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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 11, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine

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Vuelta a España stage 21 team reports

Matteo Trentin won the final Vuelta stage. Here's the report from his Quick-Step Floors team:

Matteo Trentin took his fourth stage victory at the Vuelta a Espana, netting the team's 16th Grand Tour stage win of the season, an all-time record for Quick-Step Floors.

Since 2003, Quick-Step Floors are winning races and creating memories, and this season the outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere didn't divert from this philosophy, which made our team the most successful in each of the past five seasons. Spring Classics, Giro d'Italia, Tour de France or Vuelta a España, you name it, Quick-Step Floors were always there in the thick of the action, shaping the race with their aggressive approach and scoring numerous wins with no less than 14 different riders.

Most recent sensational run – one for the history books – came at the Vuelta a España, where the squad's fantastic determination and teamwork led to six stage victories, brought by Julian Alaphilippe, Yves Lampaert and Matteo Trentin, the latter becoming only the third rider this season to win at least four Grand Tour stages, after teammates Fernando Gaviria (Giro d'Italia) and Marcel Kittel (Tour de France).

The final day of the Vuelta was a stroll in the park only until the peloton reached the local circuit in Madrid, where attacks fired off the the front as several riders tried to make it into the breakaway. Quick-Step Floors dutifully moved to the head of proceedings and marshaled the bunch, shutting down all these actions until the intermediate sprint, which was nabbed by Matteo, who had his eyes also on the coveted green jersey.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin has a good day in Spain.

One of the strongest and most dominant teams in the race, Quick-Step Floors controlled also the final 30 kilometers of stage 21, brought the three riders who formed an escape back in the peloton and delivered Matteo Trentin in a perfect position for the final sprint of the 72nd Vuelta a España.

The 28-year-old accelerated with 200 meters to go and easily captured his seventh Grand Tour victory, over Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ) and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb). Trentin came close to take home also the green jersey, which in the end rested on the shoulders of GC winner Chris Froome (Team Sky), after the overall leader got involved in the bunch sprint.

"The guys were again awesome today and executed the plan perfectly, so I want to say a big thank you to them, not only for today, but for their entire work during these three hard weeks! We took the reins once we entered on the circuit and didn't leave anything to chance. I'll admit, it would have been nice to get also the green jersey, but I won't let that spoil these fantastic moments. We can be extremely proud of what we've achieved in this race: six stages is a remarkable run and this victory in Madrid is the cherry on the top", a beaming Matteo Trentin said after concluding his first Vuelta a España.

Patrick Lefevere – Quick-Step Floors' CEO – joined the team for the final stage in the capital of Spain, which he watched on-site, and echoed Matteo's feelings at the end of the season's last Grand Tour: "I am delighted and very proud of this team. What we've done in the three Grand Tours this year is really outstanding and I can't find the words to tell you what it means for me. We won and we did it by showing panache and an incredible cohesion, which is even more remarkable. Only a couple of teams in the history of cycling took 16 Grand Tour stage victories in a single season, and as of today, we are one of these squads, which makes me very happy."

Chris Froome did the rare Tour-Vuelta double. His Team Sky sent me this:

10TH SEPTEMBER 2017: Team Sky’s Chris Froome has made history by winning the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first rider ever to win the Tour de France and then go on to win the Vuelta in the same year.

He is only the third rider to win both races in the same year, following Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978). The Vuelta moved in the calendar to become the last of each year’s three Grand Tours in 1995.

Froome sealed his victory in Madrid today, finishing the final stage into the Spanish capital.

Chris Froome

Froome's Vuelta win gives him five Grand Tour victories.

Ahead of this year’s Vuelta, Froome had spoken of his “unfinished business” at a race where he has finished second on three previous occasions, including the 2011 edition where he made his breakthrough as a Grand Tour rider. Froome had been forced to abandon in 2015 after breaking his foot in a crash.

Froome, who is the first British winner of the Spanish Grand Tour, now adds the Vuelta a Espana to his four Tour de France victories (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017).

Froome’s ‘double’ in numbers:

After more than 160 hours of racing across 42 stages at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, Froome’s combined margin of victory was just 3 minutes and 9 seconds (54 seconds at the Tour de France and 2 minutes 15 seconds at the Vuelta).

Froome’s victories at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana were achieved across 6864 kilometres / 4265 miles of racing through Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Andorra and Spain.

After all but sealing his victory on the climb of L’Angliru on Saturday, Froome said: “It’s an amazing feeling. The team has just been incredible over the last few months. It’s meant so much to me, the way they have supported us. I owe a massive thank you to all my teammates.

“I have to say that is probably the toughest Grand Tour I’ve ever ridden. There was something different happening every day. I’ve had good days and then I’ve been lying on the ground, bleeding, thinking my race might be over. It’s been a rollercoaster – absolutely relentless. It’s a relief now to finish and to be getting to Madrid.

“I think it probably is my greatest achievement, being the first person to win the Tour de France and then go on to win the Vuelta.

