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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 14, 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

Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it. - Harry S Truman

Current Racing:

February 14 - 17: Tour de la Provence

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Deceuninck-Quick Step reports of Tour Colombia stage two

We aren't tracking this race, but we will be posting team reports as the race progresses.

Here's the report from team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

The look of sheer joy in Alvaro Hodeg’s eyes as he crossed the line spoke volumes of how important was for the young Colombian to break the ice and notch up his maiden victory of the year in front of the thousands of countrymen who gathered in La Ceja, where the 150.5km-long stage 2 of the Tour Colombia came to an end after a hectic finale.

“This win is of the entire team, they did an impressive job and I am really grateful for their work. We raced for the stage, as the GC wasn’t on our radar today. I focused on my sprint and I am happy of how things unfolded at the end of the day. This victory is the best way to celebrate my two-year contract extension with the team”, an elated Alvaro explained after his win, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s fifth of 2019.

Alvaro Hodeg

Alvaro Hodeg has won before. Here he wins stage five of the 2018 Tour of Turkey.

Following a frustrating start to the season in Argentina, which saw him conclude twice on the podium at the Vuelta a San Juan, Hodeg was motivated to get a victory at his home race, where he returned as Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s designated sprinter, backed by a strong and experienced team, who committed to chasing the six-man breakaway and made sure of not leaving anything to chance in the closing kilometers, as the adrenaline was running high in the peloton.

Benefitting from the speed, skill and expert lead-out of the well-drilled Deceuninck – Quick-Step blue train, which stretched out the field under the red kite, Alvaro accelerated off the wheel of the incredible Maximiliano Richeze and opened up his sprint with 150 meters to go, outclassing all his opponents and beating them by a clear margin in La Ceja, a town located some 200 kilometers north-west of the country’s capital.

Wednesday’s victory carried a special bonus for Alvaro – ten seconds – which took him to the top of the general classification, as he became the youngest rider to lead the race since its inception.

“Today’s stage was more difficult than we had expected. We rode full gas behind the breakaway with Iljo and Petr, and then pushed really hard on the last lap, where Bob did an incredible job to close the gap inside the final ten kilometers. Then Julian and Maxi brought me in a great position and all that I had to do was to finish it off with a well-timed sprint. I am happy and proud, it feels great to lead my home race in front of these amazing fans”, said Hodeg, who also holds the points classification and best young rider jerseys at the Tour Colombia, the fourth stage race he gets to lead, after Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Pologne and the Deutschland Tour.

Greg van Avermaet to finalize Classics preparation at Tour of Oman  

Van Avermaet's CCC Team sent me this update:

13 February 2019: On the back of taking his first win of the season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Greg Van Avermaet will fine tune his Classics preparation at the Tour of Oman this week from 16 - 21 February.

The Tour of Oman provides another opportunity for CCC Team’s newly-formed Classics roster to race together before opening weekend, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

“Traditionally for us, the Tour of Oman is the final preparation race ahead of the start of the Classics season and this year is no different. We will be going there with a team ready, and motivated, to work for Greg Van Avermaet. He has done this race for the last six years in a row and as we have seen before, it is a good race with some stages that really suit him so, the main objective will be to race for a stage win with Greg. We don’t have anyone for the General Classification, as like always this will be decided on Green Mountain and we are not taking a climber with us this year. However, this means that, as well as supporting Greg, everyone will have a chance to jump in different moves,” Piva explained.

“The group we are going to Oman with is similar to the one we had at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with only Nathan Van Hooydonck and Kamil Gradek coming in. We saw the team working well for Greg in Spain and I was really happy with what I saw there. The guys are happy to be racing together, which is important, and I think overall we are in a good place as we start to finalize everything before the Classics. We have already seen that Greg is in top shape and the others looked good too. Everyone is motivated to help Greg and he trusts them so that gives me confidence and it's what we like to see going into the Classics.”

Van Avermaet, who won stage three at the 2018 edition, is hoping to continue his early-season success in Oman.

Greg van AVermaet

Greg van Avermaet wins stage three of the 2018 Tour of Oman

“I always enjoy racing in Oman and I think it’s a really good race for me at this point in the season with nice weather and conditions, and mostly short stages. I am really happy with my form and how the team worked together in Valencia so it will be good to race again together this week,” Van Avermaet said.

