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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway. - Erma Bombeck


Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:


Lotto Soudal to ride GP de Wallonie

Here's the team's update:

Lotto Soudal will line up at the start of the Grand Prix de Wallonie with a strong seven-rider team. The Belgian one-day race is over 200 kilometres long and runs over a hilly course between Aywaille and Namur. Besides Tim Wellens, former winner of the event in 2017, also Andreas Kron and Tosh Van der Sande will headline the team. They will be supported by Steff Cras, Matthew Holmes, Sylvain Moniquet and Maxim Van Gils. Tim Wellens – recently fourth overall at the Benelux Tour – previews what will undoubtedly be an exciting race.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens winning the 2017 edition of the GP de Wallonie.

“The Grand Prix de Wallonie is a race which suits the team pretty well”, says Tim Wellens. “We won the event three times in a row, first Jens Debusschere, the following year Tony Gallopin and I was victorious in 2017. Also this year, we have pretty high ambitions and are going for the win. With Andreas, Tosh and myself we have three possible winners in our team. It’s a race and finish which suits the three of us.”

“However, the final is maybe a little less selective compared to when I won. Also the cobbles are left out of the course and we’re climbing the Citadel via a different side this year, which makes the finish a little less hard, I think. But the race will definitely explode quite early, I suspect when we enter the local circuit. Then it’s up to us to attack and make sure we never have to chase. My training sessions didn’t go as I wanted to the last few days but I felt good at the Benelux Tour, so I expect to be at the start with good legs.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal Grand Prix de Wallonie: Steff Cras, Matthew Holmes, Andreas Kron, Sylvain Moniquet, Maxim Van Gils, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.

Sonny Colbrelli’s Bahrain Victorious team to race Giro della Toscana & Coppa Sabatini

Here’s the team’s update:

On September 15th and 16th, riders of Team Bahrain Victorious will be part of two historical races in Tuscany.

Giro Della Toscana – Memorial Alfredo Martini course divides into two parts, which go to the North and South part of Pontedera, where the race starts and finishes. The race has a key climb Monte Serra which is 8km long. Giro Della Toscana is a hilly race with 2000 mt of climbing and 192 km. The race leader will be Dylan Teuns, who will be protected the whole race with teammates Buitrago, Milan, Novak, Pernsteiner, and Williams. In case of a bunch sprint team prepared a strategy to safeguard during the race, the new European Champion Sonny Colbrelli ready to attack in the race’s finale.

European Champion

New European Champion Sonny Colbrelli will be racing in Tuscany.

On the next day, riders will attend the Coppa Sabatini race, which takes place in Peccioli, since 1952 when the town of Peccioli has wanted to dedicate it to the memory of cyclist Giuseppe Sabatini.

Parcours is hilly with 2702mt of climbing and 210km long with a start and finish in Peccioli. Riders will make loops in 2 different circuits. Team leader Sonny will be protected throughout the whole parcours by his teammates to fight for the position at the race’s finish in the bunch sprint. The Italian Champion has a winning tradition in this race, as he won it twice (2014-2015), and he was second for three consecutive years (2017-2018-2019).

Bahrain Victorious lineup for both races: Santiago Buitrago, Sonny Colbrelli, Jonathan Milan, Domen Novak, Hermann Pernsteiner, Dylan Teuns, Stevie Williams.

Ben Hermans signs for two more years with Israel Start-Up Nation

Here's the team's announcement:

Israel Start-Up Nation has signed Ben Hermans for two more years. ISN’s all-rounder won numerous stage races in the blue and white colors of the Israeli team, including during this season, and has strong ambitions to continue winning bike races.

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans wins stage three of this year's Arctic Race of Norway.

This marks the first time that Hermans gets the chance to stay longer than four years on one team. “Adding two more seasons will make it six years with Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of 2023. It is proof that I feel very comfortable on this team.”

The Belgian rider says he gets along well with his colleagues and the staff of Israel Start-Up Nation. “I like the atmosphere here, and I am very satisfied with the material we use from our sponsors. I really did not want to change teams in 2022.”

Kjell Carlström, ISN’s general manager, says that 35-year-old Hermans has grown into his role since he joined ISN in 2018. “He has found the place where he can perform really well.”

Carlström is right because at Israel Start-Up Nation Hermans evolved into a winner.

The climber and ITT specialist only had one GC victory before coming to ISN, and in the blue and white kit, Hermans won the Tour of Utah, the Arctic Race of Norway, and the Tour of Austria twice. He also won numerous stages in these three stage races.

