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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. - Robert Frost

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Tejay Van Garderen to lead BMC's Abu Dhabi Tour team

BMC sent me this news:

20 February 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Tejay van Garderen will make his 2017 debut this week when he headlines BMC Racing Team's eight-rider roster at the UCI World Tour race, Abu Dhabi Tour.

Sports Director Jackson Stewart said that BMC Racing Team is taking a competitive team to the four-day stage race. "With Abu Dhabi Tour now part of the UCI World Tour, there will be added pressure for everyone however we have a strong team surrounding van Garderen, who, as always, has prepared well for the season ahead."

"Nicolas Roche, who was second here last year, and Samuel Sánchez, have both shown early season form and will be able to play a crucial support role on the steeper stage or step up if needed. We have already seen some fast finishes in Dubai and Oman, so I think we can expect that here too. Our team is definitely up to the challenge, and each rider is capable of aggressive racing when it makes sense."

For van Garderen, this is the first opportunity of the year to put his off-season training to the test. "I'm excited to get my 2017 season underway at Abu Dhabi Tour. It will be a very competitive race, especially as there are also UCI World Tour points on the line this year. I've worked hard this winter, and I hope to be able to prove this and to be up there on the General Classification."

Tejay van Gardeen

Tejay van Garderen racing in the 2016 Tour of Switzerland

Abu Dhabi Tour (23 - 26 February)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Loïc Vliegen (BEL)

Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Max Sciandri (ITA)

Team LottoNL-Jumbo leads with Boom and Groenewegen in Belgium's opening weekend

The team sent me this:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo is heading into the opening classics weekend in Belgium with Lars Boom and Dylan Groenewegen as its leaders. Both will race the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday.

72nd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:

This year the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad steps up into the WorldTour and takes on more importance considering the points on offer as well as the usual prestige associated with the classic cobbled race starting and ending in Ghent.

The race, formerly Omloop Het Volk, takes in many of Belgium’s famous cobbled sectors and climbs. It will mark the first battle together for many of the big classic stars.

Boom, back in the team after racing with Astana in past years, hopes to score quickly. If it should come to a good-sized group sprint then Groenewegen will take control. He has shown in the past that he can handle the Flemish roads. In 2014, the sprinter won the under 23 Tour of Flanders.

Saturday 25 february - 72nd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Riders: Lars Boom, Jos van Emden, Dylan Groenewegen, Gijs Van Hoecke, Tom Leezer, Timo Roosen, Bram Tankink, Maarten Wynants

Sports Director: Jan Boven and Nico Verhoeven

Mechanics: Vincent Hendriks, Ruud Beurskens, Tony Arts

Lars Boom

Lars Boom in 2016

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne:

The day after, February 26, many of the same cyclists will head to Kuurne for the 200-kilometre Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. It is traditionally one for the sprinters, so Groenewegen will lead the eight-man team.

In 2016, Groenewegen finished fourth behind the breakaway that gobbled up the top spots. This year, he hopes to sprint for the win. Boom and Groenewegen both start in this UCI 1.HC race. The preliminary selection consists of eleven riders. The final selection will be decided after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Sunday 26 February - Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (UCI 1.HC)

Riders: Amund Grøndahl Jansen, Robert Wagner, Lars Boom, Twan Castelijns, Jos van Emden, Gijs Van Hoecke, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Wynants, Dylan Groenewegen, Timo Roosen

Sports Directors: Jan Boven and Nico Verhoeven

Mechanics: Vincent Hendriks, Ruud Beurskens, Tony Arts

Alejandro Valverde reflects on winning 100 races

The team posted this interview:

Alejandro Valverde reflects on feelings after making the select group of active riders with more than hundred pro victories: fourth within current generation, second-ever Spaniard to reach the milestone.

He had beaten the record of podium finishes in the World Championships (6), obtained the most wins at Flèche Wallonne (4), Vuelta a Murcia and Ruta del Sol (5 each), achieved the longest age difference between his first and -so far- latest win in the Vuelta a España (12 years). All of those are now joined by one of Alejandro Valverde’s most impressive achievements in his 15-season career. The 36-year-old from Murcia has made the select group of riders who have obtained 100 or more victories as pro competitors. Within those active at the moment, only Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish and André Greipel have reached that far.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde racing in the 2016 Tour de France

In Spain, Txomin Perurena was the only able to surpass the mark in the 1970s, the unmatched Miguel Indurain just three short of hundred. More relaxed after his fifth Andalucía win and with his sights already set on his next goal, Paris-Nice, we look back together with the Movistar Team rider, seeking for his most profound feelings on a historic career success.

