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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. - Thomas Merton

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

2019 Tour de France route revealed

Our Tour de France database with results for every stage of every Tour

Tour de France 2019


1 On line Saturday, July 6, 2019 Bruxelles / Brussel 192 km
2 Team
Sunday, July 7, 2019 Bruxelles Palais Royal / Brussel Atomium 27 km
3 On line Monday, July 8, 2019 Binche / Épernay 214 km
4 On line Tuesday, July 9, 2019 Reims / Nancy 215 km
5 On line Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Saint-Dié-des-Vosges / Colmar 169 km
6 On line Thursday, July 11, 2019 Mulhouse / La Planche des Belles Filles 157 km
7 On line Friday, July 12, 2019 Belfort / Chalon-sur-Saône 230 km
8 On line Saturday, July 13, 2019 Mâcon / Saint-Étienne 199 km
9 On line Sunday, July 14, 2019 Saint-Étienne / Brioude 170 km
10 On line Monday, July 15, 2019 Saint-Flour / Albi 218 km
11 On line Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Albi / Toulouse 167 km
12 On line Thursday, July 18, 2019 Toulouse / Bagnères-de-Bigorre 202 km
13 Individual
Friday, July 19, 2019 Pau / Pau 27 km
14 On line Saturday, July 20, 2019 Tarbes / Tourmalet 117 km
15 On line Sunday, July 21, 2019 Limoux / Foix 185 km
16 On line Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Nîmes / Nîmes 177 km
17 On line Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Pont du Gard / Gap 206 km
18 On line Thursday, July 25, 2019 Embrun / Valloire 207 km
19 On line Friday, July 26, 2019 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne / Tignes 123 km
20 On line Saturday, July 27, 2019 Albertville / Val Thorens 131 km
21 On line Sunday, July 28, 2019 Rambouillet / Paris Champs-Élysées 127 km

Here's the organizer's 2019 Tour summary:

October 25th 2018

The details of the 106th edition of the Tour de France, which will start on Saturday 6th July from Brussels, were unveiled this morning at the Palais des Congrès convention centre in Paris, in the presence of the five times winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, who were invited to launch the celebration of the Yellow Jersey’s centenary.

Among other aspects, the route in 2019 holds a tough mountain programme in store, with three finishes above 2,000 metres in altitude, at the Col du Tourmalet pass, Tignes and Val Thorens, which is unprecedented in the history of the Grande Boucle.

The 6th edition of La Course by the Tour de France will be organised in Pau, on a route specially designed for punchers.

The Tour de France 1919, which witnessed a return to cycling after four years of world war, in fact set off the day after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and symbolically emerged from the gloom, guided by the light of the first Yellow Jersey awarded to Eugène Christophe on the morning of the Grenoble to Geneva stage.

One hundred years after this renaissance and birth, in the same vein, the Tour de France will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its first encounter with the greatest cyclist of all time, who wrote his name on the race’s roll of honour for the first time in 1969. Indeed, it is in Brussels, in the country of Eddy Merckx, that the pack will come together for the 106th edition, which is set to awake the winning instincts among the pretenders for the distinctive jerseys and the 21 winner’s bouquets on offer along the 3,460-km route in 2019.

On leaving Belgium, the battle between sprinters could continue in the Champagne and Lorraine regions, but climbing skills will soon be called upon among those hoping to get their hands on the Yellow Jersey, who now are used to vigorously testing themselves against each other at La Planche des Belles Filles. They will have to remain in the same state of mind on the way to Saint-Etienne and Brioude, watch out for any big breakaways on the way to Albi and then Toulouse, as well as preparing for a remarkable battle in the Pyrenees.

