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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 6, 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

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. - W. C. Fields

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Ag2r withdraws Nico Denz & Alexandre Geniez from Vuelta

Here's the update Ag2r-La Mondiale sent me:

After viewing the video footage that showed two of our riders intentionally holding onto the team car during the 15th stage on Sunday, September 3rd, the management of the AG2R LA MONDIALE Team has decided to withdraw Alexandre Geniez and Nico Denz from the Vuelta a España.

The president of the commissaires' panel pulled out of the race the sports director involved.

The AG2R LA MONDIALE team sincerely apologizes to the organizers and the public for the unsportsmanlike behavior of our riders, which is contrary to our values and our ethics.

Alexandre Geniez

Alexandre Geniez having a good day in the 2016 Vuelta.

Vuelta a España stage 16 news

Here's the report from Chris Froome's Team Sky:

5TH SEPTEMBER 2017: Team Sky’s Chris Froome took a stunning stage victory in Tuesday’s 40km Individual Time Trial, extending his overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana.

Froome now leads Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali by 1 minute 58 seconds, with the race entering the final stages before ending in Madrid on Sunday.

Froome had earmarked the time trial as being crucial to his ambitions of overall victory, and he took the opportunity to take time from all of his rivals with a perfectly paced ride over a largely flat and straight course. He is aiming to become only the third rider ever to claim an historic Tour de France / Vuelta a Espana ‘double’, and the first rider to do it after the Vuelta moved in the race calendar to become the last of the season’s Grand Tours.

Chris Froome said: “I was riding at the speed I felt best. I wasn’t really getting that many time checks from the car, so I didn’t really know where I was. I was a bit worried coming into the last 6 or 7 kilometres but then I found out I was on track to fight for the stage.

“To extend my lead now and to be in this position with 4 big days of racing left now is obviously a great position to be in, but I am going to take it one day at a time. I want to say a massive thank you to the support team at Team Sky. That support structure and being able to focus on the job in hand is a huge part of what I’m able to do.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Froome said: “I’ve got a good buffer but the race is not over. I have to keep fighting every day now, but this is one step closer to Madrid

“Tomorrow will be brutal. Absolutely brutal. From what I can see the final climb is a wall, so it will be a big GC battle”.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome big-ringin' it to an impressive stage win.

Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford said: “It was the day after the rest day, which adds an extra dimension to it, but the course suited Chris. You’ve still got to go well, though, and you’ve still got to not get over excited.

“You don’t want to go too hard at the start, you need to pace the effort, but he’s experienced with that now and I think today showed why he is considered to be one of the best time triallists in the world. The stages that are coming up are so hard and the climbs so steep and intense, that there’s no opportunity to relax. I think you just don’t know what’s going to happen in cycling.

“It could be anything; crashes, punctures, the usual things and you have to be ready for the unexpected but in the middle of that, keep the guys calm, manage our efforts and really try and control the race now until Madrid.

“I think we can tick that one off now and look at tomorrow and get back into the steep hills. It’s a difficult day tomorrow. It’ll be an interesting day tomorrow, as we had a rest day and then some of the guys didn’t go full in the time trial and if they did go full in the time trial, we’ll see how that will affect them.”

Wilco Kelderman was second in the time trial. Here's the report from his Team Sunweb:

4th in the general classification before starting the stage and looking to take some precious seconds in the overall standings, Wilco Kelderman was last off the ramp for Team Sunweb today. When he posted the fastest time at the first checkpoint at 13 kilometres, it became clear he was on for a great finish. Wilco continued his race against the clock in fantastic style, surpassing his rivals to take the fastest time at the second time check and then once again at the finish line. When the top GC guys had finished only one could best his time of 47 minutes and 29 seconds, which saw him finish the day in an impressive 2nd place. His performance during the Vuelta’s 16th stage sees him move up to 3rd in the general classification, with just five stages left to contest.

Lennard Kämna took another strong result for Team Sunweb at the Vuelta a España’s individual time trial in between Circuito de Navarra and Logroño today, as he finished the day in 8th place. After settling into a strong rhythm, the young German continued across the courses 40 kilometres stopping the clock with a time of 48 minutes and 30 seconds, earning himself a brief stint in the race leader’s hot seat.

