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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain. - Robert Frost

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2018 Tour de France team reactions

The 2018 Tour de France route was presented today. Below are what some teams had to say about it.

2018 Tour de France

2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome's Team Sky posted this reaction ton the 2018 Tour route:

Chris Froome believes the 2018 Tour de France could be ‘torn to pieces’ in what looks set to be a dramatic first week in northern France.

Speaking from the route unveiling in Paris, revealing one of the most varied and challenging Tour tests in recent memory, the four-time winner highlighted the opening week as crucial - before the race even hits the mountains.

Froome said: “It’s tough. I wouldn’t expect any less from the Tour de France organisers - especially the first nine days. It’s going to be very nervy and dangerous up in the north west of France before we hit any of the big mountain stages. The wind could be a massive factor up there and with the GC being so close we could see the race torn to pieces.”

After a 35-kilometre team time trial on stage three, the race will tackle 22km of cobbles on what is sure to be a pulsating 154km stage nine, finishing in Roubaix.

Speaking about the cobbles, Froome continued: “You could see a lot happening that day. Then there’s a stage [17] with a gravel section in it - there’s going to be a lot to get ready for in that sense.”

With the number of riders on a Grand Tour team down from nine to eight in 2018, team selection becomes even more important than usual. And Froome believes the correct combination of riders will be crucial, considering the testing first half of the race.

He said: “It’s definitely going to be a big consideration coming into the race - having a team that will keep me safe up north. Having said that we don’t want to compromise the team we’re going to have once we hit the Alps and the Pyrenees. I imagine, in terms of selection, it will be guys who are very versatile who will be the obvious choice - especially with the team time trial playing a big part in the race.”

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will try to join the Tour's Five-Time Winners club

Sport Director Nicolas Portal - who has overseen all five of Froome’s Grand Tour victories - expressed his excitement at the route. Portal said: “There is a lot of everything, if you see what I mean! There are a lot of cobbles, a lot of climbs, two short stages, but one that is really, really short [65km], a team time trial…

“I think it’s a great Tour for us, but also in general for the Tour de France. Whoever wins this race is going to be a complete rider. Compared to this year it looks like a less stressful Tour. Regaining any lost seconds was pretty hard. This Tour will be a bit different. If you miss one stage and lose some time, you can hope to gain back some time in a few days.”

As soon as the route was unveiled, Portal’s work began: “I was already writing on my phone and talking to Dave [Brailsford]. This is our job - we are constantly thinking, thinking! We need to get the details right, look at the route, talk… But already we have a strong idea.”

Ag2r-La Mondiale sent me their reaction:

Vincent Lavenu: “A Dynamic Tour”

“This is a Tour that is going to be dynamic and full of uncertainty. The organizers have put together a very nice course with a beginning that will have lots of wind and visit the cobbles, and then concentrate on the mountains in the second half.
For us, in the Alps, I am marking down the stage to La Rosière and then the one at Alpe d'Huez, with its 5000 meters of elevation gain. Then in the Pyrenees, there will be a lot of traps, with, among others, the stage of 60km.

"Such a course can smile on the aggressive riders, like Romain Bardet. It will be up to us to organize a team to put him in the best position, whether to protect him on the flat stages and the cobbles, or to stay with him in the mountains.
We are looking forward to being at the start in the Vendée.”

ROMAIN BARDET: "VARIOUS TERRAINS TO EXPLOIT"

"I am delighted with this Tour which looks pretty well balanced, and offers a wide variety of terrains to exploit. The team time trial will put the composition of the team at the forefront. In that short stage of just over 60 kilometers, the leaders will be sparing with each other.

"There will also be a lot of potential pitfalls. No one will be really calm the morning of the stage with the cobbles, and several stages promise to be very exposed to the wind. In the last week, the big climbing days will play a very important role. One day we’ll be doing more than 5000 meters and another day nearly 4000. I like these marathon stages, they are what make the legend of the Tour de France.”

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet will be on the startline in 2018

JULIEN JURDIE: "A COURSE FOR THE TEAM"

"This course is great! Very aggressive, with a lot of mountains, and traps all through the three weeks. It is of course necessary to analyze it a little closer, but at first sight, the Tour de France for 2018 seems very well suited for our leader Romain Bardet and for the entire team AG2R La Mondiale. We demonstrated in 2017 that we have a strong collective strength. It's up to us to use that well in 2018.”