After the time-trial in Pau, the climbers will have the opportunity to hit back against the specialists against the clock when the race tackles the Col du Tourmalet pass, which will signal the start of a festival of summits. In the space of a week, they will face an unprecedented climbing programme, with five mountain stages including three that will finish at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres: on the Giant of the Pyrenees (2,115 m), then in Tignes (2,113 m) on a stage that will culminate at the Col de l’Iseran pass (2,770 m) and finally in Val Thorens (2,365 m), the day before the finish in Paris. In the mean-time, the riders will have also experienced a day in the Alps of the highest standard, with the ascents of the Col de Vars (2,109 m), Col d’Izoard (2,360 m) and Col du Galibier (2,642 m) passes before a dizzying, vertigo-inducing descent into Valloire!

La Course by the Tour de France: pride of place for the ladies in Pau

Five years after the creation of La Course by the Tour de France, which brought together the world’s leading women cyclists in Paris in 2014, the women’s elite pack will do battle on the time-trial route in Pau. However, unlike their male counterparts, the ladies will ride the loop on the programme five times, for a circuit measuring 120 km in total. It will be rendered especially dynamic by the presence of the Côte d’Esquillot slope, an ideal springboard for the most explosive riders. After the sprinters on the Champs-Elysées, the climbers on the Col de l’Izoard pass and then at Grand-Bornand, this time the punchers will be in the limelight

Johan Bruyneel receives lifetime ban.
I guess that's as long as they can keep him out of the sport.

Velonews posted this:

Former U.S. Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel says he has been given a lifetime ban from cycling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for his involvement in the doping conspiracy tied to Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories.

On Wednesday Bruyneel posted an open letter, stating he had received an email from the CAS stating that Bruyneel’s previous 10 year ban had been extended to a lifetime ban.

“I want to stress that I acknowledge and fully accept that a lot of mistakes have been made in the past,” Bruyneel wrote. “There are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently, and there are certain actions I now deeply regret. The period I lived through, both as a cyclist and as a team director, was very different than it is today.”

Bruyneel, 54, was the manager for all seven of Armstrong’s victories from 1999 through 2005, and he managed the Texan during his comeback in 2009 and 2010. In 2012 Usada charged Bruyneel as part of its investigation into Armstrong alongside three team doctors and trainer Michele Ferrari, for a host of violations relating to the possession of prohibited substances; trafficking those substances; and administration and/or attempted administration of those prohibited substances, among other charges.

Johan Bruyneel

Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong at the 2010 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

In 2014 Bruyneel was convicted of those charges by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and handed a 10-year ban. The World Anti-doping appealed the ruling, and in June of that year pushed to have Bruyneel banned for life.

“In appealing the AAA’s decision to CAS, WADA requests that consideration be given to longer sanctions for all three individuals involved in order to best protect athletes, and ensure a clean sport of cycling,” WADA said in a 2014 statement. “UCI and USADA are supportive of the appeal to seek longer sanctions, and will provide support to WADA during this process.”

Earlier this year Bruyneel was ordered to pay $1.2 million to the U.S. government for his part in Armstrong’s doping program.

You can read the entire news piece with Bruyneel's letter here.

Movement for a Credible Cycling calls for WADA's Prez to resign

Here is the MPCC's open letter:

Open letter to the World Anti-Doping Agency

The Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC)'s General Assembly met on this October 24th and adresses an open letter to the World Anti-Doping Agency. In this letter, MPCC highlights the consequences of a situation which hurts the whole world of sport and question the very foundations of the international rules and regulation. Thus, MPCC's General Assembly calls for the resignation of WADA's president, Mr. Craig Reedie.

When the World Anti-Doping Code was created in 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was instructed oversee the compliance to this code. Thus, it releases every year a List of Prohibited Substances and Methods, which is constantly updated following the results of scientific studies. The list applicable to 2019 was released on October 1st.

Tramadol, which is a very powerful synthetic opioid used as an analgesic, made its way into the list of WADA Monitoring Program in 2012. Though, it is still not part of the Prohibited Substances for 2019. The Movement For a Credible Cycling (MPCC) made a formal request to WADA to put Tramadol on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods as early as 2014. This request has been renewed every year since with a strong emphasis, supported by cycling’s international federation, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Under article 4.5 of the World Anti-Doping Code, WADA shall establish this Monitoring Program and thus set and oversee the prevalence of usage of these substances. In 2015, Tramadol was detected in 5.9% of the samples taken in cycling. In 2017, this figure dropped to 4.4%. This level is dropping, but is still higher than in any other endurance sports. These sports are as much concerned about this as cycling. MPCC wishes to see this substance banned in competition for ethic reasons (performance enhancing), but also for the sake of the riders’ safety and health. To  leave things as they are could endanger the health of our athletes.

