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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 4, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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Tony Gallopin aims for top ten at Paris-Nice

Lotto-Soudal (Lotto-FixAll for Paris-Nice) sent me this:

Sunday, the 75th edition of Paris-Nice kicks off. Lotto Soudal rides this eight-day WorldTour race as Lotto Fix ALL with a blue-and-white shirt. The Race to the Sun is a mix of sprint stages and mountain stages. That’s reflected in the start list which contains both top sprinters and GC riders. Lotto Soudal goes to France with André Greipel and Tony Gallopin as leaders.

The first three stages are perfect for a bunch sprint. André Greipel will have to sprint against riders like Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard, Arnaud Démare, Dylan Groenewegen, Marcel Kittel and Alexander Kristoff. On Wednesday, an individual time trial is scheduled of 14.5 kilometres with finish on Mont Brouilly, a climb of three kilometres with an average gradient of 7.7%. Thursday, the sprinters get a last chance before the peloton heads into the mountains.

Friday, the stage finishes on Mur de Fayence. For more than one kilometre the average slope is 9.8%. Before Fayence the riders already have to climb a lot, with among other two ascents of the Col de Bourigaille. The stage on Saturday finishes on Col de la Couillole, a first category climb that is 15.7 kilometres long and has an average gradient of 7.1%. Five climbs lie on the course of the last stage, the last one is the Col d’Eze (7.7 km at 5.7% average). Then it goes fifteen kilometres downhill towards the finish in Nice. Many riders will aim for the overall victory. Apart from two-time winner Richie Porte also Romain Bardet, Steven Kruijswijk, Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde will stand at the start.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin racing in the 2016 Tour de France

Tony Gallopin: “The season began really well for me. I won the closing time trial at Etoile de Bessèges and finished second on GC. At Volta ao Algarve I finished third overall. I feel one hundred percent ready for Paris-Nice!”

“Paris-Nice is one of my favourite stage races. I always aim for a top ten place on GC. I succeeded in finishing on top ten the past three years and that’s my goal now as well. The level at Paris-Nice is always very high. Many great riders participate. I trained hard to take on the climbers in the mountain stages and I believe in myself.”

“Echelons could be formed in the first two stages, we will be riding on roads where that already happened in the past. It will be nervous anyway because of the sprints. For the flat stages we can rely on André Greipel. As a team we will do all we can to take him in the best possible position to the sprint.”

“Wednesday, will be the first clash between the GC riders. The individual time trial that day is short, but has a peculiar profile. The first ten kilometres are flat, but the time trial ends with a tough climb. I know that climb well, it’s steep and the road is narrow. In 2014 the Mont Brouilly lay on the route of Paris-Nice as well and this winter I did a recon there. The last three days of Paris-Nice will be hard. Friday, the stage finishes on the Mur de Fayence. In 2014 I got eighth on that finish. It’s a finish for punchers, but first there are two hard ascents of the Col de Bourigaille. Saturday is a mountain stage with a summit finish and Sunday the stage takes us to the famous Col d’Eze. It’s a very mountainous edition. For our team it will be extra special because we ride with the Lotto Fix ALL outfit. Last year, that action was a big success, with the stage win of Tim Wellens as the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to show myself in the blue-and-white kit.”

Line-up Lotto Fix ALL: Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Marc Wauters.

Stages:

Astana's roster for Paris-Nice:

Team's roster: Matti Breschel, Laurens De Vreese, Jakob Fuglsang, Riccardo Minali, Alexey Lutsenko, Tanel Kangert, Ruslan Tleubayev and Michael Valgren.

Sports directors: Dmitriy Fofonov and Dmitri Sedoun.

Team Movistar's March 3 racing update:

Two weeks after claiming his fifth GC success -and his 100th pro victory- in the Vuelta a Andalucía, Alejandro Valverde will be back in Movistar Team outfit for the 75th edition of Paris-Nice (5-12 March), a race he'll compete at five years after claimind 3rd overall, a stage win and the points jersey in 2012. The man from Murcia will lead an eight-man squad completely devoted to supporting the Spaniard: Jesús and José Herrada, Rory Sutherland, Imanol Erviti, Winner Anacona, Marc Soler and Gorka Izagirre will be at Bala's side, with José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía as sports directors.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde at the Tour of Murcia earlier this year

The French event includes four likely sprint finishes, the winds set to play an important role in the French Centre region; a 14km ITT up the Mont Brouilly, on Wednesday 8th; two uphill finishes in Fayence (Friday 10th) and the Col de la Couillole (Saturday 11th); and a demanding showdown around Nice, featuring the Col d'Eze, on the final Sunday of racing.

In turn, a second block commanded by José Luis Jaimerena will be heading to Tuscany for the 11th Strade Bianche, now into the WorldTour calendar and remaining as old-style as usual with its eleven 'sterrato' - gravel road sections (62km) over a 175-kilometer in Siena. Local Daniele Bennati and Costa Rica's Andrey Amador will be the main references for an otherwise young group that includes Jorge Arcas, Nuno Bico, Richard Carapaz, Carlos Betancur, Antonio Pedrero and recent Volta ao Alentejo overall victor Carlos Barbero.

Quick Step Floors will race Paris-Nice

Here's the team's latest news:

Between 5-12 March, our riders will race towards the sun, at the 75th edition of the French World Tour event.

