[17/24] This Week In Cycling

Normal service resumes this week, with lots of racing , team transfer antics, and some positive, some comical retail talk to enjoy. Oh, and lots of bike pics from the Sea Otter Classic.

As always you can see last week’s post by clicking here.

Right-o, let’s crack on, shall we?

Pogačar Powers to Victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Tadej Pogačar clinched a commanding win at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, breaking away on the Côte de la Redoute with 35km to go and maintaining his lead to the finish.

The Slovenian was supported by his UAE Team Emirates, who set a relentless pace throughout, effectively wearing down the competition.

This victory was especially significant for Pogačar as it came on the anniversary of his partner Urška Žigart’s mother’s passing, adding an emotional layer to his triumph.

He dedicated the win to her memory, expressing gratitude for his team’s support and reflecting on the personal hardships of the past two years, including a crash that previously disrupted his season.

Romain Bardet secured second place, with Mathieu van der Poel rounding out the podium after a spirited sprint.

The race, marking one of the season’s major classics, covered 254.5km and included 11 challenging climbs, culminating in a solo finish that highlighted Pogačar’s strength and strategy.

Read in full at Velo.

Grace Brown Clinches Victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Australian cyclist Grace Brown pulled off a stunning victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, overcoming pre-race favourites with a successful breakaway strategy.

Despite being an outsider, Brown’s early breakaway allowed her to stay ahead and ultimately sprint to victory from a small group of six, including top contenders like Demi Vollering and Elisa Longo Borghini.

This win marks a significant achievement for Brown and her FDJ-SUEZ team, being their first Monument win.

Brown’s triumph was nearly jeopardised by a minor mishap 6.8km from the finish, but she recovered to secure her favourite race title.

Read in full at GCN.

Olympic Focus Sidelines Kopecky from Tour de France Femmes

World champion Lotte Kopecky will not participate in the 2024 Tour de France Femmes as she focuses on the Paris Olympics.

Her team, SD Worx, confirmed her decision, highlighting the near-impossible schedule that would have required Kopecky to switch from the Olympic Omnium event to the Tour start in just one day.

SD Worx team manager Danny Stam cited the mental and physical challenges of competing in both high-stake events consecutively.

Instead, Kopecky will race in the Giro d’Italia Women in July to better prepare for the Olympics and plans to compete at the World Championships in Zurich post-Games.

The team is supporting Demi Vollering as their lead for the Tour, ensuring a strong team presence despite Kopecky’s absence.

Read in full at ProCyclingUK.com.

The Breakout Cyclists of 2024’s Classics

The 2024 Spring Classics have revealed fresh cycling talents stepping into the limelight, overshadowing even the sport’s top names like Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar.

Maxim Van Gils emerged as a formidable contender, consistently finishing in the top ten and securing a podium at the Flèche Wallonne.

Amber Kraak made significant strides in the women’s circuit, achieving top ten finishes across major races including Paris-Roubaix Femmes.

New Zealander Laurence Pithie showed his prowess with a top fifteen at Milan-San Remo and a notable sixth at Paris-Roubaix, setting him up for his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia.

Ingvild Gåskjenn and Paul Lapeira both marked their territory with top placements and breakthrough performances, hinting at promising careers ahead.

Pfeiffer Georgi continued to enhance her reputation as a Classics specialist with a third place at Paris-Roubaix and other strong finishes.

Lastly, Mauri Vansevenant and António Morgado defied expectations with top ten finishes, proving themselves as riders to watch in the coming seasons.

Read in full at Cyclist.co.uk.

Team SD Worx-Protime Secures Sponsorship Until 2028

Team SD Worx-Protime has secured its sponsorship until 2028 with SD Worx and Protime, ensuring its continued prominence in women’s cycling.

The team’s success in extending their sponsorship agreement reflects a strong vote of confidence from their sponsors in the team’s influence and growth.

In conjunction with the sponsorship renewal, star cyclist Lorena Wiebes’s contract has also been extended to 2028, demonstrating the team’s long-term vision.

Team manager Erwin Janssen celebrated the renewal, emphasizing the positive impact of the sponsorship on the team and its role in promoting women’s cycling.

SD Worx and Protime’s support extends beyond financial, aiming to keep the team at the pinnacle of women’s cycling and pushing the boundaries every season.

The team has enjoyed significant success under the current sponsorship, clinching titles at major events like the World Championships and the Tour de France Femmes.

This renewal not only secures financial backing but also reinforces the team’s foundation for future achievements in the evolving landscape of professional women’s cycling.

Read in full at ProCyclingUK.com.

Van der Poel’s New Bike Design at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Mathieu van der Poel, world champion road cyclist, recently debuted a striking new design for his Canyon Aeroad CFR at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The custom bike design, requested by Van der Poel himself, features a white frame with unique flashes of paint that echo his rainbow jersey status, but with non-traditional rusty red, sea green, and bronzed yellow hues.

