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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

If you're afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail. - Kobe Bryant

Current racing

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:


Fabio Aru will not ride Giro d'Italia

Here's the Astana press release regarding the 2015 Vuelta winner:

As a consequence of his fall that happened 8 days ago while training in Spain, the athlete of the Astana Pro Team Fabio Aru was examined this afternoon in Milan by the Professor Combi: the diagnosis speaks of pre patellar bursitis that causes pain when he pedals.

Aru will have to respect 10 days of total rest and therapy. On April 20th the athlete will undergo further examination to assess the evolution of the situation.

Noted this situation, the management of the Astana Pro Team has decided to announce that unfortunately Fabio Aru will not participate to the Giro d’Italia 2017. The upcoming race calendar of Aru will be evaluated after his complete recovery from this injury.

Here is a brief comment from Aru: “I’m so sorry and disappointed for what happened: I was dreaming the Giro Start from my Sardinia and we were preparing the Giro since months. Unfortunately, the accident occurred, don’t allow me to be at the start in sufficient conditions and albeit with great regret, we are forced to give up."

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru on the 2015 Vuelta podium

Team Quick-Step Floors Paris-Roubaix report:

Zdenek Stybar finished second the 115th edition of Paris-Roubaix, one that will go down in history as the fastest ever – 45.204 km/h – beating the record which until this day was held by the 1964 race. A runner-up also in 2015, the Quick-Step Floors rider was part of the decisive selection that formed on the five-star Carrefour de l'Arbre sector, where he was joined by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac).

Stybar was one of the most active riders Sunday afternoon, countering several moves during the race before launching one of his own inside the final hour and splitting the peloton. A rider cut for such a tough and demanding race as Paris-Roubaix, the 31-year-old Czech brought Quick-Step Floors' sixth top 3 finish at the spring classics, following the ones in Milano-Sanremo (3rd), Dwars door Vlaanderen (1st), E3 Harelbeke (2nd), Ronde van Vlaanderen (1st) and Scheldeprijs (1st), thus helping the team cement its spot at the top of the World Tour rankings.

Zdenek Stybar

Zdenek Stybar raising a cloud at Paris-Roubaix

"We supported Tom today. We wanted to give 100% for him, because he deserved that, and even when he was in the chasing group I was still hoping he was going to come back. Only when we got news of him being around 40 seconds behind I started thinking of my chances. All the guys did a wonderful job, taking the initiative and controlling the race from the very beginning, and I assure you it wasn't easy today, as we went full gas from kilometer zero and all the teams made their strategy around us", said Zdenek as he waited to go on the podium.

Going into the final lap on the iconic Roubaix velodrome, Stybar was well-placed and accelerated on the right side at 200 meters to go, but despite doing a great sprint he had to settle for second, behind Van Avermaet, whose kick helped him win by a bike length.

"It's disappointing to finish runner-up, but on the bright side I can be happy with the way I rode and with giving everything today. At one point I had cramps and thought my race was over, but I remained focused and made it to the velodrome. Ok, maybe I could have waited 50 meters more before opening my sprint, but Roubaix is always a bit of a gamble. It's a pity I couldn't get my first Monument victory, but this is just my fifth full road season and I'm confident there will be other opportunities", concluded Zdenek after his second podium finish in three years at the "Hell of the North."

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen riding his last race

April 9th 2017 will primarily be remembered for being the day on which Tom Boonen bided farewell to the sport. One of cycling's biggest champions and personalities, the 36-year-old made the race on Sunday, attacking on several occasions, stretching out the peloton and giving his every ounce of energy to accomplish his goal of retiring with a fifth Paris-Roubaix in the bag.

Even though that much-desired win eluded him and he finished his last participation at the "Queen of the Classics" in 13th place, 12 seconds down on the first group, Tom was all smiles at the finish, where he was given a hero's welcome by his supporters.

"Last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions, but I'm telling you that I wouldn't have imagined such incredible moments this morning. These fans are fantastic and I want to thank them for being by my side in the past 15 years. To be honest, I wasn't thinking of my retirement today, I was all in for the victory. It was only at the 5km-to-go mark that I began thinking these are the last kilometers of my career", said Tom Boonen, a four-time Paris-Roubaix winner, who was cheered outside the team bus by hundreds and hundreds of people who wanted to show their love and appreciation for one of the greatest ever riders to play the game.

After he left Roubaix together with the team whose symbol he has been for a decade and a half, and as the dust settled and the fans headed home, two words continued to reverberate around Compiègne's Avenue Royale, where Boonen made his first appearance as a former rider:

 Merci Tommeke! Merci Tommeke! Merci Tommeke!

BMC headed to De Brabantse Pijl

BMC sent me this report:

10 April, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team return to Belgian soil for the next one-day race of the season, De Brabantse Pijl, this Wednesday 12 April.

Sports Director Jackson Stewart said many of the riders will have the opportunity to go for a good result, including 2015 winner Ben Hermans. "We're wrapping up the Flanders Classics with De Brabantse Pijl which has traditionally been a good race for BMC Racing Team. We know Ben Hermans has a good chance, as do some of our younger guys like Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen, who showed good form at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco."

"Silvan Dillier is also coming in with solid form so as a team we are ready to race aggressively and continue BMC Racing Team's success at the race and the Classics season this year. It's a tough race and I think with multiple cards to play we are in a good position."

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans winning De Brabantse Pijl in 2015

Hermans is looking to repeat his 2015 victory at De Brabantse Pijl. "De Brabantse Pijl is a course that suits me as I won it two years ago. It's always extra motivation to go back to a race you've won before but it doesn't make it any easier to win again. The next one-day races suit me as a rider and I am happy to start this block of racing at De Brabantse Pijl," Hermans said.