MPCC laments the lack of evolution of the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods year after year, and the update for 2019 is nothing more than the confirmation of this trend.

Since its creation in 2004, The World Anti-Doping Code has been aiming at the standardization of the anti-doping rules and sanction across all sports and all countries in the world. As of today, more than 660 sport organization commit to the Code. Nevertheless, MPCC is not satisfied with how the Code is executed depending of the sports. The whereabouts rules, for example, are not applied in the same way for all the sports: collective sports, especially, benefit from a specific treatment as they can only be controlled during collective trainings, and not on an individual level, out of these slots.

We already highlighted a differential treatment about the Puerto Case since 2006. WADA failed in how it handled this case: MPCC regards this as a debacle for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

About Chris Froome’s case and specifically how that handled by WADA : MPCC laments the way sanctions are not applied equally and procedures are not followed equally,  which is devastating  for the credibility of the sport, for WADA itself, and thus is devastating for the confidence which athletes ought to have in the world’s anti-doping agency and its independence and integrity.

The World Anti-Doping Code states that it “is not consistent with therapeutic use of the substance and will be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) unless the Athlete proves, through a controlled pharmacokinetic study, that the abnormal result was the consequence of a therapeutic dose (by inhalation) up to the maximum dose indicated above”.

Though, in the press release following its decision, WADA admits that a CPKS would not have been practicable. The handling of Chris Froome's case showed clearly how WADA was in contradiction with its own rules. Disrepute was brought upon the fight against doping, hurting cycling in a big way and spread confusion among the public and only achieved one thing : fueling suspicion around a case that was already at the center of the media attention.

On last September 20th, WADA announced the decision of its Board to reinstate the Russian Anti- Doping Agency (RUSADA), under a certain number of conditions. RUSADA was suspended since November 2015. This reinstatement relied upon two conditions: the acceptance of the conclusions of the McLaren Report on the reality of institutional doping on the one hand, and granting access to Moscow’s anti-doping labs on the other. These two conditions have not been met.

Several statements were made, rising up against this decision:

‘Such a step would seriously damage the credibility that the world anti-doping system had just begun to win back’
French Anti-Doping Agency(AFLD) press release following RUSADA reinstatement.

‘I am afraid that by opting for the easiest way out, it will ultimately hurt WADA in the future. We have to stand up for athletes all around the world.’
Linda Helleland, WADA’s Vice President, voted against the reinstatement of RUSADA.

‘This bewildering and inexplicable decision is a devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes.’
Travis Tygart: American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)’s President

‘It is clear that given the circumstances (…), any decision by WADA to reinstate RUSADA would be a catastrophe for Olympic sport ideals, the fight against doping and the protection of clean athletes’
Grigory Rodchenkov: Former Moscow lab director.

Lotto-Soudal won 25 races in 2018

Here's the team's press release:

Now the final racing kilometres have been covered at the Tour of Guangxi, the 2018 season has come to an end for Lotto Soudal. The WorldTour team gathered 25 victories this year. An overview.

Lotto Soudal could celebrate early, thanks to two stage wins of André Greipel at the Tour Down Under. The German sprinter won the first and last stage in Australia. After he had been out of competition for several weeks due to a crash in Milan-Sanremo, Greipel made a successful comeback at 4 Jours de Dunkerque, where he also won two stages. On stage five Greipel didn’t win a sprint, but he won from a breakaway! It was his second solo victory ever. Next, the former German national champion won two stages in the Belgium Tour and also at the Tour of Britain in September Greipel claimed two stage wins.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel wins the first stage of the 2018 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo.

