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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 20, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. - J. R. R. Tolkien

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Dan Bigham breaks World Hour Record

Team INEOS Grenadiers sent me this announcement:

INEOS Grenadiers’ Dan Bigham has today set a new UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot at the Tissot Velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland - covering a distance of 55.548 kilometres, an improvement of 459 metres on the previous record, set by Victor Campenaerts in 2019. Bigham set a new British record at the same location in 2021, with a distance of 54.723 kilometres, and has been targeting an official new world record since.

Dan Bigham

Dan Bigham on his way to breaking the World Hour Record. INEOS Grenadiers photo.

Bigham said: “I actually felt really good, my best-paced hour by far, I was ahead of my intended split in the first half, but I was feeling good. It was really enjoyable and it’s pretty mind-blowing how it went.

"You have to keep yourself focused on something and we focused on the basics, the three things were line, breathing and head position. I knew as long as I was able to control those things then everything else should fall into place, you're just going to push the pedals as hard as you can anyway."

Bigham joined the INEOS Grenadiers as a Performance Engineer at the end of the 2021 season, and has worked intensively with the Team and its partners, in particular Pinarello, Bioracer and Kask, to develop the team’s knowledge and equipment in the pursuit of quantifiable performance. The UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot has been a benchmark targeted by Bigham throughout his career to date, having made his first record attempt as a student in 2014.

Working as a Performance Engineer with the Grenadiers provides Bigham the opportunity to combine his on-bike expertise with technical research and development, collaborating with specialists from the team’s partners and the INEOS sport family.

Bigham added: "The step-change from previous attempts has been an ungodly amount of support from INEOS Grenadiers. Not just on the equipment, but it’s the physiology, the execution as well as nutritional and training interventions - they’ve stepped it up and the support I've had around me is second to none. It’s made life a whole lot easier, I’ve just had to come here and perform."

Rod Ellingworth, Deputy Team Principal said: “Having witnessed the effort and dedication that Dan, our team and partners have put into this project it’s great to see them rewarded by Dan breaking the record. His knowledge around aerodynamics and how he uses it to challenge established norms is key to driving innovation, and helps push our performance as a team forward. The UCI Hour Record timed by Tissot is an event that tests this knowledge and innovation in its purest form, so this is a great achievement for everyone involved.

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Vuelta a España stage one report from winner Team Jumbo-Visma

Here's the team's report:

Team Jumbo-Visma has achieved an exceptional result in the team time trial of the Vuelta. On the grand tour's opening day, the black-and-yellow formation rode to victory in the streets of Utrecht. Robert Gesink was the first rider to pass the finish line and claimed the red leader's jersey.

Robert Gesink will start stage two in red. Sirotti photo

The team was the last team to start the 23.3-kilometre team time trial. The eight-rider team immediately developed a high pace, quickly built up a lead and kept growing it. Supported by the enthusiastic crowd along the road, the team raced through the centre of Utrecht. Gesink was the first to push his wheel over the line. For the first time in his career, the experienced super domestique conquered the leader's jersey in a grand tour.

"This is a dream come true", Gesink (36) said. "We rode as a strong team today. We knew we had started well. Pretty soon, we realised that we were faster than the competition. We had to stay focused because a lot can happen in a team time trial. We gave everything until the finish and crossed the line on Dutch soil with the fastest time. I am so grateful to the guys for the wonderful gesture of letting me cross the line first. This victory is one of my career's highlights. I'm going to enjoy this very much", Gesink said after his first season victory. The win meant the 38th victory for Team Jumbo-Visma this year.

The conditions on Dutch soil impressed Mike Teunissen throughout the race. "This was very special. The last few days were already exceptional, but today we experienced something extraordinary. So many people cheering us on strengthened our morale very much. It gave us wings. With these strong riders in our team, we rode a constant and high average. Thankfully, we maintained our initial speed all the way through. It's great that Robert will start in the leader's jersey tomorrow. He's deserved it", Teunissen applauded his teammate.

