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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, January 6, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

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Quick Step Floors team headed to Vuelta a San Juan

Here's the team's update:

This January we return to Argentina, a country in which our squad has tasted victory on 11 previous occasions.

For the first time in history, Vuelta a San Juan – a race created in 1982 – has a 2.1 classification, which means World Tour teams can come to the start. Quick-Step Floors Cycling will be one of these outfits that will line up for the seven-stage event which will cover 892 kilometers between 23-29 January.

Five of these stages will have the sprinters' name written all over them, but also the time trialists and the climbers will have their chance to shine. A pan-flat 11.9km ITT will lead to the first significant gaps in the general classification, while the stage to Alto Colorado (14.4 kilometers, 4.4%) will provide the perfect backdrop for the decisive fight between the overall victory contenders.

The Vuelta a San Juan will mark Tom Boonen's debut in what is set to be his final season, one that will conclude in April, at Paris-Roubaix: "I've started the season several times in Argentina, but last year I couldn't be there unfortunately due to the crash in Abu Dhabi. In my opinion, Argentina is one of the best places to kick off the season thanks to the great temperatures, good roads, and spectators who always give you a warm welcome. And also the parcours is something I like, because is well-balanced. That's why I'm really looking forward to race San Juan."

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen will start his final racing season in Argentina

The seven-time Monument winner will be joined in South America by Colombian youngster and best neo-pro of the 2016 season Fernando Gaviria, who announced his arrival on cycling's biggest scene in Argentina two years ago, French neo-pro Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq, home fans' favourite Maximiliano Richeze and Pieter Serry.

"We can't wait to go to Vuelta a San Juan and discover this part of Argentina. We've always felt at home in this country and we hope to enjoy other beautiful moments there. Our team is a strong one and we make no secret of the fact that we want to win at least one stage with Fernando", said sport director Davide Bramati of Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team's goals and expectations for its second race of the year.

Rohan Dennis Defends Australian Time Trial Championship

Here's the report the team sent me:

05 January, 2017, Buninyong (AUS): Rohan Dennis has claimed the gold medal for the second consecutive year in the individual time trial at the Australian Road National Cycling Championships, with a dominant performance that saw him take the win with a 58-second margin.

As defending champion, Dennis was the last rider to roll down the start ramp for the 40.9km and put in a solid first half of the race. Although he crossed the line at the intermediate checkpoint three seconds behind Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT), Dennis put in a blistering run into the finish line to clock 50:59", 58 seconds in front of Durbridge and 1:38" ahead of Ben Dyball.

Dennis' victory marks his third consecutive year on the podium, and the first win of the season for BMC Racing Team. Miles Scotson put in a solid effort in his first race for BMC Racing Team. The neo pro crossed the line with the fifth-fastest time for the day, 2:29" behind Dennis.

The Winner's Interview with Rohan Dennis:

As defending champion, you were marked as the pre-race favorite. How confident were you?

"Two weeks ago I was fairly confident and then on New Year's Day I was really confident but then that night I came down with something. This gave me a bit of doubt as I didn't know how I was going to go. A lot of it was severe hay fever symptoms and I think it was more than that, but I woke up this morning and I was feeling a lot better. So I just hoped that it would all come together today."

You know the course well. How were the conditions out there today?

"The head wind was huge on the way back and it just kills you as you are fighting it the whole time. It was harder than last year and more like the conditions we had two years ago. The last 5km hurt a fair bit."

At the intermediate checkpoint you were three seconds behind Luke Durbridge and then went on to finish 58 seconds ahead. Talk us through the last half of the race.

"Durbridge really threw it down on the way out and this stressed me out a little bit as I didn't expect him to be up by three seconds. It was a fight all the way to finish and we weren't getting time checks after the top of the climb so after 12km to go I didn't have a time check. So I didn't know if he held back on the climb and really booted it for the last 10-12km, so it was an absolute battle. I did blow up a little bit in the last 5km but I told myself to just not have massive power differences on the uphills and downhills and keep it a bit more even. It was more of a mental battle then. I just had to back myself and the power I was putting out which isn't always easy when you're on the limit. It's a bit of a learning curve again."

With a win already in the bag, how are you approaching this first part of the season with the Santos Tour Down Under?

