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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, May 20, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. - Harry S. Truman

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour of California stage five reports

Cannondale-Drapac sent me this update:

American Andrew Talansky took a hard-fought victory atop Mt. Baldy on the fifth stage of Amgen Tour of California on Thursday. The 28-year-old out-sprinted race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) in an uphill dash to the line to claim Cannondale-Drapac’s first WorldTour win of the season.

“I’m so happy,” Talansky said. “We needed that. That’s what happens when we have fun.

“We’re all overjoyed,” added Talansky. “The guys set it up on the stage. My form, as far as everyone else was concerned, was unknown coming into this, and the guys put full trust and full faith in me. I ended up losing a bit of time on Mt. Hamilton on Monday. Brendan Canty saved my day yesterday, the whole team did. I could have been a minute back after getting a flat at a bad time.”

He’s not a minute back. Instead Talansky will head into the penultimate stage in fourth overall with a 44-second deficit to Majka. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is currently second at six seconds while Ian Boswell (Team Sky) is third at 25 seconds. The stage six individual time trial covers 24-kilometers around Big Bear Lake, which lies 2,000 meters above sea level.

Andrew Talansky

Andrew Talansky winning California Tour stage five

"I’d prefer to be in the yellow jersey right now, but we won the stage today, and I’ll enjoy that,” said Talansky. “Tomorrow I’ll focus on the time trial. If we win this race, we win this race, and if we lose, we lose. Life goes on.

“Rafal is a great time trialist,” Talansky added. “I like my chances, but I can’t underestimate what he will do tomorrow. I have no doubt that we’ll both go out there and give it everything we have. Whoever ends up on top, ends up on top.”

HOW IT HAPPENED

It was a fast, frantic start to the queen stage of the Amgen Tour of California. Thursday’s race took in 125 kilometers with over 3,600 meters of climbing between Ontario and the top of Mt. Baldy. The category one summit finish has four times featured in the Amgen Tour of California, including in 2011 – Talansky’s first participation in the race.

A group of around 25 riders, initially including Cannondale-Drapac’s Lawson Craddock, broke away from the peloton before the first intermediate sprint. The escape splintered and then regrouped up and over Glendora Ridge Road, the first of three categorized climbs. Thirteen riders remained out front with a three-minute advantage at the 50 kilometer mark.

With the breakaway’s gap tumbling on Glendora Mountain, Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) went on the attack. The Canadian’s acceleration split the breakaway. In Britton’s wake, attrition had reduced the peloton to around 20 riders. Nate Brown and Brendan Canty had made the selection alongside Talansky.

On the descent between Glendora Mountain and Mt. Baldy, Brown paced Talansky towards the front of the group and lifted the tempo. “I wasn’t on the front too long,” said Brown. “Ben King was moving Lachie [Morton] to the front at the same time.”

“Nate is getting stronger and stronger,” Talansky added. “His work was crucial today. It’s really nice to see his progression”

Talansky was the first of the general classification contenders to jump. His repeated accelerations caused further selections. Mid-way up Mt. Baldy, only eight riders remained in contention for the stage win.

Slightly before the three-kilometer mark, Talansky attacked yet again. This time he got a gap. Bennett bridged across with Majka on his wheel. The trio were joined by Boswell a half-kilometer later.

“We had the four of us more or less for the last few kilometers,” explained Talansky. “Obviously I would have loved to take a bit of time today but Rafal is super strong. He always fought his way back, put in a few attacks of his own. George Bennett did the same. I have a pretty good sprint, so once we were inside the last kilometer, I thought about winning the stage rather than continuing to attack.”

While Talansky has never climbed up Mt. Baldy at race pace, he knows the climb and has studied video of previous Baldy finishes. He used this knowledge to place himself on the inside of the final corner. “It’s where you have to be,” said Talansky. “I’ve seen it play out enough to know that I wanted to come from underneath Rafal.”

