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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 22, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. - Voltaire

Current Racing:

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Tour Down Under stage 5 reports:

Team Dimension Data posted this:

Stage 5 of the Tour Down Under was the much anticipated GC stage to Willunga Hill and all the pre stage hype did not leave spectators disappointed. As Richie Porte (BMC Racing) won the stage and secured the overall leaders classification too, our Nathan Haas was winning hearts with an astonishing 2nd place finish on the stage. 3rd place went the way of Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).

The Queen stage of the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under may have covered a total distance of 151km but everyone knew it was going to be the final 5km that really mattered today, with the ascent of Willunga Hill to the finish line. The famous Australian climb had to in fact, be covered twice today as the race went over the summit for the first time with 30km to go.

As the race descended old Willunga Hill, there was still the stages early break of 4 riders just hanging on to a slender lead over the peloton. Team Sky, Orica-Scott and BMC Racing led the way down and on the loop back around to the start of Willunga Hill once again. The fire power from these 3 squads was always going to be too much for the early leaders and they were caught, as expected, before the final 5km of the stage.

Nathan Haas

Nathan Haas back in the 2015 Tour Down Under with a small friend

It was a full blooded leadout into the bottom of the climb and our African Team was working to place our GC hope, Haas, into a good position before the road pointed upward. As Team Sky hit the ramp first, Haas was looking good as he maneuvered his way onto the wheel of Porte, and 5th in line. The early pace on the climb was ferocious though and after only a kilometer of climbing, Haas was in difficulty.

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Haas when he could no longer hold his place in the line and was dropped from the lead group of riders. As Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and later, Porte went attacking up the climb Haas was out of sight of the small GC group. As we were watching Porte solo to another impressive win, Haas managed to find his 2nd wind on the steepest part of the climb.

After Porte crossed the line solo, the camera panned back to the race for 2nd place with everyone expecting the likes of Chaves, Henao and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) to be rounding the final left hand bend in the fight for 2nd but out of nowhere it was Haas. The Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider pulled himself inside out to latch onto the favourites in the final 100 meters and proceeded to then win the small group gallop which also saw him move up the overall classification to hold 3rd place, behind Porte and Chaves.

Nathan Haas – Rider

I am just so excited. When I went across the line the I had lost count of how many guys there were ahead of me. I was looking for guys and I didn’t even know where I came but I knew I was in front of the guys that I had to beat. I had a really bad moment about a kilometer into the climb and I thought, oh no. I had been practicing breathing exercises all off season from a swimming coach so that was in the back of my head so I went to that and the oxygen made its way back to my legs. From there I just went up, up, up. I was asking myself the questions I wanted to hear, you never ask yourself does this hurt or can I get through this but your subconscious always wants to. So today I was just asking the questions I wanted to hear and then once I got to the front of the group I put it in a bigger gear and went all in.

Here's what Orica-Scott had to say:

2016 Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves has finished in third placed up the famous Willunga climb on the penultimate day of the Tour Down Under.

Chaves finished 20 seconds behind race leader Richie Porte (BMC), who all-but secured the 2017 title with a second stage win, to move into second overall with one stage to go.  Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) finished second on the stage to move in third on the general classification.

Orica-Scott and Team Sky worked hard on the front of the peloton in attempt to isolate Porte and split the bunch in the approach to the final climb, but Porte was too strong and claimed his fourth consecutive win up Willunga.

Chaves praised Porte and the Australian crowd, but was equally happy with a strong week of racing so early in the season. “It was really hard, especially on the climbs but it was beautiful at the same time,” Chaves said. “There was a lot of people at the border, it was like the Tour de France for three kilometres, twice.”

“The team worked really well for me. All day they protected me from the wind and also gave me bottles and put me in the sweet position. We tried to split the group with Sky before the second climb in the wind but it’s not really strong so everyone started (the climb) together. Richie, like the last years, (went) one kilometre from the finish. It’s impressive, congratulations to him, and we just fight for the podium.

“We were going really fast and when (Richie) attacked the first time I am with him. He rested for like 10seconds and attacked again and I can’t go with him. For the moment I am second on GC and I’m happy to start the season in this form.  We are in the third week of January and this is a WorldTour race so we can’t complain, it’s good.”

How it happened:

In what was the final showdown for the general classification battle, the peloton took off from McLaren Vale headed for three local circuits before tackling the famous Willunga Climb.

For the second consecutive day Jack Bauer (Quickstep) found himself in the breakaway, this time alongside Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Will Clarke (Cannondale Drapac) and Jeremy Maison (FDJ). The quartet sat around two and a half minutes in front of the peloton before the pace picked up from behind on the first ascent of Willunga.

The catch was made with six kilometres remaining as ORICA-SCOTT and Team Sky strung out the peloton on the approach to the stage finale. The climbers were soon visible at the front of the race but Porte was once again too strong and attacked solo for the victory.

Here's Team Sky's report:

Sergio Henao praised the efforts of his teammates revealing it was ‘all or nothing’ following a tough battle up Willunga Hill on stage five of the Tour Down Under. Henao finished eighth as Richie Porte (BMC) claimed his fourth straight win on the famous climb with the Colombian knowing he had an uphill task to get a place on the podium.

Sergio Henao

Sergio Henao after stage 5

After being well-placed by Kenny Elissonde and Sebastian Henao in the closing stages, the Colombian was the sole challenger to runaway leader Porte with 1km to go, knowing a stage win would boost his hopes of an overall podium place.

Throwing caution to the wind, he pulled away from his general classification rivals, pressing Porte, only to be caught in the closing metres to drop down from second to eighth. Despite the disappointment, Henao insisted he had little option after a double puncture on stage two had dented his Ochre jersey hopes.

