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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 15, 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

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. - John Stuart Mill

Today's racing:

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Lotto-Soudal looks at the finale of the Amstel Gold Race

The team sent me this report:

On Sunday, the 52nd edition of the Amstel Gold Race is scheduled. The organisation has made an important change: the Cauberg is no longer the last hill in the race.

The riders need to cover 261 kilometres and 35 hills! This WorldTour race starts in Maastricht. After just over 56 kilometres, and a first ascent of the Cauberg, the riders will cross the finish line in Valkenburg a first time. The finish is on the same place as previous editions. Then the peloton starts a big loop of more than one hundred kilometres, with eighteen hills. The Cauberg is the last in the row. Next, there is a smaller loop of about seventy kilometres with nine hills, the Cauberg being the last one before crossing the finish again. Finally, one last lap needs to be covered. This one is only sixteen kilometres long and only takes the riders over the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg. After the last hill, it’s only five kilometres till the end of the race.

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “With the Brabantse Pijl, a new part of the season has begun. We hope to animate the races of the Ardennes triptych. The team had a good start at the Brabantse Pijl, where Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens rode a strong finale. That was encouraging for what has yet to come. Our team for the Ardennes races is different than for the Flemish spring races, so we start with new expectations. Most of the riders did a last preparation at the Vuelta al País Vasco.”

“The change that has been made to the course of the Amstel, means some riders will need to race differently. Hopefully many will take initiative. That’s also necessary for us and we hope others will do that too. We saw a strong attack from Tim Wellens last year, but he couldn’t stay ahead unfortunately. He did show that the course suits him. It will definitely be no bunch sprint on Sunday, but it can be a sprint with a larger group. Although the past races proved that attacking can be rewarded and we hope that is the case in the upcoming races as well.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens having a good day at Mallorca earlier this year.

Tim Wellens: “This morning we did a recon of the Amstel. Not much has changed, apart from the last kilometres of the race. It’s always nice to ride on the course a few days before the race, especially when the weather is as good as today. I had a good preparation, almost identical to the one of last year. I considered the Vuelta al País Vasco as a last preparation on the Ardennes races, so I would not peak too early. I noticed in the past that it is otherwise too difficult for me to hold on to that top shape until Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

“At the Brabantse Pijl, I attacked once and that gave a good feeling. I was able to close the gap on the leaders. That gives me confidence for the Amstel. It is hard to predict the race. Riders who waited for the last ascent of the Cauberg in the past, will have to attack earlier now. I expect attacks in the section of the Kruisberg, Eyserbosweg, Fromberg and Keutenberg. Several factors can influence the race, like the wind or the fact that the roads are wet or not. I hope we ride strong as a team and animate the finale and that I or a teammate set a good result. We are aiming for the highest possible.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Tomasz Marczynski, Rémy Mertz, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.

Quick Step is also headed to Amstel Gold Race

Here's the team's update:

Netherlands' sole World Tour one-day race puts on the table an altered parcours for the 52nd edition, scheduled this Sunday.

The Ardennes Week is here, and as usual in the last years, Amstel Gold Race will have the honor of lifting the curtain. The 261km-long race starts from Maastricht and comes to a conclusion in Berg en Terblijt, taking the riders over a course which includes 35 short and punchy climbs (some with double-digit gradients), narrow and twisty roads and shifting winds which could very well spice up the day and wreak havoc long before the race hits its climax.

This year's novelty is that the last part of the course has been revamped by the organizers, who decided to take out the fourth ascent of the iconic Cauberg (800 meters, 6.5%), meaning that now Bemelerberg (900 meters, 4.5% average gradient) will serve as the final hill. Crested by the riders inside the last six kilometers and followed by a descent and a flat section, Bemelerberg could change the dynamic and complexion of the race, bringing more riders into contention at the end of the day, while at the same time forcing others to go out on the attack from afar.

