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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 29, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Peter Sagan handed three-month suspended prison sentence for drink driving

Road.cc posted this:

The three-time world champion was also banned from driving for three months after being caught “dangerously” riding his scooter the morning after a night out in Monaco last month

Three-time world champion Peter Sagan has been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence, and banned from driving for the same period, after he was caught drink driving through the streets of Monaco last month.

Peter Sagan finishes this year's Milano-Sanremo. Sirotti photo

The 33-year-old, who will hope to add to his twelve stage wins as he starts what will be his last ever Tour de France on Saturday, was observed by police in the principality recklessly driving a scooter at around 11.35am on Friday 12 May, just four days before the Slovakian made his return to racing at the Four Days of Dunkirk, following his race-ending crash at the previous month’s Paris-Roubaix.

“It was 11:35 a.m. when the police noticed the risky, even dangerous behaviour of a driver behind the handlebars of his motorised vehicle,” the magistrate in Monaco said, according to local publication Monaco-Matin(link is external).

“The driver was trying to park in a space reserved for two-wheelers. The officers approached and very quickly noticed the signs of the scooter driver’s drunkenness.”

The “vague suspicions” of the officers were confirmed by the seven-time Tour de France green jersey winner’s breathalyser test, prompting them to take Sagan to a police station for a more precise test, which confirmed his blood alcohol levels to be 1.46 mg/l, almost six times Monaco’s maximum permitted intoxication level of 0.25mg/l.

Sagan is reported to have told the police that he had spent the previous night drinking in Monaco’s clubs, and had gone to bed at 3am. He said he had “an appointment” the next morning to bring a friend to a hotel.

Due to the high levels of intoxication coming up to lunchtime, the judge asked if Sagan had “went to bed or had fallen into a coma because of the impressive amount of alcohol he had taken.”

The TotalEnergies rider was absent from the court hearing, but his legal counsel argued that jetlag from a recent flight from the United States had affected Sagan.

You can read the entire story here.

How Team Lidl-Trek plans to tackle the Tour de France

Here's the team's post:

Lots of climbing and a ton of opportunity
Our men’s team gets to premier their new Lidl-Trek kits in front of the cycling-mad fans in the Basque country, as the Grande Boucle departs from beautiful Bilbao in Northern Spain. The route is very balanced but also relentless: expect there to be never more than two days in a row where the GC riders aren’t going head to head. The fireworks actually start as early as stage 1, with 3,300 meters (10,000 feet) of climbing on the menu and the first yellow jersey on the line. The first major mountains arrive early, on Stage 6 (Col du Tourmalet) and Stage 9 (Puy de Dôme). The second week has a combination of hilly stages and mountain stages and will start to shape the GC battle.

The new Lidl-Trek team kit.

In contrast to all the climbing the riders will have to tackle, there’s only 22 kilometers of time trial in the 2023 Tour de France, at the start of the final week. From there, we have a sprint stage and two final mountain days  before the traditional procession in Paris.

Our team's goals
Lidl-Trek is heading to the Tour de France with an experienced team and coming off a highly successful weekend at the various national championships: the eight riders have a combined 23 participations in the biggest bike race in the world, with road captain Tony Gallopin alone accounting for ten.

But we also have two riders who have never raced the Tour, Juanpe Lopez and Mattias Skjelmose. And two riders who had their debut only last year: Quinn Simmons and Alex Kirsch.

Skjelmose, who just like Kirsch and Simmons won the national road race this past weekend, will be Lidl-Trek’s GC leader. The young Dane won the Tour de Suisse and will try his hand at the GC in the Tour. The team is fully committed to supporting Mattias over three weeks and protecting his overall ambitions. Riders like Jasper Stuyven and Alex Kirsch can do amazing work on the flatter stages, while Juanpe Lopez and Quinn Simmons can do the same on the climbing days. Tony Gallopin’s experience will be key to our success.

But we will also go stage hunting, notably with Mads Pedersen and Giulio Ciccone, who are both showing great form. Jasper Stuyven and Quinn Simmons will have their chances to go for glory on certain stages.

With Skjelmose, Pedersen, Ciccone, Stuyven, Lopez, Simmons, Kirsch and Gallopin we are arguably fielding our strongest TDF squad in many years – a perfect beginning for the new Lidl-Trek chapter.

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Team Israel-Premier Tech will ride Tour with special Tour de France jersey

Here’s the team’s news:

Israel – Premier Tech will line up at the Tour de France in a special edition jersey to shine the spotlight on Israeli tourism on the global cycling stage.

The special TDF jersey.