"Having been ill the past two weeks I am trying to regain the good feeling in my legs. My form isn't lost completely so I hope to be good in the next few weeks, starting with De Brabantse Pijl."

De Brabantse Pijl (April 12)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Ben Hermans (BEL), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Steve Bauer (CAN)

Team Sunweb previews its upcoming races

The team sent me this update:

DE BRABANTSE PIJL (1.HC)

Wednesday sees the 57th edition of Brabantse Pijl take place, starting in Leuven, Belgium. The route totals 205 kilometres and after a fast 57 kilometres riders will take on the first of 26 hills. The finish comes just 200 metres after the day's last 6.2 percent climb.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "This is a race where everyone rides offensively. In previous editions the weather circumstances are always the decider as to how the first half of the race will play out and the final laps will only take the strongest puncheurs through to the finish. Our goal is to support Michael and we also have Simon who will play an important role in the finale. Alongside these guys we have our talented youngsters Chris, Lennard [Hofstede] and Lennard [Kämna] who have the potential to perform well at such races in the future. This is a good way for these guys to gain experience."

RACE: De Brabantse Pijl (1.HC)

DATE: 12/04/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP:
Roy Curvers (NED)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Albert Timmer (NED)

AMSTEL GOLD RACE (WT)

On Sunday the WorldTour peloton heads to the start line of Amstel Gold Race, opening the first of three Ardennes Classics. The route is similar to previous years, with a slightly different finish set to shake up the action. Starting in Maastricht, the route totals 261 kilometres and takes in a total of 35 climbs. Instead of four ascents of the Cauberg, this year the final climb shifts to the Bemelerberg.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "The course change will for sure change the dynamics of the race. We will see more riders and teams attacking, meaning that anything is possible in the finale. We aim for a good result with Michael but we are prepared for every scenario and have other strong cards to play such as Simon and Warren if the race requires their strengths. Wilco is also back again from injury after five weeks off race. After lots of preparation we all share the same goal and start feeling prepared and motivated for a good day."

RACE: Amstel Gold Race (WT)

DATE: 16/04/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP:
Warren Barguil (FRA)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Georg Preidler (AUT)
Albert Timmer (NED)

AMSTEL GOLD RACE (WWT)

A new classic added to the women's cycling calendar, the ladies edition of Amstel Gold Race takes place on Sunday, 16 April. Riders will endure 17 ascents along its 121 kilometre route, with an 18.5 kilometre circuit sure to decide who will go through to the final with its climbs of the Geulhemberg, Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. Team Sunweb also start the race with Coryn Rivera (USA) wearing the Women's WorldTour leaders jersey.

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "After winning Flanders and taking the overall win at the Healthy Ageing Tour, the morale in the team is really high. We start the race feeling super motivated to take another win and we have various different cards to pay. Coryn is really strong at the moment and with a strong team around her anything is possible. It is likely that the final selection of the race will be made on the Cauberg and we will make sure that we are well positioned to follow every move. We start the day fully prepared to play the game with our riders from start to finish."

RACE: Amstel Gold Race (WWT)

DATE: 16/04/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP:
Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Rozanne Slik (NED)
Sabrina Stultiens (NED) 

LIÈGE-BASTOGNE-LIÈGE (1.2U)

On Saturday, Development Team Sunweb line-up at the U23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège wearing the team's colours. Starting in Bastogne, the 178 kilometre route forms part of the UCI Europe Tour.

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert (GER) said: "The U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège gives us a great opportunity to further develop our young talent and we line-up with a team that are eager to make their mark on such a prestigious race. It's important for the team to ride smart, and decide what cards to play depending on how the race goes. We don't necessarily have a lead rider for the race as with such young guys our main goal is rider development, but Nils and Max have both been riding well over the past few months so anything is possible." 

RACE: Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.2U)

DATE: 15/04/2017

COACH: Sebastian Deckert (GER) 

Bardiani-CSF hits the northern races

This came from the team:

Bardiani-CSF is ready to return to acing on Northern roads. After Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde and Volta Limburg at the end of March, on Wednesday the #GreenTeam will attend Brabantse Pijl, on Thursday the Grand Prix de Denain and on Sunday, April 16, the Amstel Gold Race.

The first event of the series will be raced in Belgium, 197 km from Leuven to Overijse. After the firsts 50 km of “acclimatization”, Brabantse Pijl (UCI 1.HC) will twist and turn through 26 cotes.

Line up - The #GreenTeam selection for the Belgian road race, led by team director Stefano Zanatta, includes eight riders: Vincenzo Albanese, Nicola Boem, Enrico Barbin, Giulio Ciccone, Mirco Maestri, Marco Maronese, Lorenzo Rota and Paolo Simion.

Quote - “For the young riders of our team it’s a new and important chance to improve” said Zanatta. “We have to face these three events with the ambition to grow, racing with grit and the will do to well. The goal is not just taking a good result, but also to raise the level of our performances. Every riders knows he had to earn the chance to race the most important events of the season, Giro d’Italia first of all. I want to see a positive approach and the wish to honor the race at the best”.

Facts - In three editions of Brabantse Pijl, the #GreenTeam achieved sixth place from Colbrelli in 2016 as best placement. Among the eight riders of 2017 squad, four will be debutants - Albanese, Maestri, Maronese and Simion. Average age of the team is 24 years old, with Albanese the youngest (1996) and Boem the oldest (1989).

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