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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 26, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

He who knows best knows how little he knows. - Thomas Jefferson

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Reactions to the 2019 Tour de France route

Here's our 2019 Tour de France page

Team Sky had this to say:

Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Nicolas Portal have given their reaction to the 2019 Tour de France route, after it was unveiled in Paris.

The parcours looks likely to provide one of the toughest climbing editions of the Tour in recent memory, with a number of summit finishes, including three at over 2,000 altitude metres, while there are just 54 kilometres of time trialling.

Froome - who will be targeting his fifth Tour de France victory - is excited about the race and is looking forward to training for the demands of the 2019 route.

He said: "It's definitely a very different parcours. It's heavily weighted in terms of the climbs and the mountains, especially those over 2,000 metres which is a big factor as well.

"There are fewer time trial kilometres compared to previous editions so that's quite different. It's a race I'm really looking forward to preparing for now and it would be the dream for me to go for the fifth Tour de France win.

"Every year I've had to adapt and this year is no different. I'm going to have to adapt to it and make sure I'm at my best in the mountains. A lot of time at altitude will definitely be on the cards as part of our preparation for this year's Tour."

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the start of stage five of the 2018 Tour. Sirotti photo

2018 Tour de France winner Thomas echoed Froome's thoughts, and believes the route still suits someone adept in all disciplines. He said: "It's always hard - it's the Tour de France! There's a lot of climbs over 2,000 metres of altitude and I seem to perform well at that height, so I like it.

"It will suit the usual Tour rider - a well-rounded rider with a balanced team. You've got to be able to climb, you need a strong team around you - there's a lot of medium mountain stages - and then there's the time trial in Pau, which will be crucial."

And Thomas enjoyed watching back highlights from this year's race on the big screen in Paris. "It was nice to watch. They had a montage of this year and it brought back a lot of memories. It's the first time I've watched it since the race so it was special."

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas with 5-time Tour winner Miguel Indurain. Sirotti photo

Both Froome and Thomas highlighted La Planches des Belle Filles, the race's first summit finish, as one to watch. Froome won his first Tour de France stage on the climb back in 2012, but it will be a little tougher this year, with an extra kilometre raced on a dirt road at over 20%.

"I've always enjoyed racing up La Planches des Belle Filles," continued Froome. "It will definitely be interesting this year, especially with an added kick at the end. It should sort the men from the boys."

Thomas added: "We've done that climb quite a few times before but not the extra bit we'll do next year. It will spice things up a bit! There's a lot of other stages that stand out as well. It should be another great race."

Team Sky Sport Director Nicolas Portal highlighted the final trio of Alpine stages as some of the race's toughest, but believes the early stage to La Planches des Belle Filles has the potential to set the tone.

Portal commented: "It's going to be crucial not to arrive totally on the limit in the Alps, but at the same time you've got La Planches des Belle Filles pretty early, and that stage looks quite hard to me. You don't want to lose too much time there. It would be better to smash it and at the very minimum not lose any time because it's always hard to get back in front during the race."

"The race looks tougher because of the summit finishes, but that's good for us because our guys are used to altitude because of the training camps we've done, so chapeau to the coaches. Also the guys perform well on hard summit finishes - they are good at pacing themselves, so I think it's good for us.

"A team time trial is always good for us too. The altitude plus the team time trial - even if it's not that long - are plus points for us."

2018 Tour second-place Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb posted this:

Tom Dumoulin shares his thoughts:

It’s a very tough route. Of course more individual time trial kilometres would have been better, so it’s not an ideal course for me, but that was also the case this year. There’s a lot of high climbing (2000+m) with emphasis on the second half of the Tour with the Pyrenees and the Alps to be decisive.”

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin after stage 20 of the 2018 Tour. Sirotti photo

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “It looks like a course that is designed for the climbers with few time trial kilometres. Both the early team time trial and the individual time trial in the second part are pretty limited with the gaps that could open up. Looking towards the final week, the mountain stages in the Alps are quite brutal with lots of climbing over 2000 metres, which really tips the scale much more in favour to the climbers. It will be a really tough race decided by those days in the Alps.”

Lotto-Soudal sent me their thoughts on the route:

Around noon, the 106th edition of the Tour de France (6 July 2019 – 28 July 2019) was unveiled in Paris. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Tour victory of Eddy Merckx, the Grand Départ will be held in Brussels.

The first stage, with start and finish in Brussels, is a sprint stage. The day after, a team time trial of 27 kilometres is scheduled in the Belgian capital. The third stage starts in Binche and takes the riders to Epernay, France. Then the Tour caravan heads further into the Vosges, followed by the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Tiesj Benoot: “The Grand Départ in Brussels is of course special and I am very much looking forward to it. Two years ago, when the Tour started in Düsseldorf, we also rode in Belgium and that was already impressive. This Tour start will definitely get a lot of people out on the streets and as a Belgian rider in a Belgian team that’s all the more exciting.”

