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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 27, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first. - Arthur Schopenhauer

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Bicycle industry icon Othon Ochsner dies

Othon Ochsner passed away earlier this month. If you rode high-end bikes or used quality cycling equipment such as Assos, DT or Campagnolo, it's likely you were using products that had passed through his company, Ochsner International.

Othon was a giant bear of a man, but his intimidating presence disguised one of the kindest, friendliest, most generous men I ever met.

When Carol and I were just starting Torelli Imports in the early '80s, we somehow become good friends with Othon. At least once a week I would have a long talk on the phone with him. A lot of that talk was Othon giving me advice on how to sell professional cycling goods and becoming a better importer and distributor, hence a better competitor.

One time I called him and said that Carol and I were coming out to visit his warehouse and learn more about his operation so that we could win some of his customers away from him.

"Come on over," he said. And he told us not to make a hotel reservation. He picked us up at the airport and installed us in his beautiful home while he went to stay at his mother's place. We spent a whole day at his warehouse learning more about the trade from this wise man. That evening he took us to a gourmet restaurant and bought us one of the finest meals of our lives.

I should try to be more like him.

Othon Ochsner was a good as they come and the world is less for his passing. Rest in peace dear Othon.

You can read more about Othon Ochsner here.

UAE Team Emirates heads to Tour of Poland

The team sent me this update:

Seven stages and 1139 km are on the menu for the 2017 edition of the Tour de Pologne, a World Tour test that kicks off on Saturday, July 29th, to come to a close on Friday, August 4th.

The UAE Team Emirates formation will be made up of seven riders, as prescribed by the rules and regulations of the race:
– Anass Ait el Abdia (MAR)
– Valerio Conti (ITA)
– Rui Costa (POR)
– Roberto Ferrari (ITA)
– Sacha Modolo (ITA)
– Matej Mohoric (ITA)
– Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL)
Sports Directors:  Daniele Righi (ITA) and Orlando Maini (ITA)

Four stages will be suited to the sprinters or attackers (stages 1-2-4.5), while the general classification will be defined by stages 3, 6 and 7; the latter featuring a climbing arrival in Bukovina Tatrzanska.

Rui Costa will be making his debut in the Tour de Pologne. “I’ve been working intensely for the past several weeks, high altitude training in the mountains of Passo San Pellegrino with some of my team mates and under the supervision of the team trainers.

"I believe this is a good way to approach the second part of the season and my debut in the Tour de Pologne. I am curious to discover this race and evaluate the shape I’m in after the work we did in the high mountains.”

Sports Director Daniele Righi had these thoughts on the race: “The route will be slightly different from the ones in the last few seasons; a hilly fraction has been added to the third day of racing. I think that in any case, the fractions that define the general classification will be the 6th and 7th.

"Rui Costa is the most outstanding rider in our selection, and Modolo is our speedster for the sprints. It’s worth considering that all seven of our riders are returning to racing after some time off, during which they focused on training for the second part of the season. The great news is that Ait el Abdia is returning to racing after an absence forced by an injury last May in the GP Lugano.”

Lotto-Soudal promotes three U23 riders to its pro team

The team sent me this update:

From the first of August, three Lotto Soudal U23 riders will be a trainee at the pro team for the remainder of the season. The three are Senne Leysen, Emiel Planckaert and Mathias Van Gompel.

Senne Leysen is in his third year at the U23 level, in which he showed his time trialling capabilities. Last May, he was crowned Belgian champion against the clock for U23 riders and he finished third in the time trial in a strong field in the Giro d’Italia U23. Next to that, he has also shown his classics capabilities by finishing ninth in Paris Roubaix for Espoirs.

Emiel Planckaert is a third-year Espoir as well, just as Senne Leysen. He is the true definition of an all-rounder, as he is able to compete in both the Flemish and the Walloon classics. Next to that, he has proven himself in stage races as well. In the tough Tour de l’Isard, he finished seventh overall after two top ten places.

In his final year at U23 level, Mathias Van Gompel has repeatedly shown his qualities in the prestigious Lotto Top Competition for Espoirs. He rode at a very high and constant level, which results in a current second place in the overall standings, with one race remaining. He has a lot of power which makes that he can still go strong at the end of a race.

Kurt Van de Wouwer, head department of sports Lotto Soudal U23: “It will be the first time these three riders will compete at the professional level. This is an opportunity for them to show their qualities in the pro peloton. They are given a unique chance, which they should grasp with both hands.”