On March 3 Tiesj Benoot won Strade Bianche in an impressive manner. He finished solo on Il Campo in Siena at the end of a wet and muddy edition of this young Classic.

Tim Wellens was responsible for seven of the 25 Lotto Soudal victories. After winning one of the Trofeo’s of the Challenge Mallorca, he won a stage and the GC of the Ruta del Sol a few weeks later. In spring, Tim Wellens conquered the highest podium spot at the Brabantse Pijl. Tiesj Benoot joined him on stage that day as third. In May, Tim Wellens sprinted uphill to victory on the fourth Giro stage, his second stage win ever in this Grand Tour. In July, Wellens triumphed at Tour de Wallonie, claiming a stage win and the overall classification. Jens Debusschere was the fastest in the fifth stage of the Tour de Wallonie.

As mentioned earlier, André Greipel won twice for Lotto Soudal at the Belgium Tour, but also Jelle Vanendert won one of the five stages. Vanendert – who finished third at Flèche Wallonne one month before - was the best in the Ardennes stage, his second pro victory after winning a Tour stage in 2011. Jens Keukeleire completed the team’s success by winning the GC of the Belgium Tour. While his teammates won in the team’s home country, neo-pro Bjorg Lambrecht took his first pro win in Norway, as he won the third stage of Tour des Fjords.

The last Lotto Soudal victory of 2018 was conquered by Jelle Wallays, who successfully finished off an early breakaway on the eighteenth Vuelta stage. It was the second win of the season for the Belgian rider, after winning the sixth stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in January. Not only Wallays delivered success at the Vuelta; Thomas De Gendt won the KOM classification. De Gendt couldn’t win a stage at the Vuelta, but he did win a stage at the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie.

Lotto Soudal’s WorldTour team also has a Belgian national champion in the team since this summer. Victor Campenaerts was the fastest at the Belgian Time Trial Championship. In August he prolonged his European time trial title. At the Worlds in Innsbruck Campenaerts set the third time in the time trial, conquering a bronze medal. Also his Lotto Soudal teammate Bjorg Lambrecht could take a medal home. He got second in the U23 road race.

The 25 victories

1. Tour Down Under Stage 1 (2.UWT) - André Greipel
2. Tour Down Under Stage 6 (2.UWT) - André Greipel
3. Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (1.1) - Tim Wellens
4. Vuelta a San Juan Stage 6 (2.1) - Jelle Wallays
5. Ruta del Sol Stage 4 (2.HC) - Tim Wellens
6. Ruta del Sol GC (2.HC) - Tim Wellens
7. Strade Bianche (1.UWT) - Tiesj Benoot
8. Volta a Catalunya Stage 3 (2.UWT) - Thomas De Gendt
9. De Brabantse Pijl (1.HC) - Tim Wellens
10. Tour de Romandie Stage 2 (2.UWT) - Thomas De Gendt
11. Giro d’Italia Stage 4 (2.UWT) - Tim Wellens
12. 4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 2 (2.HC) - André Greipel
13. 4 Jours de Dunkerque Stage 5 (2.HC) - André Greipel
14. Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 1 (2.HC) - André Greipel
15. Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 2 (2.HC) - André Greipel
16. Tour des Fjords Stage 3 (2.HC) - Bjorg Lambrecht
17. Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 4 (2.HC) - Jelle Vanendert
18. Baloise Belgium Tour GC (2.HC) - Jens Keukeleire
19. Belgian Time Trial Championship - Victor Campenaerts
20. Tour de Wallonie Stage 2 (2.HC) - Tim Wellens
21. Tour de Wallonie Stage 5 (2.HC) - Jens Debusschere
22. Tour de Wallonie GC (2.HC) - Tim Wellens
23. Tour of Britain Stage 1 (2.HC) - André Greipel
24. Tour of Britain Stage 4 (2.HC) - André Greipel
25. Vuelta a España Stage 18 (2.UWT) - Jelle Wallays

After 2018 season, Drapac to concentrate on development team 

EF Education First-Drapac sent me this:

Michael Drapac’s holistic development team to work closely with EF Pro Cycling organization

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Michael Drapac will concentrate his sponsorship and sporting efforts on his Australian-based holistic development team.

