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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, August 19, 2016

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Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. - Jim Morrison

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Vuelta a España team news

Cannondale-Drapac sent me their line-up:

American Andrew Talansky will lead the charge for Cannondale-Drapac at the Vuelta a España, which begins this Saturday in Ourense, Spain. Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Moreno Moser, Pierre Rolland, Ben King, Davide Formolo, Davide Villela, and Paddy Bevin complete the squad, which is capable of winning stages and protecting Talansky in the mountains.

The Vuelta is a notably grueling grand tour each season, and the 2017 iteration is no departure. There are 12 hilly or mountain stages, and even some of the opening “flat” days have what the Vuelta organizers call “high-altitude” finishes. A 29.4 kilometer ITT a team effort against the clock to open things up Saturday. There are 51 summits to be climbed over the three-week race.

Andrew Talansky

Andrew Talansky winning stage 6 of this year's Tour of Utah

“The Vuelta is always a challenging race," said Talansky. "It’s a little less predictable than the Tour for example with a mix of punchier uphill finishes alone with a few more traditional mountain stages packed with back-to-back long climbs. The individual TT and the stage 20 uphill finish are two I am really looking forward to. I am usually my best in the third week so having some harder stages back loaded like that leaves a lot of opportunity to move up the standings at the very end of the race. Overall, I am really looking forward to the entire three weeks of racing, taking it day by day, and I’m excited to see where I can end up when we arrive to Madrid.”

This marks Talansky’s fifth crack at the Vuelta. He finished seventh in 2012. “The Vuelta is the last of the three grand tours, and each one has its own flavor," said Talansky. "I’ve never done the Giro but even as a spectator you can see differences in the style that each of the three Grand Tours are raced. The Vuelta was my first Grand Tour and it has always been special to me. The Spanish fans are great, the race is intense, but traditionally the stress level is slightly lower than the Tour."

"Whether that’s the case this year with big names like Contador, Froome and Quintana coming remains to be seen,” Talansky added. “Personally I would like put in a good overall GC ride, improving upon the last time I focused on GC in this race in 2012. I’ve had a smooth run in to the race and I just want to get the most out of myself.”

Talansky isn’t short on support in Spain. Clarke, who won the 2012 Vuelta mountains classification in his Grand Tour debut, lends crucial experience as road captain. Dombrowksi, Rolland, Villella and Formolo are excellent climbers, and the Argyle Armada will be able to keep the climbers sheltered before the roads tilt upward.

“The team we have brought here is exceptional," Talansky noted. "We have a strong squad for the opening time trial as well as individuals who can win stages on all types of terrain. I’ll have great support in the mountains and I’m excited to see what we as a team can accomplish over the next three weeks."

Bingen Fernandez, DS at the Vuelta for Cannondale-Drapac, expects an animated affair. “They want some active finishes, where there is always ‘something’ at the end of the stage to keep the riders busy.  There are 12 medium/high mountain stages and 2 flat stages with a hard top finishes after all the day on the flat,” Fernandez said. The Vuelta is the Grand Tour that started to change the idea of the stages. Organizers wanted sorter stages with explosive finales.  The atmosphere is more relaxed but when the race is on, it's on.”

The Vuelta a España concludes on Sept. 11 in Madrid.

Cannondale-Drapac for the 2017 Vuelta a España: Patrick Bevin, Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Ben King, Moreno Moser, Pierre Rolland, Andrew Talansky, Davide Villella

This is from Lotto-Soudal:

The 71st Tour of Spain starts on August 20 in Ourense. Our leaders Maxime Monfort and Bart De Clercq share their preview of the next three weeks. Both riders have participated in this Grand Tour several times: Monfort starts for the sixth time and for Bart De Clercq it will be his fifth Vuelta.

When Bart De Clercq found out that he wasn’t selected for the Tour de France, he had to set some new goals for the last part of the season. With the Tour de Pologne, the Tour de l’Ain and the altitude training in Livigno he could switch off the disappointment and focus on these races. For the Tour of Spain, De Clercq will try and reach a top ten place in the general classification.

Bart de Clercq

Bart de Clercq about to start a stage at last year's Vuelta

Bart De Clercq: “My preparations towards the Vuelta have been perfect and last year I finished fourteenth despite the crashes and back pain. I believe that without bad luck, big crashes or illness, I can secure myself a top ten place and play a role in the GC”, says a very motivated Bart De Clercq.

“I hope to be strong in the long climbs because the short but sharp uphill finishes aren’t really my speciality. Last year I noticed that I’m very strong in the last week when most of the other riders are struggling more. Let’s see if that will be the case again this year.”

Bart De Clercq cannot name one absolute favourite for the overall victory this year: “Contador left the Tour de France pretty early in the race so he could switch his focus to the Vuelta much sooner than for example Froome. Froome just finished a very intensive period. And then there’s of course the Movistar duo Nairo Quintana and Valverde that should be taken into account, as well as some outsiders that nobody expects."

