[18/24] This Week In Cycling

This weekend sees the start of the first Grand Tour of 2024, by way of the Giro d’Italia.

As a result, lots of the main cycling sites were very Giro heavy this week.

But in the background to that there was a lot of retail news, due to (I think) it being the end of the Financial Year for many companies. As ever with cycling, lots of said retail news was not positive. Lay offs and losses, aka ‘the norm’.

Beyond that, some good news for indoor cycling fans with both MyWhoosh and Zwift updates either dropped or dropping soon.

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

Otherwise, let’s ride on in.

The Climbs of Giro d’Italia 2024

Already underway at the time of publishing this post, the 2024 Giro d’Italia is set to be an epic battle with six crucial climbs, including the legendary Passo dello Stelvio and the brutal Mortirolo.

The race starts in the Piedmont region and will take riders through Italy’s most challenging mountain ranges: the Alps, Apennines, and Dolomites.

Stage 2’s climb to Oropa features a cobbled approach and a 6.3% average gradient, presenting an early test for the peloton.

The Stelvio Pass returns as the Cima Coppi on Stage 16, peaking at 2,758m, and is famed for its gruelling 19.5km ascent from Bormio.

Monte Grappa, a historic World War battleground, will challenge riders on Stage 20 with its steep gradients and dual ascents.

Prati di Tivo, hosting the summit finish on Stage 8, boasts 22 hairpins and will be a decisive climb in the first week.

The formidable Mortirolo will precede the final climb to Livigno on Stage 15, testing riders with gradients that soar to 16%.

After a 68-year absence, the Passo Brocon returns to the race on Stage 19, offering a final mountain showdown before the race heads towards its climax.

Read in full at Cyclist.co.uk.

Decoding the Jersey Colours of Giro d’Italia

This one is a republished / updated article from last year. But it’s still relevant, so why not?

Decoding the Jersey Colours of Giro d'Italia

The Giro d’Italia captivates with a unique array of jerseys – pink, white, purple, and blue, each signifying a different competition within the race.

The pink (rosa) jersey represents the general classification leader, awarded to the fastest rider across all stages.

Purple (ciclamino), not just a pretty colour, is the points jersey, favouring sprinters who accumulate the most points across flat and punchy stages.

Blue (azzurra) is worn by the king of the mountains, the top climber who dominates the race’s numerous peaks.

The white (bianca) jersey is reserved for the best young rider under the age of 25, showcasing the talents of cycling’s future stars.

Unique to the Giro, these jerseys embody the spirit and strategy of road cycling, absent the familiar green and polka dots seen in the Tour de France.

Each jersey not only celebrates daily victories but also contributes to a rich narrative of competition and triumph in this historic race.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Wout van Aert’s Road to Recovery

Wout van Aert is making strides towards full fitness after a severe crash at Dwars door Vlaanderen left him with multiple injuries.

He recently completed a 94-kilometre ride near his home in Herentals, Belgium, which he humorously captioned ‘almost professional again’ on Strava.

Van Aert had to skip major races like the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and the Giro d’Italia due to his injuries.

His recovery started indoors and progressed to outdoor rides, initially on a mountain bike before moving back to a Cervélo Áspero-5 gravel bike.

Despite the setbacks, Van Aert remains hopeful, sharing a light-hearted moment by recommending a local ice cream parlour during his ride.

The rider’s schedule for the rest of the season remains uncertain, though it is likely to focus on the Paris Olympics road race and time trial.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Remco’s Recovery Ride

Remco Evenepoel ventured outdoors for his first ride since a severe crash, signalling his comeback with a nearly 100km journey.

Posting on Strava, he hinted at his preparation for his inaugural Tour de France, titling his activity ‘On my way back’ accompanied by a purple devil emoji and teasing future content with ‘Soon on YOUTUBE’.

#RoadtoFrance hashtagged beneath his post, points directly to his Tour de France ambitions.

The ride covered famous cycling locations like Geraardsbergen and Ninove, with Evenepoel maintaining an average speed of 34.6kph over a relatively flat route.

His crash in April at the Itzulia Basque Country resulted in significant injuries, including a broken collarbone and scapula, affecting fellow competitors Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič.

Despite his setbacks, Evenepoel had a strong start to the year, with wins and high placements, setting a promising stage for his recovery and participation in the upcoming Tour de France.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Red Bull Gives Wings to BORA-hansgrohe

BORA-hansgrohe is set to rebrand as Red Bull-BORA-hansgrohe in time for the Tour de France 2024, following Red Bull’s acquisition of a 51% stake in the team.

The announcement was made by team boss Ralph Denk during the Giro d’Italia.

Additionally, a new Under 23 men’s squad is planned for 2025 to build on the team’s development structure.

