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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 18, 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

Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others. - John Maynard Keynes

Today's racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour of Alps Stage Two shortened, snow forces Brenner Pass elimination

Here's the release from the race organizer:

The Tour of the Alps’ stage 2, originally 181.3 km from Innsbruck to Innervillgraten, will be shortened due to the severe weather conditions. This was the decision taken in full agreement by the Jury and the Organizing committee, as the passage on the Brenner Pass was deemed to be too dangerous for the riders due to heavy snowing.

The new start will be given at 12.00 in Vipiteno, for an overall distance of 140.4 km.

The new race program means that the iconic start on the Europe Bridge will not be held. “We are very saddened by the loss of this start, also for its symbolical meaning, but we realize there was actually no other choice. The rider’s safety must come first, so we totally agree with the UCI decision to shorten the stage,” said Josef Margreiter, Director of Tirol Werbung.

Wilier Tirestina car

Here's the photo Team Wilier Triestina posted on its Facebook page

Team Sky's Tour of the Alps stage one report:

Geraint Thomas narrowly finished second on the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps after a gruelling summit sprint finish.

Thomas lost out to Michele Scarponi (Astana) on the final climb at Innsbruck after attacking in the closing kilometre to split the peloton, only for a small group to track his move, before the Italian edged him in a last-gasp sprint to the line.

The pair were part of an elite group also containing Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) Thibault Pinot (FDJ) and Domenico Pozzovivo who traded cat-and-mouse attacks and counters before Scarponi was able to pip Thomas on the line.

Thomas now lies second in the general classification, four seconds behind Scarponi, who carries a small advantage into stage two thanks to a time bonus awarded for winning the stage.

Earlier, a break containing Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) Matthias Krizek (Tirol Cycling Team) and Iuri Filosi (Nippo-Vini Fantini) led for the majority of the race, until excellent work from Ian Boswell, Pete Kennaugh and Phil Deignan at the front of the peloton helped bring the breakaway to heel.

Their fate as a trio was sealed when Krizek suffered a mechanical issue and as the pace continued to pick up, the remaining pair were finally caught in time for the final ascent into Innsbruck, which was led by Kenny Elissonde and setup Thomas’ attack.

Michele Scarponi

Michele Scarponi wins Alps Tour stage one

Sport Director Dario Cioni reckoned it is always to be positive about second place, but the result positions Thomas well overall. He told TeamSky.com: “You can never say you are totally happy with the stage when you come second, but when you look overall at the race it was good.

“G has confirmed he is one of the strongest riders in the race so we must be happy. With bonus seconds it is always good to get on the podium and add extra seconds on your rivals.”

Despite only having six riders for the race, Cioni was quick to praise the efforts of the team and believes it was a good all-round display. “The team operated very well and the six riders were fully committed,” he added. “We were happy to oversee other team’s moves in the opening half of the race and when G looked like he was going to commit to the stage we took control.

“Technically it was good to be at the top going into the last climb and the team did well.”

BMC Racing Team backing a mix of youth and experience at La Flèche Wallonne

The team sent me this note:

17 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Samuel Sánchez will make his return to racing at the second race of the Ardennes Classics series, La Flèche Wallonne, this Wednesday 19 April.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Jackson Stewart said the team will work for Sánchez and Dylan Teuns for the overall win. "This year's course is a little easier than previous editions with a few less climbs, but as is tradition at La Flèche Wallonne, it will probably come down to the last climb, the final ascent of the Mur de Huy. It's a demanding course so it will be the top climbers left at the end," Stewart explained.

"We will line up with Samuel Sánchez and Dylan Teuns as our main contenders. They have both had decent results here in the past. We saw at De Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race that Dylan is riding really well and Samuel had great form before his crash in Pais Vasco and he seems to have recovered well. I think with the team we have, we can manage a good result on Wednesday."

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez finishes Basque Tour stage five after crashing

Teuns is confident ahead of La Flèche Wallonne where the course is well-suited to his racing abilities. "The climbs at La Flèche Wallonne are longer than those at De Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race so they suit me better. It is my third time racing and I already had a good result where I just missed out on the top ten. I was really happy with this result in 2015 and I think my preparation is even better this year. I feel that my form is really good and I'm coming up to the top level so I hope I can be there on the Mur de Huy," Teuns said.

Sánchez is looking forward to racing at La Flèche Wallonne following his crash at Pais Vasco in early April. "My sensations on the bike are good and I would like to use La Flèche Wallonne to check my physical condition, in particular the recovery of my hand. My recovery has been a miracle but very laboured, both physically and mentally. I love the Ardennes and I really wanted to come back for them, so La Flèche Wallonne will be a good opportunity to see where I am at now at this point in the season."

