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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. - Mahatma Gandhi

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Author Les Woodland talks about cycle racing's potential for great triumph and terrible tragedy using renowned climber Charly Gaul and the great Eddy Merckx as examples.


Teams preview Driedaagse De Panne

Here's Lotto-Soudal's update:

Tuesday, the 41st edition of the Driedaagse De Panne – Koksijde begins. Those three days are also the last racing days before the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Driedaagse includes two stages in a straight line and on the last day there’s a double programme to cover. In the morning there’s a short stage followed by an individual time trial in the afternoon.

The opening stage will go from De Panne to Zottegem. There are eleven hills to overcome on the first day. On the two local laps of 46.9 kilometres each, the riders have to go over the Berendries, Ten Bosse, Muur van Geraardsbergen and Klemhoutstraat. The first stage is a tough one and crucial for the GC. Stages two and three will probably turn out to be a sprint. On the last day there’s an individual time trial in the afternoon, which will be decisive for the GC.

Frederik Willems is the sports director for Lotto Soudal during the Driedaagse De Panne – Koksijde. He won the GC in 2009 so he is the ideal man to look ahead to the race.

Sports director Frederik Willems: “We are going with ambition to the Driedaagse. Tony Gallopin and Jens Debusschere are our two leaders. Gallopin recovered well from his crash and we receive nothing but good signs from his trainings. A race is different than a training though, so we are going to wait until the first hour of the first stage to see how his body reacts.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin

“The first stage has a classic profile and suits Tony. With 110 kilometres to go, just before the local laps, the Haaghoek is the first crucial point. On the local laps the riders have to overcome the Muur van Geraardsbergen twice. It’s an opportunity to get rid of the sprinters like Kittel and Kristoff. If the riders are going with a group to the finish we are going to put our chances on Jens Debusschere. The first stage will play a big part for the GC. In stages two and three I’m expecting a bunch sprint. The competition for the sprint is big. Quick-Step Floors has Marcel Kittel and Team Katusha has Alexander Kristoff, but Jens Debusschere should not shy away from sprinting against them. In the individual time trial you can also make the difference for the GC. I’m looking forward to the results of Gallopin, De Buyst and Frison.”

“Jasper De Buyst has carte blanche. Hofland will pull the sprint for Debusschere. Mertz is there to gain experience, while Bak and Sieberg have loads of experience."

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Tony Gallopin, Moreno Hofland, Rémy Mertz and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stages:

Bardiani-CSF sent me this:

Bardiani-CSF heads to the North racing, during next three weeks, its season on the cobbles. Tomorrow the #GreenTeam will face the first event, Driedaagse de Panne-Koksijde (UCI 2.HC) followed by Volta Limburg Classic on April 1. The second part of the the campaign will be introduced by Brabantse Pijl on April 12, then Grand Prix de Denain on the 13th and Dutch Classic Amstel Gold Race on April 16.

Line up - Bardiani-CSF will race Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde with six riders, due to flu virus that reduced the roster. Led by team director Stefano Zanatta, riders’ list includes Vincenzo Albanese, Enrico Barbin, Mirco Maestri, Marco Maronese, Paolo Simion and Alessandro Tonelli.

Quote - “Racing in the Norh is a must for every team” said Zanatta “and for our young riders will be a bold and useful chance to improve their skills. We have two debutants and, in general, a team ready to prove itself and grow. These will be our aim for all the campaign”.

Facts - Albanese and Maronese will race for the first time on Belgian cobbles; Barbin and Maestri raced Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde one time while Tonelli and Simion twice. Average age of the team will be 24 years old - Albanese the youngest (1996) and Barbin the “oldest” (1990).

Here's what Team Quick-Step Floors had to report:

Leberg, Berendries, Ten Bosse and Muur van Geraardsbergen – it's not the parcours of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, but of the first stage of this year's Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, which should have a big impact on the general classification. A total of 11 classified climbs, short but with average gradients ranging from 4% to 14%, will take the sting out of the riders' legs and will see the overall victory contenders come to the fore in an attempt to apply pressure on their rivals and create some serious damage in the peloton.