"I can take a lot of positives from today. I'm lighter than last year and basically put out the same power. I haven't done a lot of time trial-specific training for the nationals so that's a huge bonus. We're moving towards going for GC so I still have to be good in time trials, so obviously I haven't neglected that. There's bigger goals than the Santos Tour Down Under but I'd like to be up around the mark in Adelaide and we're there for Richie so I can be there to help him get the win."

Sports Director Jackson Stewart on Dennis' victory:

"It was pretty windy, stronger than last year I think. Rohan was wearing a radio so he knew that he was behind at the intermediate point. By the time he reached the last 10km we were pretty confident that he was in a good place but there were no official time checks at that point. He was probably up by around 40 seconds or so. But in any case it wasn't easy. I know when he went out he paced himself but he definitely didn't hold much back. Durbridge was on a great run so we didn't think Rohan would end up winning by close to a minute. Rohan dug really deep in the last 5km and I think that's where he picked up a good 20 seconds."

Katrin Garfoot wins Australian Women's Time Trial Champs

This news came from Orica-Scott:

2016 world championship bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot has claimed ORICA-SCOTT’s third elite gold medal of the Australian Championships with a convincing victory in her pet event, the time trial, in Buninyong today.

Garfoot hit the 14km checkpoint having already gained almost 40seconds advantage on her nearest opponent Shara Gillow.  By the conclusion of the 29.3km up and back course, she had extended her margin to almost two minutes.

The 35-year-old’s winning time was 43:05 with an average speed of 40.8km/h. Gillow (45:00) held on for second, with Kate Perry (46:19) rounding out the podium.

“The pressure was on,” Garfoot said. “Even though I try not to let it get to me, I was nervous and wondering if I could do it again because you never know where the others are at, at this stage of the year. Obviously there is always something to improve but at this stage I wouldn’t know what because it just came all together.

“I pushed harder than I wanted to on the way out and I knew I would pay for that on the way back. But as soon as I saw Shara and knew I would catch her, I settled down a bit, reeled her in and I knew that mentally that would give me an advantage.”

In a double victory for ORICA-SCOTT, teammate Alex Manly also claimed the under 23 time trial championship, finishing in a time of 48:39 ahead of Jaime Gunning (48:44) and Ella Scanlan-Bloor (48:54).

Manly, who has identified the time trial event as a future target, was unsure of her form following a track racing focus, but was pleasantly surprised with the result.

“I’m really happy with the race,” Manly said.  “Going into it I wasn’t sure how I was going on the road and was feeling unsure of what I’d got myself into, but I’m really happy it worked out in the end. Going out I had a handle on it (with the tail wind) and I wasn’t thinking too much about it, just one hill at a time. Coming back (with the head wind) it really hurt and I think I struggled a bit mentally there.”

The Australian Championships continue with the final event, the road race on Sunday.

Team Sunweb presents 2017 kit and equipment

The team sent me this release:

Team Sunweb is pleased to unveil its 2017 equipment and the new race kit that will be worn by its riders through the 2017 season. For the first time in the team’s history all three of its programs – men’s, women's and development - will race under the same name, wearing the same kit. The new distinguished black and white Giant race clothing, manufactured by Etxeondo, contains subtle red elements and retains its distinctive "Keep Challenging" two stripe design, continuing its reference to the team’s distinguished DNA.

CEO Iwan Spekenbrink (NED) said: “We are proud to present our new kit for 2017 along with our new title sponsor, Sunweb. We're pleased to have retained our two stripe design as it represents our deeply embedded "Keep Challenging" approach. For the team and its members, the meaning of these two iconic stripes goes far beyond an appealing design on a race kit, as one rising stripe represents the continuous development of the athletes and the other represents the continuous development of the team’s science and technology driven sport environment – together they form the “Keep Challenging” strategy to which the team has been committed to as their key growth-driver from day one.”

Team Sunweb kit and bike

2017 Sunweb kit and bike

Team Sunweb’s science and technology driven approach is integrated through its high-end race machines and race clothing. The team’s experts and scientists are continuously working with the Research & Development departments of its suppliers Giant, Etxeondo and DSM’s Dyneema on product and fabrics innovations and use the research facilities and science of high-end windtunnels at the Technical University TU Delft. These innovations are integrated through the teams latest products to continuously advance the teams performance in terms of technology and equipment.

The team’s distinctive black and white identity centred around its two stripes is consistently present across all of the teams equipment - Giant bikes (men’s and development program), Liv bikes (women’s program) as well as the team’s MINI vehicles and all other communications platforms are branded with the teams DNA.

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