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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, February 9, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. - John Muir

Cycling's 50 Craziest Stories

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Rein Taaramäe signs new contract with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert

The team posted this news:

Estonian climber Rein Taaramäe, who wrote history for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux several times in 2021, extended his contract with the Belgian World Team until the end of 2023. The stage winner of the latest Tour of Spain became the first rider of the team to wear the leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour. In June, he was already the first rider of the team to win the national title in the time trial discipline.

Rein Taaramäe wins 2021 Vuelta stage three. Sirotti photo

At the age of 34, Taaramäe will start his second season with the team of Jean-François Bourlart, his fifteenth as a professional rider, in the Tour of Oman (2.Pro, 10-15/02). After two years of absence, the event in the sultanate of the Middle East returns on the calendar with a six day race.

The sprinters have three opportunities to battle for the stage win, in the first stage towards capital Muscat, in the second one towards former capital Sohar and in the closing stage finishing in Matrah. Next to the crosswinds, differences in the individual classification can be made on the explosive final in Qurayyat (2.8km at 6.5%) on day three, in the hilly fourth stage with three repetitions of the Boushar Al Amerat (4km at 6.6%) and in the queen stage towards the Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) (6km at 9.9%) the next day.

Just like Taaramäe, Jan Hirt will start his 2022 season with a second participation in the Tour of Oman. Belgian riders Tom Devriendt and Kévin Van Melsen, Danish rider Julius Johansen and Frenchman Hugo Page complete the line up under the direction of Valerio Piva.

"Thanks to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux and its passionate staff, I became myself again. Five years after my last Grand Tour stage win, I managed to repeat this performance in 2021. In sports, each aspect has to be perfect to be able to keep performing year after year. Concerning myself, the support of the direction was key in overcoming my career slump. I gained confidence thanks to the long term plan of Aike Visbeek, and under the direction of Valerio Piva I became a Grand Tour leader for the first time in my career, at the age of 34. I want to continue chasing succes in 2022 and win races. It doesn’t matter which ones, as each victory is big on this level. I also want to perform in support of Louis Meintjes and play a role in the development of young talents such as Kobe Goossens. I expect to be ready for the start of the season, as I feel better as twelve months ago. I just finished three weeks of altitude camp in Rwanda, where I managed to execute all training plans. The battle for the general classification in the Tour of Oman is a nice first challenge." - Rein Taaramäe

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Bahrain Victorious & Merida Bikes extend partnership

The team posted this news release:

Bahrain Victorious is delighted to announce a multi-year partnership extension with Merida Bikes.

Since the team was founded in 2017, Merida Bikes has been an integral team partner and will continue to supply the team with race-winning bikes and continuous innovation, alongside their technical partners FSA, Vision, Prologo, Continental, and Shimano.

2020: Team Bahrain Merida (a earlier team name) grabs their bikes before the start of the Ruta del Sol. Sirotti photo

Milan Erzen, Managing Director, commented: “Since the beginning, Merida has been integral to this project. They have provided us with the best equipment with a desire to continually innovate with our rider feedback.

We have just finished an incredible season, which is a testament to our great setup with Merida. We are excited for the project to continue in the future and work on winning bike races .”

Wolfgang Renner, CEO Merida Europe GmbH, commented “Since its launch in 2017, we have been able to be part of this great team, and we are looking back at five successful seasons. Over the years, we were able to witness the outstanding progression and joined the team in celebrating their many great achievements.

"With another exciting season just about to start, we are thrilled to confirm our ongoing involvement in the team.

"We are looking forward to extending this successful partnership with another multiple-year contract and supporting the team with the most advanced material possible.

By closely working with the experienced staff and dedicated racers, we will do our utmost to enable the team to achieve its goals.”

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Team Arkea Samsic to ride Tour of Oman

The team posted these rider comments:

Elie Gesbert:
“I’ve only raced once in Oman, but that race worked well for me. The finishes are often for the puncheurs and that suits me, I am not angry (laughs) with the weather conditions which are good for this period of the season. It also suits me. I don’t really know what my ambitions are this year because we are at the beginning of the season and the conditions can still fluctuate. What I like about this kind of race is that everyone is on the same level, no one has their own team bus, we are all staying in the same place. We all have the same race conditions, so we start on the same balance of equality”.

Winner Anacona:
“I’m going to discover the Tour of Oman, but I’ve seen the race a few times on TV and I’ve seen how difficult it is. These are difficult stages that seal the overall classification, like the one on Green Mountain, usually. My ambitions are to do the best I can, I have a good feeling in training. It’s clear that training and racing are two different things, but I feel good. I have contracted Covid, but I have not had any symptoms. The form is good, and we will join forces with Elie and me to bring back a good result for the Omani team“.

Winner Anacona at last year's Challenge Illes Balears races.

Laurent Pichon:
“This will be my second participation in the Tour of Oman, I had already competed in this event in 2019. It is a competition with diversified profiles with possibilities of sprint finishes, but also others on which the puncheurs can express themselves with finishes in small groups, which can suit Amaury, while our climbers-puncheurs will aim for a good place in the general classification as in 2019. The queen stage is of course always Green Mountain, the “mythical” climb of the Tour of Oman. I am happy to be back in the 2022 season, especially when I see my friends putting back their race numbers one after the other. It’s always more pleasant to start again in the sun. The roads are beautiful in the Sultanate of Oman, so it’s ideal for a restart. I feel that the whole team is motivated to continue with this competition and the one to come, to continue with this great dynamic that has been in place in our team since the first races.

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Sébastien Hinault, Directeur-sportif:
“We are going to the Tour of Oman in order to do as well as, if not better than the last time we competed in this event, 5th overall, but also best young rider, with Élie who is coming back to this event with good intentions. The course proposed this year is identical to the profiles proposed in 2019, we will also have ambitions for the sprints and puncheurs stages with Aumary Capiot who has unlocked his counter in the pros and who will obviously be confident. Winner will also be there and will be an asset for our climbers in Green Mountain, or even more depending on the race situation”.

Winner Anacona will race the Tour of Oman for the first time in his career, and Laurent Pichon will start 2022 in Oman.

The number: 5

Élie Gesbert finished 5th in the general classification of the Tour of Oman in 2019, and also won the best young rider classification of this event.

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