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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example. - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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NTT Pro Cycling looking for new title sponsor

Here's the team's update:

September 28, 2020: NTT Pro Cycling, formerly Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, is looking for a new title sponsor following the confirmation that NTT has now opted not to renew their contract beyond 2020.

On Monday evening team principal Douglas Ryder informed all members of our organisation – the UCI WorldTour outfit and UCI Continental team – that NTT will not continue with the team, ending our six-year association.

This is of course is very disappointing news but we are committed to fight for our team’s future and are exploring every possible avenue available to us. Our partnership with the Qhubeka Charity has incredibly spanned 10 years and seen us play a key role in the distribution of over 100,000 bicycles in disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa.

NTT Pro Cycling

NTT Pro Cycling is presented before the start of the 2020 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

This relationship forms part of the foundation of our team and has seen us touch the hearts of people in every corner of the globe, from supporters, partners, staff and riders all sharing in the belief, that bicycles change lives.

As Africa’s only UCI-registered World Tour team, our journey has yielded success in claiming numerous stage wins at the Tour de France together with a number of other major victories, all which have been celebrated across the globe.

We would like to thank everyone for their incredible continued support of our team in realising our dream at cycling’s highest level, and we will continue to fight for our future.

Mitchelton-SCOTT & Simon Yates headed to Giro d'Italia

The team sent me this:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has named a well-rounded team to support recently crowned Tirreno-Adriatico champion Simon Yates in his quest for pink at the Giro d’Italia starting this Saturday.

Yates, who finished eighth overall in 2019 and spent 13 days in the Maglia Rosa in 2018, will return for the third consecutive year in an attempt to add another Grand Tour victory to his Vuelta a Espana win in 2018.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates in pink at the 2018 Giro d'Italia.

Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Giro d’Italia (3-25 October 2020):
Edoardo Affini (ITA, 24) – Grand Tour debutant
Brent Bookwalter (USA, 36) – 5th appearance
Jack Haig (AUS, 27) - 2nd appearance
Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 24) – 2nd appearance
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 29) – 5th appearance
Damien Howson (AUS, 28) - 2nd appearance
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 32) – 5th appearance
Simon Yates (GBR, 28) – 3rd appearance

The 28-year-old will be protected on the flat roads by the likes of Australian’s Michael Hepburn and Cameron Meyer and Grand Tour debutant Edoardo Affini. The experience of American Brent Bookwalter and Australian Damien Howson with guide the Briton in transitional phases before the climbing legs of Australian duo Jack Haig and Lucas Hamilton take over in the higher mountains.

The Course:
The 2020 Giro d’Italia will cover 3497.9km across 21 stages, with 64.9 time trial kilometres split between three stages of which two book-end the race.

The first of the mountain challenges arrives early in week one, on day three up to Mt Etna, and is followed by five other major mountain-top finishes and a number of uphill kicks.

Our Race History:
In the past eight years Mitchelton-SCOTT has claimed 14 stage victories, worn the pink leader’s jersey for 25 days and had a top general classification position of second in 2016 at the Giro d’Italia.

Yates alone has spent 13 days in the Maglia Rosa, during which time he won three stages. His best overall result is eighth in 2019.

Simon Yates:
“Tirreno was a great victory and I’m very proud of what I accomplished there but the big goal has always been the Giro, so I hope I can hold my form from there until the end of the Giro.

“Since then, I have returned to altitude in Andorra to finish my preparation at home, so that I can hit two birds with one stone; spending some much needed time at home, while still preparing the best way possible to arrive in a great space for the Giro.

“The Giro is a hard and unpredictable race. You need to be ready at any moment to adapt the strategy to prepare for victory. Normally at the Giro the weather is getting better day-by-day as we start in Spring and approach summer, whereas this year will be the complete opposite. I’m expecting some bad weather this year and I’m mentally prepared for that.

“I’m very happy with the team we have assembled. The team is basically our team from Tirreno where we worked extremely well together and that is very important going forward into the Giro, to have the understanding of how each other work together on and off the bike.

“I’m excited to get started with the boys and can’t wait to be there in Sicily.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“Regardless of the result in Tirreno, we were always going to come in as one of the favourites. We haven’t hid the fact that Simon is motivated to try to win the Giro, it’s a race we came close to winning in 2018 and I think we’ve continued to learn since then. As a unit, we’re going back knowing what we are capable of – you do learn from your mistakes and your experiences and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since 2018.

