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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 12, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, "Be fruitful and multiply," but not in those words. - Woody Allen

Upcoming Racing:

Latest completed racing:

2017 Vuelta a España route to be revealed today

Around 7AM Pacific time the details of the 2017 Vuelta a España will become available. We hope to get the route info up as soon as possible after that.

Rafael Valls looks forward to Tour Down Under after a season full of injuries

Lotto-Soudal sent me this report:

Last week, seven Lotto Soudal riders travelled to Australia to participate in the Tour Down Under (17 – 22 January) next week. That’s the first WorldTour race of the new season. Next Sunday Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, neo-pro James Shaw and Rafael Valls will ride the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide, the criterium that is traditionally organized two days before the Tour Down Under. Once the Tour Down Under is finished, the team will stay in Australia for one more week. Lotto Soudal will take part in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday 29 January. That one-day race is part of the WorldTour as of this year.

The Tour Down Under takes place in the south of Australia, in and around Adelaide. This six-day stage race starts next Tuesday with a stage that is likely to end with a sprint. A day later the finale is tougher, with a hill finish. During the third stage the riders stay close to the coastline. On the way to Victor Harbor the wind could cause some spectacle. On the fourth day, the race moves further away from the coast again. The penultimate stage takes the riders up to Willunga Hill. In the last 35 kilometres this hill needs to be climbed twice. The Tour Down Under comes to an end on Sunday with a criterium in Adelaide. The riders need to cover twenty laps of 4.5 kilometres, which means it’s going to be a fast race with almost no chance for riders to escape the sprint.

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls at the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Rafael Valls is the GC rider for Lotto Soudal next week. Last year he finished eighth overall, which was a great start of his first season on the team. Unfortunately, the Spanish rider had a lot of bad luck further down the year. Injuries forced him to put a stop to his season already in summer. After six months without competition, Valls is aiming for another top ten place at Tour Down Under.

Rafael Valls: “I’m looking forward to starting a new season after all the problems I had last year. I got ill in the spring and in the run-up to the National Championships in June I hurt my shoulder. The Tour de Pologne in July was my first race after that injury. I crashed in Pologne and incurred a pelvis injury. One and a half months later I underwent a shoulder operation, so I could prepare for the next season without any problems. It were three painful months, recovering from the pelvic injury and the shoulder surgery. I slowly resumed trainings in the beginning of October starting with fitness, walks in the mountains and riding on the rollers.”

“After three months of training I really want to compete again. I feel completely recovered, but I’m curious to see how I will feel in a race. Mentally all is well, that’s a fact. During my rehabilitation I was very motivated to train. I want to race again. The Tour Down Under is my first goal of the season. Just like last year, I want to conquer a place on top ten of GC. Simon Gerrans is the big favourite. Richie Porte and Esteban Chaves are only two of my other opponents. The stage to Willunga Hill on Saturday will be the most important one for GC. It’s difficult to gain time on other stages. You do need to be attentive on the other days though. There could be echelons on the way to Victor Harbor for example. Anyway, I hope it will be a race without any problems.”

There is a time difference of nine and a half hours between Belgium and the Australian region where the Tour Down Under is being held. The finish of the stages is expected between 5:00 and 6:00 am CET each day.

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, James Shaw and Rafael Valls.


Alejandro Valverde injured on training ride

Team Movistar posted this news on Facebook:

We had a scare with Alejandro Valverde, who was hit by a barrier while training this morning. His attendance at the Vuelta a España's route presentation tomorrow is not confirmed at this point.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde having a good day at the 2016 Giro d'Italia

"It was a really hard blow. The barriers of the housing estate went down before I was through, and I was hit straight on my arms and chest. I tried to continue with my ride, but I could carry on for only thirty more minutes, because it really hurt.

"I'm putting some ice on the areas and anti-inflammatories should prevent the injury from going any further, but it could get worse tomorrow when the areas start to heal in cold. Happily, it seems like it's all a muscle thing, but to be honest, I can barely move at the moment."

Specialized moves 2018 product intro to September

Bike Europe sent me this update regarding the current chaos in timing new product introductions:

MORGAN HILL/CA., USA – What has put severe pressure on the US retail sector contributing to troublesome 2016 sales is now being reversed by Specialized. The ever earlier introduction of new ModelYear bikes to the selling season’s peak, also causing shows like Eurobike and Taipei Cycle to reschedule, will change this year. Introduction of ModelYear 2018 Specialized bikes is not taking place beginning July but this September.

Specialized was one of the first to present its new range much earlier in the year which encouraged others to do the same. It also had its effects in Europe and on the supply chain timing globally resulting for instance in an early October timing of Taichung Bike Week.

Whether the back to September timing of Specialized is again changing everything is too early to tell. However, in a sector where everybody is closely eying everybody it will surely have it effects as “Timing is everything”. Under this headline Specialized has sent out a letter to its US retailers announcing to shift its dealer events for the ModelYear 2018 launch from July to September. Rechecked with Specialized in Europe this decision will be realized globally.

You can read the complete Bike Europe update here.

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