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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

A day without laughter is a day wasted. - Charlie Chaplin

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage ten reports

Here's what stage winner Marcel Kittel's Quick-Step team had to say:

Quick-Step Floors' sprinter Marcel Kittel blasted to his 13th Grande Boucle victory, an all-time record for a German rider.

Kittel is in a league of his own at the 104th Tour de France and he doesn't miss any opportunity to show this. After Liège, Troyes and Nuits-Saint-Georges, the powerful German left an indelible mark also on Bergerac, a pittorresque town on the Dordogne river, which witnessed Marcel's 13th stage success at the Tour de France, one that catapulted him straight into the history books.

Despite not having Matteo Trentin anymore in the ranks, after the injured Italian had to leave the race on Sunday evening after coming outside the time limit in the brutal stage 9, Quick-Step Floors kept on a leash the two-man breakaway which took off early on the day, Julien Vermote's unrivalled labour ensuring that Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), who never had more than five minutes in their hands, got caught inside the final seven kilometers.

New Zealand National ITT Champion Jack Bauer didn't hold anything back when it came to bringing the Quick-Step Floors train to the fore, before Zdenek Stybar and Fabio Sabatini stepped in and escorted Kittel into the final kilometer. The experienced Italian lead-out man dropped Marcel with 500 meters to go and the points classification leader patiently waited for his rivals to make the first move in the headwind, before majestically coming out of Dan Mclay's slipstream at 63 km/h and coasting to his fourth victory, ahead of John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel gets another stage.

"It's incredible to win four stages at a single edition of the Tour de France and it means a lot for me to achieve this fantastic feat. When I began my career, I was dreaming about becoming a professional, but I never expected something like this. I never race for records, but I must admit that having 13 Tour de France stages to my name is really special. I never felt better, I'm in good condition and all these things give me confidence, and that confidence, together with the team's hard work and dedication, carried me again to victory", said an emotional and elated Marcel Kittel, who broke Erik Zabel' 15-year-old record and became the most successful German rider in terms of stage wins at the Grande Boucle.

The German had words of praise for one of the race's most hard-working riders, the unbelievable Julien Vermote, who so far has spent nearly 1000 kilometers at the front of the bunch, making sure no breakaway succeeded on the flat stages: "What Julien is doing is absolutely incredible. He's showing the world how strong he is, physically and mentally. Riding in front of the peloton, keeping the same speed and tightly controlling the escapees, it may look simple, but it isn't, so hats off to him."

For the third time in his career, Marcel Kittel has won four stages at a single Tour de France edition, his latest success edging him closer to a maiden triumph in the points classification. With ten days left between Bergerac and Paris, where the race will conclude, the Quick-Step Floors fast man – who now has more Tour de France victories than the likes of Gino Bartali or Mario Cipollini – holds a commanding 102 point-gap over the closest rival in the green jersey standings.

Second-place John Degenkolb's Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

John Degenkolb sprinted to second place in the flat 178-kilometer stage 10, his highest placing so far, while Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) easily certified the title as the top sprinter in this year's race with his fourth win.

"Super hectic, super crazy," Degenkolb said about the last kilometers. "I was always focusing, together with Koen (de Kort), to stay on Lotto Soudal's train because they were strong and organized. They did a great job.

"With 2kms to go I lost good position, and I had to come from very far. Luckily Marcel (Kittel) was also this far back, and out of the last corner I was in his wheel -  I think we were position 25 or something. I was just trying to stay on his wheel, trying to hang on," laughed Degenkolb.

It's been a tough go for John Degenkolb since crashing at the end of stage four, and today's result helped ease the pain, and bring a much-needed morale boost to the team.

JohnDegenkolb

John Degenkolb (red helmet) can be seen just behind Kittel in the sprint finale.

"I still have a lot of pain from the crash," said Degenkolb. "On the bike I am the most comfortable, but I still cannot really lift my arm, and during the race I cannot really get bidons or musettes from the side of the road. My teammates have to take it for me because I still cannot put a lot of pressure on the shoulder as there's still a lot of pain."

It was a relatively uneventful stage until the two-man breakaway, out front for most of the day, was caught at seven kilometers to go and the battle for positioning kicked into high gear. With Koen de Kort's assistance, Degenkolb managed to maintain a good position, but just when everything seemed to be playing out perfectly, it unraveled in the last two kilometers.

