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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 28, 2021

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. - Aeschylus


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Les Woodland's book Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories is available as an audiobook here.

Lukasz Wisniowski joins EF Education-Nippo

The team sent me this news release:

Łukasz Wiśniowski is the latest rider to join the EF Education-NIPPO roster for 2022.

Wiśniowski describes himself as “friendly and always laughing.” Spend just five minutes chatting with the Polish rider and you’ll see that it’s true. This attitude helps him not only to enjoy life, but to get through the inevitable hardships that come with a career as a bike rider. “Cycling is such a hard discipline, a hard sport. I think you need to have a good sense of humor to push through the hard days,” he says.

Lukasz Wisniowski

Wisniowski winnng the field sprint for second at the 2018 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Sirotti photo

“I’m not a climber and I have to be good at something, so let’s say the Classics!” the 29-year-old jokes. All kidding aside, Wiśniowski is an asset to the team’s Classics line up. Already with a second place finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he is determined to build upon that. “I’m still hungry for more,” Wiśniowski says. “When I was a kid, I always watched Omloop, Paris-Roubaix, and the Tour of Flanders. It was those three races I was dreaming about. The biggest goal is to win Paris-Roubaix. You always have to look at the highest goal and focus on it. That would be my dream from childhood.”

From the first moment Wiśniowski rode cobblestones, he was hooked. “You feel it straight away. The cobbles suit me.”

Wiśniowski goes on to explain why he loves the cobbled Classics so much. “One day races when you just race full gas from the start to the finish line. The parcours really suit me: the cobblestones, the small roads, the wind. All that is what I really like. I’m not a climber so I really enjoy the races in Belgium.”

He has raced at the WorldTour level for the past seven seasons and loves the freshness that comes along with moving to a new team. “I’ve often changed teams in the past and I like this because then I get new friends and also new goals for the new season. New goals are new motivation.”

Jonathan Vaughters, team CEO, notes Wiśniowski’s experience as an asset. “Łukasz sort of balances out the influx of young talent into the team in 2022,” Vaughters explains. “We needed a couple of hard core, stalwart guys that know the job, that know how to get the work done in the Classics. Łukasz has actually produced some great results on his own in the Classics as well. He’s the foundation of the team, the guy you’re bringing in to steady the ship. An experienced rider, he’s been around, knows the races, knows how to work for a leader, knows how to race for himself. The foundation of a team is having guys like him who can get the grunt work done.”

Vaughters also appreciates the Polish rider’s easy-going attitude. “A lot of the young guys can be super nervous and wound up, whereas the older guys sometimes, they’re the ones who bring a little levity to the situation, a little bit of a lighthearted nature, saying ‘Listen, you’re not going to die because we didn’t win today.’ He’s a great person to have at the dinner table. I don’t usually say that as an attribute as to why I put a guy on contract, but the social dynamic is important.”

Wiśniowski is happiest anytime he can turn himself inside out, whether he’s racing for himself or a teammate. “I would like to help the team because there are a lot of GC riders and sprinters and climbers so that’s a goal for me. Personal goals, I would like to be focused on the spring Classics and to show myself at one of those races.”

His love of aggressive racing is one of the factors that drew him to EF. Wiśniowski is the kind of rider who is comfortable taking a gamble. “The team always races aggressively which is what I really like. That’s why it’s my dream team. Finally I made it! I’m super excited and I cannot wait to meet all the riders and the staff and to race together.”

We love your passion, Łukasz, and we can’t wait to kick off the 2022 season with you.

Andrea Bagioli will stay with Deceuninck-Quick Step for two more years

Here’s the team’s announcement:

During a turbulent 2021, our young Italian rider Andrea Bagioli went through a range of emotions, from the pain of a persistent knee injury that kept him off his bike, to the rollercoaster of a series of strong performances at the Vuelta España, but just missing out on an elusive stage win.

