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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 3, 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

Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

BMC's upcoming racing plans

The team sent me this update:

Two-time Paris-Nice winner, Richie Porte hopes to repeat his success at the UCI WorldTour stage race when he lines up this Sunday, 5 March.

Porte, who won Paris-Nice in 2013 and 2015 and was third in 2016, will target the General Classification supported by an experienced team, Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said.

"Paris-Nice is the first big goal for Richie since he returned to Europe this season. Richie had a great start to the year at the Santos Tour Down Under and we want to continue this success as we look towards July. As we have already seen, Richie is in a great shape and is really motivated to do well at Paris-Nice, particularly as he has won on two previous occasions," Ledanois explained.

"We are taking a very strong team with riders like Amaël Moinard, Nicolas Roche and Alessandro De Marchi who will play an important role in the mountain stages. Michael Schär, Danilo Wyss and Francisco Ventoso bring a wealth of road experience, and Dylan Teuns brings additional support on both the flat and the climbs. I'm really confident in Richie and the team."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte racing in 2017 Tour Down Under

After more than a month off racing Porte is eager to return to the start line. "I'm really motivated to do well at Paris-Nice. It's my home race in Europe and I've won twice before, so a third win would give me a lot of confidence for the next part of the season. I haven't raced since Australia in January but I've had a solid block of training in Tasmania and Monaco, so I'm looking forward to racing again," Porte said.

Paris-Nice (March 5-12)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Richie Porte (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

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BMC Racing Team will head back to the start line in Belgium on Sunday (5 March) for the one-day race, Dwars door West-Vlaanderen.

Sports Director Jackson Stewart said that BMC Racing Team is lining up with a competitive eight-rider roster. "This is now a one-day race for 2017 with the route the same as the final stage of last year's race. We were leading the General Classification with Tom Bohli heading into that stage but we had some bad luck and needed to race it a little differently. This year we will be looking to race aggressively."

Martin Elmiger

Martin Elmiger (shown in 2014) will be racing for BMC at the Dwars door West-Vlaanderen race

"I think riders like Silvan Dillier and Martin Elmiger will be strong finishers as well as Loïc Vliegen, who usually performs well at these style of races. There is an opportunity for everyone really as we have a strong group of riders and we will certainly be racing for a podium result."

Loïc Vliegen is looking forward to his first race on home soil in 2017, "I'm really motivated to race back in Belgium for the first time this season. I've had some good preparation in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so I'm hoping to produce a positive result for the team this weekend. I'm feeling good right now and I enjoy this style of racing but I am curious to see how my form is after two mostly flat races."

Dwars door West-Vlaanderen (March 5)

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Kilian Frankiny (SUI),  Floris Gerts (NED), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Loïc Vliegen (BEL)

Sports Director: Jackson Stewart (USA)

Lotto-Soudal headed to Strade Bianche

Here's the team's news:

The beautiful Tuscan landscape will be the scenery for a rough battle between a range of top riders this Saturday at Strade Bianche, a race that is part of the WorldTour as of this season. The leaders at Lotto Soudal are Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens. Benoot finished eighth at his début last year and told he would be back for more. Wellens will participate for the first time and he immediately wants to set a good result.

The Strade Bianche starts and finishes in Siena. After 175 kilometres the winner can step on the podium on the Piazza del Campo. On the route lie eleven white gravel sectors, that’s why the race is called Strade Bianche. The longest one is sector five. That one is 11.9 kilometres long and is immediately followed by a sector of eight kilometres. After about ten kilometres without gravel roads the riders reach the seventh sector. With a length of 9.5 kilometres this is the third longest sector. The second longest sector is sector eight: Monte Sante Marie (11.5 km). This sector ends at 42.6 kilometres from the finish. Then three sectors are left that are not longer than 2.5 kilometres. In the last twelve kilometres there is no gravel anymore. Many of the gravel sectors are uphill and shouldn’t be underestimated. At the end of the race there is a tough climb towards the Piazza del Campo with a peak of 16%! You really have to earn the victory at Strade Bianche.

