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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 22, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. - Epicurus

Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Volta a Catalunya stage one team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Michael Matthews' team with the race results.

Tuesday morning (Pacific time) Sonny Colbrelli update: Here's the latest report about Sonny Colbrelli, who fell unconscious just after yesterday's stage and was taken to the hospital, from his team Bahrain Victorious' Twitter account: "Sonny Colbrelli will undergo further tests today to discover the cause of yesterday’s incident. All cardiac tests carried out last night showed no signs of concern or compromised functions. After being admitted to Hospital Universitari de Girona Doctor Josep Trueta, Sonny Colbrelli was conscious and feeling okay. He has since been in touch with family and friends as he recovers at the hospital."

Here's the the report from Team Bahrain Victorious about second-place Sonny Colbrelli's condition after falling unconscious after the stage. I'll check during the day for updates.

Colbrelli (on right) sprinting for the line moments before he fell unconscious. Photo: Sprintcycling

"Following the sprint on Stage 1 of Volta a Catalunya, Sonny Colbrelli fell unconscious. Colbrelli underwent further medical assistance, and he was in stable condition upon being taken into an ambulance to Hospital Universitari de Girona to investigate his condition further.

"Team Bahrain Victorious would like to thank the organisers and the medical teams for their support and assistance. Further updates will follow."

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Here’s the Catalonia Tour report from Andrea Bagioli’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team:

An action-packed day around Sant Feliu de Guixols kick off proceedings at the 101st edition of the Volta a Catalunya, and that made it really difficult for a breakaway to form. Not even Alt de Santa Pellaia could help, the peloton cresting this first classified climb of the stage as one. It was only after the descent that a group rode away, but soon didn’t calm down behind, the bunch getting split in three groups in the crosswinds, which spurred a mad chase as several GC riders were caught on the wrong foot.

A regrouping took place with 60 kilometers remaining, also the escapees being reeled in at the same moment. Six riders took off shortly after, Pieter Serry being part of this new wave of attackers who stayed off the front until inside ten kilometers to go, when the few sprinters’ teams in the race brought them back.

Michael Matthews wins the first stage. Photo: Getty Sport

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl also joined the party and took over the reins two kilometers from the finish, bringing Andrea Bagioli in a good position for the mass gallop, where the young Italian concluded in fourth place, behind Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), who took the win. It was Andrea’s third top 10 finish of the season, after the ones he got at the Saudi Tour, in February.

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

The start and finish of the first stage took place in the coastal town of Sant Feliu de Guíxols on the Costa Brava. A total of 171 km and three ascents, followed by a slightly ascending finale, stood between the riders and the finish line today. The course demanded some climbing prowess, with around 2000 metres of altitude on offer. At 80 km remaining, the peloton split in the crosswind, yet came back together not long afterwards. In a moment of bad luck for BORA-hansgrohe, Jai Hindley was involved in a minor crash but was quickly brought back into the peloton by his teammates. The stage was ultimately decided in a sprint, with Sergio Higuita taking fifth place. Jai finished the stage in 18th position in the same time.

"The stage was quite tough. We were unlucky in the crosswinds and with Jai's crash, but good teamwork allowed us to avoid losing time in the end. I felt quite good over the last kilometres and so I tried to sprint for a good result. I’m quite satisfied with fifth place. It was a solid start for us here in Catalunya." - Sergio Higuita

"The plan for today was to race offensively and give our two GC riders, Jai and Sergio, the opportunity to take a few seconds from the rest of the GC contenders. That worked out quite well. It was a shame that we didn't have a rider in the 19-man leading group that formed in the crosswinds. But in the end the helpers in the team, especially Cesare, were able to solve the situation very well and we were quickly back in the race. In the case of a sprint from a larger group, we planned to support Sergio. This also worked out very well and in the end he achieved a strong fifth place, so that was well done by him and the team. We also had a slight moment of panic when Jai crashed at the beginning of the final lap and had to change bikes. But the team brought him back well and in the end he didn't lose any time." - Christian Pömer, Sports Director

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Dylan Groenewegen & Luke Durbridge to race Flemish Classics

Their Team BikeExchange-Jayco sent me this update:

Team BikeExchange-Jayco return to Belgium for the next block of one-day classics, with a stacked and hungry team ready to take their chances.

The action gets underway on Wednesday with Brugge - De Panne, with Dutch sprint star Dylan Groenewegen returning to the race that he won in 2019. The racing then heads to Harelbeke on Friday for ‘E3’, with Luke Durbridge keen to be in the mix again after finishing fourth in 2017.

Dylan Groenewegen winning Brugge-De Panne in 2019.

The week concludes with Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, where the wind can play a major factor in the outcome of the 250km race. Team BikeExchange-Jayco will tackle all three races with a strong and powerful line-up that includes Luka Mezgec, Alex Edmondson and Alexander Konychev.

