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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 5, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. - Ozzy Osbourne

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Van Avermaet back on the podium at Strade Bianche

Team BMC sent me this report:

4 March, 2017, Siena (ITA): Greg Van Avermaet battled it out in one of the toughest editions of Strade Bianche in recent times to take second place, for the second time in his career, behind solo winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).

The one-day race through the Tuscan countryside, which was elevated to UCIWorldTour for the first time in 2017, was a case of survival of the fittest with heavy rain and a big crash splitting the peloton mid-race.

Brent Bookwalter, Damiano Caruso, Jempy Drucker, Ben Hermans, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato all crashed at different points, while up ahead Greg Van Avermaet and Stefan Küng made the first group of the split peloton, chasing a six-rider breakaway.

With 45km to go, the breakaway was in sight and as soon as the catch was made, more attacks followed. After bridging back to Van Avermaet after a mechanical problem, Küng put in a huge effort to reduce the gap to the leading riders.

Van Avermaet made the catch 28km out from the finish and found himself in the lead with just three other riders with 20km to go.

5km later, Kwiatkowski launched what would be the winning move and gained a 30-second advantage over Van Avermaet, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors).

Micahl Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski wins 2017 Strade Bianche

Behind Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet never gave up and had the legs to outsprint Wellens and Stybar for second place to secure his second UCI WorldTour podium place this season.

Greg Van Avermaet: "It was really hard as the race opened up so early because of the crash. Then Lotto-Soudal started riding immediately so it was a really hard day right from the middle of the race. I was in a bad position a few times and then I came to the front. In the end I have to be happy as so many things can happen and you're just lucky that you survived everything."

"The motorbikes were everywhere today, even when I was in the second group. It's not Kwiatkowski's fault, because if the motorbikes come in front of me I would do the same, but we need to do something about it and have some rules about the distance between riders and motorbikes. Kwiatkowski was strong, but he was no stronger than everyone else. He made the right move at the ride time and opened a gap. We tried to work, Wellens and Stybar and myself. We tried to do everything we could but we couldn't close."

"I felt good. The longer the race went, the better I felt. It was hard but I still had enough punch for the end so I'm happy I could take second and not fourth. A podium place is always nice."

Max Sciandri, Sports Director: "It was a super tough day. I think Greg Van Avermaet was the strongest out there today and it more came down to the tactics in the final part of the race. Kwiatkowski opened a gap very quickly, especially with the motorbikes in front of him, and by the time it was out to 30 seconds, it was too big to pull back. Greg and Wellens and Stybar were pulling but then they lost the momentum. Greg was strong so to get second place is still a good result."

"The race threw everything at us. We had pretty much everyone but Stefan Küng and Greg crash, and a couple of mechanicals which added to the complications. It was really a shame when Stefan dropped from the front group with a mechanical problem, as he was really strong. He managed to get back, after a bike change, and put in a huge effort for Greg to bring the front group back. In the end it was a really tough day and we did the best we could with the cards we were dealt. We would have loved to win, and we know Greg could have won it, but it gives us confidence for the next races."

Dario Spinelli, BMC Racing Team Doctor: "Like a lot of teams we had a very unlucky day of crashes with six of our riders going down. Jempy Drucker and Ben Hermans had the hardest falls and a lot of the riders have various contusions. We will evaluate their conditions tonight and tomorrow morning to see how they recover, and make any decisions from there."

Here's Lotto-Soudal's Strade Bianche report:

It was a real battle field on the Tuscan roads during the eleventh edition of Strade Bianche. Tim Wellens fought his way to the podium, he finished third at his début. Tiesj Benoot crossed the finish line as eighth, just like last year.

Six riders set up an early breakaway. The peloton let them have more than seven minutes lead, but the advantage went down quickly when Lotto Soudal raised the tempo in the bunch. The peloton fell apart with less than seventy kilometres to go. The first chasing group behind the leaders consisted of twelve riders, including three Lotto Soudal riders: Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie and Tim Wellens. On the eighth gravel sector, Monte Sante Marie, it was Tim Wellens who accelerated. Dumoulin, Durbridge, Kwiatkowski, Stybar and Van Avermaet were the first to join him. Teammate Tiesj Benoot also managed to close the gap. Later, some more riders followed his example.

The race didn’t stop anymore. 35 kilometres from the end Dumoulin, Hagen, Kwiatkowski and Stybar joined the four riders who were left at the front. A few kilometres further Wellens bridged. The Lotto Soudal rider continued to animate the race and after another acceleration only Kwiatkowski, Stybar and Van Avermaet were left on his wheel. On the penultimate gravel sector Dumoulin, Durbridge and Juul Jensen closed the gap too. With about fifteen kilometres to go Michal Kwiatkowski created a gap. Wellens, Stybar and Van Avermaet cooperated well together in the chase, but the victory was gone. On the steep finish in Siena it was Greg Van Avermaet who got second, ahead of Tim Wellens who conquered a fantastic podium place at his début. 2’20” after Kwiatkowski Benoot finished eighth.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet finishes second and Tim Wellens was third.