Held annually since 1933, Paris-Nice is one of the most prestigious races of the calendar, one which many riders yearn to add to their palmares. Known as the "Race to the Sun", Paris-Nice is also one of the events in which Quick-Step Floors tasted success on multiple occasions, winning 13 stages in addition to five auxiliary classifications.

This year, Paris-Nice will have a little bit of something for everyone: the sprinters will fight for victory in Bois-D'Arcy, Amilly and Chalon-sur-Saône, before the race will shift towards the climbers. A short individual time trial finishing on the tough ascent of Mount Brouilly (3.3 kilometers, 7.7% average gradient) will create the first gaps in the overall standings, while Bourg-de-Péage will see the fast men of the peloton cross swords for the final time.

A punchy ascent, averaging 9.8% over 1.3 kilometers, will await the riders in Fayence at the end of stage six, after five categorized climbs, with Col de la Couillole set to become one day later the highest ever finish of Paris-Nice (1678 meters). The race will conclude Sunday afternoon, in Nice, on Quai des États-Unis, but not before the riders will tackle five classified ascents, including the legendary Col d'Eze, a regular feature on the course for nearly five decades.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel at the 2017 Tour of Dubai

Marcel Kittel, who so far this season has racked up five victories, will be the team's designated sprinter for the World Tour race, as he will look to nab his first victory there since 2013. Julian Alaphilippe, best young rider last year of another renowned French race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, will join the powerful German, after already being part of the Quick-Step Floors squad for the Dubai Tour and the Abu Dhabi Tour (where he conquered the white jersey).

Also making the team for Paris-Nice are Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert, who is coming here after racing the Opening Week-end, Jack Bauer, Yves Lampaert and Fabio Sabatini, who are sure to add fire power on the flat, while David De La Cruz and Daniel Martin, a stage winner earlier this year at the Volta ao Algarve, will have their eyes on the mountain stages, which are set to shape the general classification in the second half of the week.

"I think we have a pretty balanced team for Paris-Nice. Obviously, Marcel – who showed a good form since the start of the season – is our card for the bunch sprints, but we also come with GC ambitions here", said sport director Brian Holm. "Julian and Dan had some pretty good results lately, and having them and Philippe on the team means we are going to be competitive on all types of terrain."

Fox and SRAM suits continue in two states as costs mount

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this fascinating story:

Published March 1, 2017, by Stephen Frothingham

Editor's note: A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. It has been updated to reflect recent court filings and Fox Factory's statements about its litigation costs.

CHICAGO (BRAIN) — Fox Factory and SRAM are battling in courts in Illinois and California over several patent infringement suits involving the companies' brands. Fox Factory told investors on March 1 that the litigation cost the company $2.75 million in 2016, and there is little sign of let-up.

The companies are increasingly rivals in the original equipment and aftermarket arenas. In suspension, Fox Factory — through its Fox and Marzocchi brands — competes with SRAM's RockShox brand. Fox's Race Face and Easton brands compete with SRAM's drivetrain, wheels and cockpit products, including those sold under the SRAM, Truvativ, Zipp and Service Course brands.

The dispute began when SRAM sought to protect its X-Sync "wide-narrow" chainring patent in late 2015. SRAM had announced months earlier that it was open to licensing X-Sync and reached licensing agreements with Chromag and Accell Sports.

In December 2015, SRAM sued Race Face, Praxis Works and Wolf Tooth Components separately in an Illinois court, alleging each infringed on its patent, which had been granted five weeks earlier.

Wolf Tooth fairly quickly worked out a cross-licensing agreement with SRAM involving some of Wolf Tooth's own technology. Praxis also resolved the suit. Terms of the SRAM and Praxis agreement are confidential, but Praxis has adopted a different chain retention technology, licensed from MRP, on its single-chainring products.

SRAM's suit against Fox, related to products sold by Fox-owned Race Face, continues. From the beginning, it was more complicated than the others because SRAM alleged that Fox infringed on its trademarks, as well as its patent, by engraving "SRAM" and "GXP" on its chainrings to indicate compatibility. But Fox got the trademark claim thrown out by pointing out that SRAM had not specifically trademarked the terms for use on chainrings.

In May 2016, SRAM filed another suit against Race Face, for infringing on a very similar patent for narrow-wide chainring technology, which SRAM had been granted in March 2016. The two suits were later combined.

Meanwhile, Fox had filed suit against SRAM in a California court in late January 2016, alleging that some of SRAM's RockShox forks and rear shocks infringed on two of its patents. One of the patents (US6557674) had been developed by Marzocchi, which Fox Factory purchased in November 2015. The other patent was developed in-house at Fox.

In July 2016, Fox filed another suit against SRAM, this time alleging that SRAM infringed on two of its patents related to thru-axles.

SRAM's Brian Benzer said the company has now reached X-Sync licensing agreements with seven to 10 companies. He said SRAM offered to license the design to Race Face before the brand's acquisition by Fox Factory, and then again after the acquisition, but Race Face declined.

Benzer, SRAM's vice president of corporate development, said Fox's suits were "retaliatory" and said SRAM is confident that Fox's claims are groundless.

You can (and should!) read the entire story here.

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