“It’s not rocket science, but it’s going to be about consistency over three weeks. It’s the toughest of the three Grand Tours; we have a hard start, a hard finish and a lot of kilometres in between.

“The 65km of time trialling is substantial, especially in the modern era where you don’t see that many Grand Tours with this much time trialling, and it has an effect on our tactics.

“We’re going up against a world-class time trialler in the leader of INEOS, Geraint Thomas. The rest of our rivals are in a similar bracket to Simon and we will all be looking to limit our losses in those three time trials and take opportunities on the climbs when they are there.

“All of the climbers need to be aggressive, including us. When and where, and from who, will be interesting but we’re going to have to take time.”

Mitchelton-SCOTT – Giro Team Stats:
Youngest rider: Edoardo Affini (24)
Oldest rider: Brent Bookwalter (36)
Average Age: 28.5years
Giro d’Italia debutants: Edoardo Affini (Grand Tour debut)
Most Giro appearances: Brent Bookwalter, Michael Hepburn & Cameron Meyer (5)
Total Giro appearances: 24

Ag2r La Mondiale to ride Giro d'Italia

Here's the info the team sent me:

Sports Director Laurent Biondi introduces us to the team’s riders for the Giro d´Italia.

LAURENT BIONDI: “A young and ambitious team”
“We’ll arrive at the start of this autumnal Giro d’Italia with desire and determination. We will trust in the younger riders like Jaakko Hänninen and Aurélien Paret-Peintre, who will both celebrate their first participation in a Grand Tour. The latter will start off without being under any pressure, but will have the ambition to aim for the best possible overall classification. The two riders will be able to rely on experienced guys like Tony Gallopin, Larry Warbasse and Ben Gastauer. I am not forgetting Geoffrey Bouchard, who stood out last year at the Vuelta a Espana, and François Bidard, who is getting closer and closer to a great victory. Andrea Vendrame has been getting very good results regularly this season, and he will be our go-to puncheur. He will aim to get good results and even take a stage victory”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin racing in stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta a España. Sirotti photo

TONY GALLOPIN
Born 24 May 1988, 32 years old
2nd participation
13 victories including a stage of the Tour de France (2014) and the Vuelta a Espana (2018)

“After victories in the Tour and the Vuelta, Tony dreams of completing his collection by winning at the Giro. Last year, for his first participation, he got very close to his goal, finishing second in a very tough stage. He will also be able to bring his experience to the riders who will participate in a three-week race for the first time like Hänninen and Paret-Peintre.”

FRANCOIS BIDARD
Born 19 March 1992, 28 years old
4th participation
6th place in a stage (2019)

“François has progressed in the general classification with each of his participations in Grand Tours. Last year, whether at the Giro (6th in a stage), the Tour de Suisse (3rd in a stage) or the Vuelta (5th in a stage), he showed that he could be at the level of best in the mountains. He has accumulated a good deal of experience, now it is up to him to translate that into a result, and win a stage in this Giro.”

GEOFFREY BOUCHARD
Born 1 April 1992, 28 years old
1st participation
King of the Mountains at the Vuelta a Espana (2019)

“After the Vuelta where he won the King of the Mountain’s jersey, Geoffrey will discover the Giro and its long climbs. Last year, for his first professional season, he demonstrated his attacking temperament and his mountain skills. Although he still needs to gain some experience, he is certainly capable of making his mark.“

BEN GASTAUER
Born 14 November 1987, 32 years old
6th participation
Two victories
“Now that Hubert Dupont has retired, Ben Gastauer is the rider in our squad who knows the Giro the best. An excellent teammate, capable of playing third man for the overall team classification, Ben is a quiet force and a very good road captain. He too will have a key role with the young riders who will discover the race. “

JAAKKO HANNINEN
Born 16 April 1997, 23 years old
1st participation

“Jaakko is a very promising rider (3rd in the 2018 U23 Worlds) who is just starting out in the professionals. Since the return to racing in August, he has shown us some interesting things as soon as the going gets tough. During Il Lombardia, his first monument, he was pretty close to finishing within the top 15. This will be his first three week tour, and he will attack it with ambition and determination.”

