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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

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

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme is COVID-19 positive

The Tour organization posted this:

The testing campaign revealed that Christian Prudhomme has tested positive for COVID-19. The Director of the Tour de France, taking his 4th test in 1 month, will now quarantine for 7 days.

Christian Prudhomme

Christian Prudhomme before stage seven. Sirotti photo

Although he was not part of the “race bubble” and had not been in direct contact with any of the riders and their entourage, Christian Prudhomme still decided to get tested.

The anti-COVID-19 protocol, which provides reinforced protection for the “race bubble”, distinct from others in the organization, allows for the following plan to be put in place following such a situation:

In the absence of Christian Prudhomme from the 10th stage from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré up until the 16th stage from La Tour du Pin to Villard de Lans, François Lemarchand, who was in the lead car on Paris-Nice, will occupy take Christian Prudhomme’s place in the lead car. Jean-Michel Monin meanwhile, will replace François Lemarchand in the n°3 car.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme gave an interview on the phone. "Yesterday's tests showed that I was positive", he said. "I was tested on the 6 August, the 20 August, the 27 August – both a PCR nasal test and a blood test – and everything was negative. The test I had yesterday, a PCR test, was positive. That's what I was told earlier.

"We didn't want me to be part of the race bubble. Why? Because I am in contact with far more people than the riders. With elected officials, partners, journalists. So I didn't want to be in the race bubble – which Thierry Gouvenou, our competitions director, is a part of. 

"On the other hand, I wanted to undergo all of the tests, like any rider. So I find myself on the sidelines for a week, until next Tuesday, when I will be back on the Tour. Like tens of thousands of French employees, who are forced to stay away from work when they are in the same situation as me. 

"I also want to put this into perspective, in the sense that there have been 30,000 deaths in France. I have been tested positive but I feel absolutely fine. The most important thing for me is that no rider has been tested positive."

BORA-hansgrohe signs Wilco Kelderman and mountain biker Ben Zwiehoff

The team sent me this release:

Over the coming two years, Kelderman will strengthen our stage racing roster, concentrating predominantly on Grand Tours. Zwiehoff will be taking the step from MTB to the road, and is considered a very strong climber.

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman racing in the 2019 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

"Wilco is a rider with enormous potential. Our task over the next few years will be to consistently bring out this potential on the road. He is the ideal age for this, and will certainly be a real asset.

Ben has been part of the German MTB national team for several years. He has always been successful in this respect, but may be lacking that little extra explosiveness. On the road, particularly in the mountains, we see vast possibilities. I have always said that we are also searching for talent in other disciplines and sports. And so, with Ben, we’re happy to guide this type of athlete along his way.” - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

"I am really looking forward to this new challenge. After the first few meetings with the coaches and management team, it became clear to me that this is exactly the right step for me. I quickly gained the confidence that a partnership with BORA - hansgrohe would provide me with new incentives at this stage of my career. The entire group - riders, performance team and management – provides the perfect environment for me to put on my best performances, and I’m happy to support the team in its future journeys.” - Wilco Kelderman

"My previous career goal as a mountain biker was always to participate in the Olympic Games. But at some point. I realised that with my climbing talent, I may be able to achieve more on the road. That's why I am incredibly grateful to BORA - hansgrohe for providing me with this chance. I was already able to meet some of the guys last December in Mallorca. Now I can hardly wait to learn from the team’s vast experience and to develop myself further. I am highly motivated to be able to contribute to the team’s success as a helper in the mountains. As the biggest bike race in the world, the Tour de France has always been a dream of mine, so let's see if I can one day be a part of it.” - Ben Zwiehoff

Mitchelton-SCOTT aiming for a Giro Rosa hat-trick

The team sent me this:

Two-time defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten and Australian champion Amanda Spratt return to the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile looking to make it a hat-trick of wins for Mitchelton-SCOTT in the only Grand Tour on the women's calendar.