Neo-pros Campbell Stewart and Kelland O’Brien will get their first taste of these Belgian classics, while Sam Bewley and Lawson Craddock will come in for Friday’s race as the team reshuffles.

Brugge - De Panne features the De Moeren climb, which will be tackled four times, but the day typically comes down to a sprint finish. E3 is often dubbed a ‘mini' Tour of Flanders and features 17 hills and 11 cobbled sectors over 204km. The peloton will then face nine climbs at Gent-Wevelgem, plus three gravel sectors as the week of racing comes to a close.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Sam Bewley (NZL) *E3 Only
Lawson Craddock (USA) *E3 Only
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Dylan Groenewegen (NED) *De Panne & Gent-Wevelgem
Alex Konychev (ITA)
Luka Mezgec (SLO) *De Panne & Gent-Wevelgem
Kelland O’Brien (AUS)
Campbell Stewart (NZL)

Dylan Groenewegen:
“I’m very happy to start the ‘Belgian Classics’ season with Brugge-De Panne, which I have good memories of since I won in 2019. It’s a typical Flemish race with high pace all day long, the wind is always a threat, and the finish is suitable for sprinters. I will also race Gent-Wevelgem, a race with many Muurs that can make a selection.

"I think I have a good condition. It took a few days to recover after the crash at Paris-Nice and now I'm ready to go back to racing.”

Luke Durbridge:
“I’m looking forward to the ‘Flemish Week’, I think Flanders is a fantastic place to ride with its narrow country roads and the huge crowds around. E3 Harelbeke is like a ‘mini' Flanders and it’s a good race for me, I have good memories about my fourth place in 2017.

"We have a good team also for Gent-Wevelgem with Dylan Groenewegen and Luka Mezgec if the race comes down in a sprint. The route suits me and so I think we also have good options.”

Mathew Hayman (Sport Director):
“We go into the classics, as you must each year, looking to get a result and ready to take chances. With Dylan we have to be confident in the races that suit him, like De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.

"All the classics are always hard-fought races and at the end of the day, they are mainly dominated by the favourites of the generation, but there are always riders who fill the podium places, and we need to be ready to take any chance we can get.

"The riders that come to race in Belgium do so because they love this style of racing, they know it is going to be hard and unforgiving, but that is what makes it special when you succeed.”

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Bike suppliers pull out of Russia

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

MILAN, Italy (BRAIN) — Most bike suppliers tell BRAIN they have stopped doing business in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to end business there is due to the difficulty of operating under banking sanctions and the voluntary decision by some shipping companies to stop delivering in Russia. Or a happy coincidence of both.

“The Russia decision is mostly due to our inability and the risk with payments but I would say that there's a social aspect too,” the president of one parts and accessories brand told BRAIN.

A few large companies that do business in the bike market (but are not primarily bike industry suppliers) continue to have some presence in the country. That includes the French retailer Decathlon and German manufacturer Bosch. Italian tire maker Pirelli announced late Thursday that it would halt operations in Russia.

SRAM, Trek, Specialized, Tern and QBP each told BRAIN they have stopped doing business in Russia. Giant, Shimano, and Pon did not respond to BRAIN’s inquiry about their Russian business, while Orbea declined to comment.

Vista Outdoor, the owner of Bell, Giro, Blackburn and QuietKat, has not released a statement about its bike brands’ presence in Russia. But the company, which owns several ammunition brands, is donating 1 million rounds of ammo to the Ukraine armed forces and is selling a special T-shirt to benefit a Ukraine refugee fund.

Decathlon appears on a list of 33 global companies that have declined to exit their Russia businesses or reduce their activities there, according to a list maintained by Yale University’s Jeffrey Sonnefeld.

Sonnefeld’s list of brands that are “Diggin in” in Russia also includes Authentic Brands Group, the parent company of ski apparel brand Spyder, Reebok, Aeropostale, Vision Street Wear, Volcom and other brands.

Before Thursday's announcement, a Pirelli representative had told that it was "continuing its activities (in Russia) while monitoring the situation through a permanent crisis committee." Pirelli also said it has donated $550,00 to help Ukraine refugees. "Pirelli forcefully condemns what is happening and its thoughts are with the people who are suffering," the company told TireBusiness.

TireBusiness reported that Continental, Bridgestone, and Michelin had each suspended production in Russia.

UPDATE: Pirelli halts operations in Russia

According to Sonnefeld’s list, Decathlon has at least 50 stores in Russia. Decathlon sells its own brand of bike products at its stores; it recently announced it would close its U.S. stores to focus on online sales here through its site as well as Target, Walmart, and other e-commerce sites.

You can read the entire story here.

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