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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. - Anatole France


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Victor Campenaerts signs three-year contract with Lotto Soudal

The team sent me this announcement:

Victor Campenaerts will sport the Lotto Soudal colours in the coming years as the 29-year-old Belgian signed an agreement of three seasons at the Belgian WorldTeam. In the past, Campenaerts was already part of the team for two seasons, in which he, amongst others, became Belgian and European time trial champion and set a new World Hour Record. Campenaerts is now ready to write a new chapter at Lotto Soudal.

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts wins stage four of the 2019 Tour of Belgium.

“Of course, I was charmed by the many interested teams but the interesting project and the clear ambitions of Lotto Soudal convinced me”, says Victor Campenaerts. “I immediately noticed the confidence the team gave me and of course, it’s also nice that I still know several riders and a lot of staff members. Therefore, I am looking forward to contributing to the attractive style of racing at Lotto Soudal, it is really exciting! It’s with great pleasure that I look back on the past two years at Team Qhubeka. It is more than a cycling team. The good cause that’s attached to the team - to give kids a better chance for education with bikes – is something that will be in my heart for my entire life.”

Also John Lelangue, General Manager at Lotto Soudal, is delighted with the transfer of the 29-year-old Belgian.

“With Victor Campenaerts, we strengthen our roster with a very complete rider. This season, he really impressed in both the one-day Classics and stage races. His aggressive way of racing also delivered some big results like a stage win at the Giro and a third place overall at the Benelux Tour. Victor believes in the Lotto Soudal project and is a perfect match for the team.”

The past season, Victor Campenaerts had a first taste of the Classics but the holder of the World Hour Record is definitely hungry for more.

Victor Campenaerts: “I really fell in love with the spring Classics and I want to continue down this road. This means to race attractively but also obtain results. Those two things often go hand in hand because sometimes it’s possible to create a scenario from which you can win races. And with many young riders like Brent Van Moer or Florian Vermeersch, there’s a lot of talent within the team. We can definitely play a role in the business end of the races.”

“Obviously, I’ve taken a step back in time trialing but I still have the knowhow, of course. I want to pass this experience onto the young guys with ambitions in stage races. If I notice just a small margin for improvement, I won’t hesitate to share my expertise. Besides, I want to be an important tutor for the young riders to sharpen their race audacity. But I can also still learn a lot within Lotto Soudal from for example Philippe Gilbert, who’ll ride his final season next year.”

“I realise that I won’t be able to compete for the win in let’s say the Ronde van Vlaanderen as I don’t have the distance in the legs just yet. That is why the main focus on training will be on improving my endurance. I want to evolve from a time trial effort of about an hour to a rider who can deal with the distance of the biggest Classics. Next season, I will thus mainly focus on the semi-Classics and short stage races.”

Also John Lelangue is already looking forward to next season.

“Of course, it will be nice to have Victor back in the team. In 2019, we worked together on one of the most challenging projects within cycling as he set a new World Hour Record. Victor evolved into a real baroudeur, but there is no doubt that he will be an important part for our performance department as well. With his broad time trial experience, he will definitely bring something extra to the team. The past year, he really showed bravoure during his first Classics’ campaign, but Victor wants to set results as well. He already proved to be able to do this by taking a beautiful stage win at the Giro. Within Lotto Soudal, we will do everything to make his dreams come true. We really look forward to Victor joining the team and we cannot wait for the new season to kick off!”

Ridley and Lotto Soudal extend to 2026

While we're at it, Lotto Soudal also sent me this announcement:

Ridley and Lotto Soudal have just extended their partnership through to 2026. Their previous contract ran through to 2022, so this means an additional four years of working – and winning - together.

The relationship between these two partners dates back to 2005, when Lotto Soudal went by the name of Davitamon-Lotto. With this much history, it is a pleasure for both parties to make the announcement today that they will continue their relationship straight through to the end of 2025.

Lotto Soudal

Here's Caleb Ewan and his Ridley before the start of the 2021 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo  

Ridley:
Jochim Aerts, CEO of Belgian Cycling Factory (Ridley’s umbrella company): "We are very proud to announce this extension. In 2025, Ridley will have been racing for 20 years at the very highest level of cycling. That's a very big deal for a Belgian bike company, competing against the giants in the cycling industry."

“Innovation is one of our cornerstones,” says Aerts, “and is mandatory if you want to work with a WorldTour team. We will also innovate in the coming seasons, so that the team can continue to race with the best bikes. In 2022, we will launch the new Dean Fast. These innovations are necessary to support talents such as Van Moer and Vermeersch.”

Lotto Soudal:
John Lelangue, General Manager of Lotto Soudal: “First of all, I am extremely proud that we will continue to work with Ridley in the coming years. As a Belgian company that focuses on innovation, quality and performance, it is a perfect match with what Lotto Soudal stands for. Just like us, Ridley has the passion to take Belgian cycling to an even higher level. This has already been expressed in the many successes that we have achieved in a partnership of almost fifteen years.”

