Stories of the week: LeMond’s advice for Bernal, Quick-Step hunt new leaders, and more

A wrap of the most important racing news you need to know from the last week, with features on Quick-Step's 2020 outlook, the Giro's old-school charm, and team USA's Olympic prospects.

Here’s a wrap of the key stories you need to know about from the racing scene this week.

Read on to get the news you need to impress your buddies with at this week’s group ride.

American road team earns four female, two male spots for 2020 Olympics

Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

The UCI confirmed national allotments for next year’s games on Monday, with the U.S. women’s team being awarded four spots and the men’s team receiving two slots.

The Olympic national quotas were set by each nation’s position in the UCI World Rankings. The women were ranked fourth overall, whereas the men were 26th.

Strong performances from both men’s and women’s teams at the Harrogate world championships in September gave the U.S. extra slots in the time trial events, with two each in the men’s and women’s categories.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step lose its leader, but wins will keep coming, says team director

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Deceuninck-Quick-Step has won more races than any other team for the past six seasons. However, the team loses its spiritual leader Philippe Gilbert in 2020, along with Elia Viviani and Enric Mas.

Brian Holm, sport director at Quick-Step is sure that the loss of some key faces won’t stop the wins from churning over, but admits that the team needs a new ‘head wolf’ of it’s self-styled ‘wolfpack.’

“We need new leaders,” Holm told Jim Cotton. “But to actually replace Gilbert? No-one can do it. He was the alpha wolf.”

Christina Birch’s journey from bioengineer to Olympic hopeful

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Betsy Welch tells the story of American rider Christina Birch, a 33-year-old who is transforming herself from a  full-time college professor to Olympic Gold medal hopeful.

Birch is hoping to be selected for the women’s Madison team in Tokyo having only begun racing full-time in 2018.

“The goal is not just to “get” to Tokyo,” said Birch. “The goal is to win a gold medal.”

LeMond urges Bernal to race for himself

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

American cycling legend Greg LeMond has urged reigning Tour de France champion to race for himself in the event that the Colombian goes head-to-head with teammate Chris Froome in the 2020 Tour. Next year could see Bernal facing stiff competition for team leadership with four-time Tour winner Froome, who is planning on racing the Tour and Olympic Games if his recovery from injury is successful.

Bernal “should not give any gifts to anybody. It’s his for the taking and he’s stronger than Chris [Froome],” LeMond told Gregor Brown.

How the Giro goes against convention by staying traditional

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The Giro d’Italia remains true to grand tour tradition by embracing long stages and high mountains, all while gambling with unpredictable springtime weather. Meanwhile, the Tour de France has revealed a 2020 route that sees it mimic the Vuelta a Espana’s unpredictable and unconventional nature.

Andrew Hood investigates how the Giro’s stubborn refusal to join modern grand tour trends is part of its appeal for riders and what gives the race its whole identity.