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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 27, 2016

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To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. - e. e. cummings

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Etixx-Quick Step comments on 2017 Giro d'Italia route

Here's the BikeRaceInfo 2017 Giro d'Italia page

Starting in Sardinia, the race will take the riders over some of Italy's most iconic climbs, before coming to a conclusion in Milan.

The 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia (5-28 May) will see the peloton set off from Sardinia, who'll get to host the start for just the third time in history, before venturing into Sicily, where Etna – the tallest active volcano in Europe – awaits at the end of stage four. It will be just the aperitif in a race during which the riders will tackle Blockhaus, Oropa, Stelvio, Mortirolo, Passo Pordoi, Piancavallo and Monte Grappa, climbs on which history has been written at the previous editions.

A route rich in tough mountains, the 2017 Giro d'Italia balances this heavy terrain with two individual time trials, one scheduled in stage 13 (Foligno – Montefalco, 39 km) and a 28-km pan-flat one that comes on the last day, in Milan. The sprinters will have six opportunities to shine, but the last of these will feature before the third week, when the general contenders are expected to take center stage.

2017 Giro d'Italia

2017 Giro d'Italia

In 2016, Gianluca Brambilla was the first Italian to don the maglia rosa, following his spectacular victory out of a day-long break in stage 8, when he attacked inside the last 30 kilometers on an unpaved climb and soloed to the line in Arezzo. It was Gianluca's maiden win in a Grand Tour, an emotional one which came after years of hard work and perseverance.

Now, after watching the official route presentation together with his teammates in Etixx – Quick-Step's first training camp for next season, the 29-year-old made a short analysis of the key points of the race: "It's a hard Giro d'Italia right from the beginning, and it will become only tougher once we'll hit the mainland. The Stelvio stage is going to be brutal, but in my opinion the toughest one of them all will be stage 18, which comes just three days from the finish and is packed with five difficult ascents.

"Actually, in the third week, if a rider has a bad moment on any of the climbs, he can bleed serious time and lose any chance of doing a good GC. The time trials will also have an important role in the outcome, but the most crucial thing for the riders who'll want to go for a strong result will be to not line up at the start in the best condition, opting instead to gradually improve during the race."

Tour of Hainan Astana team report

Doing a bit of catch-up. Here's Astana's stage four report:

"The first part of the race was very hot, but close to finish it was rain. We started to make our train before the 10k to go and tried to make sprint for Tleubayev, but it went something wrong. Anyway, we have four more stages ahead, we will try again" – explained Daniil Fominykh after the finish.

"Tomorrow is a long stage of 190k with flat finish therefore we will try to work for Alexey Lutsenko. We are still trying to win!" – concluded young Kazakh rider.

Short stage from Chengmai to Danzhou finished with bunch sprint won by yesterday’s winner Max Walscheid, who, thanks to this victory, has conducted his leadership in the general classification.

Ruslan Tleubayev and Alexey Lutsenko still in Top5 of GC in 16’ and 17’ seconds behind the leader respectively.

Giant-Alpecin strengthens rider development program

The team sent me this update:

In early June, Team Giant-Alpecin announced the introduction of a pioneering development program, starting in 2017, that will complement the existing men’s and women’s WorldTour programs. The team has the ambition to play long term a prominent role in the top of international pro cycling, and with this strategic choice in setting up this development program the team made the decision to educate their own top riders from a young age and grow them into the WorldTour program. The project is shaping up with the aim of becoming the best development institute in the world.

The team’s newly introduced main partner, Switzerland-based Sunweb, one of the leading tour operators in Europe, is committed to this initiative of the team to play a leading role in both the top of international cycling, as well as in cycling’s grassroots development. Sunweb is specifically targeting its most important growth market, Germany, and together with the team is aiming to become a catalyst for efforts to revitalize German cycling – from the bottom to the top – with a long-term vision.

World’s No. 1 and 2 juniors on board; world-class talents join: From an impressive pool of best-in-class young riders who are eager to be part of this innovative program, the team has selected a group of youngsters who will be the first generation of young talents to join the development team. This select group, as previously announced, includes the first- and second-place finishers in last year’s UCI junior world championships, Felix Gall (AUT) and Clément Betouigt-Suire (FRA), as well as Max Kanter (GER), Florian Stork (GER), Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED) and Jarno Mobach (NED). The link to the team’s first announcement can be found here.