“It’s clearly been a special win. Not only because of the milestone, but also due to the way it unfolded, the rivals against whom I claimed it, and how hard the team worked to make it easier for me. To be honest, I didn’t start thinking about victory number 100 until I won in Murcia last week. There, I realized that it was only left two for hundred, and I knew that I’d be in great form for Andalucía, with two or three stages that suited my conditions. In the end, it all went as if we had planned, with that stage win in Granada followed by the overall, making it exactly 100 at the end of the week. Now, what’s next? Well, if I may dream, I’d chase another Vuelta a España, and of course, the World Championships. I’m the rider with the most podium finishes, yet I haven’t worn the rainbow bands yet. That’s something I’m still dreaming of.”

“I had also been told at the race that only Boonen, Greipel and Cavendish had reached hundred in their careers. Those are amazing riders, through they’re all sprinters, who achieve lots of victories into bunch finishes. Being able to make part of that group, if you consider that I’m a different type of rider, one who’s fast yet not a real sprinter - that has to make yourself proud. It’s always been difficult to achieve victories throughout my career, but I’d say it’s even harder to do so right now, because the racing has become really much controlled by stronger teams. That’s why I can’t believe I’ve achieved 100 victories. It’s so hard, even more so nowadays. Being the only Spaniard to have got that far in the last 40 years also proves how difficult it is. I had already beaten the record of wins in Murcia, now in Andalucía - it really boosts my morale to keep chasing records, and I’ll continue for as long as my legs allow me to do so.”

“Now I’m able to stay calm easier when I race, I don’t get so nervous. Everywhere I race, it’s just to improve my palmarès and the team’s, to continue enjoying riding my bike and make the fans happier. I’m getting older, I’ve achieved lots of big results, I’ve made a name inside cycling and my personal life is more stable than ever - it all helps a lot. You need great condition and quality, and training as much as you can, of course - but feeling more calm and having such an amazing team, such a lovely group of people around me - even though it’s difficult to win, it all makes it easier.

“I don’t know for how long I’ll keep on racing. For the moment, I plan on fulfilling my current contract - it’s already a long stretch until 2019 - and then we’ll see if I’m still so committed and motivated to carry on. I only want to think about the present right now. When the time comes, we will see if it’s worth to continue racing or rather stop.”

“There have been so many good ones that it’d be difficult to stick to just one. Many times in the past I stated that the one I got most excited about was one where I didn’t win, but meant the whole world to me. It was the silver medal at the Canada Worlds in 2003, behind Igor Astarloa. Also, my stage win in the Tour Down Under, in my first race in 2012 after staying for a year and a half out of racing. I’ve taken care of myself and trained like a beast, the whole team. It was my way to tell the world: ‘Here I am, back again.’ After that, it all was easy for me. The most special win? I don’t know, maybe the first Liège in 2006? I say that because I had always dreamt to winning Liège, it cost us a lot - the team and I - achieving a victory there, also being the first-ever Spaniard to win Liège. That all makes it special.”

“Of course, the help of so many people made it possible to reach this number. It’s thank to my family, my parents, my wife and kids - they were rooting and taking care of me all the time. Then, my directors, every since I was a child. Manuel López, the man who coached me as a youth rider, from 14 to 18. Paco Moya. Vicente Belda. And then, José Miguel Echávarri and Eusebio Unzué. All of the current DSs at the Movistar Team: Arri (José Luis Arrieta), Chente (García Acosta), (José Luis) Jaimerena, (José Luis) Laguía, now Pablo Lastras - they’ve all brought me loads of experience to get this far. And of course, all carers, mechanics and team personal, who work their hearts out so I can think only about racing. They’ve all been an integral part of this success.”

Quick Step will race the Abu Dhabi Tour

Here's the team's update:

The Abu Dhabi Tour, the first ever World Tour event held in the Middle East will coincide with Quick-Step Floors' final stage race in February.

Following his successful campaign in the Dubai Tour, where he crowned himself champion for the second year in a row, a triumph to which he added three stage victories and the points jersey, Marcel Kittel returns to the Middle East for the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour, a four-day race spiced up by strong winds and a tough summit finish.

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel winning stage one of the 2017 Dubai Tour

Julian Alaphilippe, New Zealand National ITT Champion Jack Bauer, Gianluca Brambilla, Davide Martinelli, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoč will be by Marcel's side, as Quick-Step Floors will try to get a win with the German sprinter, as well as leave their mark on the penultimate stage, which promises to be a challenging one. This will see the riders go up Jebel Hafeet, a 11km-long climb averaging 8%, but with double digit gradients inside the last three kilometers.

"We come to Abu Dhabi with a strong team, and our first goal is obviously to nab a stage win with Marcel. The race has three flat stages, which means as many chances for Marcel, but we must keep in mind that in Abu Dhabi the wind could be an important factor", said sport director Geert Van Bondt. "On the third day a mountain top finish awaits, and Julian, who proved in Dubai he's in good condition, and Gianluca, who was in the top 10 here two years ago, will be our cards. This way, we'll get to see where we stand before our March objectives."

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