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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 2, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

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Simon Yates leads Orica-Scott's overall ambitions, Keukeleire & Gerrans target stages and Chaves returns to racing at Dauphiné

Orica-Scott sent me this update:

ORICA-SCOTT return to Critérium du Dauphiné with an impressive team line-up eyeing the overall and stages whilst also using the race as a build up for the Tour de France in July.

Tour de Romandie stage winner Simon Yates will lead ORICA-SCOTT’s ambitions in the general classification, whilst two-time grand tour podium finisher Esteban Chaves returns to racing after a four-month hiatus.

The race, along with the Tour de Suisse, is a precursor for the Tour de France and is historically used as form finder by the general classification contenders. ORICA-SCOTT have multiple targets for the race with a mixed team of climbers and fast riders, with final selection spots for the Tour de France on the line.

“The most important thing for us in this race is that the guys come out with a good feeling ahead of the Tour de France,” explained sport director Laurenzo Lapage. “For some of the riders it is their first race again after having a break from racing and training camps.”

“For sure I think the guys will be in good shape after their different training blocks, they always arrive in good condition and we know that the Dauphine is always a hard race.

“We have Simon Yates to go for the overall but we won’t put much pressure on him for that or the other guys. It would be great if he can be up there overall and also look to the white jersey competition.”

Simon Yates

Simon Yates winning stage four of this year's Tour de Romandie

The team line-up is bursting with talent, with more strong climbers in Czech champion Roman Kreuziger, Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Damien Howson and fellow Australian Jack Haig.

Volta Catalunya stage winner Daryl Impey also returns to racing after suffering from a broken collarbone in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and will be joined by the recently crowned Tour of Belgium winner Jens Keukeleire and Simon Gerrans who rounds up the stellar eight-man squad.

“It's a good opportunity for all the guys to test their legs and also have their own opportunities,” Lapage continued. “The first few days could go either way, they could potentially be bunch sprints or finish with a breakaway. Therefore these first stages are chances for the sprinters and Keukeleire is obviously in good shape having won the Tour of Belgium, so one of those early days we will ride for him and for another day we have Gerrans.

“As it is the first race back for many of the guys, for example Impey, we have to be careful that they use the race well and come out of it feeling good."

The difficult yet mixed parcours generally favours the climbers with the final three stages the most difficult. Stage six features a hors category climb followed by a stage up Alpe d’hues and concludes with a summit finish on stage eight which leaves no room to hide.

The 69th edition of the event kicks off this Sunday, 4th June and consists of seven road stages and one individual time trial.

ORICA-SCOTT riders:

Esteban Chaves – (COL, 27)
Simon Gerrans - (AUS, 37)
Jack Haig - (AUS, 23)
Damien Howson - (AUS, 24)
Daryl Impey - (RSA, 32)
Jens Keukeleire – (BEL, 28)
Roman Kreuziger - (CZE, 31)
Simon Yates – (GBR, 24)

And here is UAE Team Emirates Dauphiné news:

Louis Meintjes will lead UAE Team Emirates squad for the GC of the Criterium du Dauphiné from 4 to 11 June. In the team also stages hunters like Diego Ulissi and the sprinter Ben Swift.

“I am looking forward to the Dauphine as it is a race I have some good memories from” says Louis Meintjes. “My self and the team have been working hard so I hope for a good race. It’s also a really important test for the next Tour de France. This race can say you if you are in a right way for the French race, but also a good opportunity to get some good result”.

Louis Meintjes

Louis Meintjes racing in the 2016 Tour de France

It’s the first Dauphiné for Ben Swift: “It’s my first time to ride Dauphine. In the past I have usually rode Swiss. I am looking forward to trying a new race with what looks like an exciting profile for the race. I feel good with the condition after completing the team training camp so I look forward to trying for the best result possible”.

Also Diego Ulissi is focused: “we have just finished a intense training camp and we are really focused for the next goals. The Dauphiné can say us if we worked well for the Tour de France and in the same time give us the possibility to get some important result”.

The sport director Mario Scirea says we have a balanced squad: we’re going to the Criterium du Dauphiné to finalize the work done in altitude at Passo San Pellegrino in Italy. We’ll try to do a good general classification with Louis Meintjies supported by Durasek and Laengen. Diego Ulissi will be our man for mountain medium stages and Ben Swift our fast wheel. I think we have a balanced team in order to get some good results.

Rider roster: DURASEK Kristijan (Croatia), BONO Matteo (Italy), LAENGEN Vergad Stake (Norway), MEINTJES Louis (South Africa), MORI Manuele (Italy), SWIFT Ben (England), ULISSI Diego (Italy), ZURLO Federico (Italy)

Sports Directors: Mario Scirea (ITA), Daniele Righi (ITA).

