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The new road of James Piccoli




The China Glory team took part in the Tour of Rwanda in February and James Piccoli (centre) placed 15e.

The career of a professional cyclist is like the roads he travels: anything but a long straight line. Turns, climbs, descents, falls and headwinds. After three seasons at Israel-Premier Tech, James Piccoli did not see his contract renewed at the end of last year.

By his own admission, 2022 has been tough for him, despite thinning out his marriage to his longtime girlfriend. The squad’s points race to remain in the fold of the World Tour teams was at the heart of the team’s decisions, as Piccoli recalls.

“The history of UCI points was stressful for a lot of people. I think some handled it well and some didn’t,” says the man who completed the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Tour of Spain, but only competed in a limited number of World Tour level races. last year.

“I had difficulties there. [dans l’équipe], but I have no interest in speaking ill of anyone. I’m happy to change my environment and I’m going to say the same,” agrees Piccoli, without wanting to go into detail.

This departure left him bitter, but the 31-year-old athlete has now moved on: “I want to prove to myself again that the last three years were not my real qualities. [que l’on a pu voir|. Je veux prouver que j’ai encore plus à donner. »

C’est au sein de l’équipe continentale China Glory qu’il compte refaire ses preuves de différentes façons.


James Piccol

Direction la Chine

Après Bahreïn, les Émirats arabes unis, le Kazakhstan, Israël et le Pays basque, c’est au tour de la Chine d’entrer dans le peloton international pour montrer ses couleurs, cette fois sur le maillot de China Glory, une formation qui existe depuis deux ans. L’objectif de l’équipe est clair : faire en sorte qu’au moins un cycliste chinois soit à l’épreuve de la course sur route des Jeux olympiques de Paris, l’an prochain.

Comme c’est souvent le cas dans les sports où elle ne compte pas une expertise interne, la Chine a fait appel à du personnel étranger pour diriger cette structure. L’équipe compte à sa tête le directeur sportif français Lionel Marie, qui a côtoyé Piccoli en 2020 et 2021 chez Israel Start-Up Nation et qui lui a tendu la main.

« Je me suis toujours bien entendu avec lui. Il voulait me donner des chances d’aller chercher de bons résultats, mais aussi que je partage mes expériences de course, d’entraînement et de nutrition avec les coureurs chinois. […] The environment is super positive and I’m happy! continues the one who trains in Andorra, in the Pyrenees.

In addition to Piccoli, China Glory has in its ranks eight Chinese riders, two from France and one from South Africa. The team has already taken part in the Tour du Rwanda, in February, and Piccoli finished 15e. A result that could have been better according to him, had it not been for mechanical problems that occurred at key moments.

In 2021, the Quebecer was delighted with his first participation in the Tour of Rwanda where he finished second in the general classification.

To ride and see the country

The possibilities of discovery will be even more present for the athlete given that a portion of his racing calendar will take place mainly in Asia, including China, after an enforced three-year break due to the pandemic.

“I’ve always enjoyed shopping abroad to learn about new cultures. There, I learn Chinese in order to communicate with my teammates. It’s something I could never have done without the bike. It’s shaping up to be a super rewarding and interesting year and I’m looking forward to it. »

He should be in the Tour of Turkey in April, if the event can be presented despite the earthquake last month. Piccoli will then be on the Old Continent in May before possibly returning home in June for the Tour de Beauce with the Canadian team and then the Canadian Championships.

James Piccoli has a one-year contract with his new formation and he keeps the door open to a return to a World Tour or Pro Tour team.

“I had negotiations with a few teams last year and depending on my results this year, we will see what will happen at the end of the year. I still have a passion for cycling and the fire is burning, so we’ll see where it takes me. […] I see it as an opportunity to fall in love with racing again, to have new experiences and to give back to the sport to runners who want to learn. »

Source: lapresse

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Tour Down Under Julian Alaphilippe will launch his 2024 season in Australia




(Sydney) The 2020 and 2021 cycling world champion Julian Alaphilippe will launch his 2024 season on the Tour Down Under, in Australia, next month, race organizers announced on Tuesday.

“I am very happy to come back to Australia,” declared the French rider of the Soudal Quick-Step team, whose Tour Down Under was the first race on the World Tour circuit (first world division) in 2014.

The men’s edition of the race, won earlier this year by Australian Jay Vine, will take place from January 13 to 21, 2024 in and around Adelaide, and will finish at the summit of Mount Lofty, which will be climbed two times by the riders during the last stage.

“I remember when I did my first race (in Australia) with my team,” commented Julian Alaphilippe, 31, quoted in a press release from Soudal Quick-Step. “I have a lot of good memories: the incredible fans, the magnificent weather, and I can’t wait to get back to the start line and meet our supporters again,” added the Frenchman, who no longer has raced in this country since the 2022 Worlds.

