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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. - Walt Whitman

Current Racing:

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Amanda Spratt wins the 2017 Santos Women’s Tour

Orica-Scott sent me this report:

Former Australian champion Amanda Spratt has claimed the overall victory in the 2017 Santos Women’s Tour after successfully holding on to the race lead since day-one.

The 29-year-old started as she showed her intentions from the start with a convincing solo victory on the first road stage into Meadows, which gave her a 19second advantage over her nearest rival Janneke Ensing (Alé-Cipollini).

Spratt and her Orica-Scott teammates worked hard to maintain this advantage throughout each stage of the tour which concluded today with a one hour criterium in Victoria Park, won by Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling) with Orica-Scott winning the team classification.

“It’s a big sense of relief for me now and I am really, really happy to have won,” Spratt explained. “The team were once again incredible today they had everything covered all race. They all said it was a harder race today than last year but I thought it was a lot easier, so it just shows how much work they did and I could just sit in and let them do everything for me again today.”

“It was our goal to keep this jersey and we have done it, it really was a team effort so I am really happy we have also won the teams classification. I get to step up on the podium with the whole team and that is a really special moment for me.”

Despite Spratt’s impressive tally of road race victories, an overall general classification achievement is fairly new to her having only ever won one other stage race back in 2011, making it an extra special victory today.

“It's great to get a tour win, I must say it’s a little bit stressful the general classification business,” Spratt continued. “It took a while to get used to it and it is been an interesting experience. Normally I am the one helping the GC leader and try and calm them down, so I have a new appreciation being in this position now.”

Orica-Scott have now achieved three consecutive overall victories in the Santos Women's Tour since it’s inception in 2015 leaving sport director Gene Bates thrilled to produce the goods once again in the team's home race.

“It’s fantastic for the team to have won this race once again, every year we look forward to this race and every year it gets better,” Bates said. “For an Australian team you want to put your best foot forward, it is good for sponsors and the riders are always super motivated to perform well in their home country."

How it happened:

Orica-Scott confidently headed into today’s final stage knowing what they were required to do to keep hold of the overall lead. In the past the criterium stage around Victoria Park has often finished in a group sprint and did so once again today.

The riders raced around the 1.2kilometre circuit for one hour in hot temperatures and with bonus seconds up for grabs in the intermediate sprints the pace was high as all the main sprint teams worked to place their riders in position.

A few opportunistic riders tried to break free, however everything was instantly shut down with Orica-Scott always in good position with Spratt sheltering behind Annemiek van Vleuten as the race drew into the final half.

With five laps to go, as planned, the team headed to the front and swapped off increasing the pace and lining the bunch out. With around two laps to go other sprint teams began to take over as Katrin Garfoot jumped from the Orica-Scott train and into the wheels of the sprinters and was able to finish inside the top ten.

Wild sprinted to a second stage victory as Spratt crossed the line having secured the overall victory rounding off a fantastic performance from the entire team over the four-days.

The team will be back in action at the Towards Zero Race Melbourne followed by the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

Santos Women´s Tour stage four results:
1. Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling) 1:02:42
2. Annette Edmondson (Wiggle-High5) ST
3. Chloe Hosking (Alé-Cipollini) ST
10. Katrin Garfoot (Orica-Scott) ST

Overall General Classification:
1. Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) 6:59:36
2. Janneke Ensing (Ale Cipollini) +0:25
3. Kirsten Wild (Cylance Pro Cycling) +0:40

UAE Abu Dhabi team reports on Tour Down Under stage 1

The team sent me this update:

First World Tour race for Team UAE: The team managed by Giuseppe Saronni carried the flag of the UAE in the elite of the world cycling, debuting in the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, 145 km from Unley-Lyndoch.

The course of the stage, which was suitable for the fast wheels of the peloton, was reduced of 26,5 km due to the extreme heat (above 40 degrees).

The first part of the course led to the only one categorized climb at 38 km in the race, after that hill the riders did not face any other climb and the final 5 km were a light downhill to the arrival.

