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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 20, 2016

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Alberto Contador's Tinkoff team explains the Abu Dhabi Tour

Tinkoff’s GC leader, Alberto Contador fittingly leads the team at its final race of the season, its final race as Tinkoff, the four-day Abu Dhabi Tour. Comprising of four road stages – three flat, sprinters’ tests and one mountain-top finish – the race offers different opportunities for late season results, and Tinkoff heads into the event with a roster able to compete across both types of parcours.

"I will approach this race in a different way. Initially, it didn't form part of my racing schedule and it came as a last-minute addition," explained Alberto ahead of the race. "We will give our best and I think Jesper Hansen can have a good race. I will personally take one day at a time. There might be days where the breeze will be an important factor but we will stay calm. I will try to enjoy it since it's the first time I race here. There is no doubt the heat will play a big role in our performance - some riders adapt better while other might struggle. However, the heat is the same for everybody and staying hydrated will be key although I don't think we are facing extreme temperatures."

Alongside Alberto will be Jesper Hansen, able to lead the GC fight if Alberto finds himself not fully recovered from late season illness. In support for the flats and mountain stage, these two have Jesús Hernández. For the sprint opportunities, the team will look towards Erik Baška, heading to Abu Dhabi from the U23 World Road Race Championships, as well as Michael Kolar, who also competed in Doha, helping Peter Sagan to victory in the elite race. The team is then completed by Juraj Sagan, able to support the two sprinters or even take his chances to get up the road where appropriate.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at this year's Vuelta

Looking at the roster for the race, Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman told us: “We will have to see a bit how Alberto has recovered because he is coming back from sickness recently, but he will be our leader here. If he is not feeling good, then Jesper will also be a good option for the GC. Erik, Michael and Juraj are all coming here from the Worlds and have been training well for that so hopefully they will have some good form. We’ve got two sprinters in Erik and Michael, so we will be fluid out on the road and see who’s feeling better each day.

"There’s not usually too much wind here in Abu Dhabi and I don’t expect big splits like we see in Qatar, so I think that we’ll have three big sprint days and then the GC will be decided on stage 3’s uphill finish. The final day is quite special, based on the Formula 1 circuit, and it’s really impressive to see the whole set up there and to race around it. It’s a nice way to finish off the season.”

The Race

Stage 1: The race gets underway with a near pan-flat sprint stage, starting and finishing in Medinat Zayed, covering a relatively short 147km. Based on a straight forward out and back loop, the race is most likely to come down to a bunch sprint, the first of three opportunities for the fast men to shine. However, if the wind is blowing, then it could be a long day for the peloton with the potential of much of the stage being battled out in crosswinds.

Stage 2: Another flat stage follows on Friday where the race will cover a costal loop that finishes near the famous Corniche. The only opportunity to see the final kilometres will be that of the real finish, so the sprinters will need to be ready to battle it out once again before a day for the climbers on Saturday.

Stage 3: The Queen stage of the race, stage 3 takes the riders 150km from Al Ain to Jebel Hafeet, before finishing atop the final climb to the line at over 1025m altitude. The climb comes after a flat run to its base, where we can expect to see an early breakaway forming that tries to amass as much of an advantage as possible before the GC favourites kick into action behind when the gradients ramp up. This stage should be where the overall classification is decided.

Stage 4: The fourth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour takes the peloton around 26 laps of the 5.5km Yas Marina Circuit, usually home to the blistering speeds of Formula 1 cars. Next Sunday, however, it will be a show of human-powered speed as some of the world’s fastest sprinters will do battle to decide who will win the final stage of the race.

BMC headed to Japan Cup

The team sent me this update:

19 October 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will close out the 2016 season with the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race in the traditional two-part criterium and road race this weekend.

Sports Director Max Sciandri said Saturday's criterium and Sunday's road race present good opportunities for the five riders to try their luck. "Japan Cup Cycle Road Race is always a bit of a lottery, generally with a fast finish, which is why any of our riders have the chance to do a good race, especially with teams of only five riders which shakes up the usual race format. We have the experience of Manuel Quinziato, Joey Rosskopf and Taylor Phinney and joining them are our two stagiaires, Fabien Lienhard and Taylor Eisenhart," Sciandri said.