The strategy proved effective. Talansky handily won the sprint and pocketed 10 bonus seconds, four more than Majka earned for second place. “I’m happy I could deliver,” said Talansky. “This belongs to the team. It was a full team effort, and not only the team here, but the team as a whole. The team placed their belief in me and gave me time to prepare for this race. I don’t think you’d find that in many places. I’m happy I could pay them back with this stage win today.

“I’m from Miami, Florida, so that’s home, but this is my adopted home,” Talansky added. “I live up in Napa. I have family, I have friends here. It’s been awhile since I won a race. […] It’s fantastic to win this stage, be on the podium. Hopefully it made for some good bike racing today.”

Team boss Jonathan Vaughters watched the queen stage unfold from home. He was unsurprised to see the rider he dubbed ‘The Pit Bull’ climb to the top step of the podium. “Andrew said he was going to win today, and he did,” said Vaughters. “When it wants it bad and when he sets his mind to it, he is a true champion.”

Here's the LottoNL-Jumbo California Tour stage 5 report:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett climbed to third in the Tour of California’s stage on Mount Baldy to hold second overall. The short queen stage was won by Andrew Talansky, who edged out Rafal Majka and George Bennett. Robert Gesink placed ninth and moved to eighth behind overall leader Majka.

"The team supported me today," Bennett said at the finish. "Bora, with race leader Majka, let the escape go further and then our team began the chase. I rode for victory, but in the final, I saw that Talansky and Majka had more in the tank."

Bert Jan Lindeman formed part of an early escape in the short stage to Mount Baldy. The group consisted of 22 riders, Tiago Machado being the most dangerous man. At 50 kilometres from a line, Team LottoNL-Jumbo went to the front to take control.

"The team should be proud of what they did today. The young men did very well. I’ll take this experience to the next races."

Bennett and the rest of the team will race an individual 24-kilometre time trial at Bear Lake tomorrow, stage six of the seven-day stage race.

Giro d'Italia stage 13 team reports

Here's the Team Subweb news:

After a great effort from a strong and focused Team Sunweb at stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia, Tom Dumoulin (NED) will wear the coveted Maglia Rosa for the fourth consecutive day tomorrow.

Another day for the sprint teams meant that Team Sunweb's pink jersey could spend the day tucked inside the bunch, with the sole focus of finishing the day safely inside the peloton. Team Sunweb did a brilliant job maintaining position on the most crucial areas and being focused ahead of crosswind sections. Dumoulin finished the day with no time losses ahead of the looming steep slopes of Oropa tomorrow.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin will start stage fourteen in pink

After another day in the Maglia Rosa Dumoulin said: "Today was once again a great job from the team. Looking ahead to tomorrow, things will be pretty steady during the day and then it will be full gas onto the last climb. The coming week will be more tricky but we just have to stay calm, stay sharp and hope for the best."

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Although a flat stage, today was really nervous and the team did a great job in keeping Tom safe. We were focused on all of the important sections and looked for opportunities in the crosswinds but nothing worked out. The team are feeling motivated ahead the coming mountain stages, there's a good vibe with a lot of focus and we are all looking forward to the coming days."

And of course, we can't forget the update from Fernando Gaviria's Quick-Step Floors team:

Fernando Gaviria confirmed once again he is one of the fastest riders in the world, with a fantastic sprint which landed his fourth stage victory at the 100th Giro d'Italia. Friday's win was completely different than the previous ones, as he had to come from a long way back, basically kicking off his blistering turn of speed with 350 meters remaining, and flying past all his rivals next to the barriers before notching Quick-Step Floors' 63rd Grand Tour stage win.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria winning Giro stage thirteen

A tricky left-hand bend with 450 meters remaining turned the bunch sprint into a messy affair, but despite not being in the best position, Gaviria unleashed an incredible acceleration on the final straight and hit a peak power of 1478W, which resulted into a 72.8 km/h top speed that catapulted the South American to another outstanding and exciting victory, ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo).

