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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied. - Otto von Bismarck

Tour de France: 2019

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2019: A Year of New Faces is available in both Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Team Uno-X looks back on the Tour’s first week

The team sent me this:

It's not easy to know where to start. It's a rest day in the Tour, and it's time to gather the first impressions from what may be our biggest experience so far in our team's career.

The Basque Country was absolutely, absolutely special. The crowds were enormous, and we got to feel the pride of being invited to the world's biggest cycling race. It's not easy to explain everything in words, but the feeling is quite overwhelming. In terms of results, we focused on Tobias in the first two days. It was close, but not quite there. Not very surprising, considering that the big favorites did everything they could to gain time in the overall standings. In summary, I think the whole peloton felt the intensity of the first two days in the Basque Country. They were grueling with little rest. In practice, it has had consequences for the entire first week until the first rest day.

Alexander Kristoff and the Uno-X team before the start of stage two. Sirotti photo.

In the next two days, we're going for the sprint with Alex [Kristoff]. First, 14th place, then 7th place. Both with a lead-out from Søren [Waerenskjold]. It's important for you to know – sprints in the Tour de France are not an Excel sheet or a PlayStation game. There are very small margins that come into play, and the stars have to align correctly for us to succeed. Søren is developing fantastically and has done a very good job for Alex. But he is also clear that he can do even better. We could have chosen differently, especially on stage 4 and maybe even stage 7. It's fantastic that there are different opinions about this; it means we have the competition we need within the team.

Alex deserves more respect. He has won several sprints this year, both in Algarve and in the Tour of Norway. He has the experience we need at this level, and it's too simplistic to say that he lacks the speed. Because sprinting is by no means just about top speed; there are many elements to get right. Søren will have his opportunities when the time is right. He will be a winner for us for in many years to come.

On the fifth stage, we hit the emergency brake. We knew there was an opportunity the next day, and when we don't get everything right from the start, it's important to think about what's coming. The general classification is not our goal, so we have to race accordingly. This is solid coaching from Rasch & co because the next day is a day to remember. Firstly, Tobias [Halland] is first over the Col du Tourmalet (with good support from Jonas Gregaard), and he rides to a fantastic 3rd place on the stage. For our team, this is like a victory. We are the 1st behind cycling's Ronaldo and Messi; we are the 1st behind cycling’s Hamilton and Verstappen. We show that we deserve this; we show that we deserve respect.

On this day, we had almost 200 employees standing along the route to cheer us on. Our team owner, Ole Robert Reitan, was there with his family. It was almost surreal, but it was real. These will be memories for life.

In the next two days, we secure new top-10 placements with Alex and Rasmus [Tiller]. Rasmus' sprint is powerful. He finishes 8th because he starts too far back. But now he knows he is strong enough. The finish before the rest day up to Puy de Dome is also a special day for us with Gregaard and Abrahamsen in the breakaway. Gregaard fights his way to a great top-10.

To summarize the first week, we have 5 top-10 placements with 4 different riders. We have achieved our first podium. We have the most UCI points among our competitors. We were first over Tourmalet. The staff is also rewarded nicely with our 8th place on the earnings list so far. The effort behind the scenes is fantastic – they deserve all the credit they can get!

What do we have in store now? "The Massif Central is a mountainous region in central southern France. The region is located west of the Rhône River and consists of mountains, plateaus, and extinct volcanoes, including the region's two highest mountains." For us, this means many opportunities. We will attack with what we have. We believe that stage victory is possible, and the chances will come. Several of our riders have shown that they have the level and more. Now we just need to hit the mark.

NB! The TV ratings in Norway have been superb. There is talk of a 50-60% growth at TV2 Norway compared to last year. It means a lot for the interest, for our team, and for our partners. TV2 Norway also deserves applause for their coverage – together with TV2 Denmark, they create excellent content for everyone who wants to follow along.

Talk to you soon!

Jens Haugland, General Manager

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Team dsm-firmenich extends contract with Max Poole

The team sent me this:

Team dsm-firmenich are delighted to announce that they have broken open and extended their contract with Max Poole, as the talented young British rider commits his future to the team, extending his contract until at least the end of the 2027 season.

Max Poole finishes stage seven of the 2023 Critérium du Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

Joining the Development program in 2022, Poole settled in well and impressed in his opening races with the team where he gained valuable experience riding alongside the Men’s program at Tour of the Alps and 4 Jours de Dunkerque. That acquired experience and knowledge would pay off in the second half of the season where he finished sixth overall on debut at the notoriously challenging Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta – Mont Blanc race, before a tenth overall at the Sazka Tour. Then in a pro field with many WorldTeams, he took a brilliant seventh at Arctic Race of Norway; the latter of which he impressed with a strong teammate’s ride to support Andreas Leknessund to GC victory.

2023 saw Poole make the step-up to the Men’s program as he became a WorldTour level pro with Team dsm-firmenich. The start of the year saw him ride strongly at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var before he suffered a crash at Faun Drôme Classic. Nonetheless, Poole showed great resilience and maturity for someone of his age, and quickly put the setback behind him, returning to racing with a quietly impressive 11th place at the Tour of the Alps, where he also won the best young riders jersey. Riding strongly after his first high altitude camp with the team, Poole’s impressive April continued as he claimed his first WorldTour level top five at the Tour de Romandie with fourth place on stage four; a result that would be mirrored in the overall classification. Fourth place at the Tour de Hongrie followed in May before Poole wrapped up his first part of the season with two fifth place stage finishes at the Critérium du Dauphiné and a 13th overall.

