn (Rivera) Labecki for two years

The team sent me this:

Coryn Labecki (29), formerly known by her maiden name Rivera, makes the switch to Team Jumbo-Visma Women next season. The rider from California signs for two years with the black-and-yellow women’s formation.

Coryn Rivera

Coryn Rivera Labecki will be racing for Jumbo-Visma for the next two years.

As the first American, Labecki won the Tour of Flanders in 2017. In addition, her palmares include a victory in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Women’s Tour and the RideLondon Classique.

Despite her experience, Labecki is convinced there is still much to learn. "This season I won my first Giro stage and qualified myself for the Olympic team. In addition, podium finishes in the Tour of Norway and the Vuelta, among others, and a top ten place at the recent World Championships confirmed my consistency in the second half of the year. After a difficult start to the season, I turned the switch in the second half and was still able to achieve my goals. I am thrilled with that. I am now looking forward to a new year, a new chapter, and a new me. My goal for next year is to enjoy every moment with the new team. Learning how a new team works and being open to a new way of working."

Labecki is a fan of the spring classics. "I like the classics. They fit well with my physical abilities. In the tougher races, I am often able to make it to the final. Still, whenever possible, I also want to be as good a teammate as possible. I will partly take on a leadership role, but I am open to learning - anything to support the team. From the first year, Team Jumbo-Visma has gone in the right direction with the women’s program. It’s a great group of girls, and there’s also excellent support from the team. I look forward to learning a lot from the team and Marianne Vos, among others. And also to ride together with Anna Henderson, who was my teammate before. I think it’s a strong team with the right composition to achieve many successes next year."

Team manager Esra Tromp sees Labecki playing a vital role within the selection. "Coryn is a strong all-around rider with good tactical abilities. She is a tremendous team player and very eager to learn. Despite her impressive list of honours, Coryn wants to keep learning and developing. With the arrival of Coryn, the team will be strengthened, so we will be able to compete for the win in different scenarios. We are convinced that she will be of great value to us in 2022."

Team BikeExchange to race Il Lombardia

The team sent me this:

Team BikeExchange men are aiming to end the 2021 season on a high as they take on the fifth and final Monument of the year, Il Lombardia.

Giro d'Italia podium finisher Simon Yates will lead the squad as he comes in fresh off the back of an attacking ride at the six-day CRO Race last week, while Tour of Hungary winner Damien Howson and Czech Tour Nick Schultz will add valuable support alongside veteran Mikel Nieve.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates in stage 17 of this year's Giro d'Italia. That's Joao Almeida on his wheel. Sirotti photo

The ever-reliable Chris Juul-Jensen comes into the fold after riding Paris-Roubaix last weekend, while neo-pro Kevin Colleoni will get his first taste of the 'Race of the Falling Leaves'. The experienced Andrey Zeits will complete the seven-rider line-up, making his fourth appearance in the Italian one-day classic.

The 115th edition of the race will see a new route as the peloton travel 240km from Como to a challenging finale in Bergamo. The 2021 race will take in six climbs and 4500 meters of elevation, with the short, but steep Colle Aperto coming inside the final 5km.

Team BikeExchange at 2021 Il Lombardia:
Kevin Colleoni (ITA)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Damien Howson (AUS)
Mikel Nieve (ESP)
Nick Schultz (AUS)
Simon Yates (GBR)
Andrey Zeits (KAZ)

Simon Yates:
"I go to Il Lombardia after competing at the CRO Race last week, which allowed me to find the race pace again and improve my condition.

"I expect a very selective race, both because of the length of the race and because of the very demanding course, especially now that we are at the end of the season. The list of starters for this Monument is really strong and I expect a great battle as always."

Matthew White - Head Sport Director:
“We would like to finish off the season with a top result in the last Monument of the year. Simon Yates will be our best option and we are aiming for the podium.

"We have a very strong team, and everyone will have an important role, whether it is being in certain moves to keep us on the front foot or positioning our leaders, every role will be important to the success of the day.

"For sure the race will be aggressive and the other factor that always affects a race of this distance is the weather. Il Lombardia is one of the hardest one-day races on our calendar, and this year is no different.