Andrea BAgioli

Andrea Bagioli winning the second stage of the 2020 Coppi-Bartali race. Sirotti photo

This week however has been a double cause of celebration for Andrea. On Tuesday evening he was proud to be awarded the Giglio d’Oro, a prestigious award that recognises the best young Italian talent. Coupled with this is the news that he will stay with Deceuninck – Quick-Step for two more years, in an agreement that will run until the end of 2023.

In an exclusive blog, Andrea reflected on his second year in the pro ranks, told us of his glee at agreeing to stay with the squad and his hopes for the future.

“When Patrick said that he wanted to keep me in the team, I agreed immediately! I am super happy to be staying for two more years because I think this is the perfect team to help me improve and develop as a rider. I have really enjoyed the two years I have spent here so far. The first year, with the initial impact of Covid, was very strange, and this year with my knee injury was hard, so I am really ready to give it my all for the next two years.

"I took my first win with the team at Tour de l’Ain, which was one of the first races after the lockdown. It was a big breakthrough for me and a super moment when I beat a big rider like Primoz Roglic in the sprint! Then I won again, at Coppi e Bartali, which made for a good initial season, and I would like to push on now to win some important races. I made my Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta later in the year, but was not able to finish it, which I managed to do this year.

"The knee injury kept me off my bike for five months, which was a difficult time, and it was hard to come back to racing after so long. I had to stay one month completely confined to my bed with my leg straight – it was really hard to watch races like Romandie on television, but my family and the team kept my spirits up.

"When we decided that I would go to the Vuelta, I was not sure how I would be, after so long off the bike, but my ride in the Tour de l’Ain showed that my condition was good. I came so close to a stage win twice at the Vuelta, which I look back on with both pride and frustration. It was special to be up there, especially after the work that I put in after the injury, but when you are so close it is a pity. I will learn a lot from it though and I hope to put it right soon.

"The name translates to a golden flower, and it is awarded to the best young rider of the year. It is an important award for cycling in Italy and to be recognised is very special to me. They were not able to hold the ceremony last year, because of Covid, so everybody has been looking forward to this year’s event and it will be special.

"And then I have two years with Deceuninck – Quick-Step to look forward to. For sure I want to win some big races in that time and hope to take some Grand Tour stages. At some point I would of course like to ride the Giro, but I also want to help the team to win the important races, like the Monuments and the Classics.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere was equally delighted to have reached an agreement with Bagioli: “Andrea has shown in the last two years that he is one of the most talented young riders around and now that we have an agreement with him, we are looking forward to seeing him develop. He has displayed a lot of heart and determination to come through a big injury so early in his career, and yet come back in the Vuelta and the Italian races so strong. Hopefully he will now have a clean bill of health and we can see him accomplish a lot.”

Dmitriy Gruzdev and Artyom Zakharov re-up with Astana Qazaqstan

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Two Kazakh riders Dmitriy Gruzdev and Artyom Zakharov have renewed their contracts with Astana Qazaqstan Team for the next two seasons (2022 and 2023).

Dmitriy Gruzdev (35) is preparing for his 11th season with the Kazakh team, which he joined in 2012. Dmitriy is one of the most experienced active Kazakh riders in the peloton with eight Grand Tours, 17 Monuments and 7 Road World Championships to his name. Dmitriy Gruzdev is triple National and double Asian individual time trial Champion and this year, he represented Kazakhstan at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“The new contract with Astana Qazaqstan Team motivates me to keep on improving, to keep on providing my best for the team goals, to keep on working side by side with the team leaders, together achieving success. The last two years turned out to be a serious challenge for everyone but stepping into the new season I hope that everything will return to normal. I think I will be useful to the team in any kind of race; classics, stage races or Grand Tours”, – said Dmitriy Gruzdev.

Artyom Zakharov, who turned 30 today, joined team Astana in 2017. He is a track specialist who represented Kazakhstan in omnium at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but at the same time Artyom gained good experience at the Northern Classic races and short week-long stage races.

