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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, October 10, 2016

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Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house. – Rod Stewart

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Etixx-Quick Step's Paris-Tour report

Twenty-Two year-old Fernando Gaviria became the first South American to win the race created in 1896.

Colombian prodigy Fernando Gaviria struck again, this time in his last race of the season in the Etixx – Quick-Step kit, winning the 110th edition of Paris-Tours with a bang and adding another big victory to what's quickly becoming an impressive palmares. On Sunday, after 252 kilometers between Dreux and Tours, everyone was expecting for a bunch sprint to decide the winner of the final Classic of the season, but Fernando had other plans and surprised his opponents with a daring attack in the last 600 meters, when he took the right side of the road in a move which reminded of his exploits on the track.

Gaviria, who's in his first year with Etixx – Quick-Step, put some distance between him and the peloton, and despite the chasers digging hard to reel in him, they couldn't come back before the finish line. So big was the gap, that Fernando started celebrating with 15 meters to go, as he held off the stellar field on the legendary Avenue de Grammont for his most important victory to date, on his way to becoming the first Colombian victor in the race won in the past by François Faber, Briek Schotte or Rik Van Looy.

Paris-Tours, which acted as dress rehearsal for many sprinters ahead of the World Championships in Qatar, saw Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Jonas Van Genechten (IAM Cycling) finish behind Fernando on the podium, while teammate Matteo Trentin – the 2015 champion – came home in fourth position, giving Etixx – Quick-Step two men in the top 10.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins Paris-Tours

"I knew how important and big this race was, I know its history, and this motivated me to get the victory today. It was tough and fast today, but I was fresh in the finale, when I decided to take advantage of a corner which slowed down the peloton before the last straight. As soon as I attacked, I went full gas to the line and managed to hold the pack at bay. I am very happy and I want to thank the team for the support I got. It was my final race of the year in this kit and this makes the success very special. Also, to get news that the team won the team time trial world title gives me even more satisfaction", said Fernando, whose huge burst of speed and solo attack in the final kilometer will be remembered for many years.

In his maiden pro season, the 22-year-old Colombian won stages at the Tour de San Luis, Tour de Provence, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Pologne, but also Grand Prix Impanis-Van Petegem and Paris-Tours, and these remarkable results will make him a rider to watch out for at the upcoming World Championships.

"In Doha it's going to be a completely different story and the race will be made even more difficult by the heat, but I'm going there confident, relaxed and in good condition, so we'll see what will happen", concluded Fernando, who will lead the 9-man squad Colombia will line up at the start.

World Team Time Trial Championships team reports:

This came from BMC:

09 October, 2016, Doha (QAT): BMC Racing Team's six riders fought hard throughout the 40km Team Time Trial at the UCI Road World Championships to claim the silver medal and stand on the podium for the fourth time in the team's history.

As defending champions, having won in Ponferrada in 2014 and Richmond in 2015, BMC Racing Team was the last of 17 teams to roll down the start ramp with 40km of heat, winds and desert ahead.

The battle for the gold medal played out between BMC Racing Team and eventual winners Etixx-QuickStep, with the two teams on the same time at the second check point, well in front of their competitors. It was in the final few kilometers of the race that Etixx-QuickStep proved to be too strong on the day and they crossed the line 12 seconds in front of BMC Racing Team.

BMC

BMC finishing the time trial

Orica-BikeExchange rounded out the podium in third place.

Rohan Dennis: "We did everything we could leading up to it and you can't win them all. I think we rode just as well as last year but Etixx-QuickStep were just better on the day so hats off to them. The first 30km felt ok but it was the last 10km that really hurt, especially with the change of pace with the corners. Obviously the heat played a part, I think that was the main factor, and it was quite smooth until we came into The Pearl. Of course it makes us hungrier for next year but a year is a long time and I've got the individual time trial on Wednesday to focus on."

Stefan Küng: "I came from a long way down with my injuries but the team always had a lot of confidence in me and that really helped me. I've always had Doha in my head, especially the team time trial. I was training for it really hard, we all were, and everyone gave their best. From the new bike we have, to the riders and the staff, everyone involved gave 100% percent to defend out title. In the end you don't always get what you wish for and we can be happy that we did everything we could and next year is another chance."