The design is inspired by the Israel National Trail, the walking and bike trail that runs from Kibbutz Dan in the North to Eilat in the South and showcases Israel’s most exotic landscapes. The Trail covers more than one thousand kilometers of terrain and is marked by three stripes; white representing Mt Hermon in the North, blue representing Israel’s coastline, and orange representing the desert in the South.

Sylvan Adams, IPT owner: “Since moving to Israel, I have taken on the role of ‘Self-appointed ambassador, at large, for Israel’. With our jersey displaying the Israel National Trail, I am hoping that this special path, that links up many of Israel’s truly exceptional attractions, will generate interest amongst the hundreds of millions of cycling fans around the world that tune into the Tour, leading to actual tourist visits to Israel. They won’t be disappointed, as Israel is a marvel of ancient and modern, both the cradle of civilization, and cutting edge healthcare, technology, agriculture, and environmental science.”

“I consider our entire team and each of our riders to be ambassadors for the home country. To that end, we host an annual team bonding and tourism camp to introduce Israel to our team. Finally, I wish to thank the Israeli Ministries of Tourism and Culture and Sport for their confidence and support.”

Mike Woods: “I think the jersey looks really cool and we’re going to be turning heads at the Tour. I think it’s a really special kit and the Israel Trail inspired theme is something pretty interesting to me in particular as I have visited Israel already and thought the country was very cool. I had a really good time there, and just being able to explore the region was really interesting, not just from a fun perspective but also culturally, so I’m really looking forward to going back in the fall.”

Ido Shavit, Cycling Academy CEO: “Our Tour de France jersey is a celebration of Israeli tourism and by focusing on the Israel Trail, which runs through the heart of the country, Israel – Premier Tech will shine the spotlight on the extraordinary and diverse landscapes and must-see destinations in Israel. From Masada to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Negev Desert, we are inviting our fans to explore Israel throughout the Tour de France, where we hope our riders will stand out in this special jersey.”


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Interview with Team Groupama-FDJ's David Gaudu

The team posted this:

A year after his splendid fourth place on the Tour de France [in 2022], David Gaudu is about to return to the Grande Boucle this weekend. He approaches it with confidence and with great ambition despite a tough Critérium du Dauphiné and a few lively months off the bike. In this interview, he talks in length about these topics, recalls a few obvious facts and shares his excitement prior to his major goal for the season.

David Gaudu after winning stage three of the 2022 Critérium du Dauphiné. Sirotti photo

David, two days after Valentin’s French champion title, has the euphoria subsided?

Not really, no (smiles). I’m so proud of him. Most importantly, he deserves it after having given so much for others, especially for me last year on the Tour, and after coming so close in very big races. We had been talking about it for a year, and he was up there on D-Day, which is never easy. During the race, he told me that he had amazing legs. From there, I did everything I could to help him. I made a final pull after our attack, and I knew he was going to finish it off. He is a superb French champion, and he will be on fire on the Tour!

Before seeing you back at the French championship, we left you with a mixed performance on the Critérium du Dauphiné. What did you do in the meantime?

Obviously, the Dauphiné was not easy, either for me or for the team in general. What kind of “reassured” me was to see that Kevin and Valentin, who were with me on the previous training camp, weren’t in their top shape either. I was not alone. At the end of the Dauphiné, we returned to a training camp in altitude, in Tignes, but we first focused on recovery. It was our first real rest since the beginning of our camp in Tenerife. It really did us good. Moreover, our girlfriends were there with us. There were the six of us up there, we did a few picnics, lived our lives and distanced ourselves from the cycling world for a few days. Being together also meant we didn’t ruminate about our performances in the Dauphiné, and we could think about something else. Then, we resumed training quietly and I honestly think it did us good.

Did you realize early on that the Critérium du Dauphiné was going to be difficult for you?

The first stages were still quite hard, but I could count on the rest of the team to protect me as much as possible. That’s why I was even more sorry for them afterwards, because they did a great job. Unfortunately, I fell short when the stages got tough. In the time trial, I had good feelings at the start, then it suddenly let me down. We thought of a heat stroke, but then we saw that I was not in the mix on the following stages. It was hard to accept, but I didn’t want to give up. I always fought as much as I could. On some stages, I could have finished quietly thinking about the next day, but for the team, I really didn’t want to give up on anything. It was important to do it for them because they trust me a lot. On the flat stages, they give everything for me, I’m always on their wheels, so I just can’t throw everything off. They supported me in the most difficult moments, so I wanted to hang on, even if I knew I was at the limit in the mountains. That being said, I put things into perspective and tell myself that I was not really stronger in the Dauphiné last year. I managed to win a stage, but the race’s course was different. The team, the coaches, the performance department also analysed what happened during the training camp and on the Dauphiné. They remotivated us straight away. I trust what they had to say. I was already able to show this weekend that I was in good shape and that I recovered well.

