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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience. - Woodrow Wilson

Current racing:

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CCC Team Looks forward to La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège

The team sent me two notes. Here's the one about La Flèche Wallonne:

22 April 2019: Alessandro De Marchi is set to headline CCC Team's La Flèche Wallonne rider roster on Wednesday (24 April) after impressing with a career-best result at Amstel Gold Race.

The race is expected to come down to the traditional battle on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy, Sports Director Piotr Wadecki explained. "We will start the race with De Marchi as our leader. I think he will be our best chance to make a good result. We have seen at his last few races, most recently Amstel Gold Race, that De Marchi is in really good shape and so if he has good legs here, I think he can be one of the guys climbing for a top ten finish. We will look to be active from the start of the race and we will definitely try to have someone in the breakaway but I think, once again, the race will come down to what happens on the final climb," Wadecki said.

Alessandro De marchi

Alessandro De Marchi winning the 2018 Giro de Emilia. Sirotti photo.

De Marchi is motivated for the second installment of the Ardennes Classics series. "I definitely took confidence out of Sunday's race, one which I would say was not really suited to me and now, I will go into La Flèche Wallonne focused and ready for everything. At Amstel Gold Race, we saw that you can never give up and while you might get dropped at one point, if you keep trying, it is possible to come back to the first group and start to play again. I will stay attentive on Wednesday and try to be in a good place at the right time and I will try to fight all the way to the line," De Marchi added.

La Flèche Wallonne (24 April):
Rider Roster: Will Barta (USA), Josef Černý (CZE), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jonas Koch (GER), Łukasz Owsian (POL), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Joey Rosskopf (USA)

Sports Directors: Piotr Wadecki (POL), Valerio Piva (ITA)

And Greg Van Avermaet is going to ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège after all:

22 April 2019: After initially planning to end his Classics season at Amstel Gold Race, Greg Van Avermaet will instead line up one more time this spring at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday.

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet at the 2019 Tour of Valenciana, stage three.

Van Avermaet, who has raced the fourth Monument of the year on just four occasions, took confidence from his form at Amstel Gold Race. “I was happy with my legs and condition yesterday at Amstel Gold Race so, after taking a day to think about it, I have decided to line up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. I think I have managed to maintain my form from the cobbled Classics to the Ardennes and with the new finish in mind, I think I have a good chance to make a nice result. For sure, I will not be lining up as a favorite but I will line up motivated to do my best and end the Classics season well,” Van Avermaet said.

Van Avermaet will give the team multiple cards to play, Sports Director Valerio Piva explained. “Despite a long Classics season, Greg had good sensations yesterday and is not feeling too tired so, with an easy week this week, he should recover well and be in a good position to start Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The new finish will suit Greg more than the previous editions and it will probably mean the race will open up earlier than usual.

“Greg is, of course, our best option for a result but we also have riders like Alessandro De Marchi, who was good yesterday to finish in seventh place, and Serge Pauwels, who showed his condition is also improving, so I think we will line up with a few cards to play. We will make the final team selection for Liège-Bastogne-Liège after La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.”

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The squad sent me this schedule:

La Flèche Wallonne, APR 24

Aike Visbeek - Team Sunweb coach:
"La Flèche Wallonne is a race that is often decided in the same way, with the peloton arriving together at the bottom of the Mur de Huy. Last year we saw Michael do an impressive effort to come in fifth place so we will go all in to support him again this year. If there is a big group coming to the bottom of the Mur together, then teamwork and dedication are essential in getting to the right position at the perfect time. Jan will be road captain and we will also have the experience of Nicholas to guide the team to what we hope will be a top result."

Jan Bakelants (BEL)
Johannes Fröhlinger  (GER)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)
Florian Stork (GER)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL)

Jan Bakelants

Jan Bakelants in 2016. Sirotti photo

La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, APR 24

Nicolas Marche - Team Sunweb coach:
"Flèche Wallonne is one of the more famous classics with the incredibly tough finish up the Mur de Huy. We bring a good combination of riders to the race, with a selection of both young and experienced riders. We will try to anticipate and make the race before the final ascent of the Mur by attacking, but we will also focus on keeping Liane as fresh as possible for the finish. We do have a few cards to play in the race which gives us an advantage, with Lucinda and Liane the two main protected riders."

Lucinda Brand (NED)
Janneke Ensing (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Coryn Rivera (USA)

Tour de Bretagne: APR 25 - MAY 1

Bennie Lambregts - Team Sunweb coach:
"Tour de Bretagne is one of the hardest races on the continental level, with a lot of the best teams competing at the race. We arrive here with a strong and motivated squad. In the bunch sprints we'll work for Nils [Eekhoff] and hope that he can build on his strong start to the season where he picked up some good results in Triptyque. Nils and Niklas will be the riders that we will protect for a good GC placing at the end of the race."


Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Edo Maas (NED)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Nils Sinscheck (NED)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège: APR 28

Aike Visbeek - Team Sunweb coach:
"The route has changed for this year and without the climb of Saint Nicolas close to the finish we should see a more open race. The new parcours will mean more riders will fancy their chances of getting a result so the race will be nervous early on, particularly coming onto the climb of Côte de la Redoute. With Michael and Tom we have two riders who can be in the mix after that climb, once the race has fractured. It will be important for the rest of the guys to position them well throughout the day so that they can save as much energy as possible, because we expect it to be an attacking finale. Tom, Jan and Robert have just returned from altitude camp so are in good shape to help us go for a top result. We have prepared for different scenarios and ride with an open mind to take the initiative if we see an opportunity."