Manuel Quinziato

Manuel Quinziato winning a stage at last year's Eneco Tour

Quinziato is looking forward to racing the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race for the fourth time. "It is the fourth time that I will race the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race and I was on the podium in 2004 so it's been eleven years since I've been here as my last race was in 2005. I'm really happy to be here because I really like the Japanese supporters, they are really enthusiastic. So it's cool to be here and it's nice to finish the season here in Japan. It's going to be fun!," Quinziato explained.

Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (22 + 23 October)

Rider Roster: Taylor Eisenhart (USA), Fabien Lienhard (SUI), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Joey Rosskopf (USA).

Sports Director: Max Sciandri 

Loren Rowney and Sarah Roy remain with Orica-AIS

Orica-AIS sent me this news:

Australian sprinters Loren Rowney and Sarah Roy return for another year at ORICA-AIS after a solid season which saw them both claim European victories. The two latest re-signings boost the ORICA-AIS team line-up for 2017, giving the squad a well balanced mix of riders with various strengths.

“ORICA-AIS is a special team to be a part of,” Roy explained. “We have grown together this year so I am glad for things to remain relatively unchanged into 2017. The team has a great dynamic and good mix of experience and strengths, I am certain we will see some exciting results next year."

The former Australian criterium champion had her best season to date, winning her first race in ORICA-AIS colours on stage four of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour.  “Looking back on the season, I am really proud of how the entire team has strengthened as one unit and I was able to achieve my first victory for the team,” continued Roy. “We have all worked hard on and off the bike, jumped a few hurdles and soldiered on to end up as a better versions of ourselves and a true team."

Loren Rowney

Loren Rowney winning a stage in the 2015 Route de France

Continuing to improve each season, Roy is aiming to perform strongly in the early part of the next year during the Classic races. “I would like to improve on this season by stepping up a notch in all areas,” said Roy. “The Classic races will be a target for me, I would like to consistently make the finals with my teammates so we have more numbers in the end.”

Joining Roy and bringing more speed to the ORICA-AIS team is another Australian rider, Rowney. The 27-year-old tasted success when given the opportunity this year at the Tour de Feminin, as she sprinted to victory on a stage two of the tour.

“I have really enjoyed my first year on the team," Rowney explained. "I personally didn't tick all of the boxes I wanted to tick this season but I know that the 2017 season is already looking good. Two highlights for me was my win in the Tour de Feminin and sprinting to second in a hard sprint on a stage at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour.

“I have proven that I can mix it with the best sprint riders in a long sprint and I hope to continue to have opportunities next season to demonstrate this strength more."

Having joined ORICA-AIS at the start of the 2016 season, Rowney's debut year was a successful one, settling in to the team quickly, racing alongside many of her Australian compatriots. “When I joined ORICA-AIS this year I knew it was going to feel like coming home and it certainly did,” Rowney continued. "It is a really great team to be a part of and I am very happy to continue with the team next season."

“We have some strong girls for the lead outs and every race we get more and more dialled in. For me the spring next year will be the most important part of the season. I'd really like to feature in the WorldTour races and get a win in one of the Classics races.”

Loren Rowney

Date of Birth: 14 October 1988 (27)
Nationality: Australian
Place of birth: Johannesburg, South Africa

2016 results:

-       1st Tour de Feminin - Stage 2
-       2nd Tour de Feminin - Stage 4
-       2nd Boels Rental Ladies Tour - Stage 5

Other Results:

-       1st Route de France stage winner 2015 and 2012
-       1st Trophee d’Or Feminin – Stage 5 2015
-       1st Feminin International de l’Ardeche – Stage 3 2014

Sarah Roy

Date of Birth: 27th February 1986 (30)
Nationality: Australian
Place of birth: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2016 results:

-       1st Boels Rental Ladies Tour - Stage 4
-       2nd Keukens van Lommel Ladies Classic
-       2nd Route de France - Prologue

Other results:

-       1st 2014 Australian Criterium Championship

Cannondale-Drapac welcomes riders, management from Drapac Pro Cycling

Cannondale-Drapac sent me this news:

The Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team continues to round out its roster for 2017 onward, and in doing so welcomes three new riders and three managers, all from the Drapac Professional Cycling team.