Speaking about committing his future to the team Poole said: “For me I see this as the next stage in my career and it was important to be in the right place where I can do it in the best way possible and bring me to the highest level possible. I think the length of the contract allows me to grow over time and do everything in the right way. I think alongside that, it’s important to be in the right environment and I have a lot of trust in the people I work closely with that I can reach the level I want to be at in a few years’ time. That is ultimately the most important thing for me, just as really getting up for and buying into what the team have put forward in terms of goals and development is important for me too. The last one and a half years have been a whirlwind but going to work with a smile on my face side-by-side next to this team makes it easy and I’m excited to be riding round with two blue stripes on my back for a while longer.”

Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Max is a talented rider who we want to guide to the highest level of the sport, and we believe that is possible. Alongside his physical qualities on the bike, he also has an intelligence and tactical awareness to read and understand races well. He is switched-on while off the bike and is keen to speak with, listen to and work with the experts in our team and all those around him. We have a lot of mutual trust together and another long-term contract like this shows our intentions for the future and what we are building towards; a good GC core with the talents we have in this team.”

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Remco Evenepoel will ride Vuelta a España

Here’s the announcement from Evenepoel’s Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Eleven months from his historic success in Spain, where he became the first Belgian in 44 years to triumph in a Grand Tour, Remco Evenepoel will be back at the start of the Vuelta a España (26 August-17 September) to defend his title. Victorious this season in eight races, including Liège–Bastogne–Liège, two Giro d’Italia stages and the National Championships, the 23-year-old can’t wait to tackle the final three-week event of the season for the second time in his career.

Remco Evenepoel after winning the 2022 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

“I am really excited to return at the Vuelta. I obviously have only great memories from my first participation last year when we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to be there again, to take on the race and its many challenges and to meet again those amazing fans whose fantastic energy you feel every day.”

“As you all know, I love racing in Spain, many of my biggest victories since turning pro have come there, and I hope I will continue on this road next month, when together with my Soudal Quick-Step teammates I will be at the start in Barcelona, where just a couple of months ago I took a nice win in rainbow”, said Remco, who is preparing for the second part of the year in the spectacular surroundings of Val di Fassa.

Following this altitude training camp, Evenepoel will resume competition at the Clasica San Sebastian (29 July) – which he won twice in his career, in 2019 and 2022 – from where he will travel to Glasgow, to line out at the start of the World Championships.

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Cannondale Bicycles and EF Pro Cycling extend partnership

The team sent me tis announcement:

EF Pro Cycling and Cannondale Bicycles have been partners since 2015, moving the sport forward on roads and off and continually pushing the technical envelope of modern bike design.

And today, EFPC and Cannondale are proud to announce an even longer term partnership — one without an end date, in fact — that will see the American brand Cannondale and the EF Pro Cycling organization continue down the roads they embarked upon eight seasons ago.

Team EF Education-EasyPost is presented before the start of the 2023 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The unique length of the partnership allows both Cannondale and EF Pro Cycling the time and latitude to keep building on what has already been a meaningful partnership by any measure. From stage wins to wild bike changeouts at the sport’s biggest grand tours, the partnership offers a unique mixture of performance and fun aligned around shared culture and values.

“We’ve won Tour, Giro, and Vuelta stages together. And Flanders, too,” said Jonathan Vaughters, EF Education-EasyPost CEO. “We’ve been pioneers together in the alternative racing space on Lachlan’s adventures, from the Alt Tour to the high peaks of Colorado. I love that we’ve achieved these things as a team, from the riders, to our team staff, and Cannondale, always helping us innovate and get the jobs done. What I admire about Cannondale is that they are always looking forward, technically and culturally. They’re a brand that’s saying, ‘how can we go faster,’ but also, ‘how can we make cycling more accessible? How can we make cycling more relevant, more approachable?' Our team takes a similar approach.”

The team will continue working with Cannondale to be a pioneer in developing the world’s best road, gravel, and mountain bikes. The testing, feedback, and integration of team ideas into manufacturing is mutually beneficial for the team and Cannondale, both. Recently, EF Pro Cycling announced its plans to build, own, and manage a professional women’s team, with Cannondale as a title partner.

"Together, Cannondale and EF Pro Cycling have redefined what it means to race - with character, heart, and ambition," added Marco Kind, managing director at Cannondale. "Our goals have always remained the same - be the world's favorite team, continue to innovate, and invite more people to the sport of cycling. We look forward to keeping the future fun and exciting."

Andreas Klier, head of technical operations, has worked closely with Cannondale’s engineers over the last eight years and has been part of the rigorous development process. “Our racing bikes are truly the apex of performance,” Klier said. “What sets our relationship apart is that it is a collaboration, and we work together on every single detail. My door is always open, and so is theirs. We’ve also worked with Cannondale’s suppliers FSA, Vision, Prolologo, and Vittoria extensively to create the most advanced bikes and components in the peloton. And we’ll keep pushing forward together. We’ll go even faster next year.”

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