Roubaix wildcards, Bahrain-Merida says all is well, a wide rim study: Daily News Digest

Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today: Bahrain-Merida say all is well and salary delays were simply an “administrative delay”, seven wildcard teams are announced for Paris-Roubaix, Gilbert is hunting five monuments, and rim width won’t impact off-road speed in a major way. Those stories and more…

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Bahrain-Merida say all is well and salary delays were simply an “administrative delay”, seven wildcard teams are announced for Paris-Roubaix, Gilbert is hunting five monuments, and rim width won’t impact off-road speed in a major way. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Bahrain-Merida manager: All riders are paid, team hopes to retain Nibali

Bahrain-Merida team manager Brent Copeland told CyclingTips Monday that the team’s financial footing is stable following reports that riders and staff had not been paid in December. Copeland attributed what he called a two-week hold up in payment to an “administrative delay.”

“Everyone has been paid,” Copeland said, adding that he could not expand on any specific financial details. “There is not one person out of payment. There was a slight delay with December salaries, it was an administrative delay that we thought would be resolved quicker than it was — instead of one day, it took two weeks. It’s no problem at all.”

The team, which joined the WorldTour in 2017 under the ownership of Bahrain’s Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, recently entered into a 50% joint-venture agreement with McLaren Group. The British automotive conglomerate is owned by Mumtalakat Holding Company, a sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Asked about Vincenzo Nibali, whose contract is up at the end of the 2019 season, Copeland said that retaining the Italian star is the team’s desire, and that he believes the brief salary delay shouldn’t factor into the negotiations. Cyclingnews reported last week that Nibali agreed to a temporary freeze of his monthly salary during the winter to help the team overcome the financial shortfall. Trek-Segafredo has reportedly shown interest in signing Nibali for 2020 and beyond.

“Negotiations with Vincenzo is something completely different to that situation,” Copeland said. “It’s simply a case of Vincenzo being the best Italian rider on the market at the moment, whose contract ends at the end of the year, and it’s normal-case scenario where a team would come after him and speak to his agent and find out what the situation is — especially with a team like Trek-Segafredo, which has an Italian co-sponsor. That doesn’t surprise us at all, and they are two completely different stories.

“As we move ahead we’d like to keep Vincenzo on board, he’s a rider who has been part of this project from the start, it would be nice for us to see him finish his career with us. [Nibali and Johnny Carera, his agent] have explained to us what their requests are, which we will be taking to the board, and the shareholders, and with McClaren coming on at 50% we’ve obviously got to take that up with them as well now. We’ll take that forward with them and then come back with an official offer, and then we’ll see what their reaction is to that, but it’s a normal case where such a strong rider as Vincenzo is being looked after by other teams. It’s a feather in his cap — who wouldn’t want Vincenzo Nibali on their team?”

Copeland said that he hopes to have Nibali’s contract negotiations finalized by the Ardennes Classics in April, or, at the latest, before the Giro d’Italia begins on May 11.

Race Radio

ASO announces seven wildcard teams for Paris-Roubaix

ASO has assigned wildcard entries to five French Pro Continental teams for its 2019 edition of Paris-Roubaix (and Paris-Nice): Cofidis, Team Arkea-Samsic, Delko Marseille Provence, Direct Energie and Vital Concept – B&B Hotels. The other two wildcards go to Wanty-Gobert Cycling and the newly merged Roompot-Charles team. Most notably, the Dutch national road champion (cyclocross and cross country mountain bike too), Mathieu van der Poel, and his Corendon–Circus team did not earn an entry.

2019 is the final year where race organisers can pick their wildcard entries, with the rules set to change in 2020 to award the best ranked Pro Continental teams.

Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep Floors) battles the mud.

Philippe Gilbert in search of five monuments

Philippe Gilbert, 36, continues to chase his dream of winning all five monuments. He has the Tour of Flanders, Lombardia, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège; Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix are now in his sights.

“It’s not easy to win all of them,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “But I want to try.”

He’s been on the podium twice at San Remo, in 2008 and 2011, but avoided Roubaix for much of his career. He made a return last year, finishing 15th.

Only three riders have won all five monuments: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, and Rik Van Looy.

Tweet of the day

Base miles are going well, it appears.

Tech News

Rim width and the impact on off-road speed

Rim width has a negligible effect on off-road speed, and riders should choose the rim width that offers the best bike handling. They should also experiment with low tyre pressures.

Those are the findings of a new study funded by the Swiss Federal Institute of Sport. Researchers compared three tubeless wheelsets: one with a 25mm inner width, as a baseline, and then two 30mm inner width rims. The first had the same tyre stiffness as the baseline and the second had the same tyre pressure as the baseline. Three riders conducted 75 rolling resistance tests for each wheel on a cross country course.

The results? The wider rim with the same tyre stiffness decreased rolling resistance by 1.4% and the wider rim with the same tyre pressure increased rolling resistance by .9%.

According to the study, the corresponding effect on speed are “trivial,” 0% to .7% faster and .1-.6% slower, for each tyre type. So you’re better off picking a wider rim for its handling characteristics, rather than any expectation that it will decrease rolling resistance.

Happy Birthday to …

Latvian rider Piotr Ugrumov, who was a strong Grand Tour general classification rider in the nearly 90s, winning two stages of the Tour de France (1994) and a stage at the Giro D’Italia (1993), finishing second overall in both races.

Also, Norwegian Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE-Team Emirates) turns 27 and recently-retired Australian Lachlan Norris turns 32 today.

In case you missed it …

The Tour Down Under’s results don’t tell the whole story.
At a glance, it might look just like last year’s Tour Down Under. Richie Porte wins on Willunga Hill, again, and finishes second overall. Daryl Impey wins the overall again after an impressive podium finish on Willunga. But don’t be fooled — the results sheet doesn’t tell the full story of the 2019 Tour Down Under.

Tools, bits and tips from WorldTour mechanics
Dave Rome wanders the pits at the Tour Down Under, scoping pro tool setups and tricks of the trade.

Feature Image:Peter Sagan at Paris-Roubaix. Photo by Gruber Images.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.