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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. - John Muir

Dirty Feet: Early days of the Tour de France

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the Great Unwashed Created the Tour de France is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Bob Jungels will ride for BORA-hansgrohe starting in 2023

The team sent me this release:

This year's Tour de France stage winner has signed a multi-year contract and is expected to strengthen the German WorldTeam with his versatility as a rider.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels alone, and off the front, headed for the finish line to win stage 9 of the 2022 Tour de France.

"I am very excited to be riding for BORA - hansgrohe from next season onwards. As a team I feel it's the right fit for me to return to consistent performances on the WorldTour and I look forward to playing a big role in team victories for the coming seasons. I’m sure that I can still develop as a rider and I'm also willing to work hard for it. For me, this change feels like it's the start of something big." - Bob Jungels

"Bob is a very interesting rider. One gets the feeling that he's been in the peloton forever, yet he is just in his prime racing age. He brings an incredible amount of experience, but at the same time also a lot of potential. We also believe that this potential is not yet fully exhausted and we would like to work together with Bob on his development. In terms of rider type, he fits perfectly into our multi-captain strategy. We’d like to continue to add more depth to our squad to make it difficult for our competitors to predict our racing. Bob can certainly play a key role in important races as he is very versatile." - Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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Zoe Bäckstedt signs with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB

The team sent me this announcement:

The Welsh rider will race both road and cyclocross with the team

EF Education-TIBCO-SVB are thrilled to announce that Zoe Bäckstedt has signed with the team, stepping up from originally joining as a trainee. The Welsh rider will race with the team for both road and cyclocross.

Zoe backstedt

Zoe Bäckstedt winning the 2021 Essen Cross.

Though only 17-years-old, Zoe’s cycling career has been well established for quite some time. She is the current junior world champion in both road and cyclocross. It certainly doesn't hurt that her parents and older sister have all raced professionally.

“My dad [Magnus Bäckstedt] won Paris-Roubaix so for as long as I can remember, he’s ridden a bike. My mum [Megan Hughes] was the British national champion in the road race and has a track bronze medal in the sprint as a junior. My sister has Worlds medals and now rides in the WorldTour. Cycling is in my blood.”

But Zoe’s career as a professional cyclist was not a foregone conclusion.

“It took me a couple of years to get into it, meaning I really hated cycling until I was about 10. And now I love it to bits. I absolutely love it.”

In fact it was Zoe’s insatiable competitive streak that nudged her into the sport.

“My dad always says that when I was little, I used to always go down to the local velodrome when my sister was training and I’d be like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to ride.’ But he’d take my bike anyway. I’d see someone my age riding around the track and I’d say, ‘Dad! Dad! I want my bike!’ He’d go and get it and then basically I’d jump on the bike, sprint one lap, make sure I passed them, get off the bike, and then stand on the side for the next half an hour. As long as I caught that person, I was happy.”

The days of needing external motivation to ride are long gone for Zoe.

“It gives me a lot of freedom, riding. It gives me that bit of space to do what I’m doing. I always try to go out with my sister Elynor or I’ve got one particular friend I’m really close to at home that also rides. She and I can go out for five hours on the bike and we won’t stop talking the whole time. I come back with a sore face from laughing with her.”

For Zoe, close friends and family are an essential part of life.

“It’s just been nice to have the support from everyone, my grandparents, my cousins and all that. For me and for my older sister, they just support us so much. They’re all just happy to see us enjoying what we’re doing,” Zoe said.

Part of the reason she decided to sign with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB was that it offered her the space to be herself and that familiar supportive environment she appreciates so much from her loved ones.

“I spoke with a couple of other teams. I had a Zoom call with Linda, the team owner. Just the way I was speaking with her, the way she was speaking with me, how we got along, it seemed to work. I went downstairs after that call and I said to my dad, ‘That’s my team. I want to sign for them.’ Just the whole vibe was what I wanted. Linda let me be myself, she was herself. I think we clicked a little bit then. I felt good, I felt confident. I looked at some of the riders on the team already. The likes of Abi Smith, I already knew. Lizzy Banks, too. I know a couple of people within the team already so it's nice to know that if I find it a little bit hard the first couple of times, I still have someone I can talk to that I know already that can help me out.”