The team is proud to announce that the talented young Germans Leon Rohde and Martin Salmon will join the team as well. Rohde, 21, took fourth place in the German U23 time trial championships and finished in the top 10 overall at the Carpathian Couriers Race and (twice) at the Tour de Berlin. Salmon is recognized as very talented all-rounder. 2016 was the first year in the under-23 category for the 18-year-old, who was among the top riders in the world in the junior ranks.

Also joining the development program are 18-year-old Maxime Gressier, a very gifted French rider, and Nils Eekhoff, who together with Mobach and Nieuwenhuis belongs to the biggest talents of their age group in the Netherlands.

Instead of aiming to become the best-performing development team in terms of results, Team Sunweb aims to develop its very own champions of tomorrow from a young age and become the best possible team to develop talented riders and prepare them for a career in the WorldTour. The development program will be based in Germany, and will ride under a UCI Continental license.

The team’s CEO Iwan Spekenbrink (NED) said: “We are on course to create one of the world’s leading development institutes, because we believe this development program contributes to our ambition to stay long term one of the prominent teams in the top of international pro cycling. For that we obviously need talented athletes with the required physical capacities that Mother Nature gave them. We’re pleased to have signed world-class riders in the junior category, and only the best qualify for selection to the team. The development program will be firmly rooted in the German cycling structure, with a team base in Germany and the team is looking forward to a partnership with a German university. We’ll work with the riders with the clear objective of them becoming the best possible cyclists in a time frame of five years, and becoming as successful as possible in the WorldTour.

“We will adopt a broad approach and focus equally on the riders’ education, since not every talent will ultimately make it into the WorldTour. It all centers around the objective of development, first as a person, learning the rules of life and about clean sports, and ultimately as a professional athlete. But at the very minimum we want to offer something relevant to those young men and prepare them for the next chapter in their life, whether it’s on or off the bike.

“Our demanding ‘Keep Challenging’ approach enables developing talents to make the best possible progression. We’ll teach them early on that cycling is much more than just having strong legs, and they’ll need to be world champions at teamwork to be able to be in a position to win races. In addition to promoting teamwork, we’ll apply our expertise and scientific knowledge from the WorldTour program, where we constantly looking for the latest technologies and ways to improve our equipment, with the aim of saving energy on the bike.”

Cannondale-Drapac re-ups with equipment supplier POC

The team sent me this release:

POC and Slipstream Sports are proud to announce an expanded partnership for the next three years. The partnership will extend the current successful helmet and eyewear partnership and see all Cannondale-Drapac team riders in POC jerseys, shorts, socks, helmets and eyewear starting Jan. 1.

POC, a leading manufacturer of helmets, eyewear, body armor, apparel, and accessories was founded in 2005 in Sweden, with a strong mission “to do the best we can to possibly save lives and to reduce the consequences of accidents for gravity sports athletes and cyclists.”

Oscar Huss, Head of Product Development, POC said: “We are excited about the future and our continued partnership with the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team, especially as our experiences since 2014 have been very positive. The team is packed full of cycling talent and we are really looking forward to supporting and helping them fulfil their on and off bikes objectives over the next three years. Likewise, as the team operates in a unique, high-performance environment we are constantly able to refine our equipment, ensuring that our products and the riders excel at the very highest level. Naturally the experience and feedback we gain is an important tool which allows us to continually improve, innovate and refine our award winning products and support our mission.”

Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Drapac: “We’ve been partners with POC since the 2014 season and their innovation and support to the team has been critical in many of our achievements. I’m proud to call POC a partner, as they offer performance and quality, understand our needs perfectly and can support our future objectives. In addition, their mission, coupled with our overall approach to rider sustainability, is a true reflection on our goals with Cannondale-Drapac team riders. The emphasis POC puts on performance and safety is important to all of us on the team.”

The new 2017 Cannondale-Drapac team kit will be formally unveiled at the Rouleur Classic show in London on Friday Nov. 4, with team riders Ryan Mullen and Davide Formolo in attendance. Cannondale-Drapac head sport director Charly Wegelius will also be on hand at the event.

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