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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 12, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life. - Neil deGrasse Tyson


Tour de France: the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour de France: The Inside Story - Making the World's Greatest Bicycle Race is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Ben O’Connor will not start Tour de France stage 10 on Tuesday

O’Connor’s Ag2r-Citroën sent me this sad news:

Ben O’Connor will not start the tenth stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday. The victim of a crash in the second stage, the Australian rider suffered from a muscular lesion of the right gluteus medius. In agreement with the sports management and the medical management of the team, it was decided on Monday not to continue the race.

Ben O'Connor at the teams presentation ceremony before the Tour start. Sirotti photo

Ben O’Connor:
“I have been fighting this glute injury for a couple of days, but it got even worse yesterday. So…I think it was the stage to Lausanne. I pulled my glute muscle so I am more or less riding with one leg. These very chronic sharp pains that I get make it pretty impossible for me to continue the race. I’m obviously upset. It’s the Tour de France, it’s the biggest race of the year. It’s the race that we all aim for, it’s the one that we prepare all year, and we clearly came here with big objectives.

“Our heads turn pretty quickly to La Vuelta. I mean it was always on my calendar and I hope there I can fulfill the role that I dreamt of here at the Tour de France, but actually this time in La Vuelta. On Sunday, I was so happy for Bob. It was complicated for me. But to see him win after so many problems going on for him, it was absolutely beautiful. It really put a massive smile on my face. When I was back in the grupetto with Oli, we were just shocked and happy. I hope I have taken all the bad luck with me, and they can fight and bring some more success because we have such a good crew here.”

Serge Niamke – doctor of the team:
“Since his crash, Ben has suffered. The vibrations during the cobblestone stage did not facilitate his recovery and his second crash on Saturday during the eighth stage further aggravated the pain.”

Vincent Lavenu – manageur général:
“Given Ben’s physical condition, it was obvious that he should not start the next stage in order to preserve his physical integrity. We felt that he has been chasing the last few days for the team, driven by the desire not to disappoint us. The fact that we felt that he should stop and rebuild himself physically and mentally, relieved him. He will be able to approach the second part of the season calmly with the Vuelta a Espana as his objective.”

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Soudal to become sponsor of Quick-Step team in 2023

Here’s the team’s announcement:

The team will be known as Soudal – Quick-Step starting next season, after reaching a multi-year agreement.

Based in Turnhout, Belgium, the family-owned Soudal has been involved in cycling sponsorship for a number of years, on several different levels, and so bring with them an existing knowledge of the sport. They will join forces with Quick-Step, one of the most famous and enduring sponsors in the world of professional cycling, with the new team being named Soudal – Quick-Step.

Here's the jersey picture that accompanied the announcement.

Speaking of the announcement, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team CEO Patrick Lefevere said: “We are delighted to welcome Soudal to the team. Their partnership with us allows some stability for the squad for several years. It allows us to work, together with Quick-Step, on some long-term projects and common goals that we are all aiming to achieve. Both of our title sponsors have been in cycling for several years now, so they understand how the sport works, which is really important when trying to build something together.”

This was added to by Dirk Coorevits, CEO of Soudal, who said: “A lot of the values we as a company stand for, we find back in cycling in general and this cycling team in particular, such as ambition, perseverance, strong Flemish roots and being a successful Belgian ‘export product’, being the reference in our sector, and strong leadership in combination with working with the best people on all positions. And of course, last but certainly not least: hard work. We are looking forward to seeing that hard work and our partnership with Patrick’s team bearing fruit in the coming years.”

The news was also welcomed by Ruben Desmet, the President of Unilin flooring (the company behind the Quick-Step brand): “We have been with the team for 20 years. Joining forces with Soudal marks a new chapter in that story. A story we want to continue with a long-term commitment. The team and Unilin, the company behind the Quick-Step brand, have pushed the boundaries together. Unilin has become an international industrial player, and the team, one of the best in the world. Now it’s time to grow further, invest in talented youth and be competitive on all fronts.”


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Lotto Soudal extends contracts of young Belgian riders Moniquet and Grignard

The team sent me this release:

Sylvain Moniquet (24) and Sébastien Grignard (23) have both extended their contracts at Lotto Soudal by two years. The team is very satisfied with the development of the two Walloon riders and will further build the future of the Belgian WorldTour team together with them.

Grignard in the Tour of Flanders and Moniquet in Liège-Bastogne-Liège: both have shown their selves in an early breakaway of a cycling monument this season.

“This is very typical for their style of racing: with an open vision, bravery and, shown by the final result of Moniquet in Liège, with ambition”, emphasizes Lotto Soudal CEO John Lelangue. “Grignard was present in almost every spring classic and has proven to be a real team player. Moniquet, on his turn, showed himself in some difficult WorldTour one-week stage races, but also in the Giro. His 4th spot on the Etna and his presence in multiple breakaways prove that he keeps improving. I am very happy to keep them both longer in our team.”

Moniquet has been a part of the Lotto Soudal WorldTour team since 2021. The 24-year-old has proven to be of great value once the road starts rising. In his first year he finished the Vuelta, this year he showed himself with his offensive style of racing in the Giro.

“I am feeling very happy in this team and that feeling continues to grow”, says Moniquet. “I have a good relationship with everyone in the team, both staff and riders. The free role I have, and that enables me to do my own thing without pressure, suits me very well. Those reasons made the decision to stay very easy for me.”

“In the future I would like to go for stage victories in the grand tours”, continues Moniquet. “The past two years I was able to try my luck in the Vuelta and Giro and that is something I would like to do more. Also, in the shorter stage races, like Catalunya or Basque Country, I would like to try and go for a GC. Of course, I will have to do my work for the team as well, but I take pride in that work as well. Altogether, I cannot imagine any better environment than Lotto Soudal to further develop myself.”

Grignard has defended the colours of Lotto Soudal since 2018. Together with Maxim Van Gils he joined the Development Team and made it to the WorldTour in 2021. “For me, this team really feels like a second family”, says Grignard. “Therefore, I am very happy to continue to work in an environment where I feel at home.”

“Already in my first season I have felt that I made big steps in my development”, continues Grignard. “This year I have got the confidence in almost every big spring classic. I am convinced that within this team I will be able to further develop myself and that the experience I have gained over the past 2 years will prove itself. I am looking forward to be a part of our young and talented classic squad for the next 2 years.”

“Extending the contracts of Grignard and Moniquet is a logical decision for us”, says John Lelangue. “They represent what we stand for as a team: giving young, Belgian talent all the opportunities to further develop their selves. Both have seized the opportunities we have given them over the past two years with both hands. We are proud of the way they have developed and full of confidence about the future, where they will have an important role to play.”


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Stan's NoTubes founders sell company to investment company

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

BIG FLATS, N.Y. (BRAIN) — Stan's NoTubes founders Stan and Cindy Koziatek are retiring after selling the company to the North Carolina-based investment company Zabel Companies LLC.

The Koziateks have owned and operated the company for 21 years. It now has distribution in nearly 70 countries.

Mike Bush will continue as president and CEO, the company said.

Zabel Companies owns a portfolio of brand-driven companies in a variety of industries; Stan's appears to be the first acquisition in the sports industry.

"We feel incredibly fortunate to have found Zabel Companies after a diligent search for the right fit," said Bush. "Their emphasis on sustainable, long-term growth, building a strong brand, and preserving company staff and culture are values Stan, Cindy, and I have long shared. Zabel's expertise and experience building businesses for long-term, sustained growth are a perfect fit for the continued growth of Stan's."

You can read the entire story here.

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