Tiesj Benoot: “I want to do better than the eighth place of last year. My condition is as good, maybe even better. I now also have the experience of the previous edition, like knowledge of the course and an idea of the necessary tyre pressure. And I am one year stronger. It was a wonderful experience last year and the Strade Bianche has earned a place in my top five of favourite spring races. It’s a race where the specialists of the Flemish and Walloon Classics compete against each other and that doesn’t happen often. It’s an impressive start list and it’s a race on the highest level.”

“The first crucial moment last year was when we rode on the fifth and sixth sector. The sixth one follows quickly after the fifth and together they are twenty kilometres long. Cancellara, the winner of last year’s edition, took off on a sector of 2.5 kilometres with less than twenty kilometres to go. That was an uphill sector and that climb was really hard. It is very likely that that sector will be crucial again. Unless there is a lot of wind on Saturday. Those open fields in Tuscany are perfect for echelons.”

“It is important to save energy as long as possible. The gradients of the gravel sectors make the race really hard and the finish in Siena is very steep. If a group arrives at the finish, the strongest will definitely win. At Lotto Soudal we are with two leaders for the race. I hope that Tim and I can ride a beautiful finale together.”

Wellens

Tim Wellens (shown in the 2016 Giro d'Italia) will race the Strade Bianche

Tim Wellens: “I am very excited! It will be my first WorldTour race of the season and I want to achieve a good result. I already won three times this season, so I am relaxed to start the race. I have never ridden Strade Bianche before, but when I look at the course it should suit me. I changed my race programme to ride Strade Bianche. I won’t participate in Paris-Nice because it’s not possible to combine both races and will take the start at Tirreno-Adriatico next Wednesday. That way I will also get to know that race.”

“But first, my début at Strade Bianche. As U23 rider I rode the Tour of Tuscany and there was one stage over gravel roads. I liked that and was very good that day, but I punctured on a gravel road at three kilometres from the finish and I lost the overall victory to Fabio Aru. Luck will also be a factor this Saturday and you can’t influence that. Riding on gravel can’t be compared to riding on cobbles. You need to pay extra attention in the corners and adapt your speed because you slip more easily on gravel. It will also be very nervous on the way to the sectors, with everyone wanting to be in the best position. I am not afraid of that, the teammates will protect me too.”

“Friday we will do a recon of the last thirty kilometres. Then I can see the finish in Siena with my own eyes. It’s also good to get the feeling on the gravel roads before the race and to test the material so we know which type of tyres to use.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Nikolas Maes, Tomasz Marczynski, Maxime Monfort, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Bart Leysen.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo readies for a busy week ahead in the WorldTour

The team sent me this press release:

Over the next week, Team LottoNL-Jumbo begins in three WorldTour races from Siena to Paris. On Saturday, the team races the Strade Bianche around Siena. A day later, another team begins the eight-day Paris-Nice stage race. On Wednesday, partly overlapping Paris-Nice, the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico starts in central Italy.

Primoz Roglic will lead Team LottoNL-Jumbo over Strade Bianche’s white gravel roads in Siena, Italy, this Saturday. The race will give the Slovenian a chance to score valuable WorldTour points and set him up for Tirreno-Adriatico the following week.

Roglic is returning after his recent Volta ao Algarve win. Juan José Lobato, who fell sick and abandoned the Abu Dhabi Tour last week, will join the team.

The one-day race in Tuscany stepped up to the top WorldTour series for 2017. Now-retired Fabian Cancellara won three of the 10 editions, including in 2016.

The 175-kilometre race starts and ends in Siena’s famous Piazza del Campo and is distinguished by its white and rolling gravel roads. If it stays dry, expect huge dust clouds, but if it rains as predicted, the gavel will become much harder to manage.

Roglic and Lobato will be joined by Italian Enrico Battaglin, Bert Jan Lindeman and Paul Martens, and youngsters Antwan Tolhoek, Alexey Vermeulen and Floris De Tier. Jan Boven and Addy Engels will direct the eight-man team.

04/03 - Strade Bianche

Riders:
Enrico Battaglin
Bert-Jan Lindeman
Juan José Lobato
Paul Martens
Primoz Roglic
Floris De Tier
Antwan Tolhoek
Alexey Vermeulen

Coaches: Addy Engels & Jan Boven

Groenewegen aims for 2017 first in Paris-Nice: LottoNL-Jumbo will race Paris-Nice with the sprint train supporting Dylan Groenewegen, who aims to take his first win of 2017. Steven Kruijswijk will lead the classification team and try to win the race that ends on Saturday, March 12, in Nice.