“The interaction between Ridley's R&D department and Lotto Soudal's riders and staff is crucial to continuously improve and adapt the bikes to the needs of top riders. Crucial here is the use of the state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Bikevalley. I think of the bike with which Victor Campenaerts broke the hour record or the specific Noah on which Caleb Ewan already claimed more than twenty victories. Recently modified Noah Fast Discs were developed for Paris-Roubaix, where Florian Vermeersch sprinted to the podium. And without a doubt, our collaboration will continue to enjoy many successes in the coming years.”

Moving forward:
Next season, Lotto Soudal will race with the Noah Fast Disc, Helium SLX Disc and the (new) Dean Fast Disc time trial bike. There will, though, be some changes to the equipment in the final assembly. The Ridleys will, from this moment forward, be built with DT Swiss wheels, KMC chains and Shimano Dura-Ace groupsets with CEMA bearings. Other equipment partners such as Selle Italia, Deda, Lizard Skins, Look and Vittoria will remain on board.

And the riders?
“For three seasons, my Ridley Noah Fast Disc and I took part in the most important competitions in the world. And I can safely say that it has been a winning combination. And why tinker with a winning team?”, exclaims Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan. Adding, “That's why I'm very happy that we will continue to work with Ridley in the coming seasons. It's amazing to be able to rely on their extensive expertise. As a professional cyclist, it gives you a nice feeling that our feedback is used to continuously improve the bikes. I think that’s one of the most important keys to success. That's why I can't wait to see what the next few years will bring. I am sure we will create many more great memories together.”

Stefan Bissegger extends with EF Educaton-Nippo

The team sent me this release:

“I have big plans in my mind for next season, and hopefully they will play out.”

Stefan Bissegger is all set to keep wearing pink. And if you’re looking at his results from this past year — you might predict he’ll wear a yellow jersey at some point too.

Our Swiss time trialing ace made a splash very early this year at the UAE Tour when he earned himself a second place in stage two. His skills on the bike only kept steadily improving from there.

Since then, the 23-year-old rider earned himself a stage win and some time with the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice, a stage win at the Benelux Tour, and completed his first Tour de France. Yet his proudest moment this year came on home soil.

Stefan Bissegger

Stefan Bissegger riding in stage two of the 2021 Benelux Tour.

“I’m most proud of the stage win at the Tour de Suisse. A win at home is always really special,” said Bissegger.

Not only did Stefan win in Switzerland, but he was victorious in a cinematic sort of way. A heavy dose of rain showers in the Alps wasn’t going to stop him from securing a victory in his country. Plus, it became evident that Bissegger knows how to manage slippery roads and other unfavorable conditions. In fact, some might say he thrives when the weather and terrain is less than agreeable.

“The more dangerous, the better for Stefan,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s a great bike handler and instinctively knows how to handle tricky sections at speed.”

At this year’s Tour de France time trials, Stefan made headlines with his unbelievable save on the wet roads en route to Laval. Spectators and fans around the world had their hearts collectively stop when Bissegger was able to avoid a serious crash, shake it off, and keep racing full speed ahead.

“He’s exceptional on TT courses with numerous technical corners, and he can hold speed very well. In fact, I think he’ll be able to win the first time trial at the 2022 Tour de France,” Vaughters said.

Vaughters and Bissegger also know that he has potential to win not only in the time trials, but the Classic races as well.

“He’s not only a time trial rider but he’s quite good in races like Paris-Roubaix, which call for positioning and raw power,” Vaughters added. “Eventually, I think he’ll be one of the top riders at that race, too.”

Bissegger proved just how versatile a rider he really is at the toughest one-day race of the year. He was composed and even looked calm in the most demanding sectors of the race, and all made even more impressive by the fact that it was his very first Roubaix.

‘It was special to be up there in the lead group. It felt really nice and it was just a really epic race, ” said Bissegger.

Stefan is close to many riders on the team, including Jonas Rutsch who has also recently announced his decision to ride with the team next year. He’s also looking forward to working with the team’s sport directors, including Andreas Klier, who “discovered” Bisseger after watching him race at the Tour de l’Ain stage win on YouTube.

“Andreas is like a mentor to all of the riders and his knowledge on the materials is just really good. I’m really looking forward to working with the entire team next season. I want to improve myself in the big Classics and also in the time trials,” Bissegger said.

Team DSM’s upcoming racing

The squad sent me this schedule:

UCI Women's World Tour Ronde van Drenthe: OCT 23

Albert Timmer - Team DSM coach
"Ronde van Drenthe is the last race on the calendar for us and we head to it filled with confidence after the team's strong recent performances. With some long cobbled sections in the beginning we expect a hard start before a flatter finale. It's a race that is often dictated by the weather and we could see some echelons if there is a strong wind. If the race ends in a sprint then we will set up Lorena as our finisher, but we also want to ride assertively throughout the day with our strong team who are all capable of a good result on a parcours like this, which includes our newly crowned British champion, Pfeiffer."

Line-up:
Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Megan Jastrab (USA)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

Ronde van Drenthe: OCT 24

Nils eekhoff

Nils Eekhoff will ride the Ronde van Drenthe. Here he is winning the 2019 U23 World Championships.