Manuel Quinziato: "Sport is like that. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Today the Etixx-QuickStep guys were stronger than us so we lost to a strong team. It's going to be even more interesting next year in Norway now."

Jackson Stewart, Sports Director: "The fact that we didn't win is a huge disappointment. We came here to win and we had a lot of reason to win with a lot of product support and new announcements with the team. I think the guys really wanted to show appreciated for that with a third win in a row, and that would have made some history which we were looking to do. If we lost by a few seconds maybe, we would have been angrier or more disappointed and then you could say that it just wasn't your day but today losing by 12 seconds means we need to go back and look at what we didn't get right. We know it's in us, we've done it two times before and we can still be happy with our efforts today."

Here's the report Orica-BikeExchange sent me:

ORICA-BikeExchange continued their excellent history at the UCI Road World Championships today by taking third place in the elite men’s team time trial to take home the bronze medal in Doha, Qatar.

The Australian outfit crossed the line in 43minutes and nine seconds for the pan-flat 40kilometre course, producing an outstanding performance in the heat of the desert behind winner Etixx-Quickstep.

Orica-BikeExhange

Orica-BikeExchange hammering down the road

Every member of the six-man team contributed, with sport director Matt White praising the efforts of the squad and hailing their achievement. “Really great result and an outstanding effort from the team today,” said White. “Everyone stepped up to another level as soon as we were down the ramp especially Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge.”

“Luke was doing one minute turns on the front and really made the difference in the finale whilst the track boys, Michael and Alexander Edmondson switched immediately into competition mode despite the different preparation they had after the Olympics. Big Svein Tuft, Daryl Impey and Michael Matthews were also outstanding and as we expected the whole team rode as a tight unit and produced the goods.

“We can hold our heads very high and be happy with our achievement, it was a very fast course with changing wind directions, but to be honest it was a fairly light wind and everyone had to deal with the same conditions.”

How it happened: As anticipated, hazy and hot conditions welcomed the riders to the start ramp in the Qatari desert with a flat 40kilometre course ahead. A strong tail wind favoured the teams over the first half of the course with Team Katusha setting the best early time of 44minutes 3seconds.

By the second time split ORICA-BikeExchange had set the fastest time and were on course to achieve a good result. The technical finish around the man-made island, The Pearl, included traffic islands and plenty of road furniture for the riders to negotiate making maintenance of top speed a real challenge.

Team-Sky nudged Katusha out of the hot seat with 43 minutes 26seconds before ORICA-BikeExchange crossed the line 17seconds faster to take the top spot with Etixx-Quickstep and BMC still to finish.

Etixx-Quickstep took the win and gold medal by 12seconds ahead of BMC in second place, with ORICA-BikeExchange securing third and the bronze medal.

Moreno Hofland discusses his move to Lotto-Soudal

The team sent me this news:

Next season Moreno Hofland will join the Lotto Soudal team. The 25-year-old Dutch rider signed a two-year contract. Hofland, who is now riding for LottoNL – Jumbo, is known to be a sprinter but as of next year he wants to focus more on the Flemish races.

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “Moreno Hofland can definitely become part of the sprint train of André Greipel. He could be the successor of Greg Henderson. On the other hand Moreno is still very young himself and he has the ambition to win and we will give him that chance. There are many races where we ride without Greipel. For those races we can already rely on a few fast guys, but an extra sprinter is definitely welcome and that’s now the case with Moreno.”

“After Dylan Groenewegen joined the current team of Moreno, he got a bit sidetracked. We want to let him develop further in our team. Moreno isn’t only fast, he’s also cut out for the Flemish races with cobbles and wind. He can survive the Flemish hills. This is a second type of race we want to let him play a role in.”

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Hofland in 2014

Moreno Hofland: “I have been riding for the same team for eight years now: first three years for the development team and then I rode five years for the pro team. I notice I need a new challenge and new surroundings. I was very pleased with the offer of Lotto Soudal to join the team.”

“Apart from the fact that this is a new adventure there are several reasons why I specifically chose for Lotto Soudal. This team has one of the best sprint trains in the world. I am looking forward to playing a role in it to help my teammates and I also hope to learn a lot from it to become better myself. I also want to develop my Classics skills and then I’m on the right place with Lotto Soudal as well. Lotto Soudal is very experienced in the one-day races and I see that young riders with a similar profile as me are setting steps forward every year. I am sure we can stimulate each other.”