Did the Dauphiné sequence affect your confidence?

Actually, the team had the right words at the right time. They continued to trust us and reassure us. I think that was the most important thing. As high-level athletes, we also have a bit of pride, so taking a little slap (or even a big one) from time to time also allows us to question ourselves. Sometimes it’s not so bad before a big objective, and this is what we did after the Dauphiné. When you fail at something, it inevitably impacts your confidence at the time a bit, but then, you have to put things into perspective and start off on the right foot. If you take a slap, to keep going with the metaphor, you shouldn’t stay on the ground. You always have to get up: you take a slap, question yourself and go for it again. When we got back to work, we were maybe even more motivated, and I think that bodes well for the Tour. In such moments, you also try to cling to past performances. We stop for a moment and ask yourself: “ok, how long is it until D-Day?”. You try to look at the bigger picture, to remember that the Dauphiné is the Dauphiné, but that the Markstein is almost six weeks later. You tell yourself that everything can change, but it also kicks up your backside and for me personally, these things are helpful.

On and off the bike, your approach to the Tour could however have been smoother…

I don’t think it’s been the worst year. Last year, I was injured in Paris-Nice, and I only recovered during the May training camp. I had to restart with all the basics, and it was very hard. Then, just when I thought I had returned to a good level on the Dauphiné, I blew up on the last stage. The approach was harder last year physically speaking. However, this year there has been a lot of liveliness on social media. People sometimes didn’t understand what I meant, especially when I wanted to keep my opinion on Thibaut’s selection for the Tour. Plus, I had already said in May that I really wanted Thibaut to be there. I wanted people to stop asking me the question, because I am not the one who makes the team. I wanted to shut it all down. Unfortunately, it was interpreted in the wrong way, and that set some people against me. It was not easy to handle because I’ve been insulted a lot. The good thing is that it really calmed down, and I also want to thank the people who managed to show restraint. It allowed me to spend a more peaceful week after the Dauphiné. Eventually, this is the only thing that really differs from last year in terms of my approach.

Do you now feel the whole weight of this fourth place in the 2022 Tour?

It can be that, but I think there are also more expectations after what I achieved in Paris-Nice. People already started to tease me when I was announced as the leader for the Tour last year. I know a lot of people didn’t believe in me. Then, when you finish fourth in the Tour and second in Paris-Nice a few months later, I think you create a lot of expectations. People are disappointed when I fail on the Dauphiné, but I’m the first one to be disappointed. Besides, I want to make clear that the criticisms about my physical level in Dauphiné are totally justified. I don’t blame anyone. I was not in shape, period. Now, I’ll have to show these same people that I will be up there on the Tour. It remains the most important race of the year. You may achieve a great Paris-Nice, a great Tour of the Basque Country, if you fail on the Tour, your whole season is a failure. I realized it even more last year. After my fourth place on the Tour, people told me that I had had a great season. Yet, for me, there was not much apart from the Tour. Last year, I really understood what the Tour could bring to a rider, one way or the other. I know that if it goes wrong on the Tour, my Paris-Nice will be completely forgotten while it is one of the best performances of my career. Either way, the best way to respond to criticism is on the bike and with the legs.

How did you experience this growing reputation, and the criticisms that come with it?

I know that on social networks, like everywhere else, you cannot be liked by everyone. That’s not my goal anyway. My ambition isn’t to become a star, and besides, I hate that word. My goal is not to have notoriety and to have a million followers. When I do things on Twitch for example, that’s more of an escape. As long as I have fun in what I do and people like it, that’s enough for me. Unfortunately, there will always be unhappy people, whether we do something one way or the other. However, I think there are many more caring people who follow me and who are disappointed when I don’t achieve something. In the end, that’s also what’s sad about it: to disappoint people. As in life in general.

Do you feel you have been pointed out too much as a “bad boy”?

In January, I had my fair part of guilt… And I totally take my responsibility for it. When things are justified, I accept being criticized. I fully accept the consequences for things I’ve done or said, because I know I was the one who started it. On the other hand, when it is unjustified or misunderstood, it bothers me much more because I look like someone haughty and selfish, and I don’t think I’m like that. Some things have unfortunately been created and developed on misunderstandings. That’s what bothered me the most, to be honest. This was hard to accept. Unfortunately, I’m not going to change everyone’s opinion and I can’t answer everyone either.

