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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, May 28, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle. - Walt Whitman

Upcoming racing, according to UCI revised calendar:

Latest completed racing:

Michael Albasini to delay retirement plan but will still have local send-off at the 2020 Tour de Suisse

Albasini's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this:

In light of the racing calendar impacts due to COVID-19, Suisse veteran Michael Albasini will delay his original retirement plans and race with Mitchelton-SCOTT until the end of the revised 2020 season.

Michael Albasini

Michael Albasini winning the second stage of the 2018 Tour des Fjords

Albasini was due to retire in June at the Tour de Suisse in what would have been his 16th appearance at his home race. The 39-year-old will now work with head sport director Matt White to design a new race program in order to have a fitting send out to his successful career, which has included 18 wins in his last eight seasons with Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Tour de Suisse, Albasini will still honour the race that has provided him so much success, riding the planned eight-stage Tour de Suisse on its original dates, with his family travelling in a campervan to support.

Dependant on government regulations in June, Albasini will be joined on various stages by former Suisse cycling teammates, career influencers and other Suisse elite sportspeople.

Michael Albasini:
“I still want to finish my career with a number on my back, so I will continue after summer when the season restarts.

“This pandemic cancelled all of my plans; the retirement plan but also the holiday plans I had with my family, so because of that, if I cannot have the holidays, I want to at least finish my career with a real race.

“There was a step-by-step process to get to this point. When it first started to happen I thought that was it, that it wasn’t nice but it was going to be how my career finished and it is how it is. Then I started realising that everything couldn’t happen – I couldn’t finish my career in Switzerland, I couldn’t have the holiday and it wouldn’t make sense to have a half a year doing nothing.

“I also had to get the motivation back, because it was a whole preparation for nothing and I have to do this again now. That was something I struggled at first to think about and it took me a while to get through it.  Now, I am motivated to do all the preparation again so I can at least have one of the things I planned at the start of the year.

“First of all, I just want to have the chance to enjoy my last races, knowing they are my last races. I want to enjoy the company and the feeling of being in the race and to have these memories from my last races that I can keep with me, if not, I have even forgotten the name of the last race I had.

“I really looked forward to racing this season; to make all the training camps and all of the other things around race like the feeling when you come from the massage, or when you go to dinner and talk with the boys at the table. I just want to really enjoy it the last times and now I have the possibility to still do it.

“I will still do the Tour de Suisse. It’s not a race anymore, but I am still going to see all of the stages and it’s still a lot of riding.  It’ll be like a good bike trip with friends that change day-by day.

“I will have company every stage, which makes it even more fun. I will have friends, other sportspeople from all different sports, and will have a stage with some former Swiss pro cyclists.

“It’s going to be a really nice time to have six or seven hours a day to be out there talking.  If you’re in a race you have less time to enjoy, so this way I can really enjoy it with a lot of people who have been part of my career.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“Alba has been a foundation member of the GreenEDGE family. He still offers so much to our organisation on and off the bike and he epitomises what we want from our athletes in commitment, character and respect.

“It's great to give Alba a chance to finish off the season with some world class races in an area where he has had an incredible amount of success over the years, the Ardennes.”

Michael Albasini’s Tour de Suisse Celebration:
Sunday, 7 June: Stage 1, Frauenfeld to Fraunfeld, 10.9km
Monday, 8 June: Stage 2, Neuhausen am Rhainfall to Lachen, 179km
Tuesday, 9 June: Stage 3, Lachen to Pfaffnau, 186.6km
Wednesday, 10 June: Stage 4, St. Urban to Moudon, 180.6km
Thursday, 11 June: Stage 5, Moudon to Leukerbad, 205.1km
Friday, 12 June: Stage 6, Fiesch to Disentis/Sedrun, 162.1km
Saturday, 13 June: Stage 7, Disentis/Sedrun to Andermatt, 23.2km
Sunday, 14 June: Stage 8, Andermatt to Andermatt, 118.4km

Interview with Kazakh champion Alexei Lutsenko

Lutsenko's Astana team posted this:

It’s always a pleasure to open an interview with well-deserved compliments. You were apart of Astana line-up that won the Giro in style. It was a virtual Giro, and yet, thumbs up to you and the guys. What did it look like from a rider’s perspective?

- Thank you! Frankly speaking, I hadn’t expected it to be so hard. The post-race file said I rode around 44 minutes at 365 watts and 176 bpm average. By my standards, it was quite an effort. I think we won with our heads, we took the challenge seriously, there wasn’t a single stage without a podium place. The motivation was the key, and highly motivated we were, to demonstrate it to our fans and sponsors that we keep our heads up and maintain our physical and mental conditions on a high level throughout these hard times.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey Lutsenko winning the 2019 Coppa Sabatini

Since May 11, free at last!

