Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 16, 2017
People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. - Rosa Parks
- February 14 - 19: Tour of Oman
- February 15 - 19: Volta ao Algarve
- February 15 - 19: Vuelta a Andalucia / Ruta del Sol
- February 18 - 19: Tour du Haut Var
Latest completed racing:
- February 12: Trofeo Laigueglia
- February 12: Clasica de Almeria
- Feb 11: Vuelta a Murcia
- Feb 6 - 10:
Tour of QatarCancelled
- February 5: G.P. Costa degli Etruschi
- February 1 - 5: Etoile de Bessèges
Ben Hermans wins Tour of Oman stage 2 and claims leader's jersey
Hermans' BMC team sent me this:
15 February, 2017, Al Bustan (OMAN). Ben Hermans put in a commanding performance on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman to win the first uphill stage of the race and move into the overall lead with four stages remaining.
The 145.5km stage featured four climbs and was the first battle of the General Classification contenders with a short but steep finish on the Al Jissah climb.
It was a battle for a breakaway to go clear in the first hour with the peloton flying at 50km/hr. Two riders, Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), eventually broke away and established an advantage of more than seven minutes.
The peloton began the chase with 60km to go and the catch was made 20km before the finish line, which allowed further attacks to play out. Only half of the peloton was left as the group approached the finish, and it was Hermans and Greg Van Avermaet who were in the selection on the final climb.
Van Avermaet attacked with 1.5km to go, was then overtaken by Merhawi Kudus (Dimension-Data), attacked again, and then made way for Hermans to make a push for the line and win convincingly ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team).
Ben hermans wins the second stage
Hermans has a four-second lead on the General Classification over Costa and is six seconds ahead of Fuglsang.
The Winner's Interview with Ben Hermans:
Ben, congratulations! How did the finale play out?
"We did as the team asked us. We had a plan to attack with Greg Van Avermaet and he saw his moment when we tried to just ride at tempo in the middle of the climb. Then he countered Kudus but Kudus was really explosive and fast, so when I saw Greg came back I tried. It was still 300m to go but I knew I would only have one chance if I made it a very long sprint and not too explosive, and it worked out well."
Were you targeting this stage in particular?
"I wasn't thinking about the stage until yesterday. I knew the climb from 2015 when I attacked straight from the bottom when Tejay van Garderen and Greg were leaders, and I made it with the first guys on the top. So I knew this climb was perfect for me. But I didn't expect to win."
What are your thoughts on the rest of the race?
"It's a hard race. The next three days will be hard again and we have to be in the front all of the time. It will not be easy for the team to control the race, and now all of the other teams will look at us. We can't do anything else but control so we will see how it works out. The race has not finished today. I think there are 10 or 15 riders who are favorites for the race. The Green Mountain climb is totally different from today."
Valerio Piva, Sports Director: "We know that Greg Van Avermaet is good here every year. It's difficult to finish here on the climb, instead of the downhill, so we said that Greg was our leader and Ben Hermans was a protected rider. We knew that Ben was in great shape. We wanted to jump in the attacks at the beginning of the stage because it was chaos. We didn't start chasing because then you have the responsibility all day."
"When we arrived at the 3km to go mark the plan was to lead out Ben and Greg, and Ben's plan was to jump behind the climbers and attack. Greg made a move and they chased him back, and then Ben made a perfect move. We are happy and the whole team worked well today. We have the jersey so we will defend it. The finish on Green Mountain is also a climb for Ben but of course, we have some of the best climbers in the world here. Stage 3 is also a good stage for Greg so we have options."
Alberto Contador riding the Ruta del Sol to win
Contador's Trek-Segafredo had this say about the race's first stage:
There was no easing into the season for Alberto Contador in the first stage at the Vuelta a Andalucia [Ruta del Sol] Wednesday with a category one climb tucked into the final kilometers, but for the feisty Spaniard it played to his panache perfectly and made for a thrilling start to the year.
The Trek-Segafredo team led the peloton into the business end of the race, first driving the pace to catch back the breakaway, then continuing their searing speed to lead Contador into the decisive climb.
Haimar Zubeldia hauled the peloton onto the bottom slopes until Team Movistar grabbed the reins, and the damage was quick and severe: the bunch shattered leaving a skeleton group, and that's when Contador pulled the first of his many punches.
"I am very happy with my feelings, and with the team, everything worked very well today," said Contador. "We were brave to take control. In the last climb, nobody was given continuity to the rhythm, but I was not able to make the differences I hoped for."
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was the only rider able to match Contador's first acceleration, but when he was unwilling to work, the move neutralized, and dropped riders clawed their way back to their wheels.
"He had to try to play his tricks," explained Contador about Valverde. " I told him to collaborate and go together, but he did not think about that possibility. If we went together, we could be more calm and play the race between us, but he did not want to. It's normal; everyone has his tactics. Tomorrow will be another day."
Alejandro Valverde gets the stage win, much to Alberto Contador's displeasure
Contador continued to test the waters on the category one climb, hurting many legs in his never-say-die style, and was quick to match the only attack by Valverde in the final meters of the long uphill. The two crested together and on the descent Valverde created a small gap, but by the bottom a group formed with four riders that swelled to six men three kilometers from the end.
"You have to reinvent yourself at all levels, going up, in the flat and in descent, to optimize the performance to the maximum," explained Contador about the tactical final kilometers.
Although the terrain of the first day played out with a select six-man group sprint and more to the tune of Valverde, who took the stage honors, tomorrow's summit finish should prove more selective, but Contador was uncertain by how much.
"We will see about tomorrow because I think the last climb is harder on paper than in reality," he pointed out.
Although Valverde will wear the leader's jersey into the queen stage tomorrow, the top six riders are within the same time in the overall classification.
Bardiani-CSF to ride Abu Dhabi Tour
The team sent me this update:
After seasonal and Italian debut, Bardiani-CSF is now approaching its first race in UCI World Tour circuit. From February 23 to 26, the #GreenTeam will race the four stages of 3rd Abu Dhabi Tour, third event of 2017 WT calendar. Race preview suggest a challenge for sprinters, with a medium mountain stage on third day to outline the final classification.
Line up - Team directors Bruno and Roberto Reverberi will lead eight riders included key sprinter Nicola Ruffoni, rouleur Nicola Boem, Simone Andreetta, Mirco Maestri and Alessandro Tonelli together with the ones who have good climbing skills such as Stefano Pirazzi, Luca Wackermann and Edoardo Zardini.
Quote - “Competing in a World Tour race is a big push in and of itself but, most important, is a chance we have to fully exploit” said Roberto Reverberi. “We selected a well equipped squad with enough experience. Looking to race route, Ruffoni will be our leading man but, as happened at Dubai Tour, we will try to exploit every situation to shine”.
Luca Wackermann in 2016
Facts - Bardiani-CSF will attend Abu Dhabi Tour for the first time while in UAE has already raced at Dubai Tour with Boem winner of 2017 intermediate sprints jersey. For key sprinter Ruffoni is the third race of the season after Vuelta San Juan - third place in stage 4 - and GP Costa degli Etruschi. Wackermann and Zardini are the ones who raced most - eight days - while Pirazzi attended only Italian debut. Average age of the team is 26 years, with Pirazzi the oldest (27) and Andreetta the youngest (23).