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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, January 14, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

On that best portion of a good man's life;            
His little, nameless, unremembered acts             
Of kindness and of love. - William Wordsworth, from "Tintern Abby"

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2017 Vuelta a España

2017 Vuelta a España info

Here's the UCI's post:

The 2017 Vuelta a España route was unveiled on January 12th in Madrid, with Spain’s Grand Tour revealing full details of its third ever start on foreign soil: after Portugal in 1997 and the Netherlands in 2009 the 2017 edition will set off in France’s southern city of Nîmes.

Beginning on Saturday August 19th with a short, very technical 13.8km team time trial, the 2017 Vuelta a España makes its first incursion into the high mountains as early as stage three, which takes in two difficult climbs, the Rabassa and Cornella, in Andorra.

Covering a total of 3,297.7km, the 2017 Vuelta a España remains faithful to its tradition of having a very mountainous course, with a total of 50 categorized climbs and nine summit finishes. Potentially, the most decisive days could be the stage 11 ascent to Calar Alto, a 16km ascent in the south of the country, the third-week 42km individual time trial from Circuito de Navarra to Logroño and, above all, the ascent to Spain’s most difficult single climb, the Angliru on the Vuelta’s penultimate stage. Another standout feature is the summit finish to Los Machucos on stage 17. Unprecedented in the Vuelta a España, Los Machucos is an exceptionally difficult 9km climb in northern Spain which includes segments of up to 28 percent.

The 2017 Vuelta a España will finish with a traditional flat stage into Madrid on Sunday September 10.

Team Movistar posted this assessment of the 2017 route:

Movistar Team's general manager and 2009 Spanish grandtour winner & six-time podium finisher comment on the parcours confirmed on Thursday.

Following the official presentation of the 72th Vuelta a España's route in Madrid's Municipal Conference Hall, Thursday evening, the Movistar Team - winner of last year's race with Nairo Quintana - offers quotes by Eusebio Unzué and Alejandro Valverde on the race starting on 19 August in Nîmes, France, and finishing in Madrid on 10 September. The Spanish rider couldn't attend the event after the training accident suffered yesterday, hit by a barrier near his home in Murcia: “It's awful I couldn't be there, because I like to support the race and I make it there almost every single year, but considering the blows I suffered, the most reasonable thing was to stay at home and avoid a long journey out and back from Murcia. Where I'm hoping to be at is the start in Nîmes, on 19 August. My schedule is not completely defined, but a clear goal in mind for me is making the Vuelta team.”

Eusebio Unzué: “An early look at the route makes us happy, especially with the fact that there's a TTT, which should never be missed on Grand Tours. It's a good way to kick off a route that starts ramping up right from the start, with the climbs of La Rabassa and La Comella into the Andorra stage and those three mountain-top finishes in Valencia before the first race day. You feel like the race will get exciting from the very start.

"The second week, with those three uphill finishes on Alps-like climbs, will clear things up very much GC-wise - top, pure climbers should be leading the standings after that. We must also keep attention to the heat in those days in Andalusia; it's proven to be a key factor in previous editions.

"The third week will be even more important. First up, there's the Los Arcos to Logroño ITT, a special day for us as we will be racing home in the Navarra roads. Then, another two mountain-top finishes, and the always demanding Cantabria hills. And at the end, L'Angliru, a final, hellish chance for those who still want to conquer the race. I feel like it's a Vuelta route even harder than in previous occassions, and I'm sure it'll be spectacular.

Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde

Nairo Quintana (left, in red) and Alejandro Valverde await the start of 2016 Vuelta stage 12

Alejandro Valverde: “It looks like a really demanding Vuelta a España. Some people will probably say they shot completely off the mark, and for those like us who are suffering it on the bike it will be even more of a challenge, but I understand and prefer to have it this way. At the end of the day, fans want spectacle, and with this route, I'm confident the race will be really attractive for them."

"You'll have to plan your training schedule well and peak early, because those three mountain-top finishes in the first week will take a big share in the overall result. For the climbs on week two - I know them really well, they're really demanding and high altitude combined with the slopes will make a big impact. That will pay off a lot when entering the Cantabria stages, and also L'Angliru, famous for its incredible ramps. It's a climber's course, no doubts about that. No place for TT specialists who climb just well; not even for sprinters, because some stages, like the one in Murcia, are mountain ones even if they don't finish uphill. The fact that the race goes through my region makes it even more special."

Team Quick Step had this to say about the 2017 Vuelta:

13 mountain stages and 50 classified climbs await the riders at the final Grand Tour of the season.