Wilbert Broekhuizen - Team DSM coach
"We're really looking forward to our last race of the season at Ronde van Drenthe. Taking place on the narrow and twisting roads of the Drenthe province and including some cobbled sections, we expect it to be a tough race, especially if there is some wind for the exposed parts of the route. Our goal is to set up Nils as our finisher if the race ends in a group sprint, while we also want to be offensive in the finale too, and we have a strong team to do that. With a nice mix of our Men and Development program riders, we're looking forward to ending to our season in a good way."

Line-up:
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Florian Stork (GER)
Casper van Uden (NED)

Joris Nieuwenhuis - Cyclocross races

Kermiscross Ardooie - 21st October
UCI World Cup Zonhoven - 24th October

James Knox re-ups with Deceuninck-Quick Step

Here’s the team’s announcement:

In an exclusive blog for the Deceuninck – Quick-Step website, James Knox told us how happy he is to stay with the Wolfpack, reflected on his achievements so far and how he hopes to grow as a Grand Tour rider.

“I am really happy to come to an agreement with Patrick and the team, and it was an easy decision to make. I had a nice talk with Patrick, where things went smoothly and we took it from there – agreeing to stay did not take too much thinking. I have now been with the team for four years and it will be six by the time I have finished, which is a long time when I think about it – I will have spent half of my ‘cycling life’ so far, with the team, which is crazy to think about, but I am really happy to stay and feeling more and more comfortable.

James Knox

James Knox racing in the 2019 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

"It is hard to know big things that I have learnt when I look back, because they have become second nature to me now, but I look at Ethan who has now joined the team, and that was basically me – a kid from the UK coming over, a little bit unnerved with the language difference and not knowing my place in the team. But I have had a lot of great, great times with the team.

"There are lots of favourite moments of my time with the squad and it would be hard to pick out one – I have been honoured to be part of so many great victories. 2021 was a hard year with some ups and downs. The Grand Tours personally didn’t go how I would have hoped but I had a great spring where I got stuck in and tried to do what I could as a teammate, but there was plenty to learn from and move forward with.

"Over the winter we will look at why I didn’t quite perform at the Grand Tours and analyse what we can do and go from there. To counter that, how I raced at Liège–Bastogne–Liège and helping Julian to get on to the podium was personally very, very satisfying and something that I enjoyed. Also, seeing Fabio’s wins at the Vuelta and celebrating that green jersey in Santiago de Compostela, when we crossed the line as a team in stage 20 was quite special. I raced with him in the Vuelta in 2019 and I was in Poland when he crashed, so to have seen how far he has come in that time is amazing.

"I have raced two different Grand Tours now – the Giro and the Vuelta. They are similar in a lot of ways and both suit me. Maybe the Giro is a little more stressful with it being the first Grand Tour of the year and a few of the GC guys’ first outing. But I grew up racing in Italy and Spain, so I really love racing there and it would be hard to pick a favourite.

"I do see myself as more of a GC rider than a one-day specialist. I don’t have the explosiveness of someone like Julian in the Classics or a Monument, but I feel like I can still go there and do a job for the team – I think I showed that at Flèche and Liège this year what I can do and I was very satisfied. And if you look, I have had two top 15 places in Grand Tours, so I can see that they are better for me, but the team has a lot of young talented riders, so maybe I am better utilised as a teammate. I can look at my own ambitions but maybe it is better that I help the big guys to continue to get the results.”

Further to the words of Knox, Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere said: “James is a rider that embodies the Wolfpack spirit – he always works so hard for his teammates. He did some immense work in the Ardennes Classics for the squad this year, as well as giving his best in both the Giro and the Vuelta, so he is adaptable too. We have seen in the past that he is also capable of being a very good GC rider, so signing him adds options and strength to our climbing group and we are really happy to be keeping him for two more seasons.”

Bahrain Victorious signs Jasha Sütterlin, Edoardo Zambanini and Alejandro Osorio

Here’s the team’s release:

Bahrain Victorious are pleased to announce the signings of Jasha Sütterlin, Edoardo Zambanini and Alejandro Osorio.

The 28-year-old German cyclist Sütterlin joins the team and will make up part of the sprint train for Phil Bauhaus:

“I am happy to be part of such a big team and to give my maximum for the role I have been given. I’m looking forward to  supporting and helping the classics and Grand Tours leaders to achieve success and leading out sprints for Phil Bauhaus.”

Jasha Sutterlin

Jasha Sütterlin racing at the 2020 World Championships. Sirotti photo

Edoardo Zambanini is joining the WorldTour as a neo-pro. The young Italian is looking forward to his development with the team: “I’m really excited to join Bahrain Victorious team next year. It’s been a dream of mine.

This team is truly the team I have wanted for this important step, a team that I admire a lot, and I am sure it will help me grow a lot. I sincerely thank everyone close to me, especially my family, the Bahrain Victorious team, for the trust they have placed in me and A&J for all the support they are giving to me”.

Alejandro Osorio also makes his move up to the WorldTour. The 23-year-old Colombian commented on signing: ” I am very happy to join this team, it is a dream come true to reach the top in a World Team, and Bahrain is a team that I like a lot and is a point of reference in the world cycling scene. Next year I want to do things well and to repay the trust they have given me.”

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