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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 11, 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

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God. - Christopher Hitchens

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France reports

We'll start with the update from BMC on Richie Porte's condition:

10 July, 2017, Chambery (FRA): Richie Porte remains in hospital in Chambery where he is recovering from a fractured clavicle and pelvis sustained in a crash on stage 9 of the Tour de France. Porte spoke briefly on the crash and his condition.

Richie, it is less than 24 hours after your crash and you are still here in hospital in Chambery. Simply, how do you feel?

"Obviously, I've felt much better than what I do right now. I'm in a fair bit of pain and it's a big disappointment to be honest. I think I was in great form and the team were really strong around me too, so it's disappointing but I think after seeing the crash I'm lucky that I have come away with the injuries I have."

You saw the crash on television. Do you recall how it happened?

"I remember I came into a corner and it wasn't like we were going too fast or anything like that, but I just remember I locked the back wheel up and that was it really. Next thing I was heading for the grass verge on the corner. I stayed conscious the whole time. I remember the whole thing but I must say thank you to the medical staff on the race and the hospital. They have been absolutely fantastic."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte

You have fractured your clavicle and pelvis. What does this mean for the next days and weeks?

"I don't think I'll be back on my bike for a good while now. I think the team is good with that. They just say to recover, there is no rush to come back. Hopefully, I'll pull the BMC Racing Team jersey on by the end of the year."

You have a lot of support on social media from fans all over the world. Something that helps a little in your recovery?

"I think that's the thing with social media. You see the good and the bad. It's overwhelmingly good. People are so supportive and really do care so I can't say thank you enough to all of those people. It means the world to me so thank you very much."

Team Sky sent me this rest day report with quotes from Chris Froome & Geraint Thomas:

CHRIS FROOME:

On yesterday’s stage: "It was definitely a mix of emotions. Coming to the finish I was obviously grateful to get there in yellow and to pick up a few bonus seconds on the finish line – extending my lead to Fabio Aru and my other main rivals. But in the same breath it was a day full of incident, first of all with Geraint Thomas going down off the Col de la Biche and breaking his collarbone.

"It’s a massive blow to the team. Not only was Geraint sitting second on GC going into the rest day, but he’s also a key helper for me in the mountains when the race is really on. We’re definitely going to miss him in the next half of the race, but obviously first and foremost we’re all just thinking of G and hoping he heals up quick.

"Obviously there was also the incident out on the road where I had a mechanical on the Mont du Chat. It was clear to me I had to change bikes straight away and it appeared that Fabio Aru accelerated at that moment. I think certainly in the peloton there’s a bit of an unwritten rule that when the race leader has some kind of an issue that prevents him from racing, then the group doesn’t take advantage of a situation like that. So I’m really grateful to them for sitting up and easing the pace for a few moments while I was able to change the bike and get back. I think Richie was instrumental in that so, again, thank you to Richie for that.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome hammering away in stage nine's final meters

"Once I got back to the group I think the very next hairpin we went round I lost my balance a little bit and swerved to the right. Aru happened to be on my right and he had to swerve as well. It was a genuine mistake and I think Fabio was the first to recognise that. I apologised straight away on the road as soon as it happened. Any suggestion that it was on purpose is just crazy - first of all it’s not anything I would ever do, and I was already on my spare bike, so to risk putting my derailleur into Aru’s front wheel – it’s just crazy. I wouldn’t risk that at all."

On Richie Porte:

"The images of Richie’s crash were just absolutely horrific. I only saw them at the podium area and it just left me stunned. I got in touch with Richie after the race. He’s pretty badly injured with a fractured pelvis, collarbone and concussion, I think, but at the same time I’m just thankful it wasn’t more serious because it really did look awful.

"When something like that happens it does put bike racing into context. We’re all putting everything on the line, but when you see a friend getting badly hurt in that way it reminds you of what is really important. I know myself and the whole team wish him a quick recovery."

On next week:

"The weekend has been a really tough block for everyone and will have taken its toll, so we’ll all really be soaking up this rest day. Certainly the next two days for the GC riders will be on mainly flatter roads and should be controlled by the sprinters’ teams. I’m looking ahead to the next week of racing. I think even though we’re a man down now I think the team is in great spirits and we’re in a good position to defend the Yellow Jersey."

GERAINT THOMAS:

"It still hasn’t really sunk in. I’m sure it will be like the Giro and when I get home is when it really hits home so to speak. When you start seeing results and getting the Team Sky text messages through about who has done what on the stage. The show goes on pretty quickly. So I think it will hit me tomorrow and in a few days’ time.

Geraint Thmoas

Geraint Thomas riding to victory in stage one.

"At the moment it’s more just the devastation of leaving the Tour – but obviously you’ve got to remember and savour the good times because they are rare in this sport. For sure in a week or so or once the Tour is over I’ll look back on those good bits. But for the moment it’s still pretty raw.

"It’s all learning I guess and it’s given me the confidence in the training I’ve been doing. All that hard work has got me into the position to do well. I didn’t fully reap the benefits of it but I can still take a lot from that.

"I’m going to see a specialist on Tuesday and get it operated on this week. I’ll have a week off and then I should be back on the turbo trainer. I’m in no massive rush to get back anyway. We’ll decide what the programme will be in a week or so’s time once the dust has settled.

Rafal Majka quits the Tour

Here's the unhappy news from Bora-hansgrohe:

After his bad crash yesterday in one of the downhill sections, the BORA – hansgrohe leader suffers from heavy contusions and lost a lot of skin. Together with his BORA – hansgrohe Team, Majka decided to leave the Tour de France. After some rest to recover, he will refocus and prepare for the rest of the season.

