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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, July 2, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

July 3rd sees the start of the Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy).

On July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin.

Alberto Contador set to join the greats

There is a lot of talk now that if Alberto Contador wins the 2015 Tour de France, thus completing the rare Giro-Tour double, he will join the greats of cycling. A Reuters article said in doing the double, he will cement his status as the finest Grand Tour rider of the modern era.

I argue that he's already done that. Officially, he has seven Grand Tour victories. Plus, the UCI has stripped him of one Tour (2010) and one Giro (2011) win. In any case, even his official Grand Tour record puts him with the great riders of all time.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador in pink during this year's Giro

I'm going to raise some hackles here, but please bear with me. If we are going to compare Contador with riders of the past, his entire record, including the doping-tainted rides the UCI removed from his win list should be included. We know that many greats of the past, before dope testing was part of professional cycling, used drugs. So, if the reader can agree with my logic, that means for this discussion, Contador has nine Grand Tour wins. Let's see how that compares with the other riders who names are spoken with hushed whispers (and a certain notorious other rider).

Grand Tour wins:

If Contador wins the 2015 Tour he will be tied with Hinault for an all-time second place and if he doesn't, he's still ahead of Jacques Anquetil, a rider whose greatness is unquestioned. Yet we know Anquetil doped.

Bernard Hinault

If Contador wins the 2015 Tour, should he be considered as good a Grand Tour racer as Bernard Hinault?

The big prize that has eluded Contador, even counting his UCI-stripped wins, is the Giro-Tour double. That feat has so far been performed by seven riders: Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Stephen Roche, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Marco Pantani.

Vliegen turns pro for BMC

Santa Rosa, California - Loïc Vliegen became the latest rider to advance from the BMC Development Team to the BMC Racing Team when he turned professional on Wednesday.

President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the 21-year-old Belgian is in a position to contribute immediately, particularly due to injuries that have sidelined a number of riders.

"This is exciting for us, having advanced another fine athlete from our BMC Development Team to the pro team," Ochowicz said. "We have high hopes for Loïc's future with our team."

Vliegen joins Silvan Dillier and Stefan Küng as riders who have advanced from the U.S.-registered amateur team to its parent WorldTour squad. Dillier recently won the Swiss national time trial championship while Küng rode to a pair of solo wins before a crash at the Giro d'Italia sidelined him.

Vliegen has four victories to his credit this season: Flèche Ardennaise and stage wins at the Tour de Bretagne, Course de la Paix U23 and the Tour des Pays de Savoie. He was also runner-up overall at the Tour de Bretagne and Course de la Paix U23.

Vliegen said success on the Under 23 level gives him confidence to make the mid-season promotion a smooth one. He hopes to continue the learning process that began last year when he was a stagiaire for the BMC Racing Team and finished eighth overall at the Arctic Race of Norway.

"I know how the level is for some races, but I have not yet raced on the WorldTour," he said. "I am excited to learn how about this level and I hope to help our leader in whatever race I am doing."

Specific details and terms of Vliegen's contract were not revealed, per BMC Racing Team policy.

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