Riders Tom Scully, Brendan Canty, and Will Clarke will ride for the squad for 2017. Tom Southam will serve as a director sportif; Jonathan Breekveldt will head up management at the team’s European headquarters, and Keith Flory will be the team’s performance director.

“Teams are deciding what they’re going try and be for the upcoming season at this time of year. We’re no different. We’ve added some bigger guys for the classics like Sep and Taylor,” said Jonathan Vaughters, team manager. “And now with the Drapac guys coming in, we’re going after both depth and development.

Will Clarke

Will Clarke at this year's Austria Tour

“Scully and Canty are greener riders we hope to bring along. Clarke has raced at the highest level before and has won some races with the Drapac team already. They should all fit into what we do nicely. The management coming over to the team will help us in myriad areas: on the road, in coaching and training, and in operations.”

Drapac Capital Partners and Slipstream Sports, the group that manages Cannondale-Drapac, announced a partnership in the spring regarding a development team, Drapac-Pat’s Veg, that requires riders to pursue university degrees or professional certifications in addition to racing on the UCI Continental level. Just prior to the Tour de France, Drapac and Slipstream announced a larger partnership, on the WorldTour level, the Cannondale-Drapac Professional Cycling Team. The roster moves are a continuation of this partnership.

Will Clarke – Tasmania, Australia

Clarke, a time trialist, has ridden for both the LEOPARD TREK and Argos-Shimano outfits, and did time as a stagiaire for AG2R La Mondiale, all before the last three seasons at Drapac. The 31-year-old Tasmanian won a stage at the Santos Tour Down Under in 2012, and multiple stages at the Tour of Japan, Herald Sun Tour and the Tour de Taiwan. The chance at this second trip to the World Tour isn’t lost on him.

“I am looking forward to having the chance to participate in the WorldTour again, and also be a part of Drapac's journey to the highest level of the sport,” Clarke said. “I would like to win some races and help the team win races. I would also like to ride a grand tour, which I still have not done yet.”

Southam said Clarke was Drapac Professional Cycling Team’s most prolific winner behind Wouter Wippert, who also rides for Cannondale-Drapac.

“Will’s a popular rider here in Australia, but I don’t think he’d really clicked the first time round in Europe,” Southam said. “Guys don’t often get second chances, which I think can be a mistake, as you don’t make the same choices when you are 30 as you would when you’re 20. He’s been our most prolific winner – apart from Wippi – in the years he’s been with us, and I think that the maturity that he has developed physically and mentally will be able to be put to good use in the coming seasons."

Tom Scully – Invercargill, New Zealand

The 26-year-old Kiwi will make a second appearance with a Vaughters-affiliated team. He rode as a stagiaire for Garmin-Sharp in 2012, and the Chipotle-First Solar Development Team in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

“I’m most looking forward to racing bikes alongside and against the best bike riders in the world, all around the world,” Scully said. “I’m also looking forward to learning what I can from staff and riders, as most of them will have been there and done it all before at the WorldTour level.

“Personally my goals will align 100 percent with whatever the team’s goals may be on any particular day,” he added. “It’s early days yet, but I would like to start things off with some strong performances at the New Zealand Nationals in January and build from there.”

Scully dreams of the monuments.

“I like the epics — 2016 Roubaix for example, that was a real dogfight amongst the strong men of world cycling. That is what dreams are made of,” he said.

Southam, on Scully: “Tom was a guy that we’d been chasing to come to Drapac for a number of years. His results were excellent at U23 level and he had pedigree on the track. When he came to the team this year and I saw the way that he worked and how well he could apply himself to the roles that I gave him in races, I was really impressed. I like working with Kiwis a lot, they are no nonsense hard workers who aren’t there to mess around. He has the potential to develop in to a strong all round rider and play a number of key roles within the team on the road.”

Brendan Canty – Eltham, Australia

Canty, 24, comes to Cannondale-Drapac after three years with the Drapac franchise and one with Budget Forklifts. He brings with him general classification abilities, which were on full display when he won the white jersey at the Tour of Oman in 2016.