What’s your reaction when you find yourself mentioned in controversies in the press, on social networks?

When things are baseless, it sucks, especially when it comes to Thibaut. Thibaut is someone I have always given everything for. When I got into the team, he was the leader, and he taught me everything about cycling. He certainly still has things to teach me. When I see press titles, videos, where they oppose us, I’m really mad. I consider Thibaut a friend first and foremost, I love him. I have always given everything for him, and I know that he also can give everything for me. Honestly, it makes me angry when I read this. People see me like that while it is unfounded. It really surprised me that people could believe that I didn’t want him. If we didn’t get along, I don’t know if we could have given so much for each other. Thibaut is someone I respect a lot. Sometimes, I even do things like him, just because I watched everything he did when he was a leader. Thibaut has such a prize record, so you obviously want to learn from him. I laugh about it, but people sometimes say to me: “it looks like Thibaut”. I answer, “well, that’s not a surprise, I went to the Thibaut Pinot school” (laughs).

Despite the recent events, does the goal for the Tour remain the same?

Yes, it does. Last year, I was far from my own expectations on the Dauphiné, and I went on to take fourth place on the Tour. I also remember that I managed to be at an excellent level in Paris-Nice and to get a top-5 in the Tour of the Basque Country despite average feelings. And then, I really only have the Tour in mind. That’s been on my mind for two months. I just want it to start, to go there, and to be already in the last climb of the first stage to see where I stand. I think what happens in June doesn’t mean anything for July. We are competitors, we always want to improve, so we will go to the Tour de France to compete for the podium. This is the goal I set for myself, and I am ready to give everything I have to achieve it. The team keeps trusting me, Marc has always supported me, and if I don’t believe in it, the riders who’ll ride for me every day won’t believe it either.

The team’s line-up reminds that of last year. Does it relax you, or does it add pressure?

Taking on the role of leader in the Tour de France is obviously a huge responsibility, but we are also lucky to have Thibaut for his last Tour. He just completed a great Giro and will ride with a peace of mind. He has experienced everything on the Tour, and he’ll be a precious ally. Overall, the group has some background. We had some tough days on the Tour last year, we continued to work this year, and I think we also gained experience. This group wants to work together. We can’t wait to ride together and do great things together. I trust each and every one of my teammates, and I am ready to give everything I have to achieve the best Tour possible.


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Team Soudal Quick-Step joins forces with South Pole in climate change initiative

Here’s the team’s post:

Soudal Quick-Step and South Pole are pleased to announce a further strengthening of their partnership. The collaboration, which for almost half a decade has seen South Pole assist the team in calculating its CO2 footprint and helped the team undertake a number of carbon reduction measures and contribute to financing climate projects around the world. Starting from July 2023 South Pole will not only partner up with the Men’s World Tour Team but also with all the teams under the umbrella of Decolef: the women’s team AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step Team and Soudal Quick-Step Men’s Development team.

South Pole, as a leading climate project developer and sustainability solutions provider, will lead the next step by guiding sustainability initiatives across the three teams’ operations, by calculating the CO2 footprint, setting up new goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the teams and financing climate projects. In addition, Decolef will champion South Pole’s new ‘Funding climate action’ label and raise awareness on the urgent need to scale climate finance, to fund climate protection projects and to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon future, while ensuring a just transition for all. Both South Pole and Decolef are convinced that this partnership will drive sustainability within the cycling industry and beyond.

Speaking of the partnership Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole, said, "Taking climate action is as much about creating lives that are more healthy, efficient and fun, as it is about reducing our carbon emissions - we have so much to gain from rebalancing our relationship with the planet. That's why we are delighted to partner with this Decolef, to leverage the power of cycling in order to raise awareness and drive climate action. Cycling is a sport of human grit and endurance. This collaboration is a perfect example of how we can harness the power of cycling to tackle the monumental challenge in front of us. By shifting gears on sustainability, Soudal Quick-Step, AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step and Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team are demonstrating extraordinary climate leadership and we look forward to an impactful partnership."

This was echoed by Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Decolef, who said, "We recognise that for the future of our sport to flourish, we must ensure the future of our natural surroundings. Combining our passion for cycling and the environment, we aim to amplify our collective voice and raise awareness about the urgent need to address climate change and strive to inspire others to join the movement for 'Funding Climate Action'. South Pole's leadership and expertise in driving climate impact for all make them an ideal partner for our team not only to address our own climate impact, but to ignite a transformative shift in attitudes and behaviours across the globe and remind everyone that it all starts with us."

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