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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 9, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That's a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don't know what you're doing. - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Current racing:

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I had the good fortune to see the Gent 6-Day in 2011. And wonderfully, I got to watch a pursuit match between two of the best, Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Roelandts. Here it is.

Julian Alaphilippe seizes the lead at Paris-Nice

Here's the report from his Quick Step Floors team:

Julian Alaphilippe rode to a fantastic triumph in stage 4 of Paris-Nice, moving into the leader's jersey with four days to go. Second in the GC at the start of this important day, six seconds adrift, Julian put in an impressive effort, stopping the clock in 21:39 and thus improving the time of former race winner Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) – the provisional leader at that moment – by 19 seconds.

First at the intermediate split, after completing the flat part of the course in a blistering time of 13:49, Julian smashed the competition on Mont-Brouilly, the 3km-long climb averaging 7.7%, which made for some big gaps and reshuffled the general classification. Alaphilippe, one of the most versatile and talented riders of the new generation, became the first Frenchman in 25 years – since Jean-François Bernard on Col d'Eze – to win an individual time trial stage at the "Race to the Sun."

"I am so happy. It's a wonderful victory at the end of a nervous day. I knew I could do it, I knew I can get a good result on this parcours. When I crossed the finish line, I had a huge thought for my friend Fabien Rossolini (ed. – speaker at the Tour de France) who died a few weeks ago. I knew Paris-Nice was one of his favourite races and this makes my success even more special", an ecstatic Julian said after seizing the lead at his home race.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilppe showing how a time trial is done

Alaphilippe wasn't the only Quick-Step Floors rider to impress on Wednesday afternoon: David De La Cruz – who rode on the front of the peloton on the previous day – led the stage rankings for a long time, before finishing sixth, while Daniel Martin made a significant jump in the GC, to fifth, just ahead of teammate Philippe Gilbert.

Julian's maiden World Tour victory, on a day in which he outshone the likes of Contador, Sergio Henao (Team Sky) or Richie Porte (BMC), gives him a 19-second cushion over the next rider in the standings, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), four days from the finish in Nice. Despite having the prestigious yellow jersey on his shoulders, in addition to the green and white one, the 24-year-old isn't thinking at becoming the first Frenchman in two decades to win the race.

"The yellow jersey represents so much in the cycling history, and I'm proud to wear it. I was motivated to take it, especially as I had it in sight. Tom Steels, who was behind the wheel, encouraged me all the time and came up with precious advice during the stage. I'm in the lead now, but it's still a long way to go to Nice, so I will take it day by day. Now I want to enjoy this great moment and then focus on helping Marcel in stage 5", concluded Julian, the seventh different Quick-Step Floors rider to notch up a win in 2017.

Alberto Contador was second in the Paris-Nice time trial

Here's the report from his Trek-Segafredo team:

The stage four time trial was the first real test of the general classification rivals in Paris-Nice, and Alberto Contador showed he's ready for a fierce battle in the mountains by racing to a convincing second place.

The 14.5-kilometer race against the clock ended with a grueling three-kilometer uphill, and for the first time, the overall favorites had the opportunity to verify their climbing legs. 

When Contador crossed the line in 21:58 – the first rider under 22 minutes – and finally unseated Quick-Step Floors' David de la Cruz, who had a lengthy stay atop the leaderboard, then narrowly held off challenges from Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), the victory seemed conceivable.

Only one rider remained who could topple the strong ride by Alberto, and he did: it was an incredible effort by Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), who blasted through the course 19 seconds faster to grab the stage win and the yellow leader's jersey. For Contador, it was another near-win and the third podium for Trek-Segafredo in four stages.

"I rode a good time trial but Alaphilippe was incredible, especially in the first part which went better for him than for me," said Contador. "He went very, very fast especially before reaching the climb. He is a very talented rider, he did a great TT, and I offer him my congratulations."

Contador succeeded in taking back time to most his rivals and moved into eighth place overall (+1'33"). Tomorrow sees another sprint stage where John Degenkolb will duke it out for the win and green points jersey before the GC favorites grab the spotlight in the final three days.

"Now I have to look ahead," continued Contador. "For us Paris-Nice is already very complicated, but now the important thing as always is to recover. I think Alaphilippe and Gallopin are the favorites; I am in the background and will take advantage of an opportunity if there is one."

