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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Man was made at the end of the week's work, when God was tired. - Mark Twain

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Bill McGann, author of The Story of the Giro d'Italia, discusses Italy's national race


Volta a Catalunya stage one team reports

Here's Lotto-Soudal's update:

The Volta a Catalunya started today and immediately the riders had a harsh stage to overcome. The stage started and arrived in Calella. The riders had to get over six climbs – two of first category – in the 178.9 kilometres long stage. After around thirty kilometres four breakers rode away from the bunch and got a maximum two-minute lead.

About halfway, the escapees were reinforced by three other riders but that didn’t bother the bunch. The peloton, led by Lotto Soudal and Thomas De Gendt, caught the last two escapees at about 25 kilometres from the finish. The teams could prepare for a sprint.

It was Davide Cimolai who sprinted the fastest. Nacer Bouhanni became second, Kristian Sbaragli third. André Greipel finished as the first Lotto Soudal rider on the fifth place. Tomorrow the riders are going to ride a team time trial of 41.3 kilometres.

Quick-Step Floors had this to say about the stage:

This year's Volta a Catalunya kicked off under a blue and sunny sky with a stage for the sprinters. That is, on paper, because the bunch still had to take on six classified ascents and a total of 3500 meters of climbing: Alt de Parpers, Alt dels Pinars de Bado, Alt de la Pullosa, Alt El Muntanya, Coll Formic and Alt de Collsacreu.

After the original four-men escape was pulled back with 22 kilometers to go, two riders – Cyril Gautier (AG2R) and Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) – tried their luck inside the last five kilometers with a solo move, but they were both reabsorbed by the peloton, who fought for victory on the short drag to the finish line in Calella, a town which was hosting a stage for the six years in a row.

Davide Cimolai

Davide Cimolai wins the first stage

Petr Vakoč was Quick-Step Floors' top finisher on the stage won by Davide Cimolai (FDJ) in front of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). The 2015 Czech Champion rolled home in 8th for his second World Tour top 10 of the season, following the 6th place he nabbed two months ago, at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Apart from the 24-year-old's solid result, Quick-Step Floors came out of this stage also with the first position in the team classification, which means our squad will be the second-to-last to start the 41.3km-long team time trial scheduled Tuesday afternoon, around Banyoles.

Team UAE-Abu Dhabi sent this report:

Volta a Catalunya showed immediately that the courses profiles are quite demanding. Along the 178,9 km of the opening stage, with start and finish in Calella, the riders covered 6 categorized climbs, with 4 ascents piled in the central part of the course, with the Col de Formic (1st cagegory) at -53 km to the arrival.

The main interest for UAE Team Emirates for today was the return to races of a trio of important riders, who are Darwin Atapuma, Louis Meintjes and Anass Ait el Abdia.

The Colombian climber has not raced with the team for two months, since the crash which forced him to quit the Volta a San Juan. One month ago he participated in the Colombian championship (he was 4th), today he has worn the UAE Team Emirates for the first time in a World Tour race.

For Meintjes, the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya was the 12th day in races: after having completed the Abu Dhabi Tour, he trained for a month to be ready for the European appointments.

Last appearance of Moroccan champion Ait el Abdia was the Tour of Oman, which was also the only one competition in which he raced with the team. He get back to races after having trained at home.

For what concerns the Spanish race, despite the series of climbs, the sprinters' teams worked in order to promote a sprint epilogue, controlling that breakaways which led the race (first breakaway of 4 riders - Rolland, Antonio Nibali, Affonso and Nazaret - with a maximum advantage of 2'35", later other 2 attackers - Domont and Bol - with less than 1').

The final sprint was unfolded on large roads, where the riders could exploit their power: Cimolai preceded Bouhanni and Sbaragli.

UAE Team Emirates could not rely on pure sprinters, however Conti succeeded in giving to the team a top 20: the Italian young gun is a climber, but he's swift and he succeeded in obtaining the 20th place.

Sports director Maini commented: "It's a pity that Mori could not take part in the sprint beause of a flat tyre, he was aware that Cimolai could have been very competitive and his idea was to follow the former team mate: he would have had good chances to obtain an interesting result. We're happy that the race unfolded in a way which was good for Atapuma, Meintjes and Ait el Abdia: the pace was regular and pretty high, the perfect conditions for having good feedbacks from the legs in the first race after some weeks.

"Good to see that Bono, who was involved in a crash in the Paris-Nice which had forced him to quit the race, recovered properly".

In the second stage, the riders will race a team time trial of 41,3 km in Banyoles. The first part of the course will be hilly and on winding roads, the second part will be suitable for riding at high speed.

BMC Racing Team to play multiple cards at Dwars Door Vlaanderen

The team sent me this news:

20 March, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will line up at the now-UCI WorldTour race Dwars Door Vlaanderen this Wednesday with different options at the start line.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the race normally goes one of two ways. "Dwars Door Vlaanderen is a good warm up race for the Tour of Flanders given the parcours features many of the same climbs and cobble sectors. Generally, the race either comes down to a bunch sprint or sometimes a small group can be lucky and smart enough to make it to the line," Baldato explained.

"We will have Jempy Drucker if the race ends in a bunch sprint, and Stefan Küng is definitely able to jump in a good move that hopefully makes it to the line. Last year, we saw Greg Van Avermaet make a good move in the finale so anything can happen, especially this year with the additional cobble sector before the finish."

Jempy Drucker

Jempy Drucker at the 2016 Vuelta a España

Drucker will make the most of the leadership opportunity. "I am really motivated for Dwars Door Vlaanderen as it is the start of the real Flemish Classic block. These are the races I have been training for all winter and as Greg Van Avermaet isn't lining up, it will be nice to have a free card to play for myself."

Rider Roster: Tom Bohli (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Miles Scotson (AUS), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS).

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