The next two stages, finishing in Koksijde and De Panne, should have the sprinters' names written all over them, while the last one will be a 14.2km individual time trial, a test of brute strength, with only a few technical sectors, suiting the powerful specialists of the discipline, who will get the chance to erase the deficit of the opening day and come back into contention for a strong result in the general classification.

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel will be at De Panne for the start

Marcel Kittel, who's responsible for five of the team's 17 wins this season, will focus on the two stages which are expected to come down to a bunch sprint, and the 28-year-old German, who returns to racing following a two-week break he took after Paris-Nice, will be backed by a well-honed lead-out train at the Belgian race.

Jack Bauer, Tim Declercq, Davide Martinelli, Maximiliano Richeze and Fabio Sabatini are the riders who will support Kittel's claim to a stage victory, while Dries Devenyns and Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert – runner-up at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke after two very convincing displays – will give the team solid options in the GC

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this update:

RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN (WT)

Sunday sees the 101st edition of the Tour of Flanders take place, marking the second monument of the season. The 259.5km race features a multitude of gruelling short, steep climbs and an array of cobbled sections. This year the Muur van Geraardsbergen also returns to the parcours, alongside the traditional climbs of Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg.

Looking ahead to the race, Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) said: "Flanders is one of the toughest one day races of the year. We do not necessarily have a favourite for the race, so our approach will be rather offensive. We will aim to be in the right moves early in the race and in the pre-finale and we've several strong guys capable of doing so. If the scenario unfolds in our favour we could go for a result from there. Yesterday we had two of our guys in the mix of the action in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem so that gives us confidence for Sunday."

RACE: Ronde van Vlaanderen (WT)

DATE: 02/04/2017

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

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

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt will be on the start line for the Tour of Flanders (but without the aero gear)

RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN (WWT)

One of the most prestigious Classics on the cycling calendar, this year the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen adds 13 extra kilometres to its parcours, covering a total distance of 153.3km. The route also features two more hills, with the finale taking riders up the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. The team goes to Flanders with former winner Ellen van Dijk (NED) and after achieving top 10 finishes in all Women's WorldTour races so far.

"The change to the parcours makes this a harder Flanders than it ever was before, but I am confident that this will work in our favour," said Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED). "We have never started this race with such a strong team so I am really looking forward to seeing how the day goes. Ellen won in 2015 and we will be seeking another great result for her this year. The team has shown some really good form over the past few weeks so we will for sure be going for a top result."

RACE: Ronde van Vlaanderen (WWT)

DATE: 02/04/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Lucinda Brand (NED), Ellen van Dijk (NED), Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Coryn Rivera (USA) , Rozanne Slik (NED)

VUELTA CICLISTA AL PAIS VASCO (WT)

The WorldTour stage racing action continues next week with the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, starting on April 3. The team returns to the Spanish mountains to once again race against some of the world's best climbers. The six stages that make up the 2017 edition will maintain a similar format from previous seasons. Over its six stages ridwill cover a total distance of 828.8km, with an individual time trial on the final day to shake up the overall victory.

"Pais Vasco is a really difficult race with lots of climbing kilometres," explained Team Sunweb coach Morten Bennekou (DEN). "We start with a strong line-up, which is built around stage results and exploring GC possibilities. "With Michael, we are aiming to further progress the dynamics in our lead-out and we hope that it will lead to some good sprints. Our goal with Warren is to see how much he can do in the GC, as he approaches the last step before reaching his top form. For uphill support we’ll have guys as Laurens, Simon and Georg, as well as youngsters Chris and Sam."

RACE: Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (WT)

DATE: 03-08/04/2017

COACH: Morten Bennekou (DEN) 

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