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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 28, 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.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Desmond Tutu

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Michael Schwarzmann signs two-year contract at Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal sent me this news:

Next season, Lotto Soudal strengthens the team with the 30-year-old German Michael Schwarzmann. After more than ten years being part of German teams, Schwarzmann has signed a two-year contract with the Belgian team Lotto Soudal. The rider – who makes the move from Bora-Hansgrohe – will add a significant amount of experience to the team as Schwarzmann has acted as lead-out for top sprinters like Pascal Ackermann, Sam Bennett and three-time world champion Peter Sagan.

Michael Schwarzmann

Michael Schwarzmann racing at this year's Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

“After a period of over ten years racing under the German flag - where I really got the chance to grow as a rider - it’s now time for a new challenge”, says Michael Schwarzmann. “When I got the offer to join the interesting Lotto Soudal project, I didn’t even need one minute to think about it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you race under the Belgian or German flag. For a pro cyclist, it’s more important to know you’re part of a professional environment. Therefore, Lotto Soudal is a great team and nevertheless, it’s a dream come true to race with a Belgian squad. I’ve worked with a lot of good leaders like Ackermann, Bennett and Sagan and next year, that will be Caleb Ewan. My experience tells me that these top riders have one thing in common, which is the desire to win. They are almost all on the same level and then it’s about details making the difference between winning or losing. The atmosphere in the team and making the right decisions on the right moment are amongst the deciding factors. Obviously, Caleb is one of the fastest sprinters in the world and I am really looking forward to sharing my experience with him and the team.”

Michael Schwarzmann: “Although I’m German, you can compare my rider’s profile with a Swiss army knife. On the one hand, I can help the guys with the lead-out. On the other hand, I’m a bit lighter than most of the lead-out guys, so I can also be useful on more difficult terrain like medium mountain stages. I will be able to use my experience to motivate the guys and to be a good teammate, which is also one of my ambitions for the coming two seasons. And if there’s a possibility to go for own successes, I showed the last years that when the big leaders aren’t there, I’m able to get some nice results. Within Lotto Soudal, I want to further improve my level as a rider and with the team’s way of racing, this will be a good chance to do so. I can’t wait to get this new journey started!”

“With Michael Schwarzmann, we added a nice reinforcement to the team”, says John Lelangue, general manager at Lotto Soudal. “Michael will share his broad experience - which he gained working with top sprinters like Peter Sagan, Pascal Ackermann and Sam Bennett – at Lotto Soudal the coming two seasons. I am sure he will be of added value to the team and it’s something to look forward to. Michael is a multi-purpose rider. He will be integrated in the lead-out including Jasper De Buyst, Roger Kluge, Rüdiger Selig, Frederik Frison and Harry Sweeny. In addition, Michael also has a strong kick at the end of a race, which has earned him several nice results in tough one-day and one-week events. Moreover, it’s a very loyal teammate with the right team spirit and also someone who can share his knowhow with young sprinters like Arnaud De Lie, who will make the move from the Lotto Soudal U23 team next year.”

Owain Doull joins EF Education-Nippo

Here's the team's announcement:

EF Education-NIPPO is proud to announce the addition of Owain Doull to our 2022 line up. The Welsh all-arounder joins the team with nearly 6 years experience in the pro peloton.

Doull got his start in front of the television in 2008. “I started cycling after I watched the Beijing Olympics,” he explains. “I went down to my local cycling track in Cardiff and it went from there. I wasn’t very good to start with but I stuck with it.”

Owain Doull

Owain Doull wins the 4th stage of the 2020 Tour of Provence.

After coming up through the British system, Doull earned a gold medal in the team pursuit from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now fully focused on road cycling, he’s ready to broaden his abilities in a new environment. “For me, change is always a good thing. I’ve learned a lot of things and I’ve had some great opportunities but I think this is the right time for me to progress my career and take that next step forward. I still have dreams and aspirations I want to achieve and I think EF is the perfect place to help me realize that.”

Doull is eager to help the team in whatever capacity he’s needed. “The Classics are races I enjoy as well as playing a support role in big stage races, whether that’s on the flat hectic finishes, team time trials, or mountain stages. I always like doing my part for the team and that’s one of the things I find so attractive about joining EF. There’s a mixture of opportunities I’ll have and I’ll be able to explore my limits more.”

The 28-year-old is keen for two types of races in particular. “The Classics will be a big goal. Obviously the team has a great pedigree in the guys they’ve got there already but hopefully I can add to that. And then getting stuck into more Grand Tour racing. I’m looking forward to the opportunity there of pushing myself and trying to support guys like Hugh as much as possible. A different style of racing completely, I think that’s the thing I’m most excited for.”

Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters shares the same vision as Doull. “Owain is a very strong rider for the Classics, has a great little sprint on him, and is a good time trialist,” Vaughters says. “More than anything, Owain is a guy who can win one of the smaller semi Classics. I thought it would be good to get a rider like that who would have the kind of freedom to accomplish some goals and will reinforce our Classics squad in general and give us one more option beyond Alberto Bettiol and Michael Valgren. He gives us a broader spectrum of options in the Classics. He hasn’t been given the opportunity to race very many Grand Tours in his career and I think that that’s something he’ll be quite successful at once he’s given the chance. He’ll not only be a successful worker but also, a little bit like Magnus Cort, he can get out of the breakaway and win from the break.”