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt (shown at the 2020 Tour Down Under) is part of the Mitchelton-Scott Giro Rosa team.

World and European champion Van Vleuten will be looking to continue her stunning 2020 form that has seen her rack up six wins from nine race starts when she lines up for the opening stage team time trial on Friday.

Triple Tour Down Under winner and two-time world championship medalist Spratt joins her as dual leader in Italy, with the 32-year-old finishing third overall in both the 2018 and 2019 editions.

Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Giro Rosa (Sept 11 - 19):
Grace Brown (AUS, 28, 2nd appearance)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS, 32, 3rd appearance)
Sarah Roy (AUS, 34, 5th appearance)
Amanda Spratt (AUS, 32, 8th appearance)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED, 32, 4th appearance)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 37, 10th appearance)

After narrowly missing out on a stage win last year, two-time Herald Sun Tour winner Lucy Kennedy will be a uselful teammate in the mountains as she takes on her third Giro Rosa.

Dutch domestique Moniek Tenniglo will provide valuable support on the flat roads, with fast finisher Sarah Roy and the reliable Grace Brown set play a vital role as well as giving the team options across the nine days of racing.

The Course:
The race will get underway with a 16km team time trial around the streets of Grosseto before a lumpy second stage that should end in a sprint finish into Arcidosso. Two hilly days then follow, with the longest stage of the race coming on stage four.

The fifth stage ends with a flat run to the line in Terracina but features two climbs along the way that will make things difficult for the pure sprinters. However, there will be another opportunity for the fast finishers on the following day before the race heads into the mountains.

The Giro Rosa concludes with three mountainous days, with the first summit finish coming on stage eight as riders climb up to San Marco La Catola. There will be no relaxing finish to the tour, with the peloton tackling four laps of a 27.5km circuit on the final day, each featuring the Volturno climb.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I have been back in Italy to relax a bit mentally and to get a little bit more altitude exposure, because there’s still a long season ahead. I was already at a good level, so I didn’t really need to come back to altitude to train super hard.

“I came to Italy with confidence and that’s also how I go to the Giro. I’m quite relaxed and excited, but also nervous because what’s hard for me, is that usually in stage races you cannot relax at any moment. So, it will be nine days fully focussed.

“I learned my lesson in 2017 with the team and I think everyone learned this lesson, so it’s also really good that I have an experienced team around me that are used to riding for the GC.

“It’s cool to do this together with such an experienced team, we have good quality on the hills with Amanda Spratt and Lucy Kennedy, and also power on the flat with Moniek, Roy and also Grace Brown who can do both, so I think we have a really good team.

“The course isn’t as hard as it was last year, there aren’t as many long summit finishes, but still there are a lot of mountain finishes. There aren’t a lot of flat days, so it will hard and exhausting, I think already after the team time trial on the first day we have some hard days coming up, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Amanda Spratt:
“I’m really excited for the Giro, this has been the period I want to be in great shape for and I feel like my level is good now. I’ve been preparing at altitude above Martigny which was a new location for me, but I really loved it there, new roads every day and a lot of great climbs, so for me it was the perfect place to prepare for both my body and mind.

“The aim for the Giro this year is to win with the team. Annemiek has won the last two and I have also been on the podium both times as well. That has been very special to share the podium with Annemiek and also the whole team, these were such great team wins.

“I think we can go into the Giro this year with the same level of confidence, we have a really strong team line-up and I think this year more than ever this will make a big difference.

“The Giro this year does not have an individual time trial and only has one longer mountaintop finish, so in my opinion it is going to be a lot more tactical. The time gaps will be smaller and having a strong team, good numbers and a good game plan are going to be critical. I love the tactical side and playing the game so I can’t wait to get out there and racing!”

Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas (Sports Director):
“The Giro Rosa is one of the main goals for us, we have won it twice in the last two years and we are looking for a third win in-a-row. Our preparation has been great, Annemiek has had some good racing and we’ve had Spratt training well at home.

