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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 22, 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 blew amps like they were made of tissue paper. Once I blew out the sound system at Royal Albert Hall in London. - Dick Dale, "The King of the Surf Guitar". He passed away March 16.

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Caleb Ewan previews Milano-San Remo

Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

Saturday 23 March, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of Milan-San Remo. This year marks the 110th edition of the Italian WorldTour race, labelled as one of the five Monuments in cycling. Also this year, La Primavera will be an exciting battle for the victory between the strong sprinters, punchers and Classics specialists.

It will be a long day for the riders because just before ten o’clock, the peloton will take off at the Piazza Castello in Milan for the 291-kilometre journey - around seven hours in the saddle - to the Italian Riviera. After about 140 kilometres of racing, the riders will face the first difficulty of the day as they will ascend the Passo del Turchino. Not long after, the peloton hits the Ligurian coast where at 50 kilometres from the line, the triptych Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta awaits. Afterwards, the riders will set course for the final two climbs of the day, the famed Cipressa and Poggio. Once the riders reach the top of the Poggio, only five kilometres remain until the finish on the iconic Via Roma.

Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan will be at the start of Milan- San Remo for the third time in his career. Last year, the Australian sprinted to second place as Nibali managed to hold off a charging peloton after a solo attack on the Poggio. This year, Ewan would like to become the third Australian to win Milan-San Remo, but remains cautious as a lot of riders are eager to claim the victory as well.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (shown at the 2019 UAE Tour) will be trying to win the season's first Classic.

Caleb Ewan: “Of course, I want to do better than last year. Milan - San Remo is the biggest goal of my first part of the season. I will definitely aim for the win. My two earlier participations have learned me that it is a relatively easy race to finish but that also means there are more candidates for the win. There will be a lot of teams at the start that can control the race. So, I am hoping that a reduced bunch will go to the finish and that I will be able to sprint for the win on the Via Roma. The form is really good so I am looking forward to Saturday.”

“The fact that I live close to San Remo can maybe be a benefit. I don’t train too often in that area but I have done some training rides on the final climbs so it is quite nice to be familiar with the course. The weather forecast for Saturday looks good. But as it stands now, there will be a tailwind along the coast, which isn’t great for the sprinters because the pace will be higher on the climbs. It can also cause the racing to be more aggressive.”

“In my opinion, there are three important points in the race. The first one is the Cipressa, then the ascent of the Poggio and afterwards the final kilometres to the finish. The ideal scenario would be to have one or two teammates left at the top of the Poggio to help me getting into a good position for the sprint. I feel lucky to have such a strong team behind me that will protect me all day long.  It is important to be well-surrounded because you need to save as much energy as possible during the day to go for a good result in the end.”

“There are so many candidates for the victory and that is exactly what makes Milan - San Remo such a hard race to win. On the one hand you have the punchers like Alaphilippe, who’s in excellent shape and is also sprinting well. If he attacks on the Poggio, it is going to be a hard finale. For the sprinters, there are guys like Viviani and Gaviria and you also never know what Sagan will do. The person that saves the most energy throughout the day will win.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Caleb Ewan, Adam Hansen, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Nikolas Maes, Tomasz Marczyński and Tosh Van der Sande.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Herman Frison.

CCC Team aims for stage wins at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 

The team sent me this:

21 March 2019: CCC Team is heading to Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (25-31 March), with a versatile roster ready to take on the one-week UCI WorldTour race.

The team will aim for stage wins and will take on the race with no particular leader for the General Classification, Sports Director Jackson Stewart said. “It is another difficult Volta a Catalunya, noticeably with the Vallter 2000 mountain top finish and then, the next day, the short and difficult stage up to La Molina Alp. We have a strong roster of opportunists and we will look how each stage develops in our pursuit of a stage win. We will go in without any pressure for the General Classification and see where we end up,” Stewart explained.