Additional iridescent touches on the bottle cages and logos further enhance the rainbow theme, reflecting light variably.

The top tube proudly displays a plaque with Van der Poel’s name, the UCI World Champion title, and the date of his victory in Glasgow.

This redesign follows Van der Poel’s impressive season, including wins at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and a podium finish at Liège-Bastogne-Liège where he took third place.

Read in full at GCN.

Team GB Pedals Full Force to Paris

Great Britain has secured a full track cycling squad for the upcoming Paris Olympics, meeting the qualification criteria in every event.

The squad, comprising 14 riders split evenly between genders, may include up to 16 athletes with the addition of one male and one female from other cycling disciplines.

This marks the first time since London 2012 that GB will compete in every track event at the Olympics.

Selections for the team will be finalised by the end of June, with no more major competitions remaining before the Games.

Both the men’s and women’s squads have performed well in recent competitions, with the men’s team pursuit squad clinching the European title and the women’s team excelling in Nations Cup rounds.

The Olympics track cycling events are scheduled for 5-11 August at the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome in Paris.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Pedals & Petrodollars

With significant investments from the Middle East shaping the landscape of road cycling, questions arise about the future and integrity of the sport.

Middle Eastern countries, driven by a need to diversify economies and enhance global images, are increasingly influencing cycling through hefty sponsorships and high-profile event hosting.

Investments include the construction of state-of-the-art facilities like Abu Dhabi’s new velodrome and funding for teams such as UAE Team Emirates, showcasing a commitment to elevating the sport’s profile regionally.

However, concerns about ‘sportswashing’ persist, with critics arguing that these investments aim to divert attention from human rights issues.

Despite these controversies, the influx of funds is seen as vital for a sport struggling with financial instability, providing much-needed resources but also potentially altering the sport’s traditional European-centric model.

Read in full at Cyclist.co.uk.

Colnago Bucks The Trend

Colnago, the renowned Italian bike brand, announced a robust sales figure of 55.7 million euros for 2023.

The financial achievements were disclosed following a shareholders’ meeting.

With an EBITDA of $15 million, representing 25% of their turnover, the company highlighted significant financial health.

Since being acquired by Chimera Investments LLC in 2020, Colnago’s turnover has more than tripled.

CEO Nicola Rosin, who stepped up in 2021, expressed confidence in the brand’s direction and organizational strength.

Founded in 1954 by Ernesto Colnago, the company’s bicycles have a prestigious history of winning major cycling competitions globally.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Shimano Q1 Sales Down 20%

Shimano reported a significant 20.2% drop in first-quarter sales, totalling 100,557 million yen ($650 million), compared to the same period last year.

The bicycle division experienced a sharper decline, with sales down 22.6% to 76,090 million yen.

Despite the downturn in sales, Shimano’s ordinary income saw a slight increase of 0.9% from the previous year.

The company attributed the weak demand for its products to the global economic situation, although it noted that the U.S. economy remained robust.

High inventory levels and adjustments in supply and demand were highlighted as current challenges in the global bike market.

While North American interest in cycling remains high, the actual retail sales of complete bikes have softened, and market inventories are still elevated.

Conversely, bike sales in China were reported as favorable, with appropriate inventory levels.

Shimano’s financial outlook remains unchanged for the first half and the full year, although it expects a 7.2% increase in non-operating income due to currency depreciation.

The company also reduced its expenditure on a crank recall to 136 million yen this quarter, down from 449 million yen in the same quarter last year.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Who Made Bank in the Spring Classics?

The Spring Classics saw top cyclists like Mathieu van der Poel and Elisa Longo Borghini significantly boost their earnings, with Van der Poel alone pocketing nearly 80,000 euros.

Despite these impressive sums, the Tour de France continues to offer the highest prize money in the cycling world, with the men’s winner receiving 500,000 euros and the women’s winner at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift earning 50,000 euros.

The earnings from the Spring Classics highlight the substantial payouts for victories and strong placements, with riders like Jasper Philipsen and Nils Politt also enjoying lucrative springs.

Prize money in cycling is usually shared within the team, acknowledging the collective effort behind individual successes.

The commitment to equal pay is advancing, with organisers like Flanders Classics aiming to offer equal prize money in all their spring races.

Read in full at Velo.

Tour de France Femmes 2024 Line-up Unveiled

The 2024 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has announced its full list of competing teams, featuring 15 UCI WorldTeams and seven UCI Continental teams, including debutants EF Education-Cannondale and Uzbekistan’s Tashkent City.

All eyes will be on the defending champion Demi Vollering and top sprinters like Lorena Wiebes and Charlotte Kool as they race from Rotterdam to Alpe d’Huez over eight gruelling stages.