The 2017 National road race Champion, this year Zakharov claimed the bronze medal in the road race behind his teammates Yevgeniy Fedorov and Yevgeniy Gidich.

“The last year turned out to be tense and nervous due to the continuing pandemic and the preparation for the Olympic Games which was also a bit difficult because of many restrictions. Due to my track preparation, for the Olympics and Track World Championships, I did not spend too much time on the road together with team Astana this year. In the upcoming season, I would like to concentrate on the road, on helping my team, on working for my personal results in any one-day race or a small stage race. Despite the fact I spent a lot of time on track, I was able to gain some important experience during these five years in the WorldTour, and I feel like it is the right time to use it to achieve something important”, – said Artyom Zakharov.

“Dmitriy and Artyom are very experienced riders, and we need them in our team to share this valuable experience with the new generation of Kazakh riders like Yevgeniy Fedorov, Gleb Brussenskiy and our neo-pro Nurbergen Nurlykhassym. Despite his age, Gruzdev is still improving and during the last two seasons, especially at La Vuelta in 2020 and the Tour de France in 2021, he proved to be an important team player. Zakharov is also a strong and very loyal rider, always ready to provide good help to the leaders both at the classics and stage races. In the upcoming season, I am expecting both riders to work hard for the most important team goals”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.

Team BikeExchange adds Kelland O’Brien

The team sent me this announcement:

Team BikeExchange is proud to announce the signing of Olympic medalist Kelland O’Brien for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The 23-year-old Australian claimed the bronze in the team pursuit event in Tokyo and will now turn his full attention to the road, stepping away from the track and into the WorldTour peloton with the Australian outfit.

The World and Commonwealth champion (Team Pursuit) has already displayed his great potential on the road, having finished second in the Australian road race championships and third in the time trial event earlier this year, and will now join fellow Australians at Team BikeExchange, who have taken the same pathway, transitioning from track racing to road racing over the years.

Brent Copeland, General Manager on O’Brien:
“Of course, for us at GreenEDGE Cycling, it is always important to find young talent in Australia and we are confident that with Kelland we have found it. He proved it during the national championships this year and with the bronze medal during the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo he simply confirmed it. Now it is our turn to work with him and help him during his process of adaptation into WorldTour road cycling.

He is young and he will need all the support he can get which we are confident in giving him, as this team has so much experience in this area. He will also be able to learn a lot from our current Australian riders who have made the same transition from track to road. Our Australian legacy is very important for us, and we believe Kelland has everything it takes to bring forward what our Team Owner, Gerry Ryan, has developed in the past decade.”

Kelland O’Brien:
“It has been an incredible year so far for me. I had good results during national road race championships, the Olympic medal in Tokyo with the Australian national team, and now becoming a pro cyclist on a WorldTour team. I have been looking up to GreenEDGE Cycling in the last few years as an Australian rider, they are the team to be in and I am extremely excited to be joining them. I am glad that this opportunity has been given to me and it’s now my turn to take the most out of it and keep improving as a cyclist.

I will be moving to Europe to Girona, Spain, where many other of my new teammates live and this will help me a lot, to adapt to the new lifestyle and I am confident this will be facilitating my new adventure. Of course, things won’t be easy, as joining a WorldTour Team needs maximum effort and lots of sacrifices, but I am sure Team BikeExchange is the right choice for me.”

Kelland O’Brien:
Date of birth: 22nd May 1998 (23)
Nationality: Australian
Joins Team BikeExchange: 2022
New Contract: 2022 & 2023

Top Results:
1st 2017 World Championships Team Pursuit - Gold
1st 2018 Commonwealth Games Team Pursuit - Gold
1st 2019 World Championships Team Pursuit - Gold
2nd 2021 Australian Road Race Championships
3rd 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games Team Pursuit- Bronze
3rd 2021 Australian Time Trial Championships

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