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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, January 25, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Time is more valuable than money, because time is irreplaceable. - John C. Maxwell

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Deceuninck-Quick Step win Race Melbourne

The team sent me this report:

Thursday 24 January 2019: Our team topped the general classification, while Italian Champion Elia Viviani won the sprint standings.

Elia Viviani

Australia must suit Viviani. Here he wins stage one of this year's Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo.

Held on the famous 5.3km-long F1 circuit of Albert Park, which the riders had to cover 14 times, Race Melbourne put on the table a new format this year, the overall winner being the team who accumulated the most points across the intermediate sprints, as well as the final sprint into the finish. To make things even more interesting, the organisers came up also with a sprint classification, to crown the highest point scoring individual rider at the end of the 74.2km race.

As soon as the race – which took place in baking hot conditions – got underway, several teams went on the attack, but Deceuninck – Quick-Step kept things together and moved into the hot seat after just a couple of laps. One by one, Elia Viviani, Michael Mørkøv, Dries Devenyns and Rémi Cavagna – the last two after countering some dangerous moves of their opponents – scored crucial points for the squad, helping the team open an unassailable lead, long before the race entered in its closing phase.

Having built a massive haul of 95 points going into the last laps of Thursday’s event, Deceuninck – Quick-Step just played it smart and made sure of keeping an eye on those who jumped from the field. When a numerous group took off with only a few kilometres remaining, our riders didn’t panic, knowing both classifications were in the bag thanks to a strong collective effort, underlined also by the presence of three Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders in the individual standings top 10, where Elia Viviani took the spoils at the end of the day.

“It was about 40 degrees Celsius today and hard racing on the limit. We treated it like the Hammer Series, in that every time we had to sprint, we did it with two or three riders to take the team classification points. The fight for the individual ranking was more intense, but Elia, helped by the guys, did a great job and secured the win in style”, a happy Rik Van Slycke said at the finish. “It was a big team effort today and a great example of the Wolfpack mentality. We now look with even more confidence to Sunday’s World Tour race.”

And here's Bora-hansgrohe's Race Melbourne report:

Just as in previous years, the Towards Zero Race Melbourne criterium took place on the renowned Formula 1 circuit in Albert Park. For the first time, the riders competed in a team points competition, whereby the quickest riders at the intermediate sprints, as well as at the final bunch gallop, collected points for their respective teams. There was also a sprint jersey up for grabs for the individual rider who notched up the most points.

The peloton put on a fast display of racing on each of the 5.3km-long 14 laps. Right from the beginning, the race was characterised by constant attacks. Already in the first lap, BORA – hansgrohe was to be seen at the head of the race. Several riders, including Michael Schwarzmann, Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar and Lukas Pöstlberger were also able to collect points for the team in the sprints. Ultimately, E. Viviani ended up as the individual sprint competition winner, while his Deceunick-Quickstep Team prevailed in the team points competition. BORA-hansgrohe finished the day in a very solid third place.  

01 Deceunick-Quickstep    95 points
02 Team Jumbo-Visma      57 points
03 BORA - hansgrohe       40 points

From the Finish Line
“This year, the race was designed differently. It was similar to the Hammer Series, in which points are given out at the intermediate sprints and the final sprint. Today we didn’t have the fastest sprinters in the team, and so third place in the team points competition is a good result. It is also a good sign for the race on Sunday.” – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director  

Lotto-Soudal previews Vuelta a San Juan

The team sent me this:

Now that the Tour Down Under has ended, it is up to the South American continent to welcome some of the WorldTour riders for the start of their season. The 37th edition of the Vuelta a San Juan (America Tour, 2.1) takes place from Sunday 27 January until Sunday 3 February. With a couple of sprint stages, two summit finishes and a flat time trial, this Argentinean stage race offers chances to all kinds of riders. Jelle Wallays – who won a stage in Argentina last year – and Tiesj Benoot preview their first race of the season. Sports director Frederik Willems talks about the chances of stage success.

Jelle Wallays

JelleWallays wins stage seven of the 2018 San Juan Vuelta.