Tim Wellens: “The team rode really strong today. After sixty kilometres we raised the pace. Sean De Bie, Maxime Monfort and Jürgen Roelandts were pulling at the head of the bunch and that fell apart. Then I got in the first chasing group, together with Tiesj and Sean. Sean did most of the work. He was so strong. When his job was done, I attacked. At first, I got away with four companions, but several others returned and the cooperation wasn’t as it should be. On the asphalt everyone was watching each other. At a certain moment others bridged to the front and I had to chase, that cost a lot of energy.”

“Then the race got harder and harder and I got in front with Kwiatkowski, Stybar and Van Avermaet. When Kwiatkowski had a gap we were looking at each other, nobody reacted. It was a strong effort from Kwiatkowski. Afterwards we cooperated really well, but couldn’t catch him anymore. My tank was empty. When entering the last kilometre, I got in last position. Van Avermaet started the sprint and obviously was the best. I could pass Stybar before the last corner. It was an honest race, everyone got the place he deserved. Strade Bianche is a beautiful race. I am glad I rode it and will definitely come back.”

Illness forces Peter Sagan to abandon Strade Bianche

Here's the release from Sagan's team:

On a day that saw miserable weather dominate the middle section of the race, the black clouds continued as BORA-hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan was forced to retire from the race due to illness. The UCI World Champion started the day, keen not to disappoint his fans, but as the day went on, and in spite of staying in contention, the Slovak rider made the decision to protect his health ahead of some demanding races.

The first of the Italian one-day races, the Strade Bianche follows a stunning route, starting and finishing in the beautiful city of Siena. Moving into the stunning Tuscany landscape, the 175km course famously traverses eleven gravel sectors that give the race its name. These sectors themselves are challenging, but the parcours itself is undulating and puts real strain on the riders. While the hills themselves aren’t the most difficult riders will face this season, the fact there’s barely a flat section between the start and finish, along with the difficulty of staying upright on the famed ‘white roads’, means it’s a race of bike handling, strength, stamina and tactics in equal measure.

Strade Bianche

Tuscany makes a fabulous race setting

Eager to gain an advantage as soon as possible, the attacks came thick and fast from the drop of the flag. In spite of their best intentions, a break didn’t form until 25km of racing – and even then it took some time to build an advantage on the peloton.

In spite of managing to stay with the chasing group, even after being hindered by a crash and subsequent pile-up at 75km, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, made the difficult decision to retire from the race after 95km. While this was disappointing for the Slovak rider, he had been suffering for a few days but insisted on racing for the fans who had travelled to the race. “I haven’t been feeling well for the past three days, and when I woke up this morning I was feeling weak and had a sore throat. However, the Strade Bianche is a prestigious race and I started today out of respect for the thousands of Italian fans who came to watch. I started and tried to do my best and race as much as I could. Around 75km after the start, I got tangled in a big pile-up and suffered a deep cut in my finger that will probably require a couple of stitches, as well as a hit to my left knee. I went on, but at 95km I decided to retire.”

While hoping to finish the race, Peter knew that there are other important races to come, and wanted to ensure he recovers his health for these. “My decision wasn’t due to the crash, but simply because I wasn’t feeling well. I hope to recover as soon as possible and be able to perform at my best in the upcoming races.”

“Today everything went wrong for us. Marcus was involved in a big crash and had to wait for a car to change is bike, his race was more or less over at that point. Peter also crashed a little later. After sector 8 we thought about starting to pull on the front, because the gap was just 40 seconds at that time, but Peter came than back to the car and said he doesn’t feel good. So we decided together with him that it’s better to stop. Gregor, Christoph and Jay did fight hard then, but unfortunately we did not have the legs today to do a good result”, said Enrico Poitschke, sports director, after the finish.

While the weather had held off for much of the early stages of the race, as the leaders reached the final 40km, the rain came in, making the roads – and specifically, the gravel sections – slippery and wet. The route remained damp for the final 20km. The more experienced classics riders made the most of the conditions and started attacking as the race neared its final 10km, crowned by an audacious solo attack that managed to stick until the end it was M. Kwiatkowski to take the 10th edition of the Strade Bianche.

Peter will now concentrate on his recovery ahead of Tirreno Adriatico – known as the ‘Race of the Two Seas’, riders will face seven stages taking place between the Italian Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts. Next to Peter Sagan also Rafal Majka then will be in the line-up and ready to fight for the one or other stage win.

RacerMate to stop production of CompuTrainers, Velotron production will continue

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update:

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — Chuck Wurster, the vice president of RacerMate Inc., announced Thursday that the company was ending production of its CompuTrainer smart trainer. Wurster said RacerMate will continue to manufacture its Velotron ergometer, which is used in research settings.

"Despite its acknowledged superior performance in many fundamentally important respects, CompuTrainer, designed and built in the U.S., has had to battle stiff price competition from trainers imported from China. Sales have suffered severely. As a result we have decided to call it quits for CompuTrainer," Wurster said.

"It has been a marvelous 40-plus years and we have enjoyed sharing in the victories and friendships we have made along the way."

The company told sponsored racers earlier this week that it was shutting down the CompuTrainer business.

There is lots more industry news here.

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