“I’m particularly looking forward to Willunga Hill (which the riders will climb twice in the 5e stage, Editor’s note) and to discover Mount Lofty for the first time”, also commented in the organizers’ press release the runner, who will be among the favorites to don the ocher jersey of leader of the race.

In addition to his two world champion titles, Julian Alaphilippe notably won seven stages on grand tours (one on the Vuelta, six on the Tour de France), Milan-San Remo (2019), the Flèche wallonne (2018, 2019 and 2021), the Clasica San Sebastian (2018), the Strade Bianche (2019) and two stage races, the Tour of California (2016) and the Tour of Britain (2018).

The women’s edition of the Tour Down Under will take place from January 12 to 16.

Source: lapresse

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Tour de France 2025 The first three stages revealed




(Lille) Flat, a few hills, but no cobblestones: the first three stages of the Tour de France 2025 departing from Lille, unveiled Thursday, should give pride of place to sprinters and punchers, and already get to work the contenders for the general classification.

Certainly, on July 5, 2025, the Tour will set off for the fifth time in its history from the Nord department, “a land that breathes cycling” in the words of the race director, Christian Prudhomme, during the presentation of the great departure.

“We could not return to France to places that did not viscerally love cycling sport and the Tour de France,” he stressed.

“Cycling is part of our genes,” smiles Martine Aubry, mayor of Lille, to AFP. “It’s going to be great, there’s going to be an incredible atmosphere.”

But the route of the first stages will skilfully bypass the legendary cobbled sectors of Paris-Roubaix, which always make the favorites fear a fall or a puncture, for a smoother start than in previous years.

The cobblestones of the Hell of the North had however been used by the Great Loop in 2010, 2014, 2018 and during the last passage of the Tour de France in the North, in 2022.

After hilly first stages in 2020, 2021, 2023 and next year in 2024, as well as a prologue in 2022, “this will be the first time in half a dozen years that a sprinter will be able to seize the first yellow jersey,” underlined Christian Prudhomme.

“Dreadful” finale

With three listed hills far from the finish and the last 50 flat kilometers, the first stage, a 185 km loop around Lille, will indeed be “a dream opportunity” for straight line specialists, underlines ASO.

But, whoever raises his arms in Lille, he is likely to lose his leadership position the next day between Lauwin-Planque and Boulogne-sur-Mer (209 km), where two climbs in the last 10 kilometers, at Saint-Etienne-au-Mont (900 m at 11%) then Outreau (800 m at 8.8%), should benefit punchers.

Christian Prudhomme hopes to see “the favorites of the Tour de France shoulder to shoulder from the first weekend”, in an “absolutely formidable” finale.

“We will obviously have champions up front,” he added.

As for the third stage, 172 km long between Valenciennes and Dunkirk, it should once again see the best sprinters on the field pitted against each other, with only one difficulty listed on the program, the Cassel hill (2.3 km to 3.8 %).

That day, with stretches exposed to the wind and an arrival at the seaside, “it is the direction of the wind which will decide the scenario: either the peloton will split into several groups, or we will head towards a massive sprint” , specifies ASO.

“It’s going to be terrible, because in the North, we know how to party, we know how to live, we know how to enjoy the little joys of life,” rejoices in advance Christian Poiret, president of the Northern department, to the ‘AFP.

The fourth stage will start from Amiens, in the Somme, for a destination which has not yet been revealed.

Source: lapresse

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Jonas Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team will be called Visma-Lease a Bike in 2024




(Paris) The Jumbo-Visma team, which dominates world cycling with stars like two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and Wout Van Aert, will be called Visma-Lease a Bike from 1er January 2024, the Dutch team announced on Friday.

This name change follows the withdrawal of the main sponsor, the Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo, whose new managers have modified the marketing strategy.

Visma has been present as a jersey sponsor for five years now. Lease a Bike, which was already a secondary sponsor this year, is a Belgian company subsidiary of the Pon group which offers companies the rental of fleets of bicycles available to their employees.

The company operates notably in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. It is looking to expand into other European countries and the United States.

“This strengthened partnership represents another big step forward which provides us with the necessary resources to further develop and progress as a team,” Dutch team manager Richard Plugge said in a statement.

The Jumbo-Visma is coming off an extraordinary 2023 season during which it won the three grand tours (Giro with the Slovenian Primoz Roglic, Tour de France with the Dane Jonas Vingegaard and Vuelta with the American Sepp Kuss).

In Spain, the “Hornets” even signed an unprecedented hat-trick, Kuss ahead of Vingegaard and Roglic.

The team will lose Roglic next season – the Slovenian has signed with the German structure Bora-Hansgrohe – but still counts in its ranks the Belgian champion Wout Van Aert and the French Christophe Laporte as well as the Dutch Marianne Vos among the women .

The doubts that arose about the future of its partnership with Jumbo had fueled reflections this fall on a possible merger of the team with the Belgian formation Soudal Quick-Step, another stronghold of cycling, putting the peloton under tension before this solution is ultimately abandoned.

Source: lapresse

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