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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 20, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Author Les Woodland tells of our need for heroes, and his own cycling heroes


1967 Tour de France winner Roger Pingeon dies

Roger Pingeon, winner of both the 1967 Tour de France and the 1969 Vuelta a España died of a heart attack a 4AM Sunday morning. Pingeon was 76 years old.

Pingeon forged his 1967 Tour win with his stage 5A escape on the Muir de Thuin. Though Giancarlo Polidori was only 26 seconds behind Pingeon after that effort, all the real GC contenders were more than 6 minutes behind. Stage 8 both saw Pingeon take the lead for good, and saw major contender Raymond Poulidor suffer a crippling time loss.

After that, Poulidor generously helped Pingeon.

Roger Pingeon & Raymond Poulidor

Raymond Poulidor escorts Pingeon up Galibier in stage 10 of the 1967 Tour.

Julian Alaphilippe's Team Quick-Step Floors Milano-San Remo report

This wasn't available when I compiled Sunday's news page:

Seven hours of sweating, staying focused on the bike and fighting for positioning ahead of the key points of a race which is usually decided in the final 15 minutes. To sum it up, that's what Milano-Sanremo is about, but despite being action-packed only inside the last hour, it remains one of the most spectacular, thrilling and popular races on the calendar.

Lining out at the start on the Via della Chiesa Rossa, in the shadow of Milan's Castello Sforzesco, Julian Alaphilippe didn't know what to expect from "La Primavera", as this was his first outing at the 291km-long race which suits more the sprinters than the climbers and has a special way of taking the sting out of the riders' legs while breaking their hopes and dreams.

Fresh off a great Paris-Nice, where he scored a stage win and finished fifth overall in addition to conquering the green and white jerseys, Alaphilippe was one of Quick-Step Floors' protected riders for the Italian classic, and stayed safely tucked in as the peloton left Lombardy behind and headed to the coast, where the real race was expected to start.

Attacks came on the succession of Capi, but it wasn't until the Cipressa, the penultimate climb of the course, that several riders decided to make a move and test the bunch once the 10-man breakaway waved the flag. Quick-Step Floors, who until that point majestically led the pack thanks to an impressive and tireless Julien Vermote, had Philippe Gilbert track down the attackers and the Belgian Champion made sure no one got a gap.

On the flat section towards the Poggio, it was all together again, with Tom Boonen – making his final appearance at the race – driving the bunch. A regular feature on the route of Milano-Sanremo since 1960, when Gastone Nencini was the first rider at the top, Poggio (3.7 kilometers with an average gradient of 3.7%) played a huge role in the outcome, as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) surged clear, putting some daylight between him and the other contenders.

Julian Alaphilippe was the first to respond, before Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) joined him, and it was thanks to the splendid effort of the Frenchman that the duo closed the gap and bridged to the front 500 meters from the top. On the fast and winding descent, the trio built a lead of 19 seconds, an advantage which proved impossible to be erased by the charging bunch.

The sprint of the iconic Via Roma was an enthrailling one, and Julian concluded a close third, behind Kwiatkowski and the world champion. It was his second career podium in a Monument, after the 2015 edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège, where he made the headlines by finishing second.

Michal Kwiatkowski

The close sprint, Julian Alaphilippe (right) was third.

"Today, my role was to cover the attacks on the Poggio, because Fernando was our road captain and we were hoping to bring him to the finish in the best possible position. So, when Sagan went, I followed. I went full gas on the Poggio and had hoped to recover a bit on the descent, but we rode really hard also there. My legs were empty at the finish and I sprinted against two very strong riders, but I don't have any regret, despite coming close to winning this beautiful race. I am happy with this top 3 and I hope one day I will be victorious in Milano-Sanremo", said Julian, first debutant in three years to podium at "La Classicissima".

Alaphilippe, who made a big jump in the World Tour individual classification following this race, had words of praise for his teammates at the finish: "I am very grateful to them, they all did a wonderful job. Julien stayed at the front of the peloton for more than 200 kilometers, Philippe covered some of my rivals' moves, Tom pulled hard before the Poggio, all of them were fantastic and deserve a big thank you. Today you could see again why this team is so great!"

Besides Alaphilippe, Quick-Step Floors placed another young and talented rider in the top 10, Fernando Gaviria. The 22-year-old was well placed in the peloton ahead of the Cipressa, but a saddle problem forced him to start the 5km-long climb at the back and due to the fast and furious pace it was impossible for him to change the bike, so he had to spend vital energy in order to return to the front by the time the bunch arrived at the bottom of the Poggio.

In the end, despite this incident and the pain he felt in his right wrist following Thursday's training crash, Fernando sprinted from the peloton on the Via Roma and finished fifth, the best ever result of a Colombian rider at Milano-Sanremo.

Coryn Rivera victorious at Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Team Sunweb sent me this race report:

It was a day to remember for Team Sunweb's 24-year-old Coryn Rivera (USA) as she sprinted to victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, taking the biggest win of her career and the first women's WorldTour win for the team in 2017.

As the race reached its business end Team Sunweb remained active at the front of the peloton making breakaway attempts and marking any attacks that looked like they could be decisive. After a perfect sprint preparation Rivera was brought into the last corner in a great position. The aerodynamics and stiffness of Team Sunweb's Liv Envie alongside Rivera's power meant she was a force to be reckoned with. Her explosive sprint proved too much for her opponents in the bunch as she crossed the line to take the victory.

After her victory Rivera said: "We had a couple of different cards to play today. Both myself and my team mates tried our luck in getting in any potential race deciding moves but it turned out that the race stayed together for a bunch sprint. We kept fighting to stay in the front group and it payed off. I was really thankful to have the support of my team and especially Ellen [van Dijk] there with me, she came back over to me at the last climb and stayed with me through to the end. She was instrumental in the finale and I couldn't have taken the victory without my team mates."

"All of our riders were still in the front in the last laps of the local circuit which was perfect," said Team Sunweb coach Dirk Reuling (NED). "On the last lap there was an attack from a couple of the race favourites and Coryn managed to follow that group, this was a good sign that she was feeling good at that stage of the race. More of us were up at the front of the bunch, which was great for how we wanted the race to go. Our plan was to lead Coryn out through the last corner and the team executed that perfectly, with the team delivering Coryn into the perfect position. It was a great job from everyone today and we are all really pleased to take the victory."

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