The sprint train will support Groenewegen on the flats and serve double-duty, protecting Kruijswijk en route to the mountains. Stef Clement’s specific task is to support Kruijswijk in the flats and mountains.

Kruijswijk, after racing in the Abu Dhabi Tour last week, hopes to continue to hone his form in Paris-Nice in view of the Giro d’Italia, May 5 to 28.

The French World Tour, won last year by Sky’s Geraint Thomas, kicks off with two flat stages. The classification men will have a chance to already differentiate themselves in the stage four, 14.5-kilometre time trial. The 'Race to the Sun' ends with three mountain stages, including the summit finish to La Couillole a day before the conclusion in Nice.

05/03 - 12/03 - Paris - Nice

Riders:
Stef Clement
Dylan Groenewegen
Steven Kruijswijk
Tom Leezer
Timo Roosen
Bram Tankink
Robert Wagner
Maarten Wynants

Coaches: Nico Verhoeven & Frans Maassen

Gesink, Roglic and Boom in Tirreno-Adriatico: Robert Gesink will form part of the team in Tirreno-Adriatico, where in 2011 he placed second overall behind Cadel Evans in 2011.

Slovenian Primoz Roglic hopes to cash in on his form that delivered him the Volta ao Algarve overall victory recently After Strade Bianche, he will stay in Italy to form part of LottoNL-Jumbo’s eight-man team.

Lars Boom joins the team instead of racing in Paris-Nice. The directors made the decision for their classics leader in order to give him an extra couple of days to recover from his crash in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Tirreno-Adriatico kicks off on Wednesday, March 8, with a team time trial over 22 kilometres and ends, March 14, with an individual time trial over 10 kilometres. The route takes the cyclists over several mixed stages and for stage five, includes a summit finish on Monte Terminillo.

08/03 - 14/03 - Tirreno - Adriatico

Riders:
Lars Boom
Enrico Battaglin
Jos van Emden
Robert Gesink
Juan José Lobato
Paul Martens
Primoz Roglic
Jurgen Van den Broeck

Coaches: Addy Engels & Jan Boven

Young Cannondale-Drapac team for Race to the Sun

The team sent me this news release:

The "Race to the Sun" celebrates its 75th birthday in 2017. Paris-Nice, the first European WorldTour stage race on the calendar, is poised to offer exciting racing again this year. Cannondale-Drapac will line-up three riders from North America and home rider Pierre Rolland as part of an eight-man roster.

Starting off with a 148.5 kilometer sprinter's stage, the race features four 190+ kilometer days, a 14.5 kilometer individual time trial in stage four and an explosive last weekend, with three category one climbs on both Friday and Saturday, and five categorized climbs in Sunday's stage, including two of the first category.

DS Charly Wegelius said of the route: "2017 Paris-Nice has an interesting route, with no prologue and an individual time trial that will be hard to interpret. The last three days will offer especially exciting racing. As always the mood of the weather can influence this race greatly."

American climber Joe Dombrowski will make his 2017 debut. "I’m ready to race again, I haven’t yet this year, so there’s always that first race question mark. The team looks really strong. We have a number of guys that could have the chance to win a stage and/or potentially finish up on general classification as well," Dombrowski said. "I’m excited for it. I’ve never done Paris-Nice before, but I’ve lived here every season since I turned professional so I know the roads really well. I think I know every square inch of the final stage and I can see the finish of the final stage from my living room. I'm excited to walk home from the the bus."

Ultimately, Wegelius hopes the young squad takes the liberties given to them. "We have a young team that is full of talent," Wegelius said. "This will be an exciting opportunity for many of them to push themselves without the constraints of working for fixed leaders. I hope the riders will take advantage of that and put on an exciting show."

Cannondale-Drapac for Paris-Nice:

Lawson Craddock (USA)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Davide Formolo (ITA)
Kristijan Koren (SLK)
Pierre Rolland (FRA)
Tom-Jelte Slagter (NLD)
Davide Villella (ITA)
Mike Woods (CAN)

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