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Milan-Sanremo Preview

Milano-Sanremo 2019

The same race but with a new route, this year’s Milan-Sanremo is hotter, hillier and longer than usual but remains as accessible as ever to a wide cast of contenders and just as elusive too.

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The Rise of Aleksandr Vlasov

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Aleksandr Botcharov’s been knocked of his perch. Until today he’d been the best Russian rider called Aleksandr to race up Mont Ventoux thanks to his second place on the mountain in a stage of the Tour de France back in 2004. Today Aleksandr Vlasov won the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge race ahead of Richie Porte and Guillaume Martin. Here’s a closer look at the Astana rider’s career so far.

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Great Expectations

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As returns to normality go, yesterday’s stage of the Route d’Occitanie brought some familiarity and certitudes with Team Ineos riding on the front of the bunch all day, then setting the tempo on the final climb for their leader to win.

Only it wasn’t live TV, we might imagine the prospect of a summit finish with Bernal, Froome, Pinot, Porte, Bardet, Lopez and Barguil as valuable but it’s expensive too and for many races it’s their biggest cost.

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Monday Shorts

The racing is back and it’s been majestic to see the peloton crossing the landscape in real races instead of riders bobbing around on their balconies for virtual competitions. The blog is back too and time for a quick spin through some current topics before some more detailed pieces in the coming days…

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New Foundations For Mitchelton-Scott

The Mitchelton-Scott team gets a new sponsor, from today the team is renamed as Manuela Fundación. It’d been whispered for a while the team was in trouble, there had been wage cuts earlier in response to the Covid-19 calendar cancellation, but also doubts over the viability of the team for the long term. Now the team has a new sponsor in the Manuela Fundación, a Spanish charity funded by businessman Franciso Huertes (pictured above wearing the red shirt), and its future is secure. Or is it?

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Full Gas In Turkmenistan

Several years ago this blog looked at the award of the track world championships to Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. It was a decision taken with input from a senior UCI official with a significant financial interest in a giant construction project in the capital, Minsk. Whether coincidental or not, the awarding of the worlds served to highlight the substantial conflict of interest between the UCI’s sporting interests and the business activities of Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch behind the now-defunct Katusha team who sits at the UCI’s top table, the Management Committee. Following that another blog post looked at Turkmenistan and how Makarov had extensive business interests there and noted the UCI was often visiting too.

It’s time to review this Turkmenistan angle because it is continuing today. Having pointed out issues in a tweet the other day, here’s a blog post to explore the issues in detail…

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Social Security

For years French teams faced a headwind in the shape of high payroll taxes but this system is now rewarding them. Coupled with stable sponsors and home advantage when it comes to hosting the Tour de France, the three French squads in the World Tour are in a stronger position these days relative to their rivals.

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Book Review: Colombia Es Pasión

“Colombia Es Pasión” by Matt Rendell

A biography of several Colombian cyclists as well as the story of modern Colombian cycling and Colombia itself, this book will enrich your understanding of many of today’s top riders and the long, arduous paths they’ve taken to reach the top of their sport.

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A Guarantee of Sorts

With reports of pay cuts and unpaid wages among World Tour teams, a quick look at the bank guarantee that pro teams post with the UCI, how it works and what it can and can’t do. It’s a dry topic on the best of days but several readers have asked about it of late…

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Virtual Racing

In the last few weeks we’ve seen several virtual races held online. Necessity is the mother of invention and it’s been a way for the sport to continue with all the cancelled races. It’s a poor substitute for real racing that serves only to remind us just how sophisticated a real race can be with tactics, weather and landscapes combining to create something special. Virtual racing seems designed for a limited audience but this is the start and there’s space to trial a variety of formats.

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