“It’s definitely a very exciting time for me, and I think there’s plenty to look forward to heading into 2017. It’s a dream to be a part of a WorldTour team competing at the highest level of the sport, and I can’t wait for things to get started,” Canty said. “It’s a little crazy to think where I started a few years ago in my first road race, and the situation I am currently in. We haven’t sat down yet to talk through my schedule for 2017, but they tend to change anyway. No doubt there will be many races and various opportunities, and I really want to embrace what will be the biggest and hardest season of my career to date."

Southam, on Canty: “Brendan is a talented kid. He has come a long way in a very short space of time. We had him do a few races for us back in 2014, but we wanted him to develop a little more before we threw him in at Pro Conti level. He has been racing competitively for a few short years and his potential is still huge. Winning the best young rider jersey in Oman put him on a few people’s radar, but I would point to his win in stage three of the Tour of Austria as the most important indicator that he actually has capacity to turn potential into a successful career.”

Tom Southam

Incoming sport director, Tom Southam, is a former professional racer from the United Kingdom. The 35-year-old represented Great Britain at five world championships and rode for Amore e Vita, Barloworld and Rapha-Condor, among other teams.

“Tom has all the qualities to be a great leader.  He has a natural knack for understanding people and this, together with his keen sense of intuition, mean that any group will be inspired and galvanized by his input,” said Cannondale-Drapac head sport director Charly Wegelius. “Not only does Tom understand strategy, but he has the skill to communicate the message in any situation, and this is key for a DS.”

Southam: “The two years that I spent with Drapac as head sports director were extremely insightful, as it was the first time that I had the responsibilities that I’ve had here, and I’m proud of what was achieved in a short space of time. I’ve obviously worked with the three Drapac guys closely over this year, as well as Wouter (Wippert) in 2015, and Hugh Carthy before he went to Caja Rural. As such I’m especially pleased to have the opportunity to work in a new environment that I believe can get the best out of these guys.”

Jonathan Breekveldt

Breekveldt, 30, is the current general manager of Drapac Professional Cycling, and he’s been with the team since 2010. Prior to that, Breekveldt was a project engineer with the Ford Motor Company. He will take a management position with the Cannondale-Drapac team in Europe.

“When I first met Michael Drapac in 2010, and then joined what was then the UCI Continental Drapac Professional Cycling, he outlined his goal of reaching the Tour de France and I was immediately onboard and committed to helping this vision become a reality,” Breekveldt said. “We took a big step forward in 2014, returning the team to Pro Continental and now in 2017 becoming a part of a WorldTour team and reaching one of Michael’s goals. For me it marks the beginning of a new role within a significantly bigger organization where I will look to bring both my experience from Ford and Drapac, whilst looking to draw on the experience of Jonathan Vaughters and the continued guidance of Michael and the team at Drapac.”

Keith Flory

Flory began working with Drapac in 2014, by way of British Cycling (eight years) and the UCI’s World Cycling Centre (four years), where he helped tool coaching programs. Flory will serve as the team’s performance director, bridging the gaps between athletes, coaches, and management.

“To move over to the Cannondale-Drapac is an honor and presents a hugely exciting opportunity to work with some of the best athletes in the world, on one of the best teams,” Flory said. “It is also special to be part of the continued journey that Michael Drapac set out to me when I first joined the Drapac team.”

“I hope to bring a variety of knowledge and experience to Cannondale-Drapac, which I’ve gained from a whole host of sources in and outside of professional cycling,” Flory added. “There is a lot of natural talent across the team and I’ll be looking to add value to the athletes ongoing support system, reaching even higher levels of performance.”

Road bike disc brake trials restart Jan 1, 2017

This was posted in

BERN, Switzerland – The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) as the representative body of the bicycle industry announced today that the trial of disc brakes in road racing will be restarted as of January 1, 2017.

The UCI Management Commission has approved the restart during its meeting on October 13, 2016 at the occasion of the UCI Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The Commission has acknowledged the proposal of the UCI Equipment Commission that suggested to restart the trial only ten days ago.

The decision comes after months of discussions by the UCI with representatives of teams through AIGCP (Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels), riders through CPA (Cyclistes Professionels Associés) and the industry represented by the WFSGI. The UCI which has also examined a risk assessment of disc and rim brakes with a third party institution, but also AIGCP and CPA finally supported the proposal to restart the trial of disc brakes.

You can read the entire story here.

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