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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts. - John Steinbeck

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story - All the bumps of cycling's cobbled classic is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl to race Tour de la Provence

Here’s the team’s announcement:

A 7.2km prologue in Berre l’Etang will get things underway at the seventh edition of the Tour de la Provence, but the main attraction of the race will come a bit later in the week, on the fourth and final day. Then, on a stage with over 3200 vertical meters, the peloton will tackle the slopes of the gruelling Montagne de Lure – a 17.7km ascent averaging 6% which was used twice in Paris-Nice, at the 2009 and 2013 editions, and where the winner of the Tour de la Provence will emerge.

Just like last year, Julian Alaphilippe will roll out his season at the French race. The 29-year-old from Saint-Amand-Montrond wrote history five months ago, when he captured his second consecutive rainbow jersey, and will be eager to show it for the first time in 2022 at the event which he finished runner-up in 2021 after animating the week with his spectacular trademark attacks.

Winner of two consecutive stages and of the points jersey at the previous edition, Davide Ballerini will also be on Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s roster for the four-day event having enjoyed a solid start to the season at the Saudi Tour, together with Ronde van Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke champion Kasper Asgreen, Dries Devenyns, Pieter Serry and newcomers Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke.

Davide Ballerini winning the first stage of the 2021 Tour de la Provence. Sirotti photo

“It’s for the first time in three years that the race starts with a time trial, and it should be something for Kasper, Ilan, and maybe Julian, they have a chance of getting a nice result there. The next two stages should have the sprinters and the puncheurs respectively in the spotlight, but the wind in the region could play an important role, so we’ll see how things will go there. The last day is the hardest one, and that’s where the general classification will be decided. It will be good to see where our riders are at this point in the season”, explained Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Geert Van Bondt.

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Kaden Groves to lead Team BikeExchange-Jayco in their hunt for stage wins at the six-day Tour of Oman

The team sent me this:

23-year-old Australian sprinter Kaden Groves will lead Team BikeExchange-Jayco at the six-day Tour of Oman later this week, as he looks for sprint success, with three potential sprint stages on offer.

Kaden Groves winning stage three of the 2020 Herald Sun Tour.

Alongside the young fast man will be fellow Australian’s Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson, making a stopover in Oman on their return to Europe, after a busy month of racing in Australia. The duo will give the squad strong options on the hillier stages along with young up and coming climbing talent Kevin Colleoni.

New 2022 recruit Campbell Stewart will make his debut appearance for the Australian outfit in Oman and will be joined by fellow track star Kelland O’Brien, also making his first racing appearance of the 2022 season in Team BikeExchange-Jayco colours. Rounding out the mixed seven-rider squad will be Alex Konychev, coming direct from the Saudi Tour, where he helped assist the team to two spectacular victories.

Aside from three potential sprint stages on stages one, two and six, the team will also get to test their legs on some hillier stages, such as day three’s 2.8km final climb, averaging 6.5% up to Qurayyat, and stage five’s summit finish in Jabal Al Akhdhar/Green Mountain. This penultimate stage has a 5.7km climb averaging out at 10.5%, which is set to really shape the final general classification standings.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Kevin Colleoni (ITA)
Kaden Groves (AUS)
Alex Konychev (ITA)
Cameron Meyer (AUS)
Kelland O’Brien (AUS) *First race of 2022 
Callum Scotson (AUS)
Campbell Stewart (NZL) *Debut race for TBEX

Kaden Groves:
“I think it will be really good to start the season off properly in Oman, I have raced the UAE Tour a few times and have always enjoyed racing that style of racing, flatter stages with good weather, so I am really keen to get to Oman.

"I had two days of racing in Valencia which was good to get my feeling again of being in the bunch, and now I am really looking forward to the race in Oman as it is the first goal of the year for me. We have a good team to do some lead-outs and we also have Colleoni for the hillier GC days.

"It will be my first time doing this race and I am just really keen to start the year off well. Hopefully we get can some good results, I really believe that with this team, and my current form, we can get a podium and some wins.”

Tristan Hoffman – Sport Director
“With Kaden we have our best chance to make a good result and that will be our focus in Oman, but that doesn’t mean on the other stages we will do nothing. We will try to race aggressively and if there is a breakaway or crosswinds, we would like to be in the front with a few riders to always be well presented.

"With Kaden, we have him for the three sprint stages and even maybe the fourth stage when he is in a super good shape. We also have Kevin Colleoni to have a shot at the general classification, this will be good for him to gain experience and let’s see how far he can go with this.

"In general, we have a real mix of riders, some young, some older and some starting their season here, so we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can continue with the good work from the Saudi Tour.”

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Tour de la Provence: Nairo Quintana's 2022 season start

Quintana's Arkéa-Samsic team posted this:

Our leader Nairo Quintana will make his comeback on the roads of the Provence, a race that has been successful for him in the recent past.

Nairo Quintana on the podium of the 2020 Tour de la Provence.

Nairo Quintana:
“I won the Tour de la Provence in 2020 in my first season with Arkéa-Samsic. I am motivated by the idea of coming back to this competition and being able to play a big role again. My physical condition is good, I started training again after contracting the Covid a few weeks ago, and little by little I’ve been putting in more work. I hope to be in good condition for this event which will allow me to compete again in 2022. If the opportunity arises to play a big role in this race, as I said, I will do everything to seize it. I don’t know the Montagne de Lure very well, but some of my team-mates have already spoken to me about it, they have described the characteristics of this climb. I hope that I will be in good physical condition for this competition and that I will be able to fight with the best riders, and thus achieve a good overall classification“.

Maxime Bouet:
“The Tour de la Provence is a complete race because it starts with a time trial. A prologue exactly, then it will be a sprint, to see what role the wind can play and the possibility of tackles on that day. Then there will be a stage for a puncheur, and on the last day the Montagne de Lure. A climb that I have recognised and that can crown a climber, but watch out for the puncheurs who could already be in great shape. It’s a climb that can be climbed with speed, but with less slope breaks than the Ventoux. There will be some gaps and it will be a matter of explanation between the favourites. However, there are some passages that are “pure climbers” and the latter will have to exploit them”.

Yvon Ledanois, Sport-director:
“Obviously, the Tour de la Provence evokes beautiful recent memories for the Arkéa-Samsic team with two of our leaders. This race, as in 2020, will kick off Nairo Quintana’s season, but with a different route than in previous editions, and the finish at the top of the Montagne de Lure which is different from the Mont Ventoux up to the Chalet Reynard. We are going to this Tour de la Provence with ambitions and like every time we compete with the desire to do well and perform:”.

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Decathlon to close its two US stores this year, focus on online sales

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Decathlon says it will focus on its online business in the U.S., as well as sales through retail partners, after closing its two trial retail locations in the Bay Area.

Based in France, Decathlon claims to be the world's largest sporting goods retailer, and offers its house brand products in most categories, including bikes. It opened a trial "lab" retail location in San Francisco in 2018 and a full-sized store in Emeryville and another in Potrero the following year.

The company said it will close the stores this year.

"Decathlon products continue to be available throughout the U.S. at and at select retail partners, including Walmart, Curated, Target and more. Each partner is carefully selected to ensure they best align with Decathlon's mission and goals," the company said.

You can read the entire story here.

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