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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 21, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. - Ambrose Bierce

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Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, Volume one: 1909 - 1970 is available as an audiobook here.

Ag2r-Citroën's Vincent Lanvenu looks back at the 2021 season

The team sent me this:

"The Ag2r-Citroën team has had an attractive 2021 season, even if the essence of competition is always to want more.

"We took great satisfaction in particular with a stage victory in each of the Grand Tours, first with Andrea Vendrame at the Giro d’Italia, then Ben O’Connor’s and a magnificent fourth place overall at the Tour de France, and Clément Champoussin at the Vuelta a Espana. I also really appreciated Benoît Cosnefroy’s win at the Bretagne Classic ahead of the world champion Julian Alaphilippe, as well as the emergence of Dorian Godon who took three victories and won the general classification of the Coupe de France. Geoffrey Bouchard winning the King of the Mountain jersey at the Giro d’Italia is also a highlight.

GP de Marseillaise

Aurelian Paret-Peintre (on left) wins the European road season opener, the GP de la Marseillaise. Sirotti photo

"In addition to that, we also recognize that we had a very consistent season: we won our first race with Aurélien Paret-Peintre at the Grand Prix La Marseillaise and the last with Stan de Wulf, a very promising young rider, at the Boucles de l’Aulne. We made a special effort when racing the classics, and though we may have hoped for even better results, Greg Van Avermaet’s third place in the Tour of Flanders was a great satisfaction.

"We only missed out on winning one of the monuments, which was one of our defined goals. In the end, we finished eighth in the world rankings, which is proof of our consistency at the highest level throughout the season. Also, we are ambitious for the 2022 season, with a very stable backbone of the squad that can rely on strong leaders and young talents that we hope will flourish.

"We always rely more on our youth training program with the U19 team which feeds the U23 team and whose best riders enter the professional peloton. This is real recognition for the work done at all levels." - Vincent

The number: 4
Four recruits will join the AG2R CITROËN TEAM in 2022.
They are Felix Gall (Team DSM), Paul Lapeira (AG2R CITROËN TEAM U23), Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R CITROËN TEAM U23) and Antoine Raugel (Conti Groupama FDJ).
There will be 29 riders in the squad, nine of whom come from our training center.

The news
Eighth in the UCI World Ranking
The AG2R CITROËN TEAM ends the 2021 season in eighth place in the UCI World Ranking.

The team won 12 victories:

Please note the additional successes starting with Clément Venturini’s victory at the French Cyclocross National Championship; Marc Sarreau’s victory on the track in the Scratch event; Dorian Godon’s victory in the general classification of the Coupe de France as well as winning the best young rider classification; Geoffrey Bouchard’s King of the Mountains Jersey at the Giro d’Italia; third place for Greg Van Avermaet in the Tour of Flanders; and the bronze medal for Benoît Cosnefroy at the European Championships road race.

The AG2R CITROËN TEAM also won the general team classification of the Coupe de France.

Deceuninck -Quick Step re-signs Zdenek Stybar

Here's the team's announcement:

Zdenek Stybar will continue with Deceuninck – Quick-Step next year after adding one year to his contract. A pro since 2011 – while making the full transition from cyclo-cross in 2013, a discipline where he took three gold medals at the World Championships – Zdenek is the first, and so far, only Czech rider in history to have triumphed at a cobbled Classic – the 2019 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke.

Zdenek Stybar

Zdenek Stybar wins 2019 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Sirotti photo

In addition to these, his palmares includes an unforgettable Strade Bianche victory and stage wins at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. In 2021, despite an ablation procedure performed to fix a heart rhythm problem discovered after Gent-Wevelgem, Stybar still posted several solid results – top 10 placings at E3 Harelbeke, Primus Classic and the World Championships, before drawing the curtain over his season at Paris-Roubaix.