"A fantastic scenario", Head of Performance Mathieu Heijboer said about Team Jumbo-Visma's team time trial. "Along the way, some of our team's staff members provided us with split times. So it became clear to us pretty quickly that we were fast. Rohan Dennis maintained a very high speed on the first technical part. We were always riding on the limit but never crossed it. The riders set the bar so high that they just had to finish it off. It's great that they succeeded. This is another highlight for the team. We prepared this stage down to the last detail. It's great that our plan worked out and led to this great and desired result."

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Richard Carapaz signs with EF Education-EasyPost

The team sent me this:

EF Education-EasyPost are proud to announce that Richard Carapaz will join the team in 2023.

Arguably the most accomplished cyclist Ecuador has produced, Richard has ridden in the WorldTour since 2016. Last year he won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and claimed the overall title at the Tour de Suisse. In addition to winning the 2019 Giro d’Italia, he has stood on the podium at all three of the grand tours. Richard is the current national time trial champion of Ecuador.

Richard Carapaz winning a stage in the 2021 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

Despite such a lengthy list of race results, Richard is not done yet.

“When you conquer one thing, you want more. I’m one of those people who wants more,” Richard says. “There are still things I haven’t achieved. I’d like to try to win another grand tour. A life goal has always been to win the Tour de France. It’s something I will fight for. I know it’s possible. I know what my potential is and what I can do, what I can achieve, and I’m fighting for this dream. Every day I get up with this dream that I have to try for. When I first started to ride we knew about the grand tours. Eventually I thought I could win the Giro d’Italia and I’ve done that and now I’m thinking about the Tour de France.”

Richard got his start as a kid in the village of Playa Alta. A former professional cyclist who had raced in Europe set up a club and Richard decided to sign up.

“It wasn’t about cycling as a job then, it was simply something we did. We joined this cycling program which happened to be in my town and we all signed up for it — Caicedo, me, Cepeda — and we all turned out to be professional cyclists from the same school. I started the sport when I was 16. Who knew that it would be my job, let alone that I’d have the talent to be a cyclist?” he asks.

At the time, there was no clear path to get from Playa Alta, Ecuador to racing in Europe. The 29-year-old credits his family’s support.

“My parents have always been there,” Richard says without hesitation. “When nobody believed in me, they were the only ones who believed. When I wanted to be a cyclist, there were limited opportunities in my country and they knew that if I wanted to achieve my dreams, I had to go to Europe. For me that was an important step in my life because there I could learn so much more. They had the same motivation for me to be here, too. We’ve all made sacrifices so I want to do this well because I know that the time I’ve spent away from them has to be worth it, it has to be for something, something like the Tour de France.”

While Richard looks to the future when he considers his own goals, he also looks to the future in a broader sense. He loves both Ecuador as well as cycling and wants to make sure that more of the cycling talent in his homeland has the opportunity to develop at the highest level.

“It’s really different, the cycling culture in Europe compared to Ecuador,” he says. “The history isn’t as long in Ecuador but people have always been stepping on the pedals there. Honestly, it’s not as well known there, people don’t know about the races. In Ecuador, many people have the idea that cycling is a sport you do as a hobby and it’s not a profession in itself. In reality, it’s a new profession for our country I think. Above all, I think, for the whole sport, you have to see the big picture. Cycling is new in Ecuador. Yes, there have been cyclists in past years but they didn’t get to this level. Caicedo, Cepeda, we are some of the first in history to be from our country to become professionals. We hope it’s a positive change for people so there will be more Ecuadorian cyclists.”

The decision to join EF Education-EasyPost was a simple one for Richard.

“This is a team with a lot of ambition and many things they want to achieve. I’m a piece that can fit into the team really well. I’m motivated and was looking for a team with the same objectives as me. I have the focus and want to try to win the Tour de France and I think that’s something we can achieve here together. The team wants to reach for its goals and that’s something really valuable to me. A team like this that wants to win a grand tour like me. This is something we will have to work a lot for because this is something that takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and that’s what this team has. I’m motivated to join the team to fight for this dream and the team has confidence in me so we’re going to achieve all that we can together,” Richard says.

EF Education-EasyPost CEO Jonathan Vaughters is excited to welcome Richard to the team.