"I tried to stay in a good position, but it was super hectic, super nervous," reiterated Degenkolb. "When I was going into the last kilometer, I thought actually that the sprint is already over, but then a small miracle happened that Marcel overtook me on the right side and I could get on his wheel. I had to do a full sprint to just stay in his slipstream, but that gave me the opportunity to get second in the end."

Kittel simply left everyone in his dust, an amazing feat after coming from so far back. "Today he was unbeatable, that's for sure," answered Degenkolb when asked if Kittel can be beat. "I don't know how to beat him – he is super talented and at the moment just very, very good. Right now, I don't see how anyone can beat him man against man. But this is the Tour, and everything can happen."

Every sprint takes on a life of its own. Talent is needed, but so is luck. Degenkolb admitted today he had a whole heap of good fortune to finish second. "In the end I was very lucky to have the opportunity to go with Marcel at one kilometer to go. I think if he would not have been in this bad position, then I would not have been able to come to the front anymore. He's just by far the strongest at the moment.

"I am happy with second; it is my best place so far in this Tour. After all that has happened, this is pretty good, and we still have some more opportunities. It's a good boost of confidence; I am optimistic, my shape is good, and I will fight again tomorrow and the days after. Like I said, the Tour is the Tour, and everything can still happen."

Alberto Contador was led safely over the finish by his teammates, welcoming this tranquil, flat stage to help nurse his wounds from his crashes on stage nine.

"In the end it was a quiet day and in that sense could not come at a better time," said Contador. "In the final part of the stage, we went behind, trying not to take any risks. My body hurts after two crashes, a little everywhere. It's normal; we do not have a suit like motorcyclists, it's our own skin that protects us. But at least with the rain, in this case the bruises are smaller.

"We'll see about tomorrow. With a bit of luck, if it's a day like today I can recover more. I think I still have the legs to do a good race. What happens for the rest of the race does not depend on my head, it is a matter of my body, but luckily [the crash] was not as bad as in 2014, or even last year. If I recover, I'll ride in my way, which is really what I like."

"This situation perhaps has destroyed my GC chances, but on the other hand, it opens a range of possibilities to do beautiful things. I don't know when, maybe more in the last week."

André Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this assessment of the stage:

After a well-deserved rest day, there was a flat stage scheduled between Périgeux and Bergerac. The 178-kilometres long stage had the same pattern as the previous flat stages in this Tour de France. Elie Gesbert and Yoann Offredo attacked from the peloton at the moment the flag went down. The two leaders accumulated a maximum advantage of 5’30”, but the peloton, led by Lars Bak, made sure that the breakaway was always within range.

The two leaders were caught again by the peloton with seven kilometres remaining, as the peloton headed for a bunch sprint. Lotto Soudal was well-organised in the final kilometres and Jürgen Roelandts was leading the peloton with 500 metres to go. When the sprint started, however, André Greipel was boxed in, which made that he could not sprint to his fullest and he finished in twelfth place. Tomorrow there is another sprint stage.

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to win the stage today. We put our train on the rails with six kilometres remaining, but it went wrong in the final straight. I understand that there are questions when we don’t get the win. But I think that we came to the Tour de France with two clear goals in mind. One of them is to try to win a stage with André. We have a very experienced team, that tries to achieve the best result possible, day in and day out, and we won’t abandon that plan.”

“Do you think that QuickStep or other sprint teams would allow it if we send someone in the breakaway? We order our riders to make sure that other sprint teams are not present in the breakaway, and vice versa, to ensure that there are enough teams to lead the chase in the peloton. Do we lead other sprinters in a comfortable position to the finish line? I think it is important that we take our responsibility, that we show to André that we have an unwavering will to go for a stage victory. QuickStep won’t do everything themselves in the chase if we decide not to cooperate. They have already won four stages, so the pressure is on the other teams. André remains our biggest chance for a stage victory and if a stage doesn’t end in a bunch sprint, then André can’t win at all.”

“I understand that there will be questions until we have a stage victory, but I think that André has proven to be a top sprinter on many occasions. And we will not simply give up our confidence in him. In the first week, he sprinted three times to the third place. At his point, Marcel Kittel has proven to be the strongest sprinter by far, but we will give everything we have until the last stage in order for the flat stages to end in a bunch sprint so that we can compete for the stage victory. And in the other stages there are chances for our other riders.”

GC leader Chris Froome's Team Sky posted this stage 10 report:

Chris Froome enjoyed a straightforward 10th stage to retain his overall lead at the Tour de France.