He told TeamSky.com: “The team put on a really strong pace at the bottom of the climb, to put me in a strong position. There was a gap starting to form ahead of the other guys but I knew I had to continue on and I knew it would be difficult to follow Richie up the hill. I was trying to get a place on the podium. It was all or nothing."

His words were echoed by Sport Director Brett Lancaster who was encouraged by the display and praised Porte’s consistency on this stage. He said: “Our plan was to make it as hard as possible and soften some riders up before the climb. The guys were perfect and Richie just had better legs than everyone. I think Sergio nearly crashed but we gave it everything and he pulled it on.”

Ahead of the final stage Lancaster looked ahead to the final day of the Tour Down Under and an opportunity for Danny van Poppel to end on a high. He added: “The mood’s been good, Danny’s been close a few times. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow but it seems Caleb (Ewan) is bit unstoppable at the moment. We’ll give it everything tomorrow.“

Earlier on, there was a group of escapees who had all been in breakaways from previous stages as Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Jack Bauer (Quickstep), Will Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Jeremy Maison (FDJ) led for much of the stage.

However, excellent work from Team Sky duo Ian Standard and Luke Rowe on the front go the peloton reeled them in to setup a showdown between the top climbers in the world on Willunga Hill, which saw Porte come out on top.

This came to me from Team UAE Abu Dhabi:

The 5th stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, 151.5 km starting from McLaren Vale and arrival on the ascent of Willunga Hill, was the first crucial moment for a race in the 2017 season.

The queen stage of the competition which is taking place in Adelaide surroundings saw two opponents fronts: the Australian one, whose members (Porte, Haas, McCharty, Dennis) can rely on a shape which is already at a high level thanks to the trainings in the Australian summer; the rest of the world, well represented by athletes as Diego Ulissi, captain of the Team UAE, Chaves, Izagirre, Keldermann, Gesink and Valls.

The ascent of Willunga Hill, which was covered twice, was the key moment of the stage, after that the peloton had neutralized at 5 km to go a breakaway of four riders (Berard, Clarke, Jense Van Rensburg and Courteille).

Thanks to a precisely timed attack, Porte succeeded in crossing the line alone, 20" ahead of Haas (2nd), Chaves (3rd), Ulissi (4th) and McCarthy (5th).

Ulissi is 5th in the general classification, at 59" to the leader Porte: this situation could be also the final one, considering that the final stage will be raced on a city circuit in Adelaide (distance 90 km).

"Today I aimed to climb up the general classification and to enter in the top five - Ulissi explained - It was not an easy goal, I was aware that a top performance would have been necessary, also because in the general classification there were many riders in few seconds of gap. On the final ascent, I focused my attention only on my efforts, I had good feedback from my legs and I succeeded in crossing the line with the first chasers of Porte.

"Porte demonstrated to be the best, my compliments; on my side, I appreciated my performance, it is good to have these feelings in the first seasonal race and it is good to be able to compete with many of the best riders of the world. We won't decrease our attention until the last meter of tomorrow final stage in Adelaide, the city circuit is fast and could give suprises.

:I'd really love to obtain a place in the top 5 of the final general classification, that would be a huge satisfaction and I feel that could be a good way to thank our new sponsors and our president Mr Matar for their commitment with the team".

Rémy Mertz counting down to his pro début at Challenge Mallorca

Lotto-Soudal sent me this note:

In a few days time, Rémy Mertz will make his pro début. Last week, the 21-year-old Belgian was in Mallorca for the second team training camp of the pre-season. Tomorrow, he heads back to the island to take part in the Challenge Mallorca (26 – 29 January), which will be his first race as a pro.

Rémy Mertz: “I can’t wait for my first pro race. This time of the year is completely different than last year. The U23 season doesn’t start until the end of February. Now I will be racing much earlier in the year and in completely different circumstances. That should also be in nicer weather, although I’ve seen that it has also snowed in Mallorca a few days ago. I am used to snow though. I live in Arlon, in the Ardennes. We’ve had up to ten centimetres of snow. Luckily I have the newest Revbox to train indoors if necessary.”

“I’m already leaving for Mallorca on Saturday. Next week, I will take part in the Challenge Mallorca, but it’s also a third training camp. I returned from the previous training camp only a few days ago. In the beginning of the training camp I had some stomach ache, so I had to adapt my programme. Luckily, it was not too serious. I just needed a few days of rest and then I could do the trainings as planned.”

“The tempo was higher than at the training camp in December. We also trained more intensively and did more specific trainings. We were divided in groups, depending on the type of rider you are. I was part of a group of climbers. The past few months I learnt a lot about the way of riding ad eating. It’s also good to speak other languages with the staff and teammates.”

Interbike confirms this year's show will stay in Vegas; Denver and SLC in the running for 2018

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this report:

TEMPE, Ariz. (BRAIN) — The trade show shuffle has left Interbike right where it started, for this year at least, in Las Vegas' Mandalay Convention Center in September. For 2018, the show is looking at results from a recent industry survey that found dealers favor Denver or Salt Lake City for the show.

In light of recent announcements of major show date shifts by Eurobike, the Taipei Cycle Show and the Outdoor Retailer show, Interbike surveyed the industry this fall and came close to pulling the trigger on moving this year's show to June at the Mandalay, said Pat Hus, the show's vice president. Hus spoke at the opening session of the IBD Summit here on Tuesday evening.

A June show would have positioned Interbike ahead of Eurobike, which is moving to July next year. But Hus said organizers decided against the June move for a variety of reasons, including Specialized's decision to hold its big dealer event in September this year.

You can read the entire story here.

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