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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

It's all make believe, isn't it? - Marilyn Monroe

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Author Bill McGann gives a short history of the Tour de France from 1965 to 2007


BMC Racing Team awarded 1st in Volta Ciclista a Catalunya team time trial

Movistar was initially awarded the win in the Volta a Catalunya team time trial. But because José Joaquin Rojas had pushed a couple of teammates up a hill, Rojas was penalized three minutes, though the rest of the team suffered no time loss. Overnight the judges decided the rules called for the entire team to be penalized (and avoiding the obvious "hometowning" accusations) a full minute. That made BMC the winner and Ben Hermans the news GC leader. Complete revised results are posted.

BMC sent me this report when it believed it finished second:

21 March 2017, Banyoles (ESP): BMC Racing Team fought hard throughout the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya stage 2 Team Time Trial to clock the second-fastest time in a nail-biting finish, just two seconds short of the stage win.

The eight riders quickly settled into a solid rhythm on the 41.3km course and maintained an impressive display of strength and teamwork to cross the line all together and stop the clock at 48'57", the first team to finish in under 50 minutes.

As the race continued, it was clear that their time would be hard to beat and in the end, it was only eventual winners Movistar Team that could challenge BMC Racing Team's early benchmark, with 48'55".

BMC Racing Team Sports Directors, Jackson Stewart and Yvon Ledanois, alongside Trek-Segafredo, protested the final result as television footage clearly saw Movistar Team rider José Joaquin Rojas push his fellow teammates on multiple occasions, a violation of UCI regulations.

UCI Commisaires penalized Rojas by three minutes, but the results of stage 2 remained with BMC Racing Team in second place.

As predicted, the Team Time Trial has reshuffled the General Classification. Ben Hermans sits in sixth place as BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider, and Brent Bookwalter, Tejay van Garderen, Rohan Dennis and Kilian Frankiny round out the top ten.

Rohan Dennis: "I think the team rode well today. We were really smooth over the whole 41.3km course, and in the end, we were the best team on the day. We didn't break any rules, and we were the strongest as a whole, so I think we have to take our hats off to ourselves."

"We have around one minute on most of the other teams now, and that will act as a buffer and puts us in a good spot in terms of the overall General Classification."

Tejay van Garderen: "I felt great today, and I think we whole team rode really smooth and we kept our wits about us on such a technical course. I had a lot of fun today. It was a blast out on the course, almost like riding a rollercoaster. When you ride a Team Time Trial with a team as strong, and as technically sound as BMC Racing Team, you can't help but enjoy it. I second everything Rohan has said as well. We played by the rules, and we were the strongest team today."

"I am surprised by some of the time gaps at the end of the stage, but it's definitely a good morale boost going into the rest of the week and especially tomorrow's stage. I have good memories on La Molina with top five finishes there over the past three years, and I have even won a stage here before, so I am looking forward to going back."

Sports Director, Jackson Stewart: "We have a lot of experience, a lot of good riders, staff, and equipment to do an effort like this and today we went out there and did exactly what we wanted to do. We had done a recon of the course and had learned how to moderate the effort because it wasn't an easy course."

"We did our best, and the guys put in an amazing ride. They were flying around the course, and all came home happy with their performance. Finishing with eight riders really shows the strength and depth of our team. We have pure time trial talent here with Rohan Dennis, Ben Hermans and Tejay van Garderen plus the other guys are good at time trials in their own right. Plus, we have one of our younger riders Kilian Frankiny here, and it was great to see him doing strong pulls and managing to the last the full course. We didn't know we could finish with eight guys, we hoped we could, and I was impressed with the guys when they crossed the line."

"I am happy that we were able to take advantage of our strengths today. Tejay and Rohan are now in a good position in terms of the General Classification. I don't think we expected some of the time gaps to be so big but a team time trial is great in a race like this. It throws time gaps into the mix, and it changes how the climbing stages will be raced which will make things interesting."

"When we saw that Rojas pushed his teammates forward on multiple occasions, which is a violation of UCI rules, we lodged a complaint with Trek-Segafredo. The outcome is disappointing as we felt we were the strongest on the day and we played by the rules."

Lotto-Soudal for Dwars door Vlaanderen

The team sent me this:

Tomorrow, the centre of Roeselare will prepare itself for the start of the 72nd edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen, which is part of the WorldTour from now on. Last year, it was Lotto Soudal rider Jens Debusschere who was the winner.