The flat, 178-kilometre run to Bergerac played right into the hands of the sprinters’ teams, and as a result Team Sky were able to sit back as the action resumed following the opening rest day. Froome finished safely in the peloton and still holds an 18-second advantage in the maillot jaune ahead of nearest rival Fabio Aru (Astana).

Team Sky arrived on the front late on to help navigate a run-in that featured a number of roundabouts and pinch points. There were no issues for Froome, or ninth placed Mikel Landa, as the sprint took hold. Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) claimed a fourth win of the race, fending off compatriot John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).

Froome crossed the line 34th, flanked by team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski and his GC rivals.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome heads to the stage 10 start.

With two riders away up the road the situation proved comfortable to controlwith a number of teams willing to lend their weight to the chase. For Froome and Team Sky it was another chance to conserve energy ahead of more selective tests to come later in the second week.

The bunch kick ensured Team Sky also maintained their team GC lead, with Wednesday’s run to Pau also likely to play into the hands of the sprinters.
After pulling on his 50th career Tour de France yellow jersey, Froome admitted he was happy with how the day panned out, as well as looking forward to the next GC challenges.

He told ITV: "It was quite relaxed as far as Tour de France flat stages go, and another good day to have out of the way now. The next big goal for us is to focus on the Pyrenees, so one more flat day tomorrow and then we head up into the climbs again.

"The Pyrenees and that Peyragudes stage is going to be extremely decisive. I think we'll see the GC take even more shape there, then things will back off again and we're into the final week basically. Then we'll have the big challenges of Izoard and Telegraphe/Galibier.

"I've been out there studying a lot of the roads and certainly our race director Nicolas Portal has been out driving them and taking video footage for us. There's a lot of racing still coming up and I think it's going to still be quite an open race."  

Here's the stage 10 report BMC sent me:

11 July, 2017, Bergerac (FRA): Racing resumed at the Tour de France with stage 10 which saw a bunch sprint play out in Bergerac, won by Marcel Kittel ( Quick-Step Floors), while BMC Racing Team's riders crossed the line safely in the bunch.

After losing Richie Porte due to a crash on stage 9, stage 10 was a chance to get back into the racing rhythm as the team looked to reassess the goals for the remaining 12 stages.

As soon as the flag dropped in Perigueux, Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Elie Gesbert (Team Fortuneo-Oscaro) attacked to form the breakaway of the day. The peloton immediately sat up and allowed the duo to gain more than five minutes' in the first half of the 178km stage.

Offredo and Giesbert

Yoann Offredo and Elie Gesbert on their long break.

The sprinters' teams sent riders to the front of the bunch to control the gap and slowly began to bring the duo back. With 40km remaining, the breakaway's advantage dropped below two minutes and 20km later, it was down to 50 seconds.

Seven kilometers before the finish line in Bergerac, the catch was made and the sprint trains started to form and battle for position on the run into the finish. BMC Racing Team's riders stayed out of trouble at the front of the bunch inside the final five kilometers before Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) proved to be the strongest on the day to take the win.

Danilo Wyss crossed the line in the top twenty after testing his legs in the sprint.

Danilo Wyss: "It was a quiet race today with just two guys out in front and the peloton rolling at tempo the whole day. We tried to set new objectives after Richie Porte's crash and I gave it a try in the sprint but it was a bit hectic in the last two turns. I had to brake a little too much especially on the final left hand one. I haven't sprinted in a long time so, it was good to try and to get used to it again as well as keeping the motivation high. We are taking the race day by day and setting new goals as a team so, we will see what happens tomorrow."

And finally, here's the report from GC second-place Fabio Aru's Team Astana:

Two riders made the breakaway of the day, who was leading from the start and until last 10 km of racing, when it was neutralized by the peloton. Later, everything was decided among the sprinters and for the fourth time it was German rider Marcel Kittel, who won the final sprint.

Both Astana Proteam leaders Jakob Fuglsang (26th place) and Fabio Aru (35th place) finished safety in the main group.

- Today’s stage went calmly, despite a really fast speed both of the break and the peloton. As always in this kind of stages it was all about protection of the leaders from any unpleasant situation in the race. From the point 30 km to go we went in front to bring Fabio and Jakob at maximal safety position in the group. The sprint went well, our leaders finished in the pack, so I think we did a good job today, - explained Dmitriy Gruzdev.

There is no any change in the general classification of the Tour de France: Chris Froome still leads, Fabio Aru is second, Jakob Fuglsang is fifth.

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