“We bring a good mix of riders to work either on the flat or on the mountains. In a race like this, the team is what makes the difference and I believe we line up with a strong team to support our leaders.

“The race itself is not as hard as other years and one day shorter, but this is the Giro, and I expect aggressive racing and the speed will make it harder. We have a few stages with some hard finishes and that’s where we will see the winner of this Giro.”

Giro d'Italia Femminile 2020 – Race Details:
Friday, 11th Sep: Stage 1, Grosseto – Grosseto, 16km (TTT)
Saturday, 12th Sep: Stage 2, Paganico – Arcidosso, 124km
Sunday, 13th Sep: Stage 3, Santa Fiora – Assisi, 142km
Monday, 14th Sep: Stage 4, Assisi – Tivoli, 170km
Tuesday, 15th Sep: Stage 5, Terracina – Terracina, 110km
Wednesday, 16th Sep: Stage 6, Torre del Greco – Nola, 97km
Thursday, 17th Sep: Stage 7, Nola – Maddaloni, 112km
Friday, 18th Sep: Stage 8, Castelnuovo della Daunia – San Marco la Catola, 91km 
Saturday, 19th Sep: Stage 9, Motta Montecorvino – Motta Montecorvino, 109km

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this schedule:

Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile: SEP 11 - 19

Albert Timmer - Team Sunweb coach:
"We go to the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile with a strong team, aiming to show ourselves at the front of the race and continue our good season so far. The battle for the GC will already be intense on stage two with a challenging route and a dirt road climb near the finish. We'll work to set up Juliette and Liane as best as possible for that stage, and for the GC overall where we hope to get a nice result over the demanding parcours. Throughout the race we want to race aggressively and be in any dangerous breakaway that gets clear, also aiming for strong day results from those moves or in the very limited sprint opportunities."

Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Alison Jackson (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)

Antwerp Port Epic: SEP 13

Roy Curvers - Team Sunweb coach:
"Antwerp Port Epic is a demanding race with gravel and cobblestone sections, which make it ideal for an aggressive race, as we've seen in the previous two editions with lots of attacking racing. With good teamwork and cooperation throughout the race we should be able to get some guys in the position to go for a good result at the finish. With our strong engines of Jarno, Leon, Nils and Tim, we can go on the attack and search for a result out of the breakaways and numerous attacks. While we have several options if the race comes down to some type of reduced sprint, with our fast-men of Casper, Marius and Niklas."

Leon Heinschke (GER)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Nils Sinschek (NED)
Casper van Uden (NED)

July U.S. bike imports up 36% as industry struggles to catch up

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — U.S. bike imports have been steadily increasing each month since May, but the industry still has a long way to go to recover from a slow start to the year and the skyrocketing retail demand for bicycles during the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic.

Bike imports in July were up 35.6% in units, to 1.9 million bikes, and 26.6% in dollars, to $151 million, compared to the same month in 2019, new figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show.

But year to date through July, imports were up 9.6% in units and down 4.3% in dollars, indicating a mix of lower-priced bikes being brought in, on average.

The U.S. imports the vast majority of its bikes, and the figures include bikes sold through all retail channels, with most of the units — especially very low priced kids bikes — going to department stores but higher-priced bikes going to the IBD, consumer direct, and sporting goods retail channels.

The year-to-date average bike unit import value was $87 in 2020 through July, down from $100 in the comparable period in 2019. So far this year the country has imported 7.9 million bikes, compared to 7.2 million last year. The dollar value this year was $692.6 million, compared to $723.2 million last year.

At the start of the second quarter this year, imports were down due to delays at Asian factories as they responded to the pandemic there. The industry also reduced ordering as they braced for what they expected to be a negative effect on consumer demand for bikes as the virus reached U.S. shores. Unexpectedly, consumer demand for bikes exploded in late March and early April, and suppliers responded by ordering more bikes, which can take up to three months to arrive from Asia. Commerce Department figures indicate a large increase in monthly import volume starting in June.

You can read the entire story here.

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