Team boss Ralph Denk expressed gratitude towards the partnership with BORA and hansgrohe, citing a shared vision and successful collaboration.

Denk also highlighted the unique benefits of having Red Bull as a partner, particularly their innovative approach and wealth of sporting knowledge.

Star cyclist Primož Roglič, who joined the team at the end of 2023, will lead at the upcoming Tour de France.

Looking forward, the team has secured promising talents Jan Tratnik and Laurence Pithie, with official announcements expected by August 1.

Read in full at GCN.

Demi Vollering Signs with Nike

Demi Vollering, the reigning Tour de France Femmes champion, has inked a personal sponsorship deal with sportswear titan Nike.

Announced on Sunday, this partnership marks a significant step for Vollering and women’s cycling, especially after Nike’s cautious stance in cycling post-Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal.

While specifics of the deal remain undisclosed, it’s unclear if Vollering will sport Nike apparel in competitions, as her current team, SD Worx, is outfitted by Specialized.

Vollering expressed pride and gratitude towards Nike, emphasising the partnership’s potential to inspire and promote women’s sports.

Despite not having a professional cycling shoe line, Nike maintains a presence in cycling with custom shoes for select athletes like Mark Cavendish.

Read in full at GCN.

No Tour de France Femmes for Brits This Year

For the first time in its three-year history, there will be no British teams at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, with Lifeplus-Wahoo notably snubbed from the invite list.

Team manager Tom Varney expressed disappointment, revealing the snub was discovered via social media while he was making dinner.

Despite past successes, including a white jersey win and a podium finish, the team’s recent performance might have influenced the decision.

ASO invited fifteen WorldTour teams and selected Continental teams, excluding British squads for the upcoming race starting on 12 August in Rotterdam.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Team GB’s Golden Hope

British Cycling has unveiled a new track bike designed for the Paris 2024 Olympics, building on the design of the Hope-Lotus bike used in Tokyo 2020.

The bike features advanced aerodynamics with a newly designed fork and a 3D-printed titanium crankset aimed at enhancing performance.

This latest model, costing £55,000, has been developed with input from British Cycling’s in-house team and partners such as Hope Tech, Renishaw, and Lotus Engineering.

Key upgrades include a redefined fork profile and a lightweight, strong crankset, showcasing the potential of additive manufacturing in competitive cycling.

The project, supported by UK Sport and the National Lottery, reflects a strong collaboration between British engineering and sports science to optimize the bike’s design for Olympic success.

Read in full at GCN.

Luke Rowe Announces Early Retirement

Luke Rowe, a key domestique from INEOS Grenadiers, has declared he will retire at the end of the 2024 season, a year earlier than his contract’s termination.

Rowe, who has been with the team since its inception as Team Sky in 2012, has assisted notable figures like Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas to Tour de France victories.

Despite a challenging last eighteen months and a recent injury, Rowe is keen to end his career on a high note, expressing a desire to participate in the 2024 Tour of Britain before retiring.

Known for his versatility in Classics and Grand Tours, Rowe missed the 2023 Tour de France due to injury but plans a comeback.

INEOS Grenadiers CEO John Allert praised Rowe’s racing acumen and off-bike personality, highlighting his role as a mentor within the team.

Read in full at GCN.

MyWhoosh Go App Targets Low-End PCs

MyWhoosh has expanded its reach by launching the Go app, a new, more compact version of its popular indoor training platform, now available on the Microsoft store for ‘low-end Windows devices’.

Despite its streamlined nature, the Go app retains all the features of the full-scale version, allowing users to explore virtual worlds, engage in workouts, and participate in races without needing a high-spec PC.

The app supports Windows 10 64-bit or higher and requires a minimum of 8GB of RAM, making it accessible to a broader audience.

This move comes as MyWhoosh continues to grow in popularity, especially following the UCI’s decision to use the platform for the E-Sports World Championships, and benefits from substantial prize money backing from the UAE government.

MyWhoosh Go also remains free to use, ensuring it remains a competitive and appealing option for cyclists seeking virtual training.

Read in full at GCN.

Zwift Is Getting a New Climb

Zwift, has announced a series of updates set to enhance the virtual cycling experience for its million subscribers.

New features include the introduction of ‘The Grade’, a challenging new climb in Watopia, and a ‘My List’ feature allowing users to queue workouts for seamless session starts.

Improvements to the head-up display (HUD) will offer customizable data and a dynamic ‘climb mode’, helping cyclists better manage their efforts on various terrains.

A new open-API will facilitate the integration of third-party training plans, making personalized training more accessible.

Additionally, during the Tour de France in July, Zwift users can virtually tackle some of the most iconic climbs featured in the race, enhancing the event’s interactivity and challenge.

These updates are part of Zwift’s ongoing commitment to providing an engaging and comprehensive training platform for cyclists of all levels.