Drapac Capital Partners came on board as a title sponsor and part owner of the team in 2016 just prior to the Tour de France and has been an important partner since. In tandem with his WorldTour involvement, Drapac has also grown a strong, unique development program that places equal priority on sport and education — a sustainable way of working with budding athletes. In order to be on the development team, riders must also be enrolled in university or a recognized educational facility. The development team then works with the riders to create schedules that work for both school and sport.

“I’m proud that my philosophy on athlete development has had a positive influence on EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, and that the team will continue to support the wellbeing program in the future,” Drapac said. “It is my hope that in five years’ time all WorldTour athletes would have the opportunity be exposed to holistic development in some way throughout their career.”

The EF Pro Cycling organization has already tapped some of the talent from the Drapac development program, in signing James Whelan to a three-year deal after the young Aussie won the U-23 Flanders race in 2018, and Cyrus Monk has ridden as a stagiaire on for the past two seasons. It’s a trend the team will look to continue.

“Working with Michael and the rest of the Drapac team has been a great experience. I very much admire the Drapac approach in the development of young athletes, allowing them to focus on sport and competition while still making space for academic and intellectual development. I’m excited to have James on the team next season, and I’m confident we’ll work together in the seasons to come to bring young riders into the World Tour the right way,” EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “And our entire organization thanks the Drapac group for their sponsorship and belief in our approach as well.”

Drapac is excited to continue his philosophy on athlete wellbeing with EF through the development team.

“James Whelan is hopefully the first of many talented Australian riders to be guided into the World Tour through the development team pathway,” Drapac noted.

Stefan Denifl Returns to the WorldTour with CCC Team

Team BMC (which will become Team CCC) sent me this release:

24 October, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Austrian rider Stefan Denifl will return to the WorldTour in 2019 as the latest rider to sign with CCC Team, the continuation of Continuum Sports.

Denifl, who raced with Aqua Blue Sport in 2017 and 2018, is known for his memorable solo stage win on stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Stefan Denifl wins stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta

Stefan Denifl wins stage 17 of the 2017 Vuelta. Sirotti photo.

"Stefan Denifl is great addition to CCC Team so it is a pleasure to welcome him to the team in 2019. Stefan had a breakthrough year in 2017 with a stage win at the Vuelta a España and overall win at the Tour of Austria and we believe he can reach his potential with CCC Team. Stefan has showed that he is capable of winning races and will be a valuable teammate at stage races and Grand Tours," General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

"Stefan brings a wealth of experience to the team and will be an asset at the Ardennes classics and the hillier Monuments, Milan - San Remo and Il Lombardia. We are looking forward to seeing what Stefan can do next year and we are excited to welcome the first rider from Austria, which is a key market for CCC, to the team."

Denifl's career spans 13 seasons, during which time he has lined up at four Grand Tours, twice at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España respectively, and 12 Monuments.

The 31-year-old is grateful for the opportunity to join CCC Team after the folding of Aqua Blue Sport.

"The end of Aqua Blue Sport was a big blow for all of us. I was under contract until the end of 2019 so I wasn't talking to any teams. The rider market that late in the season is always complicated so I am very happy to sign with CCC Team. When looking at the teams with openings, it was clear that CCC Team was my first choice. It is an international squad with strong riders, good staff and a solid structure in place, as well as an impressive new sponsor on board, and top material. There is not much more you can wish for as a rider," Denifl explained.

"I want to get back to my 2017 level where I was able to win a race here and there. Beside that, I am looking forward to racing as a team and making our fans and sponsors proud. Although my race program isn't yet determined, the Giro d'Italia would be really cool and it is my dream to race the Tour de France one day. Racing at the WorldTour level means there are so many good racing opportunities so I am excited to return to this level."

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