- Yeah, it gave me wings to finally get out and ride! My wife said I looked like a schoolboy on the eve of September 1. It felt pretty strange for the first half an hour, having been glued to a fixed bike for almost two months, and then all of a sudden, I found myself sharing the road with cars, negotiating all those bumps and turns. Skills were quick to return though.

Some of your colleagues shared on their social network accounts their surprise at the effectiveness of indoor training. A few of them even reported having set their outdoor PB at certain uphill segments. How about yours?

- No, I didn’t focus on any PBs these days. For me the goal was to keep the engine revving, to keep my physics in general up to the level high enough to restart structured training on the road aimed at peaking from August on. I did a pair of two-hour sessions a day, modelled on what I normally do outdoors, all those sprints and series of various length and power. Day in day out: my balcony, my bike and the smart trainer.

I guess you got so fed up with this background after all…

- Well, my home trainer is recovering in the box at the moment, but I owe it quite a lot! It made all the difference when everybody was locked down here in the South of France. Tacx made an excellent tool for us, and the interactive aspect of it made my training much more effective and more fun.

Talking about your new bike, first chained, now unleashed, how do you find it? It’s always a stress for a pro rider to switch from brand to brand, no matter how good they are? Did it take time to get used to disc brake-only option?

- I’d put it simply: Wilier Triestina is a cool bike full stop. My only second thought was about some possible extra grams in a disc brake version, yet in fact it’s as light as it can be within the existing regulations. The factory invested a lot of time and money into this technology, it gives you a perfect ride. And I love the way it brakes on a downhill, in wet corners and in a dangerous situation in the peloton when everything happens is a matter of a split second.

Have you tried your legs in any online races on different platforms, apart from the virtual Giro?

- I liked the native software that Tacx provided the team with, from the word go. I don’t need an animated cartoon world to ride in, a virtual ride through familiar segments, say, in Sestriere, a real training simulation, is more to my liking, and I did quite a bit of it. Every man to his taste, as they say.

Most of your colleagues saw gaining weight as the biggest danger of the lockdown for a pro athlete. Looks like you haven’t spaced out too much. Apart from riding on the balcony, what did you do to stay fit?

- Normally I’m a regular visitor of the local gym, it was out of the question this time, though, so I had to think about a non-standard alternative. I stuffed my backpack with bottled water and some books, to make it weigh around 15 kilos and kind of hiked up and down the stairway. Four times up and down a 19-storey apartment block turns out to be a good alternative for weight training. I’d say I wasn’t obsessed with the idea of counting every gram of body mass, in fact, I know a week of steady riding on the road in the heat is more than enough for me to shed a couple of extra kilos. From where I stand, hunting for race weight in a period like that was a real threat to your mental health, as though you were not already stressed enough!

How did you deal with this amount of stress in terms of psychology? All of you riders are hyperactive types, and all of a sudden you found yourselves in a limited space with a few people…

- People nearby were the key! It was the first time in a while that I could stay with my family for so long. For me the time with my near and dear was flying, now I’m coming to realize how hard it will be to leave them next time for a stage race or a training camp. You imagine, it wasn’t easy for the children to stay put without a chance of even a short stroll, but we got by somehow. For me the only sort of outing was a weekly visit to a supermarket, that’s it. It came natural though to act in a responsible way as I felt the reality of COVID-19 as early as in February when we were quarantined off in a hotel at the end of the UAE Tour. By the way, as far as I know, there are very few, next to zero cases in the quarter where we live now, and it tells the story, people behave as a community.

You opened this season with a series of podium places, it was a clear indication of good form and excellent job done at the training camps. Both experts and fans see you as the number one (and realistic) hope of Kazakhstan in the Olympics. We know you always keep it in mind as a strategic goal, how did it affect your plans that the Games were postponed until 2021?

- Sure, thing it was a pity, but there was no alternative to this decision, was there? What if one more year would be a blessing in disguise for me? The more experience I gain, the more quality I put in my preparation. Yeah, there is a special place for the games both in my head and in my heart. But, after all, I’ve got a more short-time focus at the moment, as the season packed in a few months is looming on the horizon.

Has your personal calendar been revamped?

- Not much. My first race after the restart would be Strade Bianche, then Milano – Sanremo, then full has in the Tour. I think it will be a very exciting season, we expect a lot of spectacular racing, as riders will be pressed for time to show our true worth. I hope it will attract even more audience, with such big events as the Olympics and the Euro postponed until next year.

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