"I expect a very selective race and, after the recon, I think that the last climb before descending to the finish will be decisive. As usual, in the last hour of racing, we will see who the strongest riders in the bunch are.”

Il Lombardia 2021 Race Details:
Saturday, 9th October: Como to Bergamo, 239km

Rally Cycling signs Gage Hecht

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Rally Cycling has signed American Gage Hecht as the first new rider for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The 23-year-old from Parker, Colorado signs from the US-based Aevolo team.

The step up to the ProTeam ranks marks the realization of a dream for the multi-talented rider who describes himself as a lover of Classics-style races who isn’t afraid to do his turn for the good of the team.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to race in Europe,” said Hecht. “The team is a really cool platform to make that jump and I’ve heard amazing things about Jonas [Carney] and the rest of the staff about how they treat the riders. I’m really excited to be working with them.”

Hecht has been racing on the road with Aevolo since 2017 and has displayed his talents in the biggest stateside races. In 2018, at just 20 years of age, he beat WorldTour riders in the opening stage of the Colorado Classic and in 2021 took victory in the time trial at the Joe Martin Stage Race and finished second overall.

Gage Hecht

Gage Hecht wins the first stage of the 2018 Colorado Classic.

“We’ve been talking for a few years now, and we feel the timing is right as he is ready to commit fully to the road,” said performance director Jonas Carney. “Gage is one of the best young riders coming out of North America right now and we feel he has a ton of potential.”

The Coloradan is the current US national cyclocross champion, a discipline he has entertained many fans by competing in. Like so many athletes in recent years who have made the successful transition from mud to asphalt, Hecht believes the transferable skills have left him in good stead. 

“Cyclocross gives you a different type of strength,” he says. “It’s not so much a sprinter’s power, but this ability to just do repeated hard efforts out of the corners without burying yourself. That skill is going to help me a lot as I transition to a full European calendar with the team.”

Away from cycling, Hecht is an aviation enthusiast who holds a private pilot’s license and is currently completing a degree in aviation aerospace science. He also plays the ukulele, but not at the same time.

The team looks forward to welcoming Hecht to its ranks for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Stay tuned as more roster announcements are expected over the coming weeks.

Cherie Pridham becomes sports director at Lotto Soudal

Here’s the team’s news release:

Cherie Pridham will join the group of Lotto Soudal sports directors in 2022. This season, the 50-year-old Briton was sports director at Israel Start-Up Nation. After a successful 15-year career as a pro rider, Cherie Pridham pivoted her career towards managing and directing.

“If you can’t beat the Belgians, join them”, were Cherie Pridham’s first words after the announcement. “It was absolutely not on my radar to direct a Belgian team, but when the Lotto Soudal project was presented to me, I was immediately charmed by it. I raced a lot in Belgium. I know how much cycling means for Belgian people. I am not afraid, I am ready to make a positive contribution to the team’s future.”

As an athlete, Cherie Pridham was a world class bike rider, completing no less than eight editions of the Tour de France Féminin and two of the Giro Rosa. After her career she went into management.

“And I only heard good things about her”, says Lotto Soudal general manager John Lelangue. “I spoke with some five other candidates for this job, but then some riders suggested me Cherie. After our first interview I was immediately convinced. She was by far the best sports director. She really can and will bring something new to the team. Earlier she already brought other teams to a higher level. For the dynamics of the team she is a surplus. She is strong in organization and works well with people, riders and staff. Whether you’re male or female doesn’t matter at all to do this job. First and foremost, she’s a director, not a female director. Cherie is just the person we need.”

Cherie Pridham is indeed the first female sports director in the top tier of modern male cycling.

“As long as I do my job, then it is not important to be a man or a woman. In 2021 I always got respect and appreciation. I really want to thank the owners of Israel Start-Up Nation. They gave me the chance to develop my skills. That was an invaluable experience which I can use to help making Lotto Soudal a more exciting team. If I just can bring some small touches, some more modern things into the organization that could make already a big difference. The important thing is that all riders and staff feel that they are part of a successful team. We will have fun with Lotto Soudal, but with the riders we need to go to war as well. And we can win the battle”, concluded Cherie Pridham.

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