One rider looking for chances in breakaways is Joey Rosskopf, who lives in Catalunya and whose familiarity with the course should work in his favor. “Since moving to Girona a few years ago, competing in the Volta a Catalunya has been especially exciting for me. It’s one of the only times all year when I get to race on the same familiar roads where I regularly train. With the team we’re bringing to Catalunya, I think we will all have the chance to race aggressively and opportunistically,” Rosskopf said.

“I was feeling pretty good on the bike in Tirreno-Adriatico, so as long as my legs hold up and continue to recover from the past week, I look forward to taking any chance I can, to jump in a breakaway and animate the race.”

CCC Team’s line-up for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya includes two riders who are coming off of unlucky crashes that forced them to abandon their most recent races – Simon Geschke who broke his elbow at Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia and Patrick Bevin, who suffered some abrasions on stage six of UAE Tour.

Patrick Bevin

Patrick Bevin also crashed at the Tour Down Under this year. Sirotti photo.

“I feel like my form is good and I hope to target some of the sprinter friendlier stages. It’s never an easy feat at Catalunya, as the parcours is so hilly. It’s the first race of a three-tour series for me, so I’m really looking forward to what is a busy spring ahead,” Bevin explained.

Geschke is hoping to get back to his top form to be ready for the Ardennes Classics. “I’m really looking forward to come back to racing. It feels like a second start of the season for me, after having only one race day this year. I’m very happy that my recovery went well enough to make it back for Catalunya. I hope to be at a level which allows me to do good and valuable work for the team. I don’t expect to be in my top shape right away, but the training in the last three weeks went well and I’m definitely ready to race again. My goal is to take this race as an opportunity to get the race intensity into the legs and make the next step on my way to being at my best, at the Ardennes Classics,” Geschke said.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (25-31 March):

Rider roster: Patrick Bevin (NZL), Josef Černý (CZE), Simon Geschke (GER), Łukasz Owsian (POL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Laurens Ten Dam (NED), Riccardo Zoidl (AUT)

Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Piotr Wadecki (POL)

Dan Martin and Fabio Aru headed to the Volta a Catalunya

UAE-Team Emirates sent me this:

The UAE Team Emirates will take on the Volta a Catalunya (March 25 to 31) with a high-calibre roster for the climbs. They are ready to make a good impression in the seven stages.

Neil Stephens (Aus) and Bruno Vicino (Ita) will direct the team with support from Paolo Tiralongo (Ita):
– Fabio Aru (Ita)
– Daniel Martin (Irl)
– Cristian Muñoz (Col)
– Rui Oliveira (Por)
– Simone Petilli (Ita)
– Edward Ravasi (Ita)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)

Dan Martin already counts one Volta a Catalunya overall win and two stage wins in his palmarès: ” Volta a Catalunya is always a race I look forward, even more so this year with my family being roadside for number of the stages” Martin said. “I know the course well since I live in the region and racing Volta a Catalunya nearly every year of my career I know the roads well. So far this season has been consistent so hopefully we can continue to race well as a team, but Catalunya is a wide open race this year. Every day will be important and a very strong field of top riders means it will a good, tactical race: I feel good, so we shall see what happens“.

Dan Martin

Dan Martin wins a stage at the 2018 Dauphine.

“A few days after I abandoned Paris-Nice, I began to feel better,” said Aru. “The Volta a Cataluyna is a race that’s very hard, I’ll see in the first stages how I’m feeling and what goals I can reach. I have a desire to do well, so I’m taking on this race with a positive mindset“.

Colombian Dani Martínez re-signs with EF Education First

The team sent me this release:

By every account, the last 12 months have been successful for Dani Martínez. The young Colombian adapted quickly to the WorldTour during his first season in argyle. He finished seventh overall at Volta a Cataluyna, third overall at Amgen Tour of California and won the Colorado Classic youth classification. He fulfilled a childhood dream when he started the 2018 Tour de France where he was assigned the task to protect his childhood hero, Rigoberto Urán. The year ended with the birth of his first child, a baby boy named Isaac.