Jan Bakelants (BEL)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Robert Power (AUS)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL)

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes: APR 28

Nicolas Marche - Team Sunweb coach:
"A mythical race, the change in route for Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year should invite some aggressive and exciting racing. The flatter finish will mean those that want to make the race tough will attack from further out in an effort to reduce the bunch. This is good for us as Lucinda will be our leader for the race and she performs best in open and aggressive races. The rest of the team will be there to support her and bring her to the finale of the race as fresh as possible."

Lucinda Brand (NED)
Janneke Ensing (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)

Tour de Romandie: APR 30 - MAY 5

Luke Roberts - Team Sunweb coach:
"The route for this year's Tour de Romandie is a mixed bag, with a variety of terrain: there are two time trials, three rolling days and one mountain top finish. We arrive at the race looking to ride aggressively throughout the week and target stage results, with each rider getting a chance to use their qualities. Chad and Lennard will aim to go well in the two time trials; with Asbjørn looking to utilise his fast finish; while Nicholas, Johannes, Michael and Florian will work to be combative on the hillier days."

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)
Michael Storer (AUS)
Florian Stork (GER)

Rick Vosper: OK, so we have 7,000 bike shops. Now what?

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News sent me this essay:

by Rick Vosper
In BRAIN’s April 1 issue, BPSA executive director Ray Keener wrote a pair of pieces, Just how many bike shops are there, anyway? and Is the number of shops shrinking? Both articles are based on conversations with industry consultant and self-described “data wizard” Christopher Georger and his company, Georger Data Services (GDS). GDS maintains a database of more than 7,000 U.S. bicycle retailers based on bike brands’ dealer lists.

As it happens, I interviewed Georger around the same time as Keener had spoken to him, but my queries led in a different direction. I am less concerned with the total number of bike shops than I am with 1) what those seven thousand bike shops mean for the industry, 2) whose bikes are in those shops, and, ultimately, 3) what it means to be a shop in the Bike 3.0 era.

Let’s begin with how Georger’s company divvies up the market. According to his methods, there are three categories of brands, which he and I have agreed to call tiers. Note that tiers are not defined by unit or dollar sales, but by the number of unique shop locations on their dealer lists ... with some important caveats, as we shall see.

GDS counts a total of 7,354 bike shops as of March 2019. Within that number, here’s how the tiers stack up.

Tier One is the four industry leaders — Trek, Specialized, Giant and Cannondale — in order of number of dealers. Note that Trek’s numbers do not include Electra, nor do Cannondale’s include the various other CSG brands. Tier One brands have been the same four players, in the same order, for as long as Georger has been keeping count, which goes back to the mid 2000s. Total dealer locations for these brands as of March 2019 is 3,817, representing more than half the total number of retailers in the United States (53% on historical average). To be clear, that means more than half the bike shops in the US sell Trek, Specialized, Giant or Cannondale.

Individually, the Tier One brands’ dealer counts look like this: Trek, 1,413; Specialized, 1,355; Giant, 1,126; and Cannondale, 1,109.

Astute readers will be quick to point out that those numbers add up to 5,003, which is more than the 3,817 total stated earlier. Readers who are even more astute will realize this is because there are some retailers who carry both Trek and Specialized (261 of them, according to GDS), or some other combination of the four brands.

Tier Two represents the next six brands’ unique dealers (“unique” meaning retailers that carry one or more Tier Two brands, but none of the Tier One brands). Alphabetically, these are currently Cervélo, Electra, Felt, Kona, Santa Cruz and Scott. These brands share a collective count of 1,018 unique retailers. And as before, there is overlap among them, and (of course) there are Tier One retailers who also carry brands from Tiers Two or Three.

Membership in Tier Two is relatively fluid, with new brands entering (Cervélo, Kona and Santa Cruz in 2019) and others leaving it at various times (Raleigh in 2017 and Fuji in 2018, for instance).

Tier Three retailers are those who do not carry any of the top 10 brands listed in Tiers One and Two; they represent 2,519 retailers out of our 7,345 number. But again, there are lots of Tier Three brands represented in Tier One and Two shops, too.

As examples, Tier Three brands include Blue Competition, BMC, Breezer, Fuji, Haro, Ibis, Intense, Jamis, KHS, Linus, Marin, Mirraco, Masi, Niner, Norco, Orbea, Performance, Pinarello, Pivot, Pure, Raleigh, Rocky Mountain, Salsa, SE Racing, State, Van Dessel, and Yeti. Of course there are others.

Since 2011, Tier One has grown overall, but it’s more difficult to interpret what’s happening with Tiers Two and Three. The drop in Tier Two dealers since 2018 may be a result of Tier Three brands becoming stronger, but it’s more likely an artifact of changes in the lists themselves (more discussion on this farther down the page) and the entry of a new wave of Tier Three brands, especially among Pedego and other e-bike labels.

All of this means the GDS list is not literally a list of bike dealers, but more accurately a refined, collated and integrated list of other lists. Calling it a quantum theory approach to bike shops may be a bit much, but as with a scientist and subatomic particles, Georger can’t see the actual objects he’s studying; he can only infer their existence by how they interact with other, observable phenomena. To switch metaphors, it’s a two-wheeled version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

You can read the entire essay and view the explanatory graphics here.

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