This year alone Hermans won the Giro dell’Appennino after an impressive solo effort, the individual time trial in Poitou Charentes and the team time trial in Coppi e Bartali.

Hermans points out that he has shown that he is still competitive. “And I am far from done,” he adds. “I am ambitious, and I am sure I can find nice goals for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.”

Carlström: “We are looking forward to seeing Hermans continue to achieve great successes and to reach all the team’s and his individual goals.”

The Belgian concludes: “I am more than happy that, again, the team has shown confidence in me for two more years. I am motivated to make the most of it.”

Merhawi Kudus to join EF Education-Nippo in 2022

The team sent me this press release:

EF Education-NIPPO is proud to announce the signing of Merhawi Kudus. The Eritrean brings his climbing expertise to the team’s roster.

Merhawi Kudus

Merhawi Kudus racing in the 2017 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

“I am a climber,” Kudus says. “I can climb for GC or I can climb to support someone for GC, but I am definitely a climber,” he laughs. Hailing from the Eritrean capital of Asmara, which sits at over 2,000 meters elevation, perhaps it’s no surprise he’s so comfortable in the mountains.

“I like to ride because it’s so common, so popular where I’m from, it’s just the obvious thing to do,” Kudus says. Not only is cycling a vital form of transportation in Eritrea, it’s also the country’s most popular sport with races shutting down streets in the capital city most weekends. “My cousin was a local amateur rider,” he recalls. “I went to see him in races and I looked up to him.”

Years later, Kudus is now the rider that everyone looks up to.

His palmares are impressive - a slew of GC podiums and stage results in races from Asia to Africa to Europe - but the 27-year-old believes he has more to give. “I think this team is the right place to explore my full potential,” he says. “Here, I can achieve more, but I cannot do it alone. With teamwork you can achieve more and go further than you imagine and I have always seen strong teamwork within EF. I believe in the team’s spirit.”

“He’s a rider I was looking at for a long time and the pieces fell together,” says team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “I'm really excited to have him on the team. He really wanted to be on this team and that’s something that really means a lot to me when somebody says ‘this is the team I want to be at because I feel like you guys are the ones that are going to take me furthest in my career.’ That's music to my ears especially when I hear that from a guy like him because he’s had to break his way into cycling the tough way.”

Kudus is an ideal fit with the team’s ethos. “I enjoy meeting people from different cultures,” he explains. “Yes, I like to ride and train hard and race and all the stuff that is part of the job, but with that comes laughing and traveling and enjoying which I like to share with new people.”

Looking ahead to the 2022 season, Vaughters envisions a clear path for the Eritrean. “I see him focused on mountain jerseys and stage wins,” says Vaughters. He can also do well in week-long stage races. And he’ll be great to help out guys that have GC ambitions. He’s a rider that can make that critical group of 20 to 30 riders in the mountains and be there to support.”

Kudus is open to new goals and challenges. “I want to support the team and also ride for myself, whatever that looks like,” he says. While he hasn’t yet decided which races he will target next season, he knows his ultimate goal. “A stage victory in the Tour de France, that is the ultimate dream.”

Since joining the school mountain biking team as a 14-year-old, Kudus has raced all over the world and been away from home for much of his life. While that can be hard, he doesn’t hesitate to say what makes it worth the sacrifice. “Cycling is my community, no matter where I am,” he says.

We couldn’t be happier to welcome you to the team, Merhawi.

Team DSM's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

Tour de Slovaquie: SEP 15-19

Wilbert Broekhuizen - Team DSM coach
"We start the Tour de Slovaquie with a short prologue and we have a strong mix of riders that can go for a good result on that opening day. For the rest of the week, we will then support Jai over the hilly stages which feature some challenging climbs, where we can hunt for stage success with him as our designated finisher and see where that leaves us in the GC battle. We also have a good balance of sprinters and puncheurs in the team, so we can be active on almost every stage in the search for good results. We want to continue with our good way of working that we’ve shown in recent weeks and we’re looking forward to racing in Slovakia with this group."

Jai Hindley

Jai Hindley (shown racing in the 2020 Giro d'Italia) will race the Tour de Solvaquie. Sirotti photo

Line-up:
Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Cees Bol (NED)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Hannes Wilksch (GER)

Grand Prix de Wallonie: SEP 15

Roy Curvers - Team DSM coach
"GP Wallonie is an exciting race in the Ardennes, with a hilly finale leading into the classic and tough finish on the Citadelle de Namur. We head to the race with a strong and well-rounded team. In Tiesj we have someone who is experienced in this type of racing and he'll be the team's main finisher on the day, and will be supported by a group of talented riders that all find a parcours that suits them. This then also gives us the opportunity to race aggressively and the ability to create different scenarios throughout the race to compete for a top result at the finish."