The Vuelta a España announced the course of the 72nd edition on Thursday, and for the third time in history (after 1997 – Portugal and 2009 – Netherlands) the race will start outside Spain, with the French city of Nîmes – whose history dates back to the Roman Empire – hosting a 13.8km-long team time trial; it will be for the eighth consecutive year that the race will be opened by a TTT, and following this test against the clock, the peloton will spend one more day on French territory, before traveling to Spain for the Prades – Andorra la Vella stage, the first difficult one of the race.

On stage 11, the red jersey contenders will go to the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory on a day with over 3400 altitude meters, for the first mountaintop finish of the 2017 Vuelta. Sierra de la Pandera, Sierra Nevada/Alto Hoya de la Mora, Los Machucos (a new entry at the race, with a 28% maximum gradient) and the fabled Alto de l'Angliru will be the other summit finishes which will spice up things in the second half of the Grand Tour, while a 42km individual time trial from Circuito de Navarra to Logroño is sure to create some significant gaps between the red jersey favourites.

From 19 August to 10 September, when the bunch will arrive in Madrid, the riders will cover 3298 kilometers, tackle 50 classified climbs and take on nine summit finishes, a tough route but which has become a tradition for the Vuelta a España in recent years. The sprinters will get their chances, but it's obvious that overall the race and its fearsome ascents will favour once again the climbers.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team's David De La Cruz, winner of stage 9 at the 2016 Vuelta a España and the only Spaniard to wear the red jersey at last year's edition, shared his opinion on the route of his home Grand Tour: "The parcours is really hard, a mountainous Vuelta as always, but also with a pretty long individual time trial which I'm sure will make things very interesting. That's why the winner has to be a complete rider. Besides that, some stages could have crosswinds, making it very dangerous for the GC guys. I like the course and I'm really looking forward to it. Last year our team enjoyed a great race there and I hope we'll have plenty of reasons to smile also this season."

Trek-Segafredo unveils 2017 racing kit

Here's the posting from the team:

Trek-Segafredo has released its new 2017 racing kit. The stylish pinstripes remain, staying true to the Trek Factory Racing design, while the prominent white has been replaced with a vibrant red to match the team's Trek bicycles.  A brilliant, classy look.

2017 Trek-Segafredo kit

Trek-Segafredo's 2017 kit and bikes

Team Dimension Data's plans for Tour Down Under

Here's the report from the team:

The 2017 World Tour season opener is upon us as the Tour Down Under gets underway on the 17 of January. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is excited to be in Australia for the 2nd year in succession, particularly with our 4 Australian riders raring to go in front of their home crowd.

Once again, the Tour Down Under will take shape over 6 road stages around Adelaide and South Australia. While the World Tour stage race officially starts on Tuesday the 17th, the traditional People’s Choice Classic Criterium will take place on Sunday the 15th and is sure to whet the appetite for what is to come over the following week.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will approach the Tour Down Under with great ambition, targeting stage victories as well as a possible high finish on GC. A good GC performance will once again come down to consistency but with emphasis being placed on 2 key stages, stage 2 finishing in Paracombe and stage 5 finishing on Willunga Hill.

Each stage will be an opportunity for victory though and our 7 riders will take every opportunity to raise awareness for Qhubeka down under. Nathan Haas showed his form is where it needs to be after the Australian national championships and he will lead our African Team at the Tour Down Under. Mark Renshaw showed last year with two 2nd place stage finishes that the sprint finishes certainly suit him. Lachlan Morton, Ben O’Connor, Tyler Farrar, our South African champion Jaco Venter and Jacques Janse van Rensburg will complete our line-up for the Tour Down Under.

Nathan Haas

Nathan Haas at the 2016 Tour Down Under

Nathan Haas – Rider: It feels like the African Team has become a home for a few of the Australian sons of cycling. We have Australians here are all ripped, raring and ready to go here. Two of the Africans are here as well in Jacques and Jaco who have just come from a hot climate. Tyler has just come from training in Maui so we have 7 guys here who are super motivated, used to the heat and ready to get the first World Tour race off to what we believe will be a good start.

Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director: We are happy to start the season once again in Australia and particularly with this group. It is probably the best scenario for us to start the season because we have 4 Australian’s in our roster which is really special. A stage win will be great to achieve but we must be ambitious and we think we can target a top 10 on GC, so we will consider both options and not just stick to one. We also hope to take some good form from this race into the start of the European season.

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