The luxury to race both cyclocross and on the road under one team was another reason she found EF Education-TIBCO-SVB so appealing.

“It makes life a heck of a lot easier if I’m being honest than racing for two teams because then you get the problem of being pulled in one direction for a road training camp but you get pulled into the cyclocross season and then nothing tends to coordinate. But with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, I can do road and then I can switch to cross and do cross for as long as I want to, as many races as I want to and then I can take a break and go back onto the road. That approach of ‘you do what you want to do and we’ll make it work.’ I get to do a full cross season like I want to and I get to race on the road like I want to.”

"I am just delighted to announce that we have signed Zoe Backstedt,” said Linda Jackson, founder and owner of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB. “Zoe is an incredible up and coming talent in both road and cross and I believe that we will provide a great home for her across both disciplines. Spotting new talent has always been our strength, but the addition of EF Education First as a co-title partner now enables us to provide the infrastructure and support that riders like Zoe need to progress into top elite level riders. We have been working on a CX program for Clara Honsinger, so the addition of Zoe to this effort was a natural fit. Our goal is to provide Zoe with the supportive environment that she needs as she steps up to the elite level.”

Building a successful team involves more than just signing strong riders. It’s important that a rider is a good fit for the team’s culture and that teammates get along both on and off the bike.

“From my first conversation with Zoe, I knew she would be a great addition to the team,” said Linda. “She’s obviously very talented, but she is also very down to earth and has a warm, engaging personality. She has already blended into the team really well and was an incredible teammate alongside Clara and the rest of the team in the defense of the yellow jersey in the recent CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées. She has already been given an affectionate nickname on the squad, and we are all really looking forward to the future with her."

Over the weekend, Zoe met five of her new teammates and had her first race with the team at the CIC-Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées. Zoe’s debut was a smashing success. The team came away with the overall win and three stage wins, including the team time trial which earned Zoe the best young rider’s jersey.

“​​It was really a pleasure having her around for her first race,” said sport director Daniel Foder. “She fit in together with the team. Racing-wise, she has a lot of experience, maybe not yet as a senior rider, but she has a really good idea of what to do on the bike and when to do it. It already seems like she’s been on the team for the whole year. It was all really positive for the race and also for the future.”

Zoe was equally enthusiastic about her first racing experience with the team.

“I loved the environment of this first race. The atmosphere was really good. Everyone was having a good time and it just made it a lot easier for me to just settle in. Going to dinner that first night, being with everyone, traveling with everyone on the bus to the race, it’s all part of the experience and I really enjoyed it.”

We can’t wait to see Zoe on the road in pink again and for the cyclocross season to get underway. Join us in welcoming Zoe to the team!

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Tour de l'Ain stage one team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Jake Stewart's Team Groupama-FDJ with the results.

Here's the report from third-place Stan Van Tricht's Team Quick-step Alpha Vinyl:

The Wolfpack was highly prominent on the first stage of the three-day French race, especially in the final part, going on the offensive with Rémi Cavagna, Julian Alaphilippe and Louis Vervaeke, who took turns to attack in the closing 25 kilometers, softening up the bunch and making it really difficult for the sprinters.

The former French Champion was the first to show his intentions, before his teammates went all-out on the last hill of the race, Côte de Plain Champ, a short 1500m one averaging 5%. On the descent, things came back together and it looked like nothing else would happen until the final meters of the stage, but Rémi – who came here after a solid sixth overall at the Tour de Pologne last week – had other ideas.

The “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” launched one of his trademark moves under the flamme rouge and a moment of hesitation from the peloton allowed him to open a gap; without looking back, Cavagna continued to push, but the on the long finishing straight the chasers were always going to have the upper hand, and despite his effort, the bunch caught him an incredibly 50 meters from the line.