Here's what André Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team had to say:

The 105th edition of the Tour de France was officially presented today. The Tour of 2018 takes place from Saturday 7 July until Sunday 29 July. For the sixth time ever La Grande Boucle starts in the Vendée, in the west of France. After 3,329 kilometres the race will come to an end on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The first week the sprinters get several opportunities, but there are also stages for punchers and Classics riders. On day three a team time trial of 35 kilometres is scheduled. The sixth stage there's a double ascent of the Mûr de Bretagne and on Sunday, just before the first rest day, there's a cobble stage to Roubaix. Then the Tour heads towards the Alps. The eleventh stage, only 108 kilometres long, there's a first summit finish. The next day the stage finishes on Alpe d'Huez, after 175 kilometres with 5000 altitude metres. Then the route leads the riders to the Pyrenees. The seventeenth stage is a special one, a mountain stage of only 65 kilometres! The last Saturday an individual time trial of 31 kilometres is scheduled. There are gradients up to 21%, so it isn't a course for the pure specialists. On Sunday 29 July it's the traditional last stage to Paris.

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: "Like every year there are some peculiar things. The first nine days the race often takes the riders along the coast, which means there's a chance of wind and echelons. That will cause nervousness in the teams of the GC riders as they will want to protect their leader and in the sprint teams as they will want to grab every sprint opportunity. In the first part of the Tour there are five stages that could end with a sprint, including three in the first four days. The stages to Chartres and Amiens, on day seven and eight, are sprint chances too. The stage to Roubaix is one for the cobblestone specialists, with fifteen cobbled sectors. That's a day to look forward to for us as a Belgian team, just like the echelon stages. Bring it on."

"After the second rest day, the climbing begins. We don't have a GC rider, but we do have riders who can do well on a tough course and who have a chance of winning a stage when they are part of a breakaway. Just think of Tiesj Benoot and Thomas De Gendt. There are also three more sprint stages, including Paris."

"It's again a varied course with a lot of short stages. It's a huge improvement that the number of stages above two hundred kilometres has been reduced; that's less demanding for riders and staff."

Andre Greipel

André Greipel about to start stage four of the 2017 Tour.

André Greipel: "It's always a great moment when the course of the next Tour de France is revealed. I have taken a first look at the route. The start in the Vendée is nice. Most sprint opportunities are in the first part of the Tour. No doubt, the first week will be nervous, as usual. On top of that there is chance of echelons being formed, which means everyone will want to be at the front. The cobble stage to Roubaix is special. I am looking forward to it, but it's a stage that suits a lot of others too. I see several opportunities and I am looking forward to riding the Tour with a strong Lotto Soudal team. I will, like always, do everything to be in top shape and will aim for my twelfth stage win."

Richie Porte will race Japan Cup

Team BMC sent me this:

17 October, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte will return to racing one last time this season when he lines up at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race criterium and road race this weekend.

Porte, who last raced at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race in 2013, has slowly been
recovering from injuries sustained in a crash during the Tour de France. "We are really happy to see Richie Porte back at the start line for the first time
since his Tour de France crash. Although we are lining up at the last race of the
season, the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race will be a good chance for Richie to get back into the racing rhythm before he starts a solid off season. We also have Danilo Wyss and Michael Schär racing, and Martin Elmiger who will race for the last time before he retires. Rounding out the team is stagiaire Bram Welten who will make his debut at the Japan Cup Road Race," Sports Director Fabio Baldato explained.

"The riders will test their legs first on Saturday at the criterium before the road
race on Sunday. The Japan Cup Cycle Road Race is always an unpredictable race but we will line up motivated for a good result in the last race of the season."
Porte is excited to end his season in Japan.

"I'm really looking forward to racing at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race this year.
Not only is it a chance for me to get another race day in the legs before the end
of the season, but it's also my first opportunity to race at the Japan Cup Cycle
Road Race since 2013," Porte said.

"The Japanese fans are really incredible so it's always a great atmosphere at the
race. I can definitely say it's one of my favorite races. Given I haven't raced
since July, I'm not going in with any expectations. I'm just happy to be racing
again this year before my focus turns to the 2018 season."

Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (22-23 October)

Rider Roster: Martin Elmiger (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Bram
Welten (NED), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA)


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