Read in full at GCN.

Specialized Cuts Prices by Up to 50% in Mega Sale

Specialized UK has launched an ‘Ultimate Savings’ event, slashing prices on a variety of products including electric, hybrid, and gravel bikes, with discounts ranging from 15% to a whopping 50%.

The sale features significant reductions on popular models such as the Diverge gravel bike and the Sirrus hybrid, alongside accessories like the Propero helmets and S-Works Recon gravel shoes.

This move to direct sales, initiated in January 2022, has sparked concerns among dealers about potential price undercutting amidst an already turbulent industry climate.

The price reduction strategy follows a similar trend in the cycling industry, where companies like Kona and Canyon have also been forced to offer significant discounts due to a post-Covid sales slump.

Specialized’s substantial discounts are available both on their website and at local retailers, offering deals like the high-end Diverge STR Pro gravel bike now priced at £6,400, down from £8,000.

This aggressive pricing strategy aims to tackle the challenges of overstock and stimulate consumer interest in a market still recovering from the pandemic’s impact.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Bianchi’s Infinito Makeover

Italian bike manufacturer Bianchi has updated its Infinito endurance bike range, enhancing its comfort, integration, and aerodynamics.

The new model features a revised geometry aimed at providing a more relaxed riding position, thanks to a taller head tube which eases lower back pressure during long rides.

Cable routing has been fully integrated in the high-end models, contributing to a cleaner look and improved aerodynamics, while lower-tier models feature semi-integrated cables.

Despite these updates, the new Infinito maintains a maximum tyre width of 32mm, lagging behind competitors like Pinarello Dogma X and Canyon Endurace which accommodate wider tyres.

Available in the iconic Celeste and a new deep purple colourway, the bike comes with various specifications ranging in price from €2,599 to €5,299.

Read in full at GCN.

Van Rysel Shakes Up the Superbike Scene

Van Rysel, under Decathlon’s wing, introduces the RCR Pro, the WorldTour’s most budget-friendly superbike, priced at a competitive £9,000 in the UK, significantly undercutting rivals like Trek and Specialized.

Despite its lower price, the RCR Pro boasts top-tier features such as Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, a power meter, and Swiss Side wheels, challenging the notion that higher cost equals higher quality.

Yann Le Fraillec, Van Rysel’s chief product officer, defends the pricing strategy, asserting that their bike offers the same pro-level experience without ‘cheating the customer’.

The brand credits its pricing to efficient global operations and a broad product range, rather than just economies of scale.

Van Rysel’s ambitions don’t stop at being just another high-end brand; they aim to break into the top five globally, supported by innovative collaborations with aerospace experts ONERA for aerodynamic advancements.

The RCR Pro’s performance has already led Decathlon AG2R to exceed their race win total from last year, proving the bike’s competitive edge.

With the top model selling out quickly in the UK, Van Rysel is optimistic about future sales and is cautious about scaling production to maintain quality.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Colnago Triples Turnover

Italian bike brand Colnago has reported a significant increase in sales, reaching €55.7 million in 2023, continuing a three-year trend of growth.

The company’s profit hit around $15 million, with an annual turnover that has tripled since its acquisition by Abu Dhabi-based Chimera Investments LLC in 2020.

CEO Nicola Rosin credited the success to efficient management and the influence of star cyclist Tadej Pogačar, who has been riding Colnagos with UAE Team Emirates since 2019.

Pogačar’s victories in the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, alongside numerous other wins, have significantly boosted the brand’s profile.

Rosin also emphasized the valuable feedback from both men’s and women’s UAE Team Emirates and UAE Team ADQ, enhancing product development.

Despite widespread industry struggles, with major players like Wiggle CRC facing severe challenges, Colnago’s performance remains robust, reflecting resilience among top-end brands.

Read in full at GCN.

Finding the Ethical Route Through Cycle to Work Scheme

The UK’s Cycle to Work scheme has been criticised by retailers for draining resources from local bike shops, with some providers charging high commissions that deter shop participation.

Despite these challenges, the scheme, which offers tax savings on bikes ‘loaned’ through employers, aims to increase cycling by making bikes more affordable, with savings up to 42%.

Retailers like Butternut Bikes have expressed concerns about the financial impact of commissions up to 10% from major providers like Cyclescheme.

Alternative providers like Gogeta and the Green Commute Initiative (GCI) charge lower commissions (3% and 5/6% respectively), are more favoured by shops, and offer ethical and financial benefits.

Gogeta operates with a small platform fee for employers and minimal charges for end-users, promoting better deals and supporting retailers by allowing access to sales prices without additional surcharges.

GCI supports independent bike shops by paying quickly after voucher redemption and allowing shops to pass commission costs to consumers, preserving their profit margins on sale items.