“It was the first time that I came to the Tour presentation. It was impressive with 3,700 people here at Palais des Congrès. The celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the yellow jersey in the presence of fivefold Tour winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain gave this presentation an extra nice touch.”

“I really like the hilly stages ahead of the first rest day. That first week is more balanced than last year. That’s good for the riders, but also for the spectators. There are sprints, hilly stages, a mountain stage and a team time trial that first week. There are definitely opportunities for a rider like me, in the stages to Epernay and Colmar for example. Afterwards, the Tour builds up towards the decisive stages in the Alps. In the tough stages it will depend on the tactics of the GC teams if escapees have a chance of winning.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot. Sirotti photo.

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “The Tour direction obviously wants that the overall winner is determined as late as possible. They want to limit the time gaps between the GC riders as long as possible. There are not much time trial kilometres either. For us that’s not so important. We are going to the Tour with a sprinter.”

“There will probably only be two sprints in the first week. On those occasions we want to aim for victory with Caleb Ewan. The sprint opportunities are more spread over the entire Tour. Pretty early there will already be opportunities for riders like Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens if he would ride the Tour again. In about half of the latest editions, the Tour didn’t start with a time trial. Also this year it starts with a normal stage. Of course we have the ambition to win it. It would be fantastic to do that in Brussels. But we won’t be the only team with that ambition.”

Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme wants to ban power meters

Here's the story from Cycling Weekly:

Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme said he wants to ban power meters to ensure more ‘uncertainty’ in cycling.

The Frenchman reiterated his disdain for the technology while unveiling the 2019 Tour de France route in Paris on Thursday.

His comments about Tour organiser ASO’s desires to remove power meters from the sport were met with large applause from the crowds.

Speaking in front of current and retired pros amongst others from the cycling world, Prudhomme said: “We assert our desire to see the end of power meters in races, that annihilate the glorious uncertainty of sport. So we’d like to get rid of those power meters.”

The controversy over power meters has rolled on in recent years, in part due to the Grand Tour dominance of Team Sky.

According to some, power meters negatively impact racing as pros measure their attacks and steadily chase down those racing on instinct.

You can read the entire story here.

Team Ag2r-La Mondiale to ride Eddy Merckx bikes for next two seasons

Here's the team's release:

The AG2R LA MONDIALE team will compete during the 2019 and 2020 seasons on Eddy Merckx bikes. Vincent Lavenu, general manager of the AG2R LA MONDIALE team, and Jochim Aerts, CEO and owner of Belgian Cycling Factory, have agreed to a two-year contract, with the option of a two-year extension.

Oliver Naesen

Ag2r rider Oliver Naesen with one of the 2019 Eddy Merckx team bikes.

“We are proud to partner up for two seasons with Eddy Merckx bikes. Throughout our discussions, I appreciated the professionalism and the mindset of the management team, which is committed to providing our team with high-performance equipment. Our two companies are driven by common values as well as the search for performance, and we are confident that the relationship will be strong and fruitful. We will have access to very high-end equipment, which is exactly what we are looking for in order to achieve the highest sporting goals when racing all over the world. Personally, I am happy to see the name of Eddy Merckx, one of my childhood idols, appear on the jerseys and bikes of our team. We thank Factor for the quality of the material that that brand has provided us for the past two seasons, and we wish them great commercial and sporting success in the future.” – Team boss Vincent Lavenu

“I’m proud to have a UCI WorldTour team riding Eddy Merckx bikes at the Tour de France next year as a perfect tribute to the 50th anniversary of my first Tour victory.”- Eddy Merckx

Fernando Gaviria joins UAE-Team Emirates in 3-year deal

The team sent me this:

UAE Team Emirates welcomes 24-year-old Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria. He joins the project of President Matar, putting his name on a three-year deal that starts with him joining the team at a training camp in the United Arab Emirates from tomorrow through October 30.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gavira at the 2018 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Gaviria, who became professional in the second part of the 2015 season, won 34 times in his career, including three stages and a day in the yellow jersey at the 2018 Tour de France and four stages and the points jersey at the 2017 Giro d’Italia, and the 2016 Paris-Tours.

“I change teams after having always raced in the same group, which has given me the possibility to make the next jump to the highest level,” Gaviria said.

“With the new jersey, I’m not going to hide my desires and I want the biggest wins. I’m happy to be able to race with my countrymen Henao, Muñoz and Molano. Thanks to the UAE Team Emirates for the faith it put in me.“

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