“The trainees won’t participate in WorldTour races, but there are plenty of races on the calendar in August and September, so they will definitely get their chance. We chose for these three, as they are ready to compete. Their profiles and their programme fit the team perfectly for the upcoming races this fall.”

“The goal for Senne, Emiel and Mathias is to acquire as much experience as possible during this period. It’s a way for them to see how a race is ridden in the pro peloton and it is an opportunity to measure themselves against the pro riders, to check if they are ready for the professional level. We don’t expect them to compete for the race victory, but it is important that they do what is asked from them, whether that is pulling at the front of the peloton or trying to be in an early breakaway. If it would result in a nice outcome, that would be all the better.”

While we're on the subject: Müller and Welten join BMC Racing Team as stagiaires

26 July, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Development Team's Patrick Müller and Bram Welten have been promoted to stagiaires with BMC Racing Team for the remainder of the 2017 season.

General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the duo have impressed in their time with BMC Development Team and will have the chance to learn from the WorldTour team for the rest of the season.

"We are pleased to welcome Patrick Müller and Bram Welten to BMC Racing Team as stagiaires. Through their time in the BMC Development Team, Patrick and Bram have already gained valuable experience and we are looking forward to seeing them step up to the WorldTour level. We still have a busy program in the second half of the year so they will have many opportunities to race with the best cyclists in the world," Ochowicz said.

In his third year with BMC Development Team, Müller is looking forward to making the step up when he makes his debut at The Larry H Miller Tour of Utah.

"I am super excited to make the step up and become a stagiaire for BMC Racing Team. I'm really looking forward to racing with the pro riders and getting the opportunity to learn as much as possible from them. I've only heard good things about racing at The Larry H Miller Tour of Utah and to start my time as a stagiaire on a different continent makes it even more special," Müller explained.

Welten will race with BMC Racing Team for the first time at the Artic Race of Norway. "It's going to be really cool to join BMC Racing Team as a stagiaire for some races. I am really happy that they have the confidence in me. I think it will be a great opportunity to learn and I am looking forward to getting started. I have worked hard all season and I have had some good results so I feel very lucky that they have seen what I am capable of. I'm not sure what to expect but I will work hard for the team and will use every moment as an opportunity to learn," Welten said.

Bob Jungels is motivated for the second half of the season

Here's the post from Jungels' Quick-Step team:

Bob Jungels – winner of the coveted Giro d'Italia maglia bianca – shared his thoughts on racing the 100th edition of the Corsa Rosa, his recovery period and his build up for the second part of the year, including the team's recent altitude training camp in Livigno.

"I was super happy with how the Giro played out for us. Of course, it started really well when Gaviria won and took the pink jersey on stage 3. I think we proved a lot of strength already from that stage and from there we only kept going as a team.

"That we were able keep the maglia rosa within the team for six stages was quite impressive and an incredible experience. I was really just humbled and overwhelmed by wearing it on my shoulders for five of the stages. In Grand Tours, it is always hard work and never easy to protect the leader's jersey but were racing like a true Grand Tour GC team.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels putting on the maglia rosa after 2017 Giro stage seven.

"I have to emphasize that Fernando really rode an incredible Giro, which of course gave a lot of motivation to the rest of the team. I had a few bad days, where I suffered a bit, but apart from that, I think I can be pleased with my own performance as well.

"Taking home the stage victory in Bergamo was quite amazing. It was a special sprint to the finish, which is also known from Il Lombardia, and I was happy to conclude it with a victory against the other GC contenders.

"After the Giro, I think I recovered quite well. I took it easy for a week, and then I actually went back to Italy, in Sardinia, with my girlfriend, for a nice vacation. I brought my bike there and restarted with really, really easy spinning.

"Going into the nationals I felt I was coming back to my normal level after a good period of recovery, so I was of course delighted to convert my form into a win and pull on the national jersey for one more year. It is always an honour to represent your country around the world.

"I have just concluded a two-week altitude training camp in Livigno with the team. It was perfect to have 13 riders together to push each other and get a good block of training under the belt, and of course have some fun when we were not on the bike. We were fortunate to stay at Alpen Village, which is a perfectly located hotel in the mountains, serving great food, which is something you truly appreciate when being away for two full weeks, spending six hours a day in the saddle.

"The camp was especially interesting for me as this was the first time I have done two altitude camps in one year. I am hoping we will see the benefits of that in the second half of the season, and why not, maybe now in Poland where I will come back to racing for the Tour de Pologne; it's a very nice and hard race that I like and I think it is a good option for us riders who do not do the Tour to try something over there – I am for sure keen to do my best in order to get a good result in my first outing after this off period."


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