The riders will cover 203.4 kilometres between Roeselare and Waregem. The first hill of the day lies on the route after 91 kilometres. The Nieuwe Kwaremont is a two kilometres long hill with a 4.2% gradient and 8% maximum. A warm-up for what’s about to come. Once passed the Kattenberg, the hills and cobbled sections follow each other quickly. The Kattenberg is immediately followed by a 1.5 kilometres long cobblestone section (Holleweg) and right after that by a section of 1.7 kilometres (Haaghoek). Right after these two sections the riders have to go over the Leberg; quickly followed by the Berendries, Valkenberg, Eikenberg and Taaienberg. With a little more than thirty kilometres to cover the riders will have to attack the famous duo Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. At ten kilometres from the finish Nokereberg is the final hill of the day. The course is basically a copy of last year. The only difference is a new 800 metres long cobblestone section at 6.7 kilometres from the finish. This section is an extra obstacle in the finale, just before the winner will cross the finish line.

Jens Debuschere

Jens Debusschere wins 2016 Dwars door Vlaanderen

Jens Debusschere: “The Tirreno was a good last preparation on the Flemish Classics. The stages were long and tough and they made me stronger. Dwars door Vlaanderen is a very special race for me. It starts in Roeselare, my hometown, and arrives in Waregem right before my current doorstep. I won the race last year, making it only more special.

“But compared with last year a lot has changed. Dwars door Vlaanderen is now a race on WorldTour level which makes the competition far more difficult this year. It’s up to our power guys like Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts to follow the competition, or try to follow them. Quick-Step Floors will start with a strong team. It will be a very tough race. I think that the race will explode on the Taaienberg, like every year. Especially now the competition has grown so big, it will be as hectic as during the Ronde van Vlaanderen going to the Taaienberg. The separation starts already on the Kattenberg, after 110 kilometres, but if you are too far behind turning on the Taaienberg, your race is over.”

“We start Dwars door Vlaanderen to win. I’m convinced that we have a strong team. Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts are our strongest men on the cobblestone sections and hills. If I’m still in the front of the race after the last cobbles I will do my best to sprint for victory. We also got De Buyst, Gallopin, Maes, Sieberg and Wallays. A perfect combination of experience and young violence. The course is almost completely the same like last year, except for one new cobblestone section at around seven kilometres from the finish. I don’t think you can ride away from a group on this section but a big group can definitely split. I’m looking forward to Wednesday!”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Tony Gallopin, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors:  Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

This was in my inbox today:

DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN  (WT)

The traditional opener to the Flemish Classics week, Dwars door Vlaanderen this year provides an extra cobbled section to its finale.  The parcours are slightly longer than last year's, with a route that covers 203.3km through the typical Flemish cobbled climbs such as the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont.

Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "At Dwars door Vlaanderen we aim to ride offensively and be part of the major moves throughout the race. With the strong line-up that we have on Wednesday we are hoping to be able to get a good result. With Michael we have the long-term plan to develop his cobbled classics’ capacities and gaining the necessary experience is a crucial part of this."

RACE: Dwars door Vlaanderen (WT)

DATE: 22/03/2017

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP: Bert De Backer (BEL), Roy Curvers (NED), Michael Matthews (AUS), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED) , Mike Teunissen (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN WE (UCI 1.1)

Now upgraded and given UCI status, the women's Dwars door Vlaanderen has this year added 11km to its route, an extra cobbled sector whilst it's early climb of the Nokereberg has been taken out of the mix. Starting in Tielt, the races' sixth edition sees riders climb the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and the Nokereberg.

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We are back in a real Flemish classic which feels good after the team's win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Sunday's Trofeo Binda. With Lucinda and Ellen lining up we are going to the race with the aim getting another good result. The race is only 114km long and the hilly sections come quiet late in the race which will be interesting. Last year showed us that there is a good chance that a bigger group could go through to the finish and we are confident if it comes down to that scenario."

RACE: Dwars door Vlaanderen WE (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 22/03/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Lucinda Brand (NED), Ellen van Dijk (NED), Liane Lippert (GER), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED), Julia Soek (NED) 

RECORD BANK E3 HARELBEKE (WT)

The Flemish one-day races continue with E3 Harelbeke on Friday. The race, which features no less than 15 hills and four cobblestone sections along its 206km route, includes the famous ascents of the Taaienberg, the Paterberg, and the Oude Kwaremont.

Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said ahead of the race: "At E3 we’ll have several riders who are strong enough to animate the finale. We have different plans for different circumstances and we will adapt to whatever race situation presents itself. We aim to be present in the breakaways and after some good performances from the team in races over the past few weeks, we go into the race with confidence."

Soren Andersen

Soren Andersen (right, front) puts on the hurt in the 2017 Tour of Oman

RACE: Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (WT)

DATE: 24/03/2017

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP: Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL)
Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

GENT-WEVELGEM (WT)

In its 79th edition, the 2017 profile of Gent-Wevelgem features less climbs than its fellow Flemish Classics and favours the sprinters with its history of fast finishes. The tough 249.2km route often sees challenging weather conditions, which could also favour an early attacking opportunist.

Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "We go to Gent-Wevelgem with an experienced team. For Michael it will become another valuable experience and we will work to position him well in the finale and continue to develop his skills on the classics terrain. If the race comes down to a sprint we’ll aim to have a strong lead-out in place to launch Michael."

RACE: Gent-Wevelgem (WT)

DATE: 26/03/2017

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP, Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER)
Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Michael Matthews (AUS), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

GENT-WEVELGEM (WWT)

Team Sunweb Women return to racing at Gent-Wevelgem this weekend and will be looking for some more strong results. Floortje Mackaij (NED) won the 2015 race after a tough finish whilst Lucinda Brand (NED) finished second on the podium last year. The course is a gruelling 115.3km route that often serves favour to the attackers and opportunists. Taking in five Flemish hills, the last 40km of racing are relatively flat, meaning it will likely come down to a fast finish.

"In 2015 we won this race with Floortje," said Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED). "At that stage it didn't have WorldTour status, but it demonstrates that it has parcours that really suits us. Last season Lucinda, Leah and Ellen all raced really strong through to the final so we for sure have a strong squad for the race. The parcours have changed a little bit this year with the gravel sections towards the beginning of the race and also just after the Kemmelberg will be interesting as it provides a potential opportunity to stay away after the hilly sections. I believe that these changes will work to our advantage, the harder the race the better for our team."

RACE: Gent-Wevelgem (WWT)

DATE: 26/03/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

Tour de Yorkshire teams announced

Here's the organizer's press release:

With just over a month to go until the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire, organisers have revealed a record 36 men’s and women’s teams will compete in the race, up from 33 in 2016.

For the first time the number of women’s and men’s teams taking part will be the same.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity made the announcement at Y17 - the UK’s largest tourism conference - in York on Tuesday morning and confirmed that ten teams will be taking part for the very first time.

The men’s race – which takes place between 28-30 April – will include nine Tour de France teams from the seven UCI WorldTour teams, five Pro Continental outfits and six British-based squads competing. Aqua Blue Sport, Bike Channel Canyon and Delko Marseille Provence KTM making their debuts.

The Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire on Saturday 29 April also boasts a stellar field with a record number of 18 teams set to compete. 11 of the 14 top-ranked teams in the world will be in action alongside seven domestic squads.

Of those, Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, Bepink Cogeas, Canyon Sram Racing, Cervelo – Bigla Pro Cycling Team, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli and the newly launched Storey Racing are new additions for 2017. Sir Gary Verity said: “This is the largest field we have ever assembled and the quality of it reflects the high esteem in which our race is held.

“Having the very best teams in the business coming to Yorkshire is a massive coup, but it is also important to us that British-based teams have the opportunity to pit themselves against the world’s finest riders.    

“Teams want to compete at the Tour de Yorkshire as they know they will be guaranteed massive crowds, exciting racing and an electric atmosphere. This year 49 teams applied to participate. Last year two million spectators lined the route and the third edition looks set to be the biggest and best one yet.”

Thomas Voeckler

Thomas Voeckler winning at the 2016 Tour of Yorkshire

Team line-ups will not be unveiled until mid-April, although Thomas Voeckler is back to defend his title and Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead) has also confirmed her attendance in her home county.

The full list of teams for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire is as follows:

Seven UCI WorldTour teams:
BMC Racing Team (USA), Orica – Scott (AUS), Team Dimension Data (RSA), Team Katusha Alpecin (SUI), Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (NED), Team Sky (GBR) and Team Sunweb (GER).

Five UCI Pro Continental teams:
Aqua Blue Sport (IRE), Cofidis, Solutions Credits (FRA), Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA), Direct Energie (FRA) and Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij (NED).

Five UCI Continental teams:
Bike Channel Canyon (GBR), JLT Condor (GBR), Madison Genesis (GBR), One Pro Cycling (GBR) and Team Raleigh GAC (GBR).

One national team:
Team GB (GBR).

The full list of teams for the 2017 Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire is as follows:

Ale Cipollini (ITA), Bepink Cogeas (ITA), Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (NED), Canyon Sram Racing (GER), Cervelo – Bigla Pro Cycling Team (GER), Cylance Pro Cycling (USA), Drops Cycling Team (GBR), FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope (FRA), Fusion RT Fierlan (GBR), Hitec Products (NOR), Lares – Waowdeals Women Cycling Team (BEL), NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli (GBR), Storey Racing (GBR), Team Ford EcoBoost (GBR), Team Jadan Weldtite (GBR), Team Sunweb (NED), Team WNT (GBR) and Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling (GBR).

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