“The last years I focused on the sprint and left the Classics aside, but I know those races suit me and now I want to focus on it. I’m fast after hard races or on tough finishes. That’s how I also got the role of a sprinter for the flat courses, but hard races are better for me. Next year I really want to show myself in the Flemish races and win. I haven’t won this year and in 2017 I want to start winning again.”

Giant-Alpecin's plans for 2017

The team sent me this release:

While Team Giant-Alpecin has been bringing the current road season to a successful close with top-10 finishes in the Eneco Tour GC, Milano-Torino and Giro di Lombardia, and a victory at the Münsterland Giro, from an organizational point of view the focus is also already on the 2017 season. 

The German team will strengthen its 2017 men’s and women’s programs – adding both strong leaders and worlds best-in-class talents from the younger generation – and launch a revolutionary development institute.

High-profile riders such as Michael Matthews (AUS) and Wilco Kelderman (NED) will contribute to bring the men’s roster for 2017 and beyond to the next level, while the recently announced addition of former world junior and European U23 time trial champion Lennard Kämna (GER) and Australian U23 champion Chris Hamilton indicates that the team continues to attract the world’s most promising young riders. The women’s roster has also been significantly bolstered for 2017 with the signing of the Dutch duo European TT champion Ellen van Dijk and Lucinda Brand, European junior road champion from Germany, Liane Lippert, and promising French rider Juliette Labous.

As announced during the second rest day of this year’s Tour de France, the engagement of the team's new main partner, the Switzerland-based company Sunweb, not only allows the team to strengthen the men’s and the women’s rosters and to grow and expand its organization, it also allows for the realization of a long-cherished dream... to invest in the future:

The start of the 2017 season, the first year under the new name Team Sunweb, will mark the launch of the “2000 Tage zur Spitze” project. A major component of this project is the team’s new development program. The vision for this program is not merely to develop riders into the pro ranks; rather, the aim is to develop and deliver the next generation of stars. This revolutionary program aims to be the world’s most prestigious development institute, and only the very best German and international talents will qualify to join.

The team’s twofold strategy is to run and grow a top-performing team in the WorldTour today as well as developing tomorrow's champions. This strategy is illustrated by the high-profile riders who have signed for the men’s and women’s programs, parallel to the No. 1 and 2 finishers at the world junior championships, Felix Gall (AUT) and Clément Betouigt-Suire (FRA), joining the new development program. This development program, operating from the team base in Germany, will be fully integrated into the team. Forming the next generations of talents will be both on and off the bike via educational programs. This structural investment in the future of German cycling is designed to lead to a continuous stream of talented German riders into the UCI WorldTour and to function as a catalyst for the future of cycling in Germany.

The men’s, women’s and development programs will operate according to the team’s well-established “Keep Challenging” elite sports approach – optimizing cooperation and accessing the same science, technologies and resources.

The team’s long-term ambitions correspond nicely with the ambitions of its main partner, Sunweb, part of the Sundio group, a leading tour operator in Europe, whose commitment to cycling is part of its long-term European growth strategy with Germany as its key growth-market. The team’s long-term partnership with Giant – on an exclusive basis in the UCI WorldTour – will ensure that the both men and women will race on state-of-the-art Giant and Liv machines, respectively, in the years to come. Giant is pursuing several innovation and R&D projects together with the team’s experts and engineers, and both parties will benefit technologically from the cooperation in a broad range of areas.

While Team Giant-Alpecin is aiming high for the remaining races of the current 2016 road season, behind the scenes the foundation is being laid for the 2017 season and beyond.

TAG Heuer returns to cycling with BMC Racing Team

BMC sent me this press release:

Doha, Saturday, 8 October 2016 - Today in Doha (Qatar), on the eve of the UCI Road World Championship 2016, at a press conference held at the St Regis Hotel, TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver announced the brand's return to the world of international professional cycling. Closing a hiatus of more than 20 years, TAG Heuer is joining forces with BMC Racing Team represented at the press conference by owner Andy Rihs and Jim Ochowicz, the team's President and General Manager.

Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the Watch Division of the LVMH Group states: "Cycling is a universal, international, popular sport that transcends all age groups. This is an exciting project that is very dear to my heart and one we see as a long-term investment with my good friend Andy Rihs whom I've known for twenty-five years. The team will be the standard bearer for our avant-garde spirit and Swiss Made quality throughout the world. It will also give us magnificent brand visibility with its roster of prestigious races."

Andy Rihs, BMC Racing Team owner, adds: "It is fantastic to welcome a luxury partner to BMC Racing Team's portfolio and to have two high-level Swiss brands in BMC and TAG Heuer join forces through international cycling is absolutely unique. We are all excited to work with TAG Heuer, and I am particularly thrilled to announce this collaboration with my longtime friend, Jean-Claude Biver. BMC and TAG Heuer are both passionately Swiss and committed to excellence, so I am very much looking forward to the 2017 season and seeing our riders proudly display the TAG Heuer logo."

Jim Ochowicz, BMC Racing Team President and General Manager, said:"This collaboration between BMC Racing Team and TAG Heuer is an important stage in the team's history and one that signals great things for our future. BMC Racing Team and TAG Heuer share many values which can most aptly be summarized by TAG Heuer's don't crack under pressure mindset, the very essence of cycling. Timing is at the heart of racing, whether it's a race against the clock at a time trial or a three-week Grand Tour, the goal is to be the fastest, so to have TAG Heuer join BMC Racing Team as our Official Timekeeper is an excellent fit."

A global partnership: All team members will be sporting the TAG Heuer Connected, which will provide them with information and communications.

In terms of brand visibility, the watchmaker's logo will be placed in all strategic locations. In races, on the jerseys, the watchmaker's famous shield will appear high up and on the sides of the sleeves (a key location for TV and photography). On podiums, during interviews, this same logo will feature on all the cyclists' caps. Finally, the team's official vehicles will proudly sport the TAG Heuer and BMC colors side by side on roads all over the world.

As a tribute to TAG Heuer's cycling heritage, road racing legend Dag Otto Lauritzen (age 50, Norwegian pro cyclist from 1984 to 1994, stage winner of the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, bronze medalist at the 1984 Olympics, and member of 7-Eleven Cycling Team which in those days wore the TAG Heuer colors) came to the press conference as well.

Also in attendance to mark the occasion: 2015 Australian time trial champion Richie Porte, leader of BMC Racing Team in 2016 (winner of Paris-Nice in 2013 and 2015 as well as Volta a Catalunya in 2015) and the 7 selected riders for the UCI World Championship Team Time Trial, Tom Bohli (SUI), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), and Joey Rosskopf (USA).

The 2016 BMC Racing Team brings together 29 athletes of 12 different nationalities. Ranking among the top four UCI WorldTour teams in professional cycling, it is followed by 20 million fans around the world. It is also one of the most well-known pro teams (ranked in the top 3 in the US, UK, Australia and Germany). On social media, the team has more than 800,000 followers.

The spirit of the BMC Racing Team-TAG Heuer collaboration is about bringing together highly motivated, engaged and ambitious people to seek out innovations in all domains, and not just in the world of sports. It's also about taking to the next level the avant garde technologies, materials and design that will be developed with the same spirit that drives the watchmaker from La Chaux-de-Fonds: "Swiss avant-garde since 1860."

The first pairing of professional cycling with the brand dates back to 1946, when pocket chronometers for measuring time during races and trials are first mentioned in the brochure of Swiss watchmaker HEUER. In 1985, more than 30 years ago, TAG Heuer ventured in earnest into the world of professional cycling as sponsor of the HEUER SKIL SEM team and its leader Sean Kelly. From 1986-1987 to 1990, the brand's involvement continues with Team KAS TAG HEUER and the American 7-Eleven Cycling Team, founded by none other than Jim Ochowicz - the current President and General Manager of BMC Racing Team whom TAG Heuer is partnering with again today.

Dag Otto Lauritzen, also in attendance today,and Andy Hampsten, are without a doubt heroes of that era when the first special edition of the Heuer Formula 1, sporting the red and green team colors, saw the light of day.

In 1992 TAG Heuer teams up with Swiss champion Tony Rominger (115 wins and hour record holder in 1994) who would also be the brand's ambassador until 1996.

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