Employees are encouraged to influence their employers’ choice of scheme, with Gogeta and GCI providing options for direct engagement and advocating for more ethical practices in the cycle to work schemes.

Read in full at Cycling Weekly.

Garmin Q1 Earnings Pass Expectations

Garmin Ltd. reported a significant 20% increase in first-quarter revenues year-over-year, hitting a record $1.38 billion.

Garmin Q1 Earnings Pass Expectations

All company segments saw record numbers, with operating income soaring 51% to $298 billion.

President and CEO Cliff Pemble credited the success to a strong product lineup and robust demand.

Fitness, including cycling products, saw a notable 40% revenue increase to $343 million.

The Auto OEM segment led with a 58% jump, followed by gains in Marine, Outdoor, and Aviation.

Net income surged 37% year-over-year, while earnings per share rose from $1.06 to $1.44.

Garmin’s stock, traded under the symbol GRMN, is available for viewing on Marketwatch.com.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Cannondale Clips Its Crew in Global Reorg

Cannondale has trimmed its workforce by ‘less than 1%’ amid a shift from a multi-regional to a unified global structure.

The reorganisation involves merging regional teams into a more collaborative global design and engineering effort.

This change follows Cannondale’s 2022 announcement of a new global organisational structure that removed regional general managers.

The restructuring aims to enhance operations and growth by leveraging its parent company, Pon.Bike.

Pon.Bike had acquired Dorel Sports, the parent company of Cannondale, a year before the announcement.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

ENVE Composites Back to Utah Ownership

ENVE Composites, a high-end cycling brand, has transitioned from being part of the global Amer Sports empire to being owned and managed within Utah.

The sale to a local investment group was spearheaded by ENVE’s new general manager, Mike Stimola, a seasoned CEO with a history in the cycling industry.

ENVE Composites Back to Utah Ownership

Stimola, who took over in early 2023, was brought in to strategize ENVE’s future, quickly realizing that ENVE’s scale did not align with Amer’s larger business framework.

Under the new ownership, ENVE remains committed to manufacturing its renowned rims and custom road frames in its Ogden, Utah facility, while also planning to possibly bring smaller part productions back to the U.S.

The company has also been enhancing its distribution and dealer relationships both in the U.S. and Europe, aiming to strengthen its market presence through local bike dealers rather than direct sales.

Despite past challenges under Amer’s ownership, including a brief alignment with other brands and leadership changes, ENVE has maintained its focus on product excellence and continues to support high-profile cycling teams and athletes.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Rapha Realigns but Keeps Roots in Bentonville

Rapha has shut down its North American office in Bentonville, although the area remains its North American headquarters according to CEO Francois Convercey.

The U.K.-based cycling brand, owned by the Walton family’s RZC Investments since 2017, has laid off six of its eight local employees.

This restructuring aims to accelerate Rapha’s mission to inspire more people to cycle, amidst significant growth over the past five years.

The reorganisation includes outsourcing English-speaking customer service to London’s FoundEver, while maintaining some U.S. roles in marketing and finance.

Despite the changes, Rapha continues to sell products through its website, clubhouses, and various bike retailers across North America.

Read in full at BicycleRetailer.com.

Peloton Axes 15% of Staff as CEO Bids Farewell

Peloton has announced a significant workforce reduction of 15% and the resignation of CEO Barry McCarthy amidst ongoing financial struggles.

The fitness company has seen a dramatic drop in sales post-pandemic, leading to its decision to scale back retail operations and focus on aligning spending with revenue.

Despite a series of strategic moves including partnerships with Amazon and Lululemon, and shifting manufacturing to Taiwan, Peloton has not reported a profit since December 2020.

McCarthy, who took over as CEO in February 2022, initiated several layoffs and changes aimed at reviving the company’s fortunes.

Under his leadership, Peloton achieved positive free cash flow for the first time in three years, a milestone he highlighted as a significant achievement.

Following McCarthy’s departure, Peloton’s chairperson Karen Boone and director Chris Bruzzo will act as interim co-CEOs while the company searches for a new leader.

Read in full at Road.cc.

Bike Of The Week

SL7 with new shoes 7.01kg

I always feel like I’m cheating when posting a Specialized SL7 as my Bike of the Week. Stock standard, it’s such a stunning ride.

This one, courtesy of Reddit user JesseDReno in a post entitled ‘SL7 with new shoes… 7.01kg’ has a few tweaks. Those listed are narrower Enve bars, a lengthened stem (I think, being a 52 I think the stem would have been 120mm off the shelf, and this is a 130), and a none factory looking seat post, saddle and wheel set.

Looks super cool, but round here a white bike would stay white for, oh, about 10 minutes tops. Nice whilst it lasts though.

Right, I’m off to enjoy the Giro! See you next week.

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