Doull brings a thoughtful outlook to both the sport and to life. “From cycling, you learn a lot and it helps you grow and shapes you as a person. I lost one of my best friends to suicide during lockdown. I wasn’t sure what to do. I carried on racing. It was difficult but it showed me how much I love the sport. If I’m going to sacrifice time away from friends and family, I want it to mean something and to be able to finish and say I’ve gotten everything out of myself, I couldn’t have done anything more. That perspective is probably the thing I’ve learned the most from cycling.”

Joining EF aligns with his value of fully committing to your beliefs. “This is a team I’ve always been really impressed by. The fact that the team approached me and were interested in me, that shows a lot. Being shown you’re valued by someone is important and it helps you buy into the belief that they believe you can do it as well. That’s an important thing for me.”

When he’s not on the bike, you’ll find Doull indulging in one of his two loves: coffee and collecting vinyl. “There’s a lot of music I really like but I enjoy having it on vinyl and being able to listen to the whole album.”

And don’t be surprised to learn that Doull has applied his deep sense of commitment to coffee. “I have a coffee company which I’m very passionate about, Five Rings Coffee.”

The team’s ethos is one Doull identifies with. “I like that underdog spirit, punching above your weight. As a bike rider, I’ve always thought of myself as not the most talented person but I work hard. That’s the culture of the team: work hard and be clever about it. I hope I’ll fit in well,” he says with a laugh.

We think you’ll fit in just fine, Owain. Welcome to the team!

Israel Start-Up Nation to ride Giro di Sicilia

Here's the team's news release:

SICILY: THE GIRO IS BACK (And so is the summer )

Ok, ok, so the Giro di Sicilia will end after only four stages, but some of the scent, flavor, and beauty of the Italian Grand Tour will be there to enjoy. Beyond all the familiar senses, the race will have a mix of everything packed into four days: two up and down stages that will end in (selected?) sprints and two hard climbing stages to decide the GC.

What ISN has to offer:
We are bringing a unique combination of experienced riders (Chris Froome, Reto Hollenstein, James Piccoli) and upcoming young talents from our Academy (Mason Hollyman, Alastair MacKellar) plus a the Diesel Engine Guy Sagiv and the puncher on the rise – Omer Goldstein.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the Dauphiné earlier this year. He'll be on the start line of the Giro di Sicilia. Sirotti photo


“We are one of five WorldTour teams here, so we expect to be in the hunt for a win here,” said Goldstein, who may be our man in the first two stages. “With Chris in the mix plus the young guys, we’ve got a fighting chance.”

GC? Stage wins? With Froome, Piccoli, and Goldstein, there are a few options. “It looks like the last two stages will decide the GC,” said our sports director Claudio Cozzi. “But first and foremost, we will look for stage wins.”

Full lineup:

Specialized buys McLain Cycle & Fitness, other purchases rumored

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this business update:

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (BRAIN) — After 44 years in business, Bob and Kris McLain have sold McLain Cycle & Fitness to Specialized Bicycle Components. Specialized has not confirmed the purchase and has declined to comment on this or other recent retail acquisitions. But industry sources tell BRAIN the company has purchased, or is close to purchasing, several other stores and multi-store businesses in several states.

McLain helped establish Traverse City as a mountain biking destination in the 1990s. The store supported local trail building efforts and Bob McLain was race director for the major NORBA and UCI cross country races held there in decades past. McLain and the store have also supported the ongoing Iceman Cometh Challenge race, one of the largest mountain bike events in the country.

Bob McLain told BRAIN he reached out to Specialized eight or 10 weeks ago to see if they were interested in buying the business.

"I had seen some articles in BRAIN (about Specialized acquiring or helping retailers sell their stores) and talked to some other dealers, so I thought it was worth a phone call," McLain said. "I started talking to them to see if they might be interested and of course they know the store because we've been Specialized dealers all along. Next thing we know, we had an agreement."

McLain, 63, said he hadn't made a long-range plan to exit his business.

"I never really had put anything together. I could work another five or 10 years ... at the same time, it was time. The industry is changing and there's a shortage of product. Sales have been good but they could be a lot better if we had more product. And I don't see that changing for a couple of years," he said.

Specialized has been McLain's primary line for years, although the store carries a few other brands, such as Borealis fat bikes. "Specialized has been really good to us over the years. We had the first (Specialized) concept store in Michigan, and then a few years later they helped us remodel the store again. We've obviously been a pretty good dealer for them, so it was kind of a natural move."

McLain said Specialized has hired all his employees. He said he didn't know if the company will change the name of the stores. McLain has two locations in Traverse City and one in Cadillac.

Specialized has recently gone on the offensive after losing retail distribution in some key markets, often to Trek. When Trek bought Bicycle Sports Shop in Austin, Texas, a major Specialized dealer, Specialized opened a company-owned consultation and delivery business there and is expected to open a showroom or full store in Austin by year's end.

You can read the entire story here.

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