Maxime Monfort also aims for a good general classification: “A lot of people ask me why I don’t just try to win some stages, but I perform better over a longer period of time. My goal in this Tour of Spain is a spot in the top fifteen and we’ll see what I can do in the second or third week. Maybe I can join a big breakaway and take some time on the riders right in front of me in the classification and, who knows, win a stage.”

Monfort is very happy with the team selection for the upcoming three weeks. “We have a very homogenous team with riders for every type of stage. For less hilly stages with a sprint at the finish we have Tosh Van der Sande. The tough stages are perfect for riders like Bart De Clercq, Louis Vervaeke, Sander Armée and me. We also have some guys that can go pretty fast like Jelle Wallays, Thomas De Gendt and Adam Hansen.”

Maxime Monfort believes that with this team several stage wins and a good general classification are possible. The first important stage to mark is the team time trial on the first day of the Vuelta. Even though the team doesn’t have the absolute specialists in this discipline, Monfort hopes for a top ten place on Saturday.

“A good result on the first stage makes sure that the atmosphere in the team is good and gives us extra power for the next weeks."

Furthermore, the Walloon rider is curious about how Louis Vervaeke will evolve in these three hard weeks. “I think that, for Louis, the best thing to do in the Vuelta is to choose some stages to show his strength. That way he avoids the pressure of the GC but he still knows how it feels to ride a Grand Tour. The most important for Vervaeke is to finish the Vuelta so that he knows what it means to ride a bike for three weeks in a row. In the next years there’s enough time to improve himself as a GC rider."

Team Sky rider signings

This report came from the team:

Team Sky are delighted to finally announce the signing of young British star Owain Doull. The Welshman will join the team for the remainder of the 2016 season as a stagiaire, tackling select races before turning pro full time on the road in 2017.

The 23 year old is fresh from a rousing gold medal ride in Rio with the Great Britain team pursuit squad, and will now be looking to carry that momentum onto the road. Doull achieved a breakthrough result last year while riding for the Wiggins team, claiming third place overall in front of a home crowd at the Tour of Britain.

On signing for the team Doull explained: "When Team Sky formed in 2010 I was 16 years old and I'd just started racing properly as a junior. It's always been a bit of a boyhood dream to try and join Sky. So to finally be at a stage where I'm about to start racing for the team, and then joining the team properly in 2017, is a bit surreal.

"I've ridden against Sky at some of the bigger races like the Tour of Britain for team Wiggins. To see how they operate is pretty special. I've also been watching as a fan how the team race, tuning into events like the Tour and seeing how the riders go about that. It's something that's incredible to watch, and the way they approach big targets with all the preparation towards it - it's the next level."

Team Sky Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "Owain has consistently put in excellent performances on the track and the road and we think he has the potential to be an important part of the team.

"From a personal perspective it's always great to be bringing young British talent into Team Sky and it reflects very well on the investment and support Sky has provided through the British Cycling programme, the Wiggins team and, of course, Team Sky. We’re looking forward to having Owain as part of the team."

Sky also signed Tao Geoghegan Hart:

Team Sky are thrilled to announce the signing of Tao Geoghegan Hart for the 2017 season. Geoghegan Hart, 21, joins from Continental outfit Axeon Hagens Berman and is no stranger to the team, having raced in Team Sky colours as a stagiaire in 2015 at the Giro del Piemonte and Japan Cup.

The British U23 national road race champion has enjoyed a strong 2016 season, winning the Trofeo Piva and finishing 12th at the Tour of California and Tour of Utah, and he will now make the step up to the WorldTour for the 2017 campaign.

Geoghegan Hart said: “It’s super exciting for me. There are guys here who have come through a similar path to me and also have a background on the track. I was on British Cycling’s programme up until the age of 18 when I went to Axeon, so these are riders that I have looked up to for a very long time. To be team-mates with them is very exciting, and hopefully it will make the step up into being a WorldTour rider a little bit easier.

“This season was about getting another year stronger, becoming more consistent, and developing as a rider and as a person, before making the big step up from a Continental team to a WorldTour team. I’m 21 now, so I think this is the ideal time to be stepping up into a big team. I’m super, super excited."

The London-born rider attended the Team Sky launch event in January 2010, aged just 14, and he has fond memories of that day.

He added: “I remember riding behind those guys and dreaming, just being in absolute awe. It’s not dissimilar to that now, dreaming to be on Team Sky, and I still look up to those guys. I guess you never know, but maybe it was small moments like that when I was young that inspired me to go out there, ride my bike every day, and brought me to the path I find myself on years later.”

Team Sky Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “We’ve been following Tao for a long time now and obviously had him with us as a stagiaire at the end of last year. He’s continued to show real progress this season and we’re delighted he’ll be taking the next steps in his career with Team Sky. Tao is another exciting addition to the group of young, talented British riders we have at Team Sky.”

More rider signing news

This news about Davide Formolo came from Cannondale-Drapac:

Giro d’Italia stage winner Davide Formolo has re-signed with Cannondale Drapac Professional Cycling Team. The 23-year-old Italian said believes the American registered squad offers the best environment for his development.

