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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 6, 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

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. - Hunter S. Thompson

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Lotto-Soudal previews Etoile le Bessèges

The team sent me this:

After one year of absence, Lotto Soudal will be once again at the start of Etoile de Bessèges (7-10 February). The French Europe Tour stage race consists of three stages and one final time trial. Bart Leysen, sports director at Lotto Soudal, previews the course and the distribution of the roles within the team.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens will be a Lotto-Soudal protected rider. Sirotti photo

Bart Leysen: “Theoretically, all of the three stages could result in a bunch sprint, but a lot will depend on the weather conditions and more specifically, the wind direction. I don’t expect that the peloton will split during the first stage but we have to stay alert for possible echelons. I think that the chances of a bunch sprint in Beaucaire are really high. Enzo Wouters is the fastest rider in our line-up, so he will be our man if it comes down to a bunch kick. We will position him in the best possible way but that does not mean that we will control the race.”

“From the second day, things will get tougher as the riders face some open plains where the wind will be able to do its thing. Echelons are likely to form during stage two but for that to happen, everything needs to fall into place. The wind direction is something that you need to evaluate the day itself, it’s really difficult to predict such things beforehand. If there will be echelons, a lot of riders will already be put out of contention for the general classification. During the last stage, a traditional local loop in and around Bessèges is scheduled. The course has been used for many years so most of the riders know it by now.”

“The past few years, the race was decided during the closing time trial and this year is no exception. In the end of the ten kilometres long battle against the clock, the riders will climb a tough little hill. The time trial specialists with good climbing abilities will certainly have the advantage there.”

“It is clear that Tim Wellens will be our spearhead. In the first place, it will mainly be about protecting him but maybe - depending on the race and weather conditions - we can try something ourselves. The perfect scenario would be that Tim starts the time trial with a little advantage. But I expect that there will still be many riders close to each other in the GC on Sunday morning. The French teams always do well in their race on home grounds so we will have to keep an eye on them.”

“Tim is a rider who’s always in good shape early in the season and that’s something his competitors know. The goal is a podium place in the general classification but an even better result is always welcome. We will do everything we can and then we’ll see where that takes us.”


Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Lawrence Naesen, Brian van Goethem, Tim Wellens and Enzo Wouters.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Kevin De Weert.

Former Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman faces medical tribunal

The Guardian newspaper posted this:

When Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor, walks into the St James’s Building in Manchester to face a medical tribunal on Wednesday he knows his career will be on the line. And so, in a way, will be the reputations of the organisations he worked for.

For Freeman’s case, brought by the General Medical Council, centres on claims he ordered banned testosterone for an unnamed rider in 2011 – and then tried to cover his tracks.

The 57-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, is also alleged to have lied to the UK Anti-Doping Agency, provided inappropriate treatment to non-riding staff and kept haphazard records. Freeman worked for Team Sky and British Cycling between 2009 and 2017.

The stakes are high and, with several former members of Team Sky and British Cycling expected to give evidence, there is hope some light will be shone on one of the more curious incidents in British sport in recent years.

What is Freeman accused of doing?
Freeman is alleged to have ordered 30 sachets of Testogel, which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list, in May 2011 to be sent to the Manchester velodrome to “administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance” – and then lied about it.

How so?
Freeman is accused of first lying to other members of British Cycling about ordering the drug, saying it was a mistake by the Oldham-based supplier Fit4Sport. Then, five months later in October 2011, he is alleged to have asked Fit4Sport “for written confirmation the testosterone had been sent in error, returned and would be destroyed, knowing this had not taken place”. It is claimed he then showed the email he sent to others knowing it to be “untrue”.

Isn’t Freeman also accused of changing his story?
Yes. When questioned by UK Anti-Doping in February 2017 Freeman said he had ordered Testogel for a non-athlete member of staff but returned it. However it is alleged he “made untrue statements” to Ukad when he made these claims and that his conduct was “dishonest”.

Did Freeman tell Ukad the name of the person he ordered the Testogel for?
No, reportedly because of doctor-patient confidentiality.

You can read the entire Guardian story here.

American bike sales down in units, up in dollars

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — Full-year numbers from the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association show a slight uptick in the overall value of bikes sold last year, but a significant decline in the numbers of bikes sold.

The BPSA's Sell-in Report looks at sales by the group's members — most major wholesale suppliers to IBDs — to retailers. In 2018, those sales totaled $1.112 billion, up $37.5 million, or 4 percent, from 2017. The number of bikes sold was 2.07 million, down 10 percent from 2.3 million.

The average wholesale price of a bike in 2018 was up 15 percent, from $467 in 2017 to $537 in 2018.

Adding e-bikes to the mix contributed to the higher selling price. E-bike sales were up $54 million from the year prior, a 78 percent increase. The average wholesale price was $2,033.

Other bike categories weren't so healthy. The mountain bike category, the biggest single bike style, overall was down 2 percent in dollars and 28 percent in units. Within that category, there was a dramatic switch-over from sales of 27.5-inch full suspension bikes back to 29-inch full-suspension.

You can read the entire story here.

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