AURELIEN PARET-PEINTRE
Born 27 February 1996, 24 years old
1st participation

“We felt from the start of the season that Aurélien has taken a step forward physically. After racing Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné, he is about to take on his first three week event. Comfortable in the mountains, he will discover the stages that have made the legend of the Giro. And the victories of Nans Peters, also from Chambéry Cyclisme Formation, in the Giro and the Tour, show that we should not entertain any doubts. Aurélien will also be there to aim for the best possible overall ranking.”

ANDREA VENDRAME
Born 20 July 1994, 26 years old
3rd participation
2 victories

“Having joined the squad in the offseason, Andrea Vendrame has perfectly integrated into the team. And for an Italian, racing at the Giro is inevitably a highly anticipated moment. An excellent puncher, he has racked up many places of honor (13 top tens) since the start of the season. To take a win at the Giro would be a great achievement for this rider of the future. “

LARRY WARBASSE
Born 28 June 1990, 30 years old
3rd participation
Two victories

“Larry has been active at the races since the restart and in particular during Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished in the top twenty (17th). He knows Italian races perfectly and has shown in the past that he is capable of winning UCI WorldTour races (winner of the 4th stage of the Tour de Suisse 2017). Given his state of form, he certainly can take another. “

CCC Team looking for opportunities at BinckBank Tour

The team sent me this:

28 September 2020: A busy racing calendar continues with CCC Team heading to the start line of BinckBank Tour tomorrow (29 September) with a well-rounded six-rider roster for the now five-day race.

Sports Director Steve Bauer said that the WorldTour stage race provides CCC Team with different opportunities to race for success.

“This year, BinckBank Tour is a nicely-placed race for our riders preparing for the Cobbled Classics and our Belgian group of Van Hoecke, Van Hooydonck, and Van Keirsbulck know this terrain well, so I am expecting them to be aiming for a stage win. Jakub Mareczko has established some confidence after winning races at Tour de Hongrie and so we will focus on him for any bunch sprint finales while Patrick Bevin, a time trial specialist, will be ready to perform on the stage two race against the clock. While we don’t have a specific General Classification leader, I think after the time trial we will be able to see how we can approach the race from that perspective with our group,” Bauer explained.

After his success at Tour de Hongrie, where he secured three stage wins, Jakub Mareczko is motivated ahead of BinckBank Tour.

Jakub Marecko

Jakub Mareczko wins the first stage of the 2018 Tour of Hainan

“After my stage wins at Tour de Hongrie, I am feeling really motivated for BinckBank Tour. It’s been a little while since I last raced but I have continued to train hard since Hungary and so, I am confident in my shape. I am still chasing that elusive WorldTour stage win and there are some potential opportunities for me to try to take a victory at this race so, I am looking forward to it. I have a lot of confidence in the team we have starting and I will hopefully be able to continue my success here,” Mareczko said.

BinckBank Tour (29 September - 03 October)

Rider Roster: Patrick Bevin (NZL), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)

Sports Directors: Steve Bauer (CAN), Piotr Wadecki (POL)

NTT Pro Cycling's BinckBank Tour lineup

The team sent me this press release:

The Belgian stage race has been shortened this year, from 7 stages to 5.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 28, 2020: Tomorrow NTT Pro Cycling will lineup for the UCI World Tour Binck Bank Tour. The Belgian stage race has been shortened this year, from 7 stages to 5, due to the currently condensed UCI race calendar.

The 2020 Binck Bank Tour will consist of 4 road stages and an 11km individual time trial (on stage 2). The final stage, that has in recent years always finished in Geraardsbergen, will once again be the queen stage with 4 local laps that include the famous Muur of Geraardsbergen.

NTT Pro Cycling will take to the start with a strong classics type team, to suit the parcours. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jay Thomson, Rasmus Tiller and Nicholas Dlamini will lineup in Blankenberge tomorrow.

Edvald Boasson Hagen

Edvald Boasson Hagen about to start stage seven of the 2019 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Edvald Boasson Hagen - NTT Pro Cycling:
"I am looking forward to the Binck Bank Tour. It is always a very tough race as every stage can be like its own mini classic, but if you have good legs, then it can be an enjoyable race too. I hope that will be the case for me and some of the other guys in our team who have just recently finished the Tour de France, as then we have a good chance to ride away with a nice result."

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