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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 15, 2016

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Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. - John Barrymore

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Team Sky names Vuelta a España team

This news came from Team Sky:

The 71st edition of the Spanish Grand Tour starts with a team time trial in Ourense on Saturday 20th August, before culminating with a sprinter-friendly finish in Madrid on Sunday 11th September.

Chris Froome leads the team and will be looking to continue the momentum that has seen him claim a third Tour de France title, in addition to an Olympic bronze medal in the time trial this season.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome (shown earlier this year at the Tour de Romandie) is going for another Grand Tour win.

Froome will be joined in Spain by the well-rounded unit of Ian Boswell, Michal Golas, Pete Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Leopold Konig, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Salvatore Puccio.

On the upcoming Vuelta, Froome said: "It's already been a great summer for both myself and the team, but the Vuelta is another big challenge for us. The tough course and stiff competition is bound to make for some aggressive racing. We're going there with a strong group of guys who have a lot of experience with this race.

"The Vuelta is a race I really enjoy and where I guess you could say I have unfinished business, so I'm looking forward to getting started."

The 2016 Team Sky Vuelta a Espana lineup in full:

Chris Froome - age 31 - United Kingdom
Fresh from winning an awe-inspiring third Tour de France title Chris Froome sizes up his next big challenge. The Brit has unfinished business with the Vuelta, the race that signalled his Grand Tour breakthrough back in 2011. Runner up on that occasion, as well as in 2014, Froome also has a fourth place to his name from 2012. With a fractured ankle curtailing his challenge last season, he will be hoping to continue his stellar form into the autumn.

Ian Boswell - age 25 - United States
Returning to the scene of his Grand Tour debut last season, the American has gone from strength to strength since turning pro in 2013. Helping the team to overall victories at Herald Sun Tour, the Giro del Trentino and Paris-Nice already this season, 'Boz' has become a key part of the stage race roster, and completed his first Giro d'Italia in May. Look for that progression to continue at the Vuelta, as he takes on an even more key role in the mountains.

Michal Golas - age 32 - Poland
The Vuelta marks Golas' first Grand Tour appearance for Team Sky, but the Pole has tackled all three of cycling's biggest races during his career. National champion on the road in 2012, having quickly settled into life at Team Sky he helped Geraint Thomas secure victory at the Volta ao Algarve earlier this year, and will put his experience and work rate to good use across the three weeks.

Pete Kennaugh - age 27 - United Kingdom
A two-time British National Champion, few riders are able to animate a bike race like Kennaugh. The last few years have seen the Manxman start to rack up the victories, and having started 2016 in great form he claimed both the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and a stage at the Herald Sun Tour. With experience in all three Grand Tours, he played a key role in helping Chris Froome to victory during his inaugural Tour de France success in 2013. Whether attacking or setting the tempo, Kennaugh is always a rider to watch.

Christian Knees - age 35 - Germany
One of cycling's most experienced and well-respected domestiques, Knees will line up at his fourth consecutive Vuelta a Espana. Along with Boswell and Landa, the former German champion made up part of Team Sky's Giro squad in May. Comfortable setting a tempo and using his considerable frame to keep his team leader out of the wind, Knees is also an incredibly adept climber, and no stranger to setting a pace in the medium mountains.

Leopold König - age 28 - Czech Republic
After a knee injury ruled Konig out for the first half of the season the Czech star has quickly bounced back, becoming the national time trial champion and putting in strong performances at the Tour de Suisse and Tour of Poland. With top-10 finishes at all three Grand Tours to his name, including a stage win in the 2013 Vuelta a Espana on his way to finishing ninth, Konig will be a key lieutenant to Chris Froome on the race's critical days.

Michal Kwiatkowski - age 26 - Poland
The 2014 world road race champion needs no introduction, with this season marking the Vuelta debut for 'Kwiato'. With a rousing victory at E3 Harelbeke one of the highlights of the team's season, Kwiatkowski arrives in Spain off the back of a strong attacking performance for Poland in the recent Olympic road race. Accomplished in both one-day and stage racing, he will play a key part across the three weeks, with 11th overall at the 2013 Tour de France showing just what he can achieve at Grand Tour level.

Mikel Landa - age 26 - Spain
Lining up for his third Grand Tour appearance of the year and a fifth Vuelta, Landa has already enjoyed a successful first season as a Team Sky rider. Combining overall victory at the Giro del Trentino with helping Froome secure success in Paris, Landa now turns his attention to his home Grand Tour. The Basque climbing star won a stage in last year's race and is one of the most feared climbers in the peloton.