Team Sky riders will have special kit for Tour de France

Team Sky sent me this:

1st June 2017: Fans are being given the opportunity to be right behind Chris Froome and his teammates at this summer’s Tour de France, where riders will be wearing a special white jersey edition of the Team Sky kit.

Team Sky Tour kit

Chris Froome models the Team Sky 2017 Tour kit

The new design, which has been produced in partnership with Castelli, will still feature all of the elements which have made Team Sky riders so recognisable in the peloton, but with the traditional black jerseys swapped for a new, white design. The jersey will continue to carry the distinctive data pattern featured on the 2017 Team Sky kit.

And fans will have the chance to see their name featured on the jerseys worn by Team Sky at the Tour de France team presentation in Dusseldorf on Thursday 29th June.

A selection of lucky fans will see their names printed into the blue line on the back of jerseys which will be worn by riders as they are introduced to the crowds.

Mikael Chérel to miss Dauphiné & Tour de France

This sad news (roughly translated) came from Ag2r:

Mikael Chérel crashed badly while training on May 25 in the Spanish Sierra Nevada and will be off the road for four weeks.

This means he will miss both the Dauphiné and the Tour de France, for which he had already been pre-selected. Chérel fractured his pelvis in the crash

"I tried to ride a few meters as a test and the pain quickly brought me back to earth," said Mikael Chérel. "I am disappointed but I will prepare with great motivation for the end of the season."

Bardiani-CSF signs Michael Bresciani

This team sent me this release:

Bardiani-CSF announces that it has signed under-23 rider Michael Bresciani. Born in Desenzano del Garda (Brescia) on 12 December 1994, Bresciani is a sprinter with good skills as rouleur. He rode the first part of the season with under 23 team Zalf-Euromobil-Desirée-Fior.

Already part of the group of young riders followed by the team for the future, Bresciani moved up the passage into professional cycling thanks to the green light of his former team. He will be at disposal of the team as soon as the contract iter will be ok.

“I’m really happy for the great chance that Bardiani-CSF offered to me” said Bresciani. “I’ve earned good experience in under 23 and I feel ready to make a new step. I know it won’t be easy, professional cycling is another world, another level of competition. But I’m really motivated. I already had the opportunity to chat with Bruno and Roberto Reverberi, soon I’ll meet also Zanatta. I also know well few of my new teammates, it will be a big help. I can’t wait wait to debut”.

In 2017 Bresciani took one win (Circuito S. Urbano) and seven podiums. In the past, he took 13 successes as under 23 with teams Zalf-Euromobil (2016), ASD Rivaltese Bottoli (2014) and Marchiol-Emisfero (2013). In 2015 he had an experience with continental team Roth-Skoda. Bresciani has also raced with Italian team at Gran Piemonte (2016) and Trofeo Laigueglia (2015).

Halfords Notes Big Drop in Number of UK Bike Retailers

Bike-Europe sent me this troubling news:

REDDITCH, UK – Like in the US as well as in other EU countries also in the UK the rapid growth of online bike sales is “changing the marketplace,” notes Halfords. The country’s biggest chain in motoring and cycling products Halfords reports that it has a destroying effect on the competitiveness of IBDs resulting in their demise.

In its report on the company’s financial year (that ended March 31, 2017) Halfords Group plc notes “Our research has identified that the number of bike shops has declined by nearly 10% over the last year.”

The reason behind the big drop in the number of IBDs in the UK is the same as in other countries; the inability of dealers to compete with price offers that are intensively communicated by online players. Halfords states “The cycling market is highly fragmented; there are over 2,500 bike shops in the UK, the majority of which are independents. The changing marketplace and growth in online is making it increasingly difficult for these independents to be competitive. Our research has identified that the number of bike shops has declined by nearly 10% over the last year.”

Whether the drop in the number of IBDs is favoring Halfords is not stated by the company. However, its financial report  says that “cycling sales improved by 5.1% on a like for like basis and 18.2% on a total sales basis. We took a significant step forward in consolidating the Group’s market-leading position, growing market share on a like for like basis as well as continuing to grow the Cycle Republic chain, which grew over 20% like-for-like in the year. Tredz and Wheelies also performed strongly in the year, with revenue growing over 20%.”

In the 2016/2017 fiscal year Halfords’ total revenue stood at GBP 1,095 million (€ 1,261 million); up 7.2%, with a like-for-like growth of 2.7%.

You can read the entire story here.

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