It was a success of the entire Quick-Step Floors team, from Pieter Serry, who spent dozens of kilometers at the front of the peloton keeping the escapees' advantage around the two-minute mark, and Iljo Keisse, who took the reins in the crosswinds, to Davide Martinelli – the Grand Tour debutant who countered an attack of Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) inside the last 1500 meters – and Max Richeze, one of the best lead-out men in the business, who opened the door for Fernando with 200 meters to go.

Not only he is now the Colombian rider with the most stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, but he also became the first rider since Bernard Hinault at the 1978 Tour de France to notch four stage successes on his Grand Tour debut. Despite these fantastic achievements, Gaviria insisted on keeping his feet on the ground.

"Having this record doesn't mean much for me. What is important is that it underlines the fact that I came well-prepared to the Giro d'Italia. At the same time, I am happy to take so many victories and have the maglia ciclamino going into the penultimate week-end of the race, especially as many Colombians, from fans to important athletes, came here to watch me. That really means a lot", said Fernando Gaviria at the press conference.

The 22-year-old, who increased his lead in the points classification, made an analysis of the chaotic sprint in Tortona, where the Corsa Rosa returned for the first time in 28 years: "The sprint was fast and tense, but sprints are always like that. To be honest, in those moments, with 400 meters left, I didn't think I still had a chance of winning, but I decided to just give everything I had and see how things go. I think there were around 13 or 15 riders in front of me, and to take the victory after such a sprint it's something special. I want to thank my team for helping me pull it off also today, the guys were incredible once again!"

Stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia will take the riders to the iconic Santuario di Oropa (6.2% over 11.8 kilometers), where 24-year-old Bob Jungels – another Quick-Step Floors rider to impress over the past two weeks – will be again in the spotlight, as he'll try to defend his white jersey and top 10 overall.

Bardiani-CSF has begun sacking procedure for Pirazzi & Ruffoni

The team sent me this update:

With reference to the official communication received from the UCI that confirms the positivity of the analysis of B samples belonging to Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni, Bardiani-CSF Pro Cycling announces the start of the sacking procedure for both the athletes, as established in team health rules in case of violation and part of the contract signed by each riders of the team.

Bardiani-CSF reserves the right to proceed with a legal action against Pirazzi and Ruffoni to protect the image of the team and its sponsor.

Jurgen Van den Broeck quits cycling after this season

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

Jurgen Van den Broeck is riding his last season as a professional cyclist. The Belgian rider of Team LottoNL-Jumbo wants to prevent that another year as a cyclist will be ‘too much’. He had a contract until end 2018, but that has been adapted in good consultation.

The 34-year-old rider from Herentals currently supports Steven Kruijswijk in the Giro d’Italia. The efforts he made to achieve the required level, made him realize that he didn’t want to continue as a cyclist next year. “I listen to my body and heart”, says Van den Broeck. “You can only be a professional cyclist if you go for it one hundred percent. It becomes more and more difficult to achieve that and to be away from home that much.”

Jurgen van den Broeck

Jurgen Van den Broeck in 2016

Van den Broeck debuted on the highest level in 2004. In his fourteen seasons as a pro, he rode for teams like Discovery Channel, the Belgian Lotto and Katusha. Van den Broeck started in fifteen Grand Tours. On top of that, he achieved a top ten classification in the three different Grand Tours. “I feel at home at Team LottoNL-Jumbo”, stated Van den Broeck. “My current supportive role suited me better over the years. I’m very grateful that the team has thought about what’s the best for me.”

“Jurgen can look back on a beautiful career”, says Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sportive director Merijn Zeeman. “He can be proud of that. I admire his honesty in this case. We talked a lot and came together to this decision.  His focus remains on the Giro d’Italia and his supporting role in that race. A successful Giro d’Italia will highlight Jurgen’s very last season as a cyclist.”

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