“Carapaz has always been one of my favorite riders,” he says, “and not just because he wins. Carapaz wins with intelligence, timing, aggressiveness, and grit. He won the Giro because he was really smart and he attacked at exactly the right moment. He was incredibly gritty and willing to take a risk to do it, and he pulled it off. I appreciate that. At the Olympics, same thing. He timed his attack perfectly to win the gold medal. For the style of our team, Richard fits in perfectly, because we need a leader who can win races using crafty tactics and not just raw horsepower. That is what Richard brings to us and we are really excited to help him as much as we can to exploit his aggressive and crafty racing style.”

With fellow Ecuadorians Jonathan Caicedo and Alexander Cepeda on the team, in some ways, riding with EF Education-EasyPost is something of a reunion for Richard.

“I know them well, especially Caicedo,” Richard says. “We’ve known each other for many years because we grew up in the same cycling program so I’ve known him and we’ve trained together over the years. Actually, I was speaking with him a couple of months ago, with Jonathan, because there was the possibility that I’d come to the team so we met up to talk. I think it’s been seven years, more or less, since we were on the same team. We were both on a Colombian team then. And then I said to him, what a coincidence in life that we’re going to meet again on the same team. We were joking but now it’s real. Honestly, it’s really exciting. For me to be on a team with him who I’ve known for so many years and also with Alexander, too, who I’ve known since he was really young. I’ve seen his progress, how it’s going, so for me to share a team with him is fantastic because I know he’s still in the process of coming up and I can help him out a lot. For me, I always love being with the guys I’ve known our whole lives and to be on the same team makes me feel really at home.”

We think you’ll feel right at home with our whole squad, Richard. We can’t wait for 2023 to get underway!

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Dylan Van Baarle and Wilco Kelderman join Team Jumbo-Visma

The team sent me this announcement:

With Dylan van Baarle (30) and Wilco Kelderman (31), Team Jumbo-Visma has contracted two reinforcements from its own country for the next three years. The Dutch formation announced this on the first day of La Vuelta a España in Utrecht. The compatriots are both at the start of La Vuelta.

Both accomplished cyclists don't need an introduction thanks to their successes, which include Kelderman's fifth-place finish in the Tour (2021) and third place in the Giro (2020), and Van Baarle's victories in Paris-Roubaix (2022) and Dwars door Vlaanderen (2021).

Dylan van Baarle wins Paris-Roubaix in 2022. Sirotti photo

"It gives us a special feeling Wilco is returning to the team where it all began for him", says Merijn Zeeman, sportive director of Team Jumbo-Visma. "The fact that Dylan has also chosen us makes us proud and happy. He has a great palmares and is a highly appreciated rider in the peloton. We aim for big prizes and with Dylan in our team, we increase the chances of success."

Van Baarle is totally in for it. "I'm really looking forward to next year. As a Dutch rider in a Dutch team, it feels like coming home. I have closely watched the team's development over the past few years. It was on an upward trend, so I chose Team Jumbo-Visma. With Wout and riders like Tiesj and Nathan, we have a really powerful team, particularly in the classics. I hope we can perform well in the spring and I want to contribute to the stage races too. The team deservedly won the Tour with Jonas this year and I would like to be part of that next year."

Zeeman has high hopes for new asset Kelderman in that regard. "Both of us have learned and experienced a lot in recent years. We are now at the point where we want to help one another grow. We are very motivated and expect Wilco to play an important role in supporting Primoz and Jonas. But also that he will provide good results himself", Zeeman says.

Like Van Baarle, Kelderman described joining Team Jumbo-Visma as returning home. "I'm delighted to start working together again. Even though I had been away for a while, Team Jumbo-Visma felt like my home team. I know the people there very well and I've always kept in touch. I think this is the right development in my career. The team has made progress and I'm curious to see where it will lead. Team Jumbo-Visma is an ambitious team and I hope to contribute to their goals. I think I still have room for growth and show great things. It goes without saying that the squad has recently enjoyed great success and I hope to support the guys who made it happen in the big races. I also hope to pass on my experience to the young riders. I'm really looking forward to it", Kelderman said.

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