The first attack in this edition of the Santos Tour Down Under was by De Vreese, who launched a solo attack three kilometers into the race. The Dutch rider led the stage until km 101, when his action was neutralized by the peloton, which was then led by the sprinters' teams.

Laurens de Vreese

Laurens de Vreese on his ultimately unsuccessful break

Team UAE too began to work for his sprinter Kump and the support given by the trio Marcato-Laengen-Swift was really substantial and it allowed the Slovenian rider to approach the sprint in the front positions of the bunch.

Kump battled in the center of the road (photo Bettini) against the other top fast riders of the peloton, while Ewan launched his action on the left side of the road: his sprint was impressive and he won preceding Van Poppel, Bennet and, in 4th position, Kump.

"Our lead out train has been for sure more incisive than what it was on Sunday in the People's Choice Classic Criterium - sports director Marzano commented - We're satisfied on how our riders supported Kump, who succeeded in performing a good sprint. The athletes of our team were also great in managing their performance in the heat, they paid the necessary attention to the hydration".

Kump explained: "At the start, my team mates and me were all focused on the race because we aimed to obtain a top result in the first World Tour race of the Team UAE. I feel we realized a good performance, I thank my mates for their impressive support.

"Ewan sprint was too good, however I sprinted very close to the other riders and I succeeded in obtaining a place in the top five. A place on the podium would have been something great, we'll try to achieve this goal in the next stages".

Roberto Roverberi discusses Team Bardiani-CSF's 2017 season start

Bardiani-CSF sent this to me:

Six days and Bardiani-CSF will face its first race of the year, Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, followed seven days after by Dubai Tour. These two stages races will be “the springboard” for an “impressive and ambitious” 2017, as affirmed by #GreenTeam manager Roberto Reverberi.

“The main goal of a new season it’s always improving what you did the year before, but for us it’s better saying we want to confirm ourselves. 2016 has been a special year in #GreenTeam history, we did an important quality step, both in results both in performances. Repeating an exciting season would be a success for us and it doesn’t mean we settle for this - we aim to strengthen ourselves and preparing for a new growth during next future”.

How is the first impression with the team?

“Positive, and not just because I’m the manager. We had a very good training camp in Spain in December and January. I have the perception that it’s a very harmonious and ambitious group. New riders Wackermann, Albanese, Maronese and Pacinotti immediately integrated in the team. The oldest Pirazzi, Zardini, Boem and Barbin showed a great attitude, giving example to the youngest. Ruffoni, Simion, Andreetta, Tonelli and Sterbini are motivated to make a new quality step while in former neo-pros Ciccone, Rota, Maestri and Velasco there’s a great wish to confirm the good impressions of last year. Only racing we’ll see if these impressions will be confirmed, but we have what we need to make it real”.

Luca Wackermann

Luca Wackermann (shown last year at the Tour of Azerbaidjan) is riding for Bardiani-CSF in 2017

What will be racing schedule of Bardiani-CSF in 2017?

“During next days we hope to define the majority of our calendar. We want to add the races suited to bring out the best skills of our riders. We’ll have less races in Belgium, compared to 2016 season, and we’ll add more stages race in summer. Key event will be Giro d’Italia, of course. We want to alternate World Tour races, where we’ll have the chance to measure ourselves with the bests, and quality races being among leading teams. Italian calendar will be our main focus, but we aim as well to stand out globally”.

Winning 2016 Italian Cup makes Bardiani-CSF the “first team in Italy”, all the more so as there won’t be Italian World Tour teams in 2017. Could this change the plans of the team?

“Being completely Italian, with two Italian title sponsors such as Bardiani Valves and CSF Inox Group, it’s something make us proud. During the delicate phase that Italian cycling is facing we feel the bearer of an important tradition. From our side, we’ll try to honor in the best way the badge we have on the jersey. We know how hard will be the competition with top teams, how wide is the gap between World Tour and Professional category. But this doesn’t affect our approach. We’ll do our best every times and it will be amazing if one of our victories will be perceived as a success of Italian cycling”. 

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