Martínez picked up where he left off during his sophomore season with EF Education First Pro Cycling. He earned the 2019 Colombian time trial title and finished third overall at Tour Colombia 2.1. In his first race of the season on European soil, Martínez secured his first WorldTour win, adding the queen stage of Paris-Nice to his ever-growing resume.

Dani Martinez

Martinez wins stage seven of the 2019 Paris-Nice.

Before joining EF Education First, Martínez forged his own pathway at Willier Triestina-Sella Italia in 2016-2017. He learned Italian, adapted to life in Europe and found success in smaller races. Although he managed to fly largely under the radar compared to his compatriots, his determination and accelerated development caught the attention of team boss Jonathan Vaughters, who offered him a contract ahead of 2018. We are thrilled to announce Martínez has renewed that contract. The extension is a three-year deal, starting in 2020.

“I have really big goals, and I only want to keep discovering the potential I have,” said Martínez. “The environment in this team is the best place for me to grow.”

The 22-year-old has wanted to be a professional cyclist from the moment his brother first handed him a bicycle and took him out riding in the hills near Soacha, Colombia. And not just any professional cyclist. He wanted to be the best. His early years on the bike were filled with dreams of one day winning the Tour de France.

“Dani is someone that really, really, really wants to be a cyclist,” said sport director Juanma Garate, who works closely with Martínez. “He wants to finish his career without any doubts about where he could arrive. That means that he is willing to make every sacrifice needed to do this job at 100%.

“He’s young but surprisingly with very clear ideas for his age,” added Garate. “I can tell you that the first time that I did an interview with him, 15 months ago, about his goals, I was super surprised with his answers. He’s very, very ambitious, but, trust me, this kid is the chosen one to be able to fulfill his dreams.”

Focused work in the off-season by both Martínez and the team afforded Martínez growth in an area that will be critical to his future success.

“He’s a gifted climber — one of, say, 20 very talented climbers in the peloton. But it’s his blossoming ability in the time trial that makes Dani so exciting,” said EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s made huge improvements in the TT. He’s a climber whose time trial is now a strength, not a liability. He’s worked hard on his end there, and I’m also proud of the advancements the team has made on that front, too. We’re doing great work together.”

Martínez’s spring race program will likely include Itzulia Basque Country (formerly Vuelta País Vasco), the Ardennes and Tour de Romandie. He’s expected to start his second Tour de France in July.

“I’m excited for the future,” said Martínez. “I’m happy my future is with this team. I’ve liked the atmosphere we have here from that moment I first arrived. The way the team does things, the people, the support I receive. Racing with EF Education First is great.”

“Dani fits in well on the team,” said Vaughters. “The riders rally around him because he’s talented but also a genuinely nice guy. For us, he’s the perfect fit. I’m excited to see what’s next for him.”

On and off the bike, Martínez takes our mission of exploring the world to heart.

“I think that without a doubt the world changes you when you see more places in the world,” he said. “As a person, it fills you and helps you to grow in many aspects of life.”

One Million E-Bikes sold in Germany in 2018; up 36 percent!

Bike Europe sent me this industry update:

BAD SODEN, Germany – E-bikes are boosting the German bicycle industry as the sales volume hiked by a staggering 36 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. No less than 980,000 units were sold last year. Today every one out of four bicycles sold in Germany is an electric one.

The today by the industry association ‘Zweirad-Industrie-Verband’ (ZIV) published 2018 market data underline the e-bike importance. According to the ZIV data e-bikes now hold a market share of 23.5 percent. The industry association expects this market share to increase to 30 percent in the medium term while 35 percent is called ‘realistic’ on a longer term. Approximately 99.5 percent of all e-bikes sold are 25 km/h types, the remaining 0.5 percent are speed pedelecs.

“2018 was a fantastic year for the German bicycle industry”, said ZIV managing director Siegfried Neuberger. “The innovations in the industry are responsible for the fact that both the bicycle and the e-bike are highly appreciated by consumers. The combination with optimal weather conditions made that the cycling season started early and ended late.”

You can read the entire story here.

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