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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 7, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. - Leo Tolstoy

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Author Les Woodland tells of our need for heroes and his own cycling heroes


Lotto-NL Jumbo's Basque Tour report

Primoz Roglic won the fourth stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco today in Bilbao. In the last three kilometres, the team LottoNL-Jumbo Slovenian escaped from the peloton and time trialled to the finish line solo. With the win, he moves to second place in classification behind David de la Cruz.

"There were a lot of attacks and when I sat in front, I knew this was the moment. I attacked and did everything to keep my lead," said Roglic. "I kept going full-gas until the finish. I’m speechless. I’m very happy with this victory and that it worked out today."

Roglic, who recently extended his contract by one year, took his second victory of the season after the Volta ao Algarve overall. It confirms his rapid development under the guidance of team LottoNL-Jumbo. It also underlines the  team’s strength in the Basque Country. The Dutch team is among the strongest teams in the peloton as it was in stage races Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Valencia and Catalunya.

"We had the plan to attack, and that was rewarded today," said Sports Director Grischa Niermann.

Primoz roglic

Primoz Roglic wins in style

An early escape was caught and the riders climbed the Vivero. On the climb, George Bennett tried to get away but the peloton followed. Just before the summit, he tried again and on the descent, he had a small gap. In the streets of Bilbao, the peloton came back and it was up to Roglic.

"We told the men to attack," Niermann added. "On the climb, George tried a number of times and in the final phase Primoz drove away. He gave it everything and the chasing peloton broke.

“It is nice to win. The whole team rode strongly and it’s good to see our leaders join the fight for the victory. Not by hoping, but by taking initiative."

Paris-Roubaix team updates

This came from Lotto-Soudal:

Sunday, the last of the cobble Classics is scheduled: Paris-Roubaix. Almost one fifth of the course consists of cobblestones, divided over 29 sectors. After 257 kilometres, of which exactly 55 cobbled kilometres, the winner of the 115th edition of the Hell of the North can step on the podium at the velodrome of Roubaix.

It’s only after almost one hundred kilometres of racing, that the riders arrive at the first cobblestone sector of the day. From that point on there is not much time to relax. The eleventh section of the day is the famous Trouée d’Arenberg. This five-star sector of 2400 metres lies at about 95.5 kilometres from the finish. Then the riders continue their way towards among other Mons-en-Pévèle (3000 metres), the second five-star second of the day. Afterwards, the riders have still 45.5 kilometres ahead of them, including ten cobblestone sectors. When the riders enter the last twenty kilometres, they see the cobbles of Camphin-en-Pévèle (1800 metres). This four-star sector is immediately followed by Carrefour de l’Arbre (2100 metres), which was awarded five stars. Then only two sectors of over one kilometre are left. Just before the riders enter the velodrome of Roubaix they get the last cobbles of the day on the Espace Crupelandt (300 metres).

Lotto Soudal did a recon of Paris-Roubaix today. Unfortunately, Tony Gallopin crashed and hit his left knee again, just like in the crash at E3 Harelbeke. Jelle Wallays was also involved in the crash, he hurt his hand. At the moment Tony and Jelle remain part of the Lotto Soudal line-up for Sunday.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin is still scheduled to start Paris-Roubaix

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Today there was a headwind. On Sunday the wind will come from the south, which means that the riders will have tailwind and that we can expect a fast race. It will be dry this weekend and twenty degrees on Sunday, so it will be a warm and dusty Paris-Roubaix. Tony Gallopin crashed during the recon and also Jelle Wallays hit the ground. We have to wait how Tony’s knee and Jelle’s hand will cure.”

“We stand at the start without a main leader. Unfortunately, because of the results of the past weeks, we can’t put one rider forward to do the job. We have several riders who have proven in the past that they can ride well over cobbles. Hopefully we can perform better as a team than previous races. The next days, we will determine our strategy and it’s up to us to follow that as well as possible. The past weeks, we often missed the decisive moment and we really have to avoid that on Sunday.”

Jens Debusschere: “Last year, I couldn’t ride Paris-Roubaix because of my crash in Gent-Wevelgem. I am happy to be back this year. Of all Classics Paris-Roubaix is probably the one that suits me best. Two years ago, I got ninth and in 2010 I got second at the U23 edition. The Hell was dusty today. I would like to ride a wet edition once, but I don’t mind the dust. I deliberately skipped the Scheldeprijs yesterday to be in the best form on Sunday. The next days I will take the necessary rest.”

“Up till now the spring didn’t turn out as we wanted for the team, but we can’t lose hope and definitely shouldn’t give up. Each time we focus on the next race. It is difficult to explain why it didn’t ran smoothly the past weeks. We hope that all goes well on Sunday. Roubaix is the last race of the spring for me.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Here's the Cannondale-Drapac Paris-Roubaix update:

American Taylor Phinney will not start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, still feeling the effects of a concussion sustained in a fall during the Tour of Flanders.