Lotto-Soudal's Paris-Nice report:

The fourth stage of Paris-Nice was an individual time trial of 14.5 kilometres with a steep uphill finish on the Mont Brouilly. On that climb the GC riders could test their legs, and as he showed earlier in Paris-Nice, the legs of Tony Gallopin were very good. Gallopin had to defend his fifth place in the GC. The Frenchman achieved a third place in the time trial. He finished less than a second behind Alberto Contador and twenty seconds behind Julian Alaphilippe. Because of this third place Gallopin becomes second in the GC at 33 seconds from Alaphilippe.

Tony Gallopin: “Ahead of the race, I didn’t think I was going to compete for the stage win, but I had hoped to conquer the yellow jersey. Alaphilippe was twenty seconds faster than me and that is a big difference. He was the well-deserved winner today and he increases his lead in the GC, but there are enough tough stages left in the second part of Paris-Nice where I can play my part. The goal I aimed for at the start of this Paris-Nice was a top ten place and that is still my ambition. We are well on our way to realize this now. I am looking forward to the weekend that will be very interesting with three different, harsh stages. I am going to give it my all!”

In Italy, the Tirreno-Adriatico started today with a team time trial. The Lotto Soudal team was up first and set a time of 24’12”. That was not enough for a podium place. Lotto Soudal eventually finished deservingly seventh. BMC Racing Team won the stage with a time of 23’20”, Quick-Step Floors was second and FDJ third. The Italian Damiano Caruso starts with the leader’s jersey tomorrow.

Team Sky has disastrous first stage at Tirreno-Adriatico

Here's the team's report:

Geraint Thomas was philosophical about Team Sky’s chances of success at Tirreno-Adriatico following a tumultuous opening team time trial in Lido di Camaiore. The team’s efforts were blighted by unfortunate incidents which saw just five riders finish the stage in 18th position on the 22km course which BMC Racing won.

Gianni Moscon suffered the most high profile issue as a broken wheel caused him to crash, though thankfully he was OK and escaped with bruises and road rash, while Diego Rosa and Mikel Landa also suffered equipment problems that hampered the team’s efforts.

Team Sky

Team Sky ready to start the team time trial

And Thomas revealed that the team were just beginning to pick up the pace when their luck changed. “It was unbelievable really. What could go wrong, did go wrong” he told TeamSky.com. “We started at a decent, steady pace and we were really starting to shift and myself, Kwiato and Kiry were feeling good and we were really starting to motor home."

“Then Moscon was obviously taken out. That took Kiry out the back [of the group] but he didn’t crash. But then it happened again and there was only four of us left and we had to wait for what felt like forever and we were freewheeling for a couple of kilometres."

He continued: “We had to wait for both [Landa and Rosa] so we were just rolling and had to wait for the fifth guy to come and yeah, we just lost everything there then."

The result has seriously dented the Welshman’s GC aspirations, but despite conceding that topping the podium on Tuesday may be a tough call, he believes the team will still be a threat.

He added: “I think races like this are won by seconds, but there are lots of stages to go now so we’ll just race hard and I think we have got a guy who can win on most days. We'll just try and be aggressive and try and make up for this, but I think GC is probably out of the window now.”

Speaking after the stage, Team Sky Doctor Inigo Sarriegui confirmed Gianni was OK. He said: "Gianni lost a lot of skin in the crash but he doesn't appear to have any further injuries. He should be good to go tomorrow."

Decathlon Recalls 2012-2016 E-Bikes

Bike Europe posted this important notice:

VILLENEUVE D’ASCQ, France – Decathlon issued a voluntary recall for a full line of ladies e-bikes due to breaking frames. The e-bikes included in this recall were distributed between 23 February 2012 and 4 August 2016.

According to Decathlon these e-bikes were sold in several European countries. The majority was distributed in Belgium. The French sports retail chain urges its customers not to ride their e-bike anymore and contact their nearest Decathlon store. All e-bikes involved in the recall are specified with a front hub motor.

The recall includes these lady’s e-bikes:

Decathlon’s customers have three options once they return the e-bike. They are offered full reimbursement in cash or a Decathlon Gift card. The customer can also choose a new bike including in the current range including a refund in case or Decathlon Gift card in case of a difference in price.

You can read more European bike industry news here.

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