La Flèche Wallonne (19 April)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Ben Hermans (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL).

Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

Here's the schedule the team sent me:

LA FLÈCHE WALLONNE (WT)

The second of the Ardennes classics gets underway on Wednesday with La Flèche Wallonne. Taking in nine short, steep climbs, the day closes with a finish atop one of cycling's most iconic ascents, the Mur de Huy, 1.3 kilometres with an average gradient of 9.6 percent.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Last year there was more climbing in the earlier stages of the race, but with some changes to the route the hardest sections will come in the last two laps. The run into the final laps will have some difficulty if there is a lot of wind so the team will need to stay alert. Our goal is to position Warren well on the last climb of the Mur de Huy and to deliver him to the finish having saved as much energy as possible. I expect a nervous finale and for the race to be decided on the last climb, as it has in previous editions."

RACE: La Flèche Wallonne (WT)

DATE: 19/04/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP
Warren Barguil (FRA)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Georg Preidler (AUT)

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil racing in last year's Tour de France

LA FLÈCHE WALLONNE (WWT)

The 20th edition of the women's La Flèche Wallonne sees riders tackle 120 kilometres and seven sharp climbs. The finish comes on the Mur de Huy after 1.3 kilometres of climbing the day's sharpest climb, which gradient averages 9.6 percent.

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "This is a race for the pure climbers, especially with the final climb of the Mur de Huy. This is a good opportunity for Sabrina and we hope to go for a top 15 with her, but so far this season the team have shown that they are capable of anything and that anything can happen. Our goal with the rest of the team is to support Sabrina or find a moment to be in a break before the Mur and go for a result in this way."

RACE: La Flèche Wallonne (WWT)

DATE: 19/04/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP
Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Sabrina Stultiens (NED)

LIÈGE-BASTOGNE-LIÈGE (WT)

The fourth Monument of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège takes place this Sunday, April 23. One of the oldest classics on the cycling calendar and the last before the beginning of the Grand Tour season. The route tasks riders with a total of 258 kilometres and ten climbs, including the iconic La Redoute. The day's last second-to-last ascent of Saint-Nicolas is closely followed by another short, steep 5 percent climb sure to take only the best through to the line.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Last year Warren became the first rider in the team's history to finish in the top ten of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and this year we hope we can achieve the same. It's important for the team to be sharp on the weather conditions, as last year showed that we have to be prepared for everything. The last 10 kilometres sees a route change but I believe this favours the more light-weight riders like Warren. We line up at the race with a strong team and this is another chance for our leaders to ride for each other during their key peak moments, with Tom and Michael both riding in support of Warren."

RACE: Liège-Bastogne-Liège (WT)

DATE: 23/04/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP
Warren Barguil (FRA)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED) 

LIÈGE-BASTOGNE-LIÈGE (WWT)

A new classic added to the women's cycling calendar, the first edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Women takes place this Sunday. Starting in Bastogne, the route takes the peloton through 135 kilometres before a finish in Ans. The races first climb comes on the Cote de La Vecquée before its finishing three climbs of Cote de La Redoute, Cote de La Roche-aux-Faucons, Cote de Saint-Nicolas and an unclassified climb to the finish in Ans.

Team Sunweb coach Dirk Reuling (NED) said: "It's great to have another race added to the Women's WorldTour calendar, especially on the same day as the men. This is a tough race for climbers and is probably one of the hardest one day races on the women's calendar at the moment. We have a variety of cards to play with Leah, Sabrina and Ellen all capable of a result on these parcours. It will be important for the team to anticipate when to attack and perhaps we can find a moment to create a gap going through to the final."

RACE: Liège-Bastogne-Liège (WWT)

DATE: 23/04/2017

COACH:Dirk Reuling (NED) 

LINE-UP
Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Rozanne Slik (NED)
Sabrina Stultiens (NED)

LE TOUR DE BRETAGNE CYCLISTE (UCI 2.2)

The 51st edition of Tour de Bretagne takes riders from Rennes to Fougères over a series of seven stages. Riders will take on 1180 kilometres during the course of the week, with a variety of tough terrain for riders to contend with on the way.

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert (GER) said: "Tour de Bretagne is one of the most challenging and highest ranked races that our development team will have to contend with this year. We line up with a balanced group of riders that will go for results day by day. The race is a highlight on our racing calendar we are really looking forward to seeing what the race brings."

RACE: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste (UCI 2.2)

DATE: 25/04-01/05/2017

COACH: Sebastian Deckert (GER) 

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