“Until yesterday, I was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to ride Roubaix this weekend,” Phinney said. “I’d been feeling OK at the dinner table and hanging out. But then yesterday was my first ride outside. I started riding at got a little bit of a headache. Then it went away and I thought, ‘ok, I’ll be fine.’ But then it came back and I started experiencing some emotional ups and down that reminded me of the last concussion I had.”

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney will sit out this year's Paris-Roubaix

Upon his return, Phinney and team management made the decision to skip Roubaix.

“With even the mildest of concussions, we sit the rider six days,” said team manager Jonathan Vaughters. “The rider may be able to train some in that period, but racing is out of the question. Normally we encourage training to occur on the Tacx. We evaluate the rider daily, and after six days he must take a cognitive test to make sure the effects of the concussion have subsided. At that point, they may or may not be able to resume competition.”

The omission of the classic most suited to Phinney stings, but he’s already looking forward to the Amgen Tour of California and the opening stage of the Tour de France.

“I’m frustrated. I’ve been nursing myself this whole classics season to get into these races and be with the guys,” Phinney said. “But this just happens. This happened my first season as a pro, but then I ended up having a pretty nice second part of the season. On the positive end, I’m more motivated. I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to put in effort for the summer. I look forward to the Tour of California and the first stage of the Tour de France. These things excite me.”

The team also lost Sep Vanmarcke — three times a top-five finisher in the Roubaix Velodrome — to injuries the Belgian suffered at Flanders, forcing late roster changes and a shuffling of strategy.

Paddy Bevin and Wouter Wippert got late call-ups, and will join Dylan van Baarle, Sebastian Langeveld, Will Clarke, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck and Ryan Mullen at the start. And although the losses of Vanmarcke and Phinney present challenges, the team isn’t lacking opportunity. Van Baarle finished fourth Sunday, and Langeveld displayed excellent form until a late mechanical.

“I think we proved last week with Dylan that we can do well regardless. Last week we raced for the podium, and it would have been the same with Sep,” sport director Ken Vanmarcke said. “This race suits Dylan maybe better than the Tour of Flanders. The same with Sebastian. He has so much experience and he’s in really good shape.”

For Van Baarle, Roubaix is another chance to build on a classics foundation he’s crafting stone by stone. “We have to go with the same mindset as we did the other classics. We have still a very strong team and I think we can still do something in France,” Van Baarle said. “Normally I would say Flanders suits me better, but in Flanders on the steep climbs I struggled a little. Maybe this year Roubaix suits me better. Last year I felt good, but I was behind some crashes and I was always racing from the back. If that doesn’t happen this year, then we can have a good result I think.”

Langeveld will be making his tenth start at Paris-Roubaix, while Scully and Bevin make their debut. What’s Langeveld been telling the rookies? “Go in there open minded. Tire pressure is a discussion or issue. They key thing is the same as all the classics — knowledge of the parcours, positioning at the right moment. That’s the most important thing for everybody,” Langeveld said. “Flanders is also an endurance race, but Roubaix… without bad luck and with a little bit of condition and form, everyone arrives where they belong. Without bad luck, it’s a really honest race.

“Missing Sep, it’s a big loss,” Langeveld admitted. “But we showed in Flanders that we are, as a team, we're fit. Everybody made a big improvement compared to last year. I had a mechanical in Flanders. I was on a good day. So… I’m confident that Dylan and I will be up there. The way we’re going to race? We have to see what the wind does. It’s Boonen’s last Roubaix, that could be a factor on the strategy when you have a whole team riding for him like Quick-Step. But we’ve got to wait until Saturday to talk tactics.”

Cannondale-Drapac for Paris-Roubaix:

Paddy Bevin (NZL)
Will Clarke (AUS)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Sebastian Langeveld (NDL)
Ryan Mullen (IRL)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Dylan Van Baarle (NDL)
Wouter Wippert (NDL)

Michael Schär set to return to racing in April

BMC sent me this:

6 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Michael Schär is on track to race for the first time since crashing on stage 1 of Paris-Nice, which left him with a broken collarbone and iliac bone, at the upcoming Ardennes Classics.

Michael Schar

Michael Schär should soon be a part of the peloton

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Max Testa said Schär's recovery has progressed faster than originally expected. "Michael has fortunately recovered better than we anticipated, partly due to the fact that he is young and in good shape, and also because his fractures were non-displaced. He has been riding pain-free for the last week and is back on the road rebuilding his strength. He has good sensations so far but we will still be cautious with his training load at the moment," Dr. Testa explained.

"Full recovery of Michael's injuries takes six to eight weeks and to avoid any reoccurrence we don't want to put him at the start line of any risky races. We will continue to monitor his recovery for the next two weeks and depending on the results, as well as the needs of the team, Michael will most likely be ready to race again at Liège-Bastogne-Liège."

Schär is hoping to make his return at the Classics. "I hope to be racing as soon as possible because I no longer have any pain and I'm back to doing long rides at a high intensity. Now my focus is on getting my fitness to where it needs to be and I'm confident that I can be ready to race during the Ardennes as I would love to race at least one Classic this year before we move on to the next part of the season," Schär said.

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