“I have a really good feeling with this team,” said Formolo. “I like the atmosphere, and I really like my colleagues. Riding my bike for Cannondale-Drapac makes me happy and helps me improve.”

Formolo recently finished fourth overall at Tour de Pologne following a gutsy ride to second place on the race’s queen stage. He worked for Rigoberto Uran at the 2016 Giro d’Italia, the race where he had achieved his most important victory to date the previous year. Formolo’s posted top ten finishes in stages at Volta a Valenciana and Volta a Catalunya but says he’s biggest goal of the season is still to come.

Davide Fromolo

Davide Formolo at last year's Giro d'Italia

“My main objective this season is the Vuelta a España,” he said. “We have a strong team. I have a lot of chances still the rest of this year, and I’m 100 percent focused on these opportunities. It’s too early to talk about next year.” While Formolo might not be ready to talk beyond this season, sport director Charly Wegelius is eager to see what the future holds for one of Cannondale-Drapac’s youngest riders.

“Davide, apart from his unquestionable talent, is a highly motivated and hard working athlete,” said Wegelius. “Working with him is rewarding and a pleasure for everyone in the team.”

“The renewal of his contract gives us the chance to continue to build on the work we have done together over the last two years,” Wegelius added. “It’s going to be exciting to see where the road will lead us next.” Slipstreams Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters pointed to another admirable attribute when discussing the returning rider.

“I love his strong character,” Vaughters said. “He’s as stubborn as a rock. That’s how he earned the nickname ‘Roccia’.”

Formolo’s contract is the third extension Cannondale-Drapac has announced over the past month. Americans Andrew Talansky and Joe Dombrowski have also extended with the team. 

Orica-BikeExchange sent me this about re-signing the Yates brothers:

ORICA-BikeExchange has re-signed two of the most exciting young talents in cycling, Adam and Simon Yates, for the next two years. Starting their professional careers with the Australian outfit in 2014, the British twins have taken leaps and bounds in their first three seasons, with the future looking even more promising.

Adam took his first major professional victory at the 2014 Tour of Turkey and first WorldTour win at the 2015 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. He finished fourth overall at this year's Tour de France and in doing so became the first British winner of the best young rider’s white jersey at the world’s biggest race.

“I'm really happy to extend my contract with the team and take the next, important steps in my career here,” Adam Yates said. “I'm ready to target a podium spot in the Grand Tours and with the support and environment the team gives me, I think we can achieve it. This year, I showed that I can climb with the best in the world and I want to keep improving in other areas too.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates in his TDF young rider jersey

“I feel really at home on the team and that gives me the opportunity to work in the best possible way. I've been on the team since I turned professional and I'm pleased that I'm staying with a great group of riders and staff going onwards."

Simon has also shown his potential as the best young rider of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine before taking his first victory at the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika this year. "I'm really pleased to be able to continue my development with ORICA-BikeExchange for the next two seasons,” Simon Yates said. “They have showed their faith in me from the start and I've been able to benefit from the experience of riding key races as a protected leader - that's an opportunity that doesn't exist too often in your first years as a professional.”

“We've come out with some solid results so far and with the general classification focus increasing for the team, I'm looking forward to taking the next steps to bigger goals in the best races in the years to come.”

The team has brought in important support climbers in the likes of Carlos Verona and Roman Kreuzinger and re-signing two of the most promising climbers was a priority.

Sport director Matt White is thrilled the pair have found a home at ORICA-BikeExchange and is confident the parties can go on to bigger and better things in the next two years. “Adam took a massive step forward this year and at quite a young age he is ready to target the podium in a grand tour,” White said. “I think he surprised a lot of people this year at the Tour, but it was probably only a matter of time before he arrived at the level we now see him at.”

“His results are astonishing and he is one of the most promising young riders out there. It’s been fantastic for us to be part of developing such a talent and a real pleasure to see him shine in the hardest stages of the Tour this year. With Adam we have secured another key signing for our ambitions in the coming years.”

Alongside brother Adam and Colombian Esteban Chaves, Simon completes the trio of key young climbers for ORICA-BikeExchange. “Simon has already proven that he is a massive talent,” White said. “His results so far in one-week races and in some of the toughest mountain stages in multiple tours tells me that he is an emerging general classification contender.”

“He is part of the group of young riders that we have helped develop and it’s great for us that he will continue this trajectory with the team. Together with Adam and Esteban he gives us that extra depth that will put us in a powerful position in any of the big tours that we target across the calendar.”

Adam Yates
Age: 24
From: Bury, United Kingdom
Turned Professional:  2014

Key results:

-       1st 2016 Tour de France - Best Young Rider
-       1st 2015 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian
-       1st 2014 Tour of Turkey – General Classification
-       1st 2014 GP Industria and Artigianato
-       4th 2016 Tour de France - General Classification

Simon Yates
Age: 24
From: Bury, United Kingdom
Turned Professional:  2014

Key results:

-       1st 2016 Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika
-       1st 2015 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco - Youth Classification
-       1st 2015 Criterium du Dauphine - Youth Classification
-       1st 2014 Tour of Alberta – Mountains Classification

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