“It is always nice to have a win early in the season and I definitely hope to add another one in Oman. There are a few stages that suit me so that is definitely the main goal in Oman, but it’s also a good opportunity to prepare for the Classics. At this time of the year, it’s important to have racing kilometers in the legs after a long off season so the Tour of Oman is the perfect race for that.”

Tour of Oman (16-21 February):
Rider roster: Kamil Gradek (POL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

Lotto-Soudal rider medical updates

Here's the note the team sent me:

For some Lotto Soudal riders, the season did not start the way they would have wanted it to. Jelle Wallays crashed hard in the Vuelta a San Juan, Rasmus Iversen broke his collarbone during the Challenge Mallorca and Tim Wellens was not able to start the Etoile de Bessèges due to illness. Servaas Bingé - team doctor of Lotto Soudal - gives a medical update.

Servaas Bingé: “Jelle Wallays had some consultations with different specialists. Several dental interventions are still needed but in the meantime, he is riding gently on the rollers again. At the moment, it is too early to evaluate when exactly Jelle will be able to resume racing. But he is very motivated to return as quickly as possible.”

“Rasmus Iversen - who broke his collarbone during the Challenge Mallorca - had a successful surgery and was handed some specific exercises by the team to do at home. I expect that he will get back to training shortly. Only when he has done some outdoor training sessions, we can evaluate when he will return to racing.”

“Tiesj Benoot - who hurt his wrist after a crash in San Juan - had the necessary examinations in Argentina which showed that it is not too bad. Tiesj is currently - together with Jens Keukeleire - at an altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada where he is able to follow the planned training scheme.”

“Caleb Ewan had his wisdom teeth removed after the races in Australia. It is a rather unpleasant surgery and that is why we decided that it would take place as soon as possible. That way, he can still follow his predetermined racing scheme. Caleb is now back to training at the same intensity levels he would have been at without that surgery.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan is a few grams lighter now with his wisdom teeth removed. Sirotti photo

“Tim Wellens has fully recovered from the viral infection and has resumed training. Also Harm Vanhoucke - who was forced to abandon the Trofeo Andratx-Lloseta due to an infection - is already training well again.”


UAE-Team Emirates to race Tour of Oman

The team sent me this:

The UAE Team Emirates’s season continues in the Middle East with its participation in the Tour of Oman. The 2.1 stage race runs February 16 to 21.

Simone Pedrazzini (Swi) will guide the following seven riders over the six stages:
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Rui Costa (Por)
– Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Yousif Mirza (UAE)
– Jan Polanc (Slo)

Kristoff will search for a stage win, which he has been able to achieve every time he has participated in Oman in the last five years.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff wins stage six of the2018 Tour of Oman.

“I took eight wins in the Tour of Oman, I have a good relationship with this race,” the Norwegian sprinter explained. “I’m going to try to win another stage. In the Volta Valenciana I was close. My sensations are better and better and I’m very motivated.”

Amer Sports searching for Mavic and Enve Buyer

Bike Europe sent me this:

HELSINKI, Finland – Amer Sports has published its financial 2018 report in which the company announced that it is now actively seeking for a potential buyer of its Cycling asset, consisting of Mavic (wheels, rims, tyres, apparel and foortwear) as well as Enve (wheels, hubs, bars, stems, posts and forks). Amer’s 2018 financial report no longer specifies the financials of the two companies.

Last September Amer Sports announced its decision to place its Cycling business “Under strategic review”. Following this decision, the company started to assess the market interest for its two cycling companies.

Mavic and Enve no longer fit in Amer Sports’ strategy to pursue sustainable, profitable growth. The company is prioritizing acceleration in soft goods, B2C, China, United States, and digitalization. It comes after continuous deteriorating results of Mavic and Enve. For the first half of 2018 Amer Sports reported that sales of its cycling division declined by 13 percent to 60 million euro.

Mavic became part of Amer Sports Corporation in 2005 when the Finnish company acquired Salomon based in Annecy, France. Included in that deal were a line of brands like Salomon, Bonfire, Arc’Teryx, Cliché – and its bicycle component brand Mavic.

You can read the entire story here.

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