Known also as "The King of the Cauberg", Philippe Gilbert is a rider for whom Amstel Gold Race has no secrets; a three-time victor at the Dutch classic (2010, 2011, 2014), he also won the World Championships over a course more or less similar, five years ago, all results that make him the living symbol of the famed climb.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert Winning the Amstel Gold Race in 2014

The Quick-Step Floors rider, a winner of Ronde van Vlaanderen this season, will be motivated to leave his mark on the 52nd edition, even though the final part of the route is different than in the years he came out on top, and Cauberg role's – which features for the last time with 16 kilometers remaining – is expected to be downplayed.

Quick-Step Floors' strength in numbers has been put on display on several occasions at this season's spring classics, where the team took three victories and five other podiums, and our outfit will once again line up a roster comprising several riders who can play an important role in the closing stages of Amstel Gold Race.

Also making the squad headlined by the Belgian Champion for the event which will take place in the Limburg region are Gianluca Brambilla, Dries Devenyns, Bob Jungels (best young rider of Tirreno-Adriatico), Daniel Martin, neo-pro Maximilian Schachmann, Paris-Roubaix runner-up Zdenek Stybar and Petr Vakoč, who showcased his good form recently at Brabantse Pijl, where he finished second.

BMC Racing Team to Target Stage Wins at Tour of the Alps (formerly Giro del Trentino)

This came to me from the team:

14 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will be looking for opportunities in Italy next week when the team returns to the Tour of the Alps (April 17 - 21) for the first time since 2014.

Sports Director Max Sciandri said BMC Racing Team will be taking the race day by day.

"Tour of the Alps is a tough race with around 3000 meters of climbing on the so-called easier days and then 4000 meters on the final stage to Trento. It will be a demanding race with five full-on stages, so we will be taking every day as it comes and looking for opportunities as they arise."

"While our priority is not the General Classification specifically, this is a good testing ground ahead of the Giro d'Italia, so we expect Rohan Dennis to be up there."

For Rohan Dennis, Tour of the Alps will be the final test before the Giro d'Italia. "I am coming into Tour of the Alps with the Giro d'Italia at the front of my mind. I have been working hard following Tirreno - Adriatico and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya so, I'm looking forward to testing myself here."

"Tour of the Alps will be part of my final preparation ahead of May. My main priority will be to test myself throughout the race and whatever happens on the General Classification happens," Dennis explained.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis at this year's Tour of Provence

Tour of the Alps (April 17 - 21)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Joseph Rosskopf (USA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Manuel Senni (ITA)

Sports Directors: Max Sciandri (ITA), Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

UAE team to ride Tour of Croatia

The team sent me this news:

On the road to the Giro d'Italia, UAE Team Emirates will participate in a short stage race, the Tour of Croatia, from 18 to 23 April.

For the six stages of the Croatian competition, sports directors Bruno Vicino and Orlando Maini will supervise the following eight riders: Kristijan Durasek, Roberto Ferrari, Andrea Guardini, Yousif Mirza, Sacha Modolo, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Jan Polanc and Edward Ravasi.

Sports director Orlando Maini pointed out: "The line-up grants us to try to be protagonists in every stage, also thanks to the high morale of the eight riders: some of them are improving their form in view of the Giro d'Italia; Mirza is excited for the debut in Europe; Ravasi will be back to races after a rest period due to a knee pain".

Yousif Mirza recently won the UAE national title: "It's such a honour for me to be at the start of an European race, wearing the national champion kit.
I'm happy I'll be with my team mates, working for common goals, I'm ready for fulfilling the requests from the sports directors".

For Sacha Modolo, the Tour of Croatia is an important step towards the Giro d'Italia: "I'd like to give the final feedbacks to my team about my form in view of the Giro d'Italia and I'd like to receive from my legs the necessary support for achieving good results in the sprinters stages, but also for exploiting the other stages as important training sessions".

This is the list of the stages:
- 18 April, 1st stage: Osijek-Koprivnika (227 km)
- 19 April, 2nd stage: Trogir-Biokovo (123 km), summit arrival
- 20 April, 3rd stage: Imotski-Zadar (237 km)
- 21 April, 4th stage: Crikvenica-Umag (171 km)
- 22 April, 5th stage: Porec-Ucka (141 km), summit arrival
- 23 April, 6th stage: Samobor-Zagabria (147 km)

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