“I attacked with 950 meters to go and I just went full gas as I thought it was the best moment. I rode à block and I didn’t look back, then I saw the finish line and was getting closer and closer, but I was caught with 50 meters to go. It was painful for my morale, but at least we had a good outing as a team. We’ll see what we can do in the next two stages. I want to get a win before the end of the season, my form is good and I hope it will happen”, Rémi said.

Jake Stewart

Jake Stewart wins the stage. That should be Stan Van Tricht on the far left.

In the sprint won by Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl neo-pro Stan Van Tricht came through to take his first podium since turning pro and our team’s 77th top 3 finish this year: “I stayed there thinking that the others maybe will have to go a bit earlier to bring back Rémi, but Stewart’s teammates placed him perfectly in the wheel of Rémi and had the best line for the sprint, while I came a bit too short. The podium is nice, but a Wolfpack victory would have been better. It was my first time sprinting for the team and something from which I will learn for the future.”

Here’s the short report from UAE Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates had an aggressive start to the Tour de L’Ain in France today with Ryan Gibbons taking 10th place in the bunch sprint on stage 1 from Châtillon-Sur-Chalaronne to Val Revermont(152km).

With the final climb cresting at -12km from the line, George Bennett was in pursuit of Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep -Alpha Vinyl), nabbing the points and taking the lead in the Mountain Classification.

The group came back together over the top with Gibbons at the head of affairs behind stage winner and new race leader Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ).

The race resumes tomorrow with stage 2 from Saint-Vulbas to Lagnieu (144km).

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Daryl Impey signs for another year with Israel-Premier Tech

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Daryl Impey’s triumphant win on stage four of Tour de Suisse this year was followed quickly by the words “I may be old but I’ve still got it.” Judging by his sprint against some of the best and youngest talents in the peloton, we’d have to agree.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey wins stage four of the 2022 Tour of Switzerland.

Impey is set to stay in Israel – Premier Tech colors in 2023 having added another year to his original two-year deal, during which time the 37-year-old South African has become an integral part of the team both on and off the road, says IPT General Manager Kjell Carlström.

“Daryl Impey is undoubtedly one of the most experienced riders in the peloton but that isn’t just on the road. Of course, Daryl is an exceptional road captain and a proven winner, but he is also the picture of professionalism when it comes to the way he conducts himself in the team,” explains Carlström.

“When Daryl joined last year, it felt as though he had been with us from the beginning. We couldn’t ask for a better role model for our younger riders and that, combined with Daryl’s motivation and winning capabilities, made it an easy decision to add another year to his contract. Of course, it has been a period of ups and downs in his time with IPT but we were all thrilled to see Daryl get the win in Switzerland this year and are sure it won’t be his last.”

Impey, who has racked up an impressive 30-win palmarès in his 16 years as a pro and sprinted to the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games at the weekend, is grateful for the chance to race for another year.

“I’m privileged to get an offer to stay with the team,” says Impey. “It’s nice to see that they have faith in me, they recognize that I can still bring a lot to the team, and don’t think I’m over the hill. I still want to race for another season, especially after missing the Tour de France this year which was a big bummer for me. Missing out on that event made me really hungry to keep racing and I’m looking forward to hopefully being at the Tour Down Under next year, and those races I really love. It’s been nice to have made the decision and agreed on the new contract with the team quite early so now I can look forward to the rest of the season and next year with IPT.”

IPT Partner Sylvan Adams is expecting big things from Impey next season in both his role as a team leader and a road captain.

“I consider Daryl to be the best road captain in the pro peloton. He has the full respect of his teammates, and just knows how to race. He is also a born winner. As Daryl showed in his win at Tour de Suisse, he has fully recovered from his terrible crash of last year. I am delighted that Daryl will be back with IPT next year, and am expecting big things from him,” adds Adams.

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