Salvatore Puccio - age 26 - Italy
The loveable Italian returns for his third crack at the Vuelta and lines up off the back of his most assured season yet. Puccio will turn 27 during the race and has grown significantly as a rider since joining Team Sky in 2012. Comfortable no matter the terrain, he is most often seen working hard for others, but came close to a crowd-pleasing stage victory 12 months ago in Spain, taking the runner-up spot on a foggy 14th stage.

Arctic Race of Norway Final Reports

Young Gianni Moscon won the race's final GC. His Team Sky posted this final report.

Full Arctic Race of Norway results are here

Gianni Moscon sealed the Arctic Race title on the final sprint stage in Norway to cap a fantastic race for the team.

The young Italian wrapped up the first professional GC win of his career by finishing in the bunch after his exhilarating solo win on stage three. It caps a brilliant four days for Team Sky, after Danny van Poppel won stage two in fine style, and the team also sealed the team classification prize.

With the breakaway sweeping up all of the day's bonus seconds prior to the finish, Moscon's victory was all but assured - he just had to finish in the pack, which he did comfortably, shepherded home by Ben Swift. Van Poppel sprinted to fifth on the final day, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) claiming the win and denying the Dutchman the points jersey.

Speaking to TeamSky.com after the stage, Moscon admitted the win didn't quite feel real, before talking through the nervy final day. He said: "It's a really nice feeling, but maybe it will take a few days to sink in!

Gianni Moscon

Gianni Moscon wins Arctic Race of Norway stage 3

"The first part of the day was quite hard because we had a long 10km climb and BMC set a good pace. On top of the climb there was just 20 of us in the first group, and then there was still attacks until 70km to go, but the team did a perfect job. Everyone was super today, and we kept the lead. The team was very good all week - and we won the team classification as well. We were the best team in the race."

It was another strong team performance, with Lars Petter Nordhaug spending a large part of the day on the front of the bunch, keeping the breakaway in check.
There were several attacks in the early part of the stage and the breakaway took a while to form, but eventually five men went up the road and the race settled down, with around 100km to go.

From there the peloton let the break stay away and the group was eventually swallowed up 3km from home as the pace upped on the inner-city circuit around Bodø before the sprint unfolded.

Moscon stayed calm and finished comfortably, also wrapping up the young rider classification in the process.

Here's Tinkoff's Arctic Race of Norway report:

It was an expected sprint finish that decided the final stage of the Arctic Race of Norway, and coming through with a fast finish for Tinkoff was Nikolay Trusov, taking a strong ninth place. After moving up to third with yesterday’s finish, Oscar secures his spot on the GC podium, taking third spot.

Despite being a stage that suited a sprint, the racing was never easy, getting off to a hard start with many riders trying to make the day’s move, and a fast pace on the first climb of the day saw riders put in difficulty and the race split.

The situation took some time to settle with the peloton eventually coming back together, after which a break of six riders pulled clear and set about building a few minutes’ advantage. Their lead never grew over two minutes but they put up a solid fight, trying to stay clear before finally getting caught within the last three kilometres.

Having helped bring the gap down, the Tinkoff jerseys were well up the front coming into the final kilometres, readying for the sprint and keeping Oscar out of trouble. As the sprint opened up in Bodø it was Nikolay who was up there for the team, taking a place in the top ten.

After the finish, Sport Director, Bruno Cenghialta, gave some insight into the day. "The Arctic Race of Norway concluded, as expected, with a very fast stage. I'm satisfied with the way the guys raced today and we managed to retain Oscar Gatto's third overall, which was, of course, the main goal today. The bunch sprint was extremely fast and the other teams had brought their best sprinters, Degenkolb, Kristoff or Demare, and there wasn't much more we could do.

“The overall assessment as well is positive and I think we can be happy with what we achieved in this race. The guys gave their best and Oscar's podium place can be considered a very good result."

Team Sky reports Nicholas Roche to miss Vuelta

This from Team Sky:

Team Sky's Nicolas Roche is to miss this year's Vuelta a Espana after being forced to withdraw through illness. Roche, who has been on Olympic duty with Ireland, has developed a severe bacterial pneumonia which he contracted during his time in Rio. After speaking with Team Sky medical staff he will now miss the Vuelta in order to focus on his recovery.

Nicholas Roche

Nicholas Roche racing in this year's Giro d'Italia

Roche said: "Obviously it's a big disappointment. The Vuelta is a race I really enjoy and one where I have had success before. Riding the Vuelta was a big target for me this year and I was looking forward to being part of the team.

"The illness couldn't have come at a worse time, really, and after speaking to the medical staff it's pretty clear that I'm not going to be ready in time. I'll be focusing on my recovery and looking to get back racing as soon as I can".

Team Sky's squad for this year's Vuelta a Espana, which starts with a team time trial on August 20th, will be announced next week.

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