Cofidis and Tashkent City, having performed well last season, secured automatic invites, with Tashkent City making history as the first Central Asian team in the event.

The event promises intense competition with a mountainous route concluding in a dramatic finish at Alpe d’Huez on the final day.

Read in full at GCN.

Quintana’s Giro Goals

Nairo Quintana, once a Giro d’Italia champion, has adjusted his ambitions for this year’s race due to a severe injury sustained at the Volta a Catalunya.

The Colombian rider suffered a tendon rupture and collarbone displacement, which has significantly hampered his preparation for the Giro.

Instead of contesting the general classification, Quintana will now focus on hunting for stage victories, particularly in the mountain stages.

He has been rehabilitating in Colombia, gradually returning to training with the support of the Colombian Olympic Committee’s orthopaedist.

Despite the setbacks, Quintana remains determined to compete and aims to be in better shape towards the end of the race.

Read in full at GCN.

Cofidis Retirement Home For Elderly Cyclists

Cofidis team boss Cédric Vasseur is facing critical decisions as he navigates the transfer market to save his team from relegation from the UCI WorldTour, eyeing potential signings like Julian Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen to boost the struggling squad.

Despite the allure of signing high-profile riders like Alaphilippe, Vasseur is cautious, aiming to avoid repeating mistakes seen in other teams where star signings failed to deliver in their twilight years.

Vasseur expressed respect for Alaphilippe’s abilities but emphasised the need for signings that can directly contribute to the team’s performance, rather than just bringing in big names for their reputation.

The Cofidis men’s team, which hasn’t secured a win since the 2023 Vuelta a España, is feeling the pressure as they continue to chase their first victory of the season, with Vasseur hoping to steer the team to a stronger second half.

Read in full at GCN.

Bikes Of The Sea Otter Classic

The Sea Otter Classic of 2024 dazzled with an array of bespoke bicycles and cutting-edge components.

From the ornately painted Scott Foil Ultimate by SAFA Brian to the space-themed Melee aero bike, creativity was in high gear.

The show featured everything from the Factor Ostro Gravel’s racing build to the custom titanium Firefly, all showcasing meticulous attention to detail.

Noteworthy were the bikes like Rob Britton’s Badlands race bike and the patriotic Ventum GS1 commemorating Lauren Stephens’ U.S. Gravel National Championships win.

Some really tasty shots to enjoy.

Read in full at Velo.

Strava Shares Commuter Habits

Strava, the fitness tracking app, has unveiled new insights into UK commuting habits as part of its Earth Day initiative, ‘Commute to Curb Carbon’.

The data reveals that London is the top city for cycling commuters, with millennials making up the largest demographic of riders.

Tuesday emerges as the most popular day for commuting by bike, possibly as cyclists shake off their Monday blues.

Interestingly, female cyclists in major cities like London, Bristol, and Edinburgh are uploading their commutes more frequently than their male counterparts.

Commuting distances are generally short, with most under 10km, suggesting many are starting work before 9am.

Strava’s data also highlighted the environmental impact, noting that bike commutes in 2023 saved emissions equivalent to over 35 million car journeys.

Despite these insights, Strava acknowledges the data might not fully represent all UK cyclists, as not everyone uses the app to track their commutes.

Read in full at GCN.

Giant Sues Stages Cycling Amidst Executive Exodus

Several former executives from Stages Cycling have joined Giant Manufacturing as Stages appears to have ceased operations.

Giant, which had previously manufactured products for Stages in Taiwan, is suing the company for approximately $14 million over unpaid invoices.

The lawsuit comes after Giant had initially planned to invest over $20 million in Stages but later withdrew from the acquisition deal.

Stages, which has shut its Boulder office and laid off around 40-45 employees, faces allegations of 161 unpaid invoices dating from June 2022 to January 2024.

The company’s e-commerce site currently lists most products as out of stock, with an option for customers to leave email addresses for restock notifications.

Foundation Fitness, the parent company of Stages and a defendant in the lawsuit, has not responded to contact attempts.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Bike Of The Week

All manufacturers, it seems, reserve some of their finest paint jobs for those who do DIY builds.

And Trek are no different.

The Emonda ALR is perhaps one of the finest aluminum frames there is, not just right now, but has ever been. It’s even priced fairly, at £1300 for the frame. You can pick up a fully built ALR 5 in their really nice Azure to Living Coral Fade paint for £1850, which again is a great price for the spec, in my opinion.

I saw this one over at Reddit, and full props to bikes_and_jeeps as this build is absolutely gorgeous.

Sadly only one more pic to see when you click through – other than this one in nice, hi-res – but it’s quite a nice before and after shot.

OK, that’s it from me this week. See you next time around!

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