Line-up:
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Florian Stork (GER)
Henri Vandenabeele (BEL)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen: SEP 17

Michiel Elijzen - Team DSM coach
"Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen takes place on a lap circuit that starts and finishes in Koolskamp, near the town of Ardooie. With its mostly flat parcours, on paper it should be a race that ends in a bunch sprint but as we’ve seen in the past, the weather can play a big factor in the day and potentially split the race. We arrive with a motivated team, with Alberto as our finisher if it comes down to a big group. However, we also have several other options to play if the race splits up and a break goes to the finish.”

Line-up:
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Pavel Bittner (CZE)
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Alberto Dainese (ITA)
Max Kanter (GER)
Pepijn Reinderink (NED)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)

AG Tour de la Semois: SEP 17-18

Albert Timmer - Team DSM coach
"AG Tour de la Semois is a punchy two-day stage race in Belgium, and we're looking forward to making our first appearance there. Both stages take on a larger opening circuit before shorter finish laps, with each day featuring rolling terrain and tricky climbs. We arrive at the race with a strong and well-rounded team, full of confidence after some really good performances recently. With the terrain we expect some attacking racing so we will need to be sharp throughout both stages, so that we're able to compete for good results on both days."

Line-up
Franziska Koch (GER)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Wilma Olausson (SWE)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23: SEP 18

Huub Duijn - Team DSM coach
"Just like the elite race, the U23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège will take place on a very challenging parcours through the Ardennes, with an incredibly hilly route and some tough climbs in the finale. We have a strong team which should give us options over the difficult terrain, and we'll look to ride an aggressive and attacking race. We'll have to be attentive throughout the afternoon as a winning move could go at any point, so we'll need to communicate with each other well. It's also nice for Henri to be able to race on home soil, and roads that he's used in training and competition before."

Line-up:
Gianmarco Garofoli (ITA)
Leo Hayter (GBR)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Oscar Onley (GBR)
Vegard Stokke (NOR)
Henri Vandenabeele (BEL)

Primus Classic: SEP 18

Michiel Elijzen - Team DSM coach
"Primus Classic is traditionally a hard one day race with several hills and cobbled climbs, and this year they go over some of the parcours that features in the world championships. We have an adventurous team that should be able to race aggressively and in turn, hopefully make it an even harder race than it already is. Tiesj is our protected finisher and our goal is to make it into the final together as a group after making a hard pre-final, and I think we have the team to be able to do just that."

Line-up:
Thymen Arensman (NED)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Casper van Uden (NED)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)

Eschborn-Frankfurt: SEP 19

Luke Roberts - Team DSM coach
"Although moving from the traditional date of the 1st of May, this years Eschborn-Frankfurt keeps the tradition of the Feldberg, Ruppertshain and Mammolshain climbs on the course. A race that has often been won by sprinters, although they need to fight very hard through the difficult middle part of the race to keep themselves in contention, it then normally sees a fast chase in the final to close down any attacks and set up a sprint, but it can also easily fall in favour of the attackers. We will line up with a team that is capable of racing in different scenarios, ready for an aggressive race through the climbs and options in the case of a reduced bunch sprint. We also have Nico, Marco and Florian who are really looking forward to the opportunity to race on home soil.”

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Nico Denz (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)
Florian Stork (GER)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

Grand Prix d'Isbergues - Pas de Calais: SEP 19

Michiel Elijzen - Team DSM coach
"Like Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen that we take on earlier in the week, Grand Prix d'Isbergues - Pas de Calais is a flatter one day race in France, that can become tricky if the wind blows. Alberto will once again be our designated finisher and will be supported by a young team that should be able to deliver him into the final, where hopefully he can show his Vuelta a España form in reduced or bunch sprint finish.”

Line-up:
Pavel Bittner (CZE)
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Alberto Dainese (ITA)
Max Kanter (GER)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER)

Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste: SEP 20-26

Bennie Lambregts - Team DSM coach
"Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste is a high quality 2.2 race at the Continental level. Comprising of seven classic-like stages, it will be a hard week of attacking and aggressive racing. We think that we can gain a lot of experience with our Development program in this race and build on that in the future, with even the seven days of hard competition an experience itself. Our goal for the week is to form a good plan together each day, and then implement and aim for good day results based on it.”

Line-up:
Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Leo Hayter (GBR)
Enzo Leijnse (NED)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Oscar Onley (GBR)
Pepijn Reinderink (NED)

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