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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 25, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. - Wendell Berry

Upcoming racing, according to UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:


Lotto-Soudal to divide team into three units for duration of the season to minimize COVID-19 risk

Cyclingmagazine.ca posted this:

With post-COVID-19 lockdown training soon to resume for road cycling, the Lotto-Soudal men’s team outlined its plan to split its 28-riders and numerous staff members into three units to minimize contamination. The members of the squad will be organized around the three Grand Tours, team doctor Jens De Decker told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, and will train separately.

Referring to the units as “bubbles”, De Decker explained, “Each group gets a different color and follows its own race agenda. The aim is to keep the gradient between the bubbles as limited as possible. The less rotation, the smaller the chance of mutual contamination.” The tri-bubble system will allow team medical staff to better monitor and test riders and staff. De Decker added that each bubbles’ equipment for the season might be stored separately as well.

A look at the new WorldTour calendar suggests that a Tour de France gang might double as the Belgian Cobbled Classics outfit, while the Ardennes Classics platoon could go on to the Vuelta. For instance, Caleb Ewan, the Australian sprinter who claims three of Lotto-Soudal’s four 2020 victories, might be grouped with lead-out men Tosh Van Der Sande and Roger Kluge in a Tour de France bubble, with stage hunters Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens thrown into the mix. New addition Philippe Gilbert would likely be in the Ardennes/Vuelta outfit.

Tim Wellens

Lotto-Soudal rider Tim Wellens in the climber's polka-dot jersey before the start of the 18th stage of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

De Decker noted that with the overlap of races in the revised calendar, logistics and team and rider goals might make it necessary for riders to switch bubbles. “We have to stay flexible. An important condition is that the rider in question is re-tested. Exactly how we will do that remains to be seen in detail.”

You can read the entire story here.

Team Israel Start-Up Nation team to relaunch season with Romanian race

Here's the team's news release:

Team Israel Start-Up Nation is making sure to get as much out of the 2020 post corona derailed season as possible and plan to start racing at the beginning of July with before the new UCI world tour calendar kicks in. Overall, the team will race 42 different races in less than four months.

Israel Start Up Nation

Israel Start-Up Nation team at the 2020 Het Nieuwsblad race earlier this year. Sirotti photo

ISN plans to restart the season in the Sibiu Tour (see full racing calendar at the end of the release), which will also serve as a testing ground for racing under “Corona protocols” to protect the health of the riders and staff. Those early July races will allow some riders to compete for a few precious places in the team’s squads to the Grand Tours, especially the Tour de France.

“It’s great for the riders and the team to have a few races to look forward to during July,” explained the team’s Pro manager Kjell Carlstrom. “There we can make sure that we are on the right track with everything regarding a safe restart of the race calendar. We will be racing with mixed teams – ISN WorldTour team and our Continental Israel Cycling Academy team and make sure that all our protocols are working well.”

The team had first tested those Corona protection protocols for the first time during its training camp in Israel last week. It was the first camp held by a professional cycling team since the Corona Crisis brought the season to a halt. It now plans some more regional mini-camps in Israel and other areas in Europe before the season starts. “The traditional model of one big training camp for all is not realistic at this time”, said Carlstrom. “So, we will need to adapt.”

The Sibiu Tour will be held from July 2 till the fifth, which means that ISN will restart the season in early July and continue with 3 stage races: Tour of Sibiu, Dokola Mazowza in Poland and the Spanish Vuelta Burgos.

The July races, and especially the Sibiu Tour, will be the first test for Israeli riders to prove themselves that they are ready to make it into the Tour de France line-up, which set to be a crucial milestone for the Israeli team that never raced the TDF before. The competition for being part of TDF line-up is especially essential for the Israeli riders in the team. “I am excited to the race early and will be ready for my chance to show that I deserve the chance,” said Israeli Guy Niv.

But for the most experienced riders in the team, the World Tour level races that will start in August will be the first chance to race.

Dan Martin, who will be the team leader in the Tour De France, said he expects to be ready: “I am incredibly motivated to pin on a number and get some big results for ISN in what a truly unprecedented season has been. It’s a congested calendar, so picking a route through it and setting goals is tricky, plus weather conditions will be different in the races to the standard, but I’m looking forward to it. It remains to be seen what the circumstances that we race under will be, but I’m confident the team will be prepared for whatever those conditions are and can’t wait to get racing again.”

ISN co-owner Sylvan Adams is ‘thrilled’ to see that the UCI decided to resume the season. “It looks like the world is slowly returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, with some prudent adjustments, of course, for the sake of protecting our riders’ and staff’s health to the greatest extent possible,” Adams says. “I can assure all our supporters that Israel Start-Up Nation will be ready to race in Romania, our first race, the Sibiu Tour, on the new calendar.”

Given the fact the UCI has crammed all races into a period of four months, it will be a different season than we are used to, according to Nils Politt. “Spring classics now became autumn classics,” the runner-up of Paris-Roubaix 2019 says. “It is going to be a different kind of preparation for sure: no December and January training camp and the Tour de France finishing just before the start of the ‘classics-season.’ This will require planning.”

Davide Cimolai, the Italian sprinter of the team, cannot wait till his favorite race: Milan-San Remo. “I hope to ride the races in my home country: Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro d’Italia and – of course – Milan-San Remo. I have worked hard in lockdown-times, and I was always motivated. I will be 100% ready in August.”

André Greipel, with 156 victories on his palmares, says it would be nice to race again, but states it has to be safe for everyone. “I am still doing groceries with a face mask, people are still dying of corona, and therefore it sometimes feels a little strange that we are thinking about racing again. Nobody knows if the virus will spread again, and I think we should not force racing if it is unsafe. However, if the race season restarts, I will be ready. That’s for sure.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel is among the Israel Start-Up Nation team riders looking forward to the 2020 season re-starting. Sirotti photo

Adams is considering going to Romania, where ISN will restart the season himself. “I miss our team,” he says. “I want to reinforce our commitment to sportsmanship and health for all involved.”

Planned racing schedule:

July:

  1. 02-05 Tour of Sibiu (Romania, 2.1)
  2. 15-18 Dokola Mazowza (Poland, 1.2)
  3. 28-01 Vuelta Burgos (2.Pro)

August:

September:

October:

November:

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