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman riding to third in the Vuelta GC

After the stage Wilco said: “I’m really happy with today and I hope to stay on this level for the remainder of the race. There was a lot of side/front winds which made it quite hard to hold my arms straight, then there was lots of uphill and downhill sections in the second part. It was quite hard to keep going but I went as deep as I could. I’m pleased with my time trial and it’s good to move 3rd on the GC. Tomorrow is another hard stage where we will continue to fight.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: “Wilco did a really strong time trial today and really surpassed expectations. It wasn’t the type of parcours where we would expect huge time gaps, because there was a strong tailwind and there were no really climbs to make a difference. He rode faster than the guys close to him on GC which means that he moves up to third overall so we can be happy with what he did out there today.”

Kilian Frankiny medical update

Team BMC sent me this:

05 September, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Following a crash on stage 15 of the Vuelta a España, Kilian Frankiny has returned to Switzerland when he has been re-evaluated. BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa provided the following update on Frankiny's condition.

"An initial evaluation of Kilian Frankiny performed in Spain indicated multiple fractures of the femur, however new imaging studies performed at the Spital Wallis hospital in Visp confirmed a non-displaced pelvic fracture which, at this stage, does not require surgery. Kilian will undergo conservative recovery in the next six to eight weeks during which time he will gradually return to training, first on the rollers and then on the road, when he is fit to do so. We will continue to monitor Kilian's recovery during this period but as we have already communicated, Kilian will not race again this season. We expect a full recovery and fortunately the injury will not affect Kilian's preparation for the 2018 season."

Eurobike shows bike sector is reinventing itself

This interesting industry assessment was sent to me by Bike Europe:

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – The new realities of the bike sector were clearly reflected at the Eurobike show of 2017. These realities are triggering huge changes as well as an unprecedented dynamism. At the base of all this stands the electrification of bicycles. This opens new frontiers in particular as the e-bike significance is growing in all markets. However, there’s also a downside.
26th Eurobike drew a crowd similar in size to 2016 with 42,590 industry visitors (2016: 42,720).

The downside of the e-bike trend is in the fact that it is  triggering a massive invasion. For instance, the number of e-bike brands currently active in Holland stands at about one hundred; all fighting for their share of a relatively small market of some 300,000 units annually. And some of these new brands come with big money from serious investors, who also focus on new ways of doing business. Consumer- direct and online in particular.

The competition from these relatively new players selling online is rapidly growing. Their intensive and aggressively advertised discounted offerings have a destructive effect on the competitiveness of IBDs, resulting in their demise. In addition, it harms the renowned brands, triggering them to switch to omni-channel distribution strategies.

Already last year’s Eurobike signaled the first schemes for the switch to omni-channel. The past year they have turned into concrete changes taken up by many companies and brands. Virtual shopping carts are popping up at more and more websites of renowned brands. This trade journal organized a conference at Eurobike on omni-channel and the challenges that come with it. More on that is elsewhere in this edition.

Another downside arriving with the strong focus on e-bikes is in the fact that the total volume of the market in Europe continues to drop. The 2017 first half-year sales on Europe’s biggest market, which were presented one day before Eurobike Show opened its doors, reflected that. These sales in Germany showed a big growth in e-bikes, which stand out against a sharp fall in regular bikes.

Taiwan’s bicycle export underlines this trend. The country’s export of regular bicycles dropped by 25% in the first half of 2017; its e-bike export rose by 27%. However, in absolute numbers it shows a nearly 400,000 unit drop in regular bikes against an increase of only some 20,000 e-bikes.

The trend towards ever growing e-bike sales cannot withstand the total market decline. This brings profound consequences across the industry – from parts makers to OEMs. It means the bike sector in Europe has to reinvent itself. It has to switch from volume-production to speed-production, along with adding values like customization.

The drop of the total market volume brings another downside. It results in a wait and see attitude of many players and in the fact that “distributors are ordering like retailers” as one of the Eurobike exhibitors stated strikingly.

But apart from the above noted downsides, the e-bike trend is also revolutionizing the cycling sector. That’s happening as more and more companies believe in the promise of what e-bikes can bring to (urban) mobility, and recreation, as well as the environment. By the way, Bosch eBike Systems CEO Claus Fleischer hung a number on that ‘promise’. He said at Eurobike that he was amazed about the development of the e-bike sector and that he had to adjust his earlier expectations upwardly. He now expects that some 65% of the total bike market will get electrified.

All this culminated in an Eurobike 2017 show that brought an unprecedented amount of new products and services in the field of e-bikes. For new e-bike products like drivetrains; see the separate report.

You can read the entire story here.

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