Jelle Wallays: “I prepared myself for the first race of the season during a two-week training camp in Calpe. Together with Jens Keukeleire, I did a lot of training kilometres in perfect weather. I can’t wait to race again! Of course, I hope to repeat last year’s performance. Then, I went to Argentina without any expectations because I wasn’t able to train properly during ten weeks because of a crash in the Vuelta. Now, the shape is fine but – contrary to last year – the field at the start is also stronger.”

“My best chance for another stage win would be by joining a breakaway, but I am also quick when it comes to a reduced group sprint. The main goal in Argentina is to get back into race rhythm. Last year, we started the race without any pressure and we will do the same this year. The heat is something to take into account. Last year, it was really hot in San Juan and the Vuelta a España. In both races, I took a stage victory. It turns out that extreme weather conditions really suit me.”

Tiesj Benoot: “Starting the new season is always a bit of a mystery for a rider. But I trained well and didn’t get ill so I will head for Argentina with good feelings. My objectives for the season officially start at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but the Vuelta a San Juan is perfectly scheduled in the run-up to that period. I mainly focused on endurance training so I didn’t do a lot of intensive training sessions that are needed to get in top shape. We’ll have to wait and see how the legs react but I have a good feeling about it.”

“I will certainly grasp the opportunity to get some results, just like I did last year. I think there are two crucial stages. There is the uphill finish on the dam in stage two and there is also a tough mountain finish scheduled on the fifth day of racing. In those stages, I can maybe show something. The overall standing will be a logical consequence of good stage results. The weather conditions will play an important role in the race. Argentina can be really hot and there can be a lot of wind so we’ll have to pay attention to that as well.”

Frederik Willems, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We start the race with a big part of our Classics team. You could expect that this race is only a preparation towards the Classics but that’s certainly not the case. Jelle Wallays won a stage last year, so our goal is – also this year - to go for the best possible result in every stage. However, we have – contrary to the team in Australia – no pure sprinter in our line-up. So, beating guys like Sagan or Gaviria will be hard. For us, it’s mainly about racing attractively and joining breakaways that include some of the stronger teams. Then, it is up to the sprinters’ teams to control the race. We don’t have to take the initiative in such a scenario and could make some plans to try something, as a group, in some of the more technical finales. We will also try to bring guys like Nikolas Maes or Jens Keukeleire in a good position during the run-up to the sprint.”

“The stage schedule is quite similar to that of last year but still, there are some minor but important changes. The third stage is a 12 kilometres long individual time trial on straight roads. Then, it will become clear who’s already in good shape. From there on, tactics can be defined for the rest of the Vuelta a San Juan.”

“The race also marks the professional debut of Stan Dewulf. Because we mainly race with the team for the Classics, we decided to include Stan in the Vuelta a San Juan line-up. As the U23 winner of Paris-Roubaix last year, he will probably be a rider for the cobbled Classics. In the first place, he has to learn as much as possible but if there are opportunities for him in the race, he will certainly get the freedom.”


Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Stan Dewulf, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Jelle Vanendert and Jelle Wallays.

Sports director: Frederik Willems.

Specialized issued voluntary recall due to steerer tube collar problems

Bike Europe sent me this important news:

MORGAN HILL, USA – Specialized Bicycle Components announced a voluntary recall of specific ‘Roubaix’, ‘Ruby’, ‘Diverge’ and ‘Sirrus’ road models. They are specified with the brand’s own innovative front damping system ‘Future Shock’. While Future Shock itself isn’t the problem it’s the clamping collar around the top of the steerer tube.

Specialized dampng collar

Specialized supplied this photo of the clamping collar.

“Based upon reports from the field, the steerer tube collar on selected Roubaix, Ruby, Diverge, and Sirrus bicycles may be susceptible to stress corrosion cracking. When that happens, it may result in a sudden loss of steering control while riding”, is outlined by Specialized Director Global Quality and Rider Care Jon Goulet. An overview of all Specialized bikes involved in recall and sold between autumn 2016 and 2018 is shown in the table.

So far, this recall has been published by the company only. The U.S. Department of Product Safety (CPSC) did not response due to ongoing U.S. government shutdown. Therefore there are no detailed numbers made available about how many models have been affected by this voluntary recall. It is also unknown whether any accidents or possible injuries have already occurred.

You can read the entire report here.

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