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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Predicting rain doesn't count. Building arks does. - Warren Buffett

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La Méditerranéenne race is cancelled

Scheduled to run February 9 - 12, the already-troubled La Méditerranéenne stage race has been cancelled for 2017. The 2.1-ranked race has been troubled in recent years. According to the website Direct Velo, a shortage of police motorcycle escorts forced the organizers to cancel the 2017 edition of the race.

Andriy Grivko

Andriy Grivko won the 2016 edition. Sirotti photo

Lotto-Soudal previews the 2017 Tour Down Under

The team sent me this:

The Tour Down Under starts tomorrow. Last week GC rider Rafael Valls and neo-pro James Shaw already talked about their preparations and expectations for this six-day WorldTour stage race. Today we publish a preview with sports director Mario Aerts.

Mario Aerts: “In the People’s Choice Classic the Lotto Soudal riders already showed their will to attack, like they did all year long last season. We want to continue on the same path the following days. Everyone is very motivated for the Tour Down Under and at training they all made a good impression. Certainly Rafael Valls, who has to achieve a top ten place on GC. Because of an injury Rafa had to end the previous season already in July, but the past months he perfectly prepared for the Tour Down Under. His training data show that he is ready for his first goal of the season.”

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls in 2014

“The second stage, to Paracombe, has a hill top finish and therefore that stage will already cause a first selection on GC. The first part of that stage, five laps around Stirling, is tough. Those laps take place on an undulating course. We did a recon of the finale and it is hard too. The road is going slowly upwards from the valley, but the real climb starts at one and a half kilometres from the finish. There is immediately a peak above ten per cent. Together with the fifth stage to Willunga Hill, the second stage will be crucial for the overall classification.”

“Of course we will try to win a stage as well. Most victories go to Australians, but that’s not a problem as we have Adam Hansen in our team (laughs). He definitely has a chance to win a stage. Sander Armée, Lars Bak and Thomas De Gendt can also join breakaways. James Shaw is here to learn and to help Rafael. If he sees an opportunity, he can have a go though and attack. Sean De Bie will be our man for the sprint. The first day will almost certainly end with a bunch sprint, just like the last stage. The fourth day could be a sprint as well. On day three, with finish in Victor Harbor, the peloton could fall apart if echelons are formed. At the People’s Choice Classic, Sean had the punch in his legs to sprint to the seventh place. He doesn’t have to wait for a sprint though, he can always try to win with a late attack.”

Cannondale-Drapac roster change: Scully in for Canty at Tour Down Under

The team sent me this roster update:

Due to illness, Brendan Canty will not be able to take the start at the Santos Tour Down Under on Tuesday. New Zealander Tom Scully will take his place.

On Monday, Canty began to suffer from flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills. He was seen by the race doctor and then by the team doctor Peter Fuller. Both determined Canty has a virus and shouldn’t race. “It’s gone from starting a WorldTour race on my 25th birthday to being taken out of the race sick. Obviously, it’s disappointing. I spent a fair bit of time preparing for this race, and I think my form’s quite good. It’s definitely frustrating, but it happens,” Canty said.

Michael Woods

Cannondale-Drapac co-captain Michael Woods finishing the 2016 Milano-Torino

Leadership of the team is unchanged, with Mike Woods and 2013 winner Tom-Jelte Slagter serving as captains. “We had to make a quick decision. For Brendan’s own health and his own sake, I didn’t want to put him in the race. We came here to support Mike Woods and Tom Slagter, so the most important thing is to have a rider that’s 100 percent. It’s unfortunate it’s not Brendan,” said sport director Tom Southam.

The Tour Down Under marks Scully’s first race with the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team. “I would have liked to get a haircut and have a shave before my first WorldTour race. But at the end of the day there is nothing to worry about,” Scully said. “All I have to do is pin the numbers on tomorrow and get from point A to point B, supporting my new teammates along the way."

Cannondale-Drapac for the 2017 Tour Down Under: Paddy Bevin, Will Clarke, Alex Howes, Tom Scully , Tom-Jelte Slagter, Tom Van Asbroeck, Michael Woods

Quick Step Floors reports from the Tour Down Under

Here's the team's latest news:

Our riders navigated safely through the streets of Adelaide, in the People's Choice Classic criterium.

Jack Bauer, Gianluca Brambilla, Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns, Enric Mas, Petr Vakoč and Martin Velits were the seven Quick-Step Floors Cycling riders to line up on Sunday for the People's Choice Classic in Adelaide, which this year was held in a different place and consisted of 22 laps around a 2.3km-long circuit, for a total of 50.6 kilometers.

A rapid race was in store right from the start, when several riders tried to get a gap, but in the end it was only Ben O'Connor (Dimension Data) who managed to take half a minute on the peloton, after attacking early and being joined for a couple of laps by William Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac). With the fast-charging bunch on his tail, it was difficult for O'Connor to stay at the front and he was reeled in inside the final laps. The race concluded in a sprint, as expected, where Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) was victorious over the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Sam Bennett and Peter Sagan.

Team Quick Step

Team Quick Step waiting for the start of the People's Choice Classic

"The People's Choice Classic was our first competition after a long break for the team, so I think they did well today. They were careful not to take any risks or crash during the fast-paced sprint. In general, I think today's race was good preparation for the Tour Down Under, which starts this Tuesday", said sport director Rik Van Slycke, who also shared his initial thoughts for the race Down Under.

"With regards to the upcoming stages of the Tour, we will wait and see how our riders are feeling. The second stage already features an uphill finish, so after that test we will know more about the situation within the team. The riders we brought to Australia are very strong and we have a nice line-up of guys who could do something special on each stage. But I think after the second stage on Wednesday we will have a good idea of what cards we have to play", concluded Van Slycke.

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