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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 2, 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

The things that we love tell us what we are. - Thomas Aquinas

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

LottoNL-Jumbo's Dubai Tour stage 2 report

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen again sprinted to second place behind winner Marcel Kittel (Quick Step) in the Dubai Tour today. Thanks to winning the first two stages, Kittel leads the race and Groenewegen sits second overall.

“I wanted to be first, but I have to be content with second, as Marcel Kittel was strong today,” Groenewegen said. I think it was possible for me to win today, but I launched my sprint a bit too early. I sprinted on the right side and I saw the Quick Step train going on my left. Had I accelerated 50 metres later, I could have won.”

With five kilometres remaining, the yellow Team LottoNL-Jumbo train placed Groenewegen at the front. When the sprint began, in contrast to yesterday, Groenewegen came up too early. For a moment, he seemed to have the win, but Kittel surged from behind. The German won with a wheel’s length on the Dutch champion. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Juan José Lobato placed sixth.

Groenewegen keeps the white jersey for the young riders classification that he took after placing second yesterday.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel wins the stage

Today’s stage began in Dubai and finished after 188 flat kilometres in Ras al Khaimah. An escape group worked free and built up a four-minute lead, but was always under the watchful eye of the peloton. With only 10 kilometres remaining, the peloton engulfed them and prepared for the bunch sprint.

“We arrived a little early at the front, but we did it better than yesterday,” Groenewegen said. “Tomorrow, maybe it will go even better."

"We're not there yet, but we have made another step ahead,” Sports Director Grischa Niermann said. “The result is the same, but the train rode much better today."

Juan Jose Lobato rode his own sprint, which was planned by the team. "The plan was to ride in the Tour of Qatar with Dylan and Lobato here in Dubai. Since Qatar was cancelled, the two sprinters are here now,” added Niermann. “We have discussed this plan and the riders know that they are both allowed to ride their own sprint."

"The sprint train rides for Dylan, but Lobato has to stay close and feel how it is done. He can learn to work in this way with our sprint train, which is especially good for the upcoming races where Lobato will rely on the boys. At his previous team, it was not on the agenda. Now, he needs to get used to working with a sprint train."

Orica-Scott's Jayco Herald Sun Tour update:

Australia’s oldest stage race and the final race of the Australian season, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, got underway this evening with a 2.1km prologue in the centre of Melbourne.

Former Australian time trial champion Michael Hepburn was the fastest finisher for Orica-Scott, finishing in a time of 2:34.43. The effort was good enough for fourth place, two seconds behind stage winner and yellow jersey bearer Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky).

General classification hopeful Esteban Chaves stopped the clock in 2:43:11 to limit the time loss to his climbing rivals, including Chris Froome (Team Sky) who finished four seconds faster.

“Michael had a really good ride tonight,” sport director Matt Wilson said. “With such a short course, it really is a matter of seconds and he had a good hit out off no specific preparation. We are also really happy with Esteban’s ride. We know Froome is a strong time triallist so to only lose four seconds means we are well and truly still in the mix.

“It’s all about tomorrow now.”

How it happened:

Two-time Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Simon Gerrans led ORICA-SCOTT as the first rider down the ramp. His time of 2:40.10 was enough for 28th place, 11seconds off the pace. Van Poppel followed immediately behind, posting a course record and the fastest time. He remained in the hot seat for the rest of the evening.

Former under-23 world time trial champion Damien Howson was the next rider to beat Gerrans’ time for Orica-Scott, finishing in 2:38.47 for 19th place.

New Zealand’s Sam Bewley bettered the time again for 13th in 2:37.09 before Hepburn finished as the penultimate rider of the evening to take fourth as the team's top performer.

Etoile de Bessèges stage 1 report from Team An Post-Chain Reaction

Stage one consisted of a rolling 158km starting in Bellegarde with three large circuits that varied slightly and then another three smaller finishing loops.

After a couple of nervous crashes even before the KM 0 mark, a breakaway of 4 was formed almost immediately as most the peloton seemed happy to let them roll away. The experienced world tour team of Katusha controlled with 5 of their men on the front of the peloton, and over the following kilometres the gap soon grew to over 6 minutes.

This 4 man break was the order of the day with the gap being brought back down to around three minutes at the halfway point with 80km to go, hovering at around this gap right up until the finishing circuit. The teams sprinter Jonas Bokeloh was selected by Kurt as the protected rider and he was kept in the safety of the front of the bunch.

The final circuit consisted of just over 3 laps of 8.4km and ensured a fast and furious chase to catch the escapees before the finale. With 20km to go the gap was down to below two minutes and the break looked like it would be caught, with now just three riders up the road.

Sure enough with just 4km to go the remaining breakaway was caught and our team was ensuring Jonas was in the right position to give the sprint a go. Massimo Vanderaerden gave a fantastic lead out spotting a gap on the left with 500m to go into the last rise and Jonas was able to sprint to a promising 17th position beating names like Tony Gallopin and Daniel Mclay fresh from his win in Majorca.

Arnaud Demare

Dèmare wins the stage

The winner of the day Arnaud Dèmare from FDJ held off competition from Alexander Kristoff. Tomorrow consists of another sprint stage, 152km from Nîmes to  Rodilha where the team and Jonas will be keen to continue to impress.

Team Quick Step Floors reports on the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana team time trial

David De La Cruz, Laurens De Plus, Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Daniel Martin, Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra were the eight Quick-Step Floors riders to roll down the ramp for stage 1 of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which consisted of one of the toughest team time trials of the year, a 37.9-km one on up-and-down roads, a course which was expected to create some important gaps between the general classification contenders.

One of the last squads to get things underway in the small town of Orihuela, the host of the inaugural stage of the 68th edition, the Quick-Step Floors boys found their rhythm early and had a strong ride on this brutal opening stage of the Spanish event, setting at one point the best time at the arrival, 44:06, at an average speed of 51.565 km/h. Eventually, the squad finished in third place, behind BMC and Team Sky, but ahead of many teams which came with high hopes of making a good GC, a result that bodes well ahead of the next stages.

First one of these is scheduled Thursday, between Alicante and Denia, when five categorized climbs will be on the menu.

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