“I have pain everywhere today, but I was lucky to have no fractures at all. I cannot explain exactly what happened when I crashed. I didn’t break or anything, but my front wheel slipped away. Also Risto, our mechanic, almost fell when he arrived with the spare bike. There must have been some oil or something similar on the road. However, after the crash I suffered a lot. I want to thank my whole BORA – hansgrohe team, everybody waited for me first, but we told Emanuel to go and save our chances in the GC, then Jay was with me and brought me up to the next bigger group. Also thanks to Michal Kwiatkowski who helped me in the end. After this heavy crash, it does not make any sense to keep on fighting. I can hardly breath because of the pain. We had to take a wise decision, for my health, but also for the rest of the season. I’ll take some rest now, then I will start preparing myself for the rest of the season.” – Rafal Majka

Raal Majka

Rafal Majka after winning the Mountains Classification in the 2016 Tour

“Directly after the stage we went to the medical truck of the Tour, but decided to go to the hospital for further examinations and to be sure that especially his spine is ok. He suffers from heavy contusions and can hardly breath because of the pain. He also lost a lot of skin and has some deep excoriations. From a safety perspective it’s best to leave the Tour now and take some rest to recover.” – Jan-Niklas Droste, Team Doctor

“Another big blow for us at this Tour. We took one stage with Peter, but still the luck is not on our side at all. Now the most important thing is that Rafal can fully recover and take some rest. His focus is now fully on the Vuelta.” – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

Giro Rosa (Women's Giro d'Italia) final reports

Here's the report Orica-Scott sent me:

Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt and two-time Giro Rosa stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten finished in second and fourth place respectively on today’s final stage of the ten-day WorldTour race, the Giro Rosa.

The two ORICA-SCOTT riders arrived at the finish line in a small group of general classification contenders after breaking away on the final climb of the race.

The stage result today meant van Vleuten successfully retained third place overall and won the Queen of the mountains and points jerseys along with Spratt moving up one spot to conclude the Giro Rosa in fifth place for the Australian outfit.

“For me the most important thing was to come away with two stage wins,” Van Vleuten said. “Third on GC is nice and to win two jerseys is also nice but winning is the best thing for me, I always want to win.”

“I am really proud of that and this is my first attempt to go for the GC. Our team was really good this week and I am really proud of what we achieved and how we prepared for the race. I made a really crucial mistake on a stage and that is also part of cycling, you have to deal with it and continue which was hard. That was the biggest challenge and to stay focussed for ten days, so I learnt my lesson the hard way but I came back with a lot of confidence.

“Both myself and Spratt were racing on another level this race, I think this has really inspired us to come back and target GC again, not only us two but the whole team. If you told me before I would win two stages, finish third on GC and be going for the win, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Sport director Gene Bates backed up van Vleuten’s praise of the team in what was a great day and great ten-days for the squad in Italy.

“Today the girls were fantastic,” explained Bates. “There were two groups up the road, so we put the whole team on the front chasing to give Spratt and Van Vleuten the best chance possible and every opportunity to go for the stage win.”

“Our goal for this tour was to go for the overall which we haven’t really done before, especially with Annemiek. We prepared as well as we thought we possibly could, it was late last year we decided we would target this race overall with Annemiek and everybody committed to this target.

“I think the tour probably went even better than we expected with two stage wins, two jerseys and always being super competitive. It has been a massive success for the team, everybody committed all week to this project and we can be really proud of everybody’s efforts.

“We can’t overlook our mistake on stage four of the race where we lost over two minutes on the other GC riders. This was disappointing but in terms of overall it was big learning curve for the us all and we can only take positive out of that and now think about targeting stage races overall in the future.”

How it happened:

The final day of the ten-day Giro Rosa began with flat laps of a circuit before heading up a final climb of the tour. Like many previous stages, the day saw aggressive racing with various breakaways heading off the front of the peloton then regrouping with the situation at the head of the race continuously changing.

During the final few laps of the flat circuit, a group of eight riders opened up a two minute advantage with ORICA-SCOTT driving the pace in the peloton in an attempt to reel them in ahead of the climb.

Finally with just a couple of kilometres remaining before the bottom of the main climb of the day, the group returned to the peloton and the real fireworks began.

Spratt and van Vleuten found themselves once again at the head of the race in a small elite group of climbers containing all the general classification contenders with just 10kilometres remaining.

The group survived to the finish line with Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) taking the stage win with Spratt taking second place. The team wrapped up this iconic women’s WorldTour race having achieved numerous goals and will look to target the GC once again in the future.

Giro Rosa stage 10 result:

1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) 3:09
2. Amanda Spratt (ORICA-SCOTT) ST
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) ST

Final general classification after 10 stages:

1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) 25:39
2. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5) +1:03
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) +1:39

And here's the organizer's final update:

THE GIRO ROSA GOES TO ANNA VAN DER BREGGEN

The Olympic and European Champion 2016 from Holland, is the overall winner of the 2017 edition. making the "double" since her 2015 triumph in San Domenico di Varzo (Verbania).

Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek Van Vleuten (winner of the Green and Cyclamine Jersey), tried an attack on the climb of Vesuvio but it has been useless. The three athletes have been reached by the chasing group on the following descend to Torre del Greco, and Megan Guarnier (1st), Amanda Spratt (2nd) and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (3rd) took the final stage podium.

Born in Zwolle in 1990, Anna Van der Breggen is one of the biggest protagonists of the 2017 season. With the Olympic and European title 2016, she could take an historical triumph in Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege - Bastogne - Liege in April. With the Giro Rosa win, she is the new leader of the Women's World Tour.

Elisa Longo Borghini won the Blue Jersey as best Italian (2nd overall), the Danish Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is the best young (White Jersey) and Annemiek Van Vleuten (3rd place in the GC and stage winner in Montereale Valcellina and Sant'Elpidio a Mare) won the Green and Cyclamine Jersey.

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