“I’m really happy I can stay with the team. It will be my 12th year in the squad, that’s quite an achievement. I hope to end my career here in a couple of years. I’m so grateful, also because of the situation I was in. Last year I missed the Tour due to a knee problem, because of that I also wasn’t at my normal level in the Classics. Then I came back strong this year in E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, but I had a heart rhythm problem. So it was a really difficult year. I had to build up from zero again. I started racing again and fell in Hageland, which again made the comeback difficult. The Vuelta finally was the step I needed to get to my level for the Worlds. I was happy after all those months of working and hoping it would turn out well, it also did”, said the 35-year-old Zdenek.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere expressed his thoughts after the deal was signed: “We are delighted to continue together on this road that we began more than a decade ago. Zdenek is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton and an important member of our team, a real wolf who’s always giving his best for the squad. He also has a lot of quality, as evidenced by his victories, and we are confident he can still bring in strong results for the team next year.”

“Of course, the whole Classics period is my goal. I would also like to go back to the Tour de France, I didn’t really leave a nice feeling there last year”, Zdenek said about next season. “This year at first looked like a disaster, but it turned out well in the end. It was mentally exhausting, but I’m so grateful for the support I got within the team. The difficult period started from last year in the Tour. Then I had my normal level again at this year’s Classics, I even felt that in E3 Harelbeke I would have a chance to play an important role during De Ronde. But the Wednesday after Gent-Wevelgem I was on the way to the hospital to look into my heart rhythm problem.”

“I was thinking of the fact there could be three scenarios. The worst case would mean the end of my career, a second option was a minor surgery and some rest, the best scenario was that there wasn’t anything to worry about and I could just race Flanders. The same day they also announced that Paris-Roubaix would be rescheduled, so that brought a little bit of positive news, as I could set my goals towards the autumn edition.”

At the beginning of October, Zdenek got his long-awaited wet Paris-Roubaix, but things didn’t go smoothly: “I knew it would be super nervous and tricky. I couldn’t wait to compete, but during the race itself I wasn’t feeling that well. I got cold at some point and I struggled a bit with my stomach, I really couldn’t accelerate or do anything. And on such a day you need luck, but also super legs, nothing can go wrong.”

Off-season means family time, also for the experienced Czech rider: “I go to the forest often with my family and we have picnic and play there. We sit in a tree and just enjoy being together. When my son isn’t at school, we really make the most out of it together and have some quality time. We go biking sometimes as well. I’ll also do some CX races, just because I like it. It’s a really good preparation and there’s a nice atmosphere with all the fans. A bit like the Worlds in Leuven, but here you get this feeling in every race on a smaller parcours.”

Zdenek will soon turn 36, but isn’t thinking of ending his pro career yet: “I don’t have a date when I will call it a day. Some moments you think it has been good, other moments not. I think I’ll always keep on biking. When I’m not on my bike, I miss it. I made the transition to road cycling in 2013, so that’s not that long ago and I think that’s why I’ll be able to keep on going still for a bit. I’ll feel it when it has been enough, but that’s not the case yet.”

Israel Start-Up Nation signs Giacomo Nizzolo

Here’s the team’s post:

Israel Start-Up Nation is excited to announce that Giacomo Nizzolo will join the team in 2022 adding firepower to the team’s sprint and one-day race rosters.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Giacomo Nizzolo wins 2021 Giro d'Italia stage 13. Sirotti photo

As former European Champion and stage winner in the Giro d’Italia, where he has also won the points classification on two occasions, Nizzolo has been one of the most consistent sprinters over the last 10 years. The 32-year-old Italian is always amongst the top contenders in the bunch sprints while also being a strong card to play in the challenging one-day races.

Giacomo Nizzolo: “To join this team is something really special for me. From the outside, it looks like a really nice team with a great group of people working very well together to reach its big goals. I’m really proud to become part of this team. I’m super happy and super motivated and I’m sure we will achieve big goals together.

“Given my level of performances over the last couple of years, I hope to continue to improve and only get better. Milano-Sanremo is my dream race so I would really like to be at good level there but in general, I just want to take my chance every time there is an opportunity for me. I’m really looking forward to joining the team next year!”

ISN General Manager, Kjell Carlström: “We are happy to strengthen the team with such a strong rider as Giacomo. He has shown consistency over the years and he continues to improve. On top of that, he is also a great teammate as we could see during the World Championships in Belgium this year.

“This is a natural fit for us. We have been working hard on establishing a strong leadout train over the last couple of years, which really came to the fore during the 2021 season with several good results. Adding Giacomo to the equation gives us even more opportunities in the sprints next year.”

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