And here's Lotto-Soudal's final Vuelta report:

The Italian rider Matteo Trentin sprinted to victory on the last stage of La Vuelta. Chris Froome won the GC. As La Vuelta has come to an end it’s time to look back on the past few weeks. Lotto Soudal came to the start in Nîmes with one objective: to win a stage. Twenty-one stages later, the team has achieved way more than its original goal. Tomasz Marczynski took the pressure off the team’s shoulders when he claimed his first stage win in Sagunt. He did it again one week later on the twelfth stage, after an impressive solo to the line in Antequera. In the third week, Sander Armée and Thomas De Gendt won back to back on the eighteenth and nineteenth stage, which brought Lotto Soudal’s number of stage wins to four!

The team rode aggressively throughout the race and was ultimately rewarded. The team will come home with nice memories, but also with some disappointments. Jens Debusschere crashed out of the race on the ninth stage and Jelle Wallays crashed on the fourth day, but he could continue the race. Maxime Monfort was forced to abandon the race in the third week, due to illness. How does sports director Mario Aerts look back on La Vuelta?

Mario Aerts, sports director La Vuelta: “My general feeling after the race is of course very positive. We would have been happy with one stage win, and we now have four. It doesn’t get any better than that. I expected De Gendt to be able to win a stage, but the three other victories came as a very pleasing surprise. Debusschere’s and Monfort’s withdrawals were for sure two disappointments for the team, but these things happen in races and we had to accept it. When Jens crashed, it was immediately clear that he couldn’t go on as his knee was too severely hurt and when Jelle Wallays hit the deck, it didn’t look good either. But fortunately, Jelle is a very tough rider and he was able to finish the race. Hats off to him. This edition of La Vuelta featured only a few opportunities for the sprinters, so Jens’s withdrawal had only a small impact on the team’s tactics. We had previously said that we were here to try to win out of the breakaways. We certainly had less chance in the sprints, but for the rest we were able to keep attacking.”

“After Tomasz’s first stage win, everyone stayed focused because all nine riders wanted to try to win a stage. The more we won, the more we wanted to win. We really had the grinta: we kept fighting and trying. Adam Hansen extended his Grand Tour record, as he now has completed nineteen consecutive Grand Tours. Thomas De Gendt completed his trilogy; he has now won a stage in Giro, Tour and Vuelta. This gives also a special dimension to our Vuelta campaign, especially for Thomas. It made his stage win even more special.”

“Rémy Mertz rode his first Grand Tour ever and his main objective was to learn as much as he could and to cross the finish line in Madrid. He had some tough times but that’s perfectly normal in a three-week race where the pace is really high every day. I think he learnt a lot during this Vuelta and he managed to finish the race, so mission accomplished.”

Lars Boom Wins Tour of Britain

Boom's LottoNL-Jumbo team sent me this report:

Lars Boom has become the overall winner of the Tour of Britain. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s 31-year-old rider could keep up with a select leading group in the final stage. By doing so, he took the overall victory. Victor Campenaerts and Jos van Emden ended up fourth and sixth in the general classification. Sport director Jan Boven’s team was also first in the team standings.

The rainy final stage, which started in Worcester and finished in Cardiff, was spectacular. “It was even harder than yesterday’s stage”, overall winner Lars Boom stated afterwards. “Yesterday’s final was tough, but we had to ride attentively the whole day during this last stage. We had some difficult moments, but we managed to stay in front with four riders. Team Sky took the responsibility which was good for us. This way we could prepare ourselves for a tough final.”

Lars Boom

Lars Boom turning in a super time trial at the Tour of Britain.

In that final, Edvald Boasson Hagen attacked. “I couldn’t react at that moment”, Boom confessed. “Fortunately, he didn’t take too much space. So I could take the victory and I’m very happy about that.”

It was Boom's second overall win in the Tour of Britain. Previously, he was the best in the 2011 edition. The Dutchman already won three times this year. Thus far, Team LottoNL-Jumbo accumulated 24 victories this season.

Diego Ulissi wins GP de Montréal

Ulissi's UAE Team Emirates sent me this:

Diego Ulissi has triumphed in the GP Montreal, beating the other six fugitive riders in his breakaway group as they jostled in the final sprint. For Ulissi this is the first one day classic he has ever won and surely one of the most prestigious successes in his career up to now, after his six stage victories in the Giro d’Italia. Ulissi and Marco Marcato were part of a larger break of sixteen riders, which took off with two laps to go until the finish. During the last curve on the uphill stretch, under Diego’s incentive only six pacesetters remained.

After 17 laps on a 12.1 km circuit and an elevation of 3892 metres, the rider from UAE Team Emirates prevailed in the final sprint, ahead of Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale).

Diego Ulissi

Diego Ulissi was clearly the fastest man of the day in Montreal

Diego Ulissi: “I’m really very happy with this victory. After the Tour de France I continued working hard because I really wanted to try and clinch this race, which is particularly suited to my skills. Last year I arrived third behind two champions like Van Avermaet and Sagan. This year I told myself that if I arrived with them I would get beaten again, so I decided to race on the attack. My team mates were fantastic, especially Marcato and Conti, who worked the flanks and checked my adversaries, finally pushing to the limit in the main break. Sometimes to win you have to risk losing it all, and I was determined to achieve success all the way, today.”

American cyclist Neilson Powless will join Team LottoNL-Jumbo

The team sent me this nice news:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo has managed to sign 21-year-old cycling talent Neilson Powless for two years. The American is currently riding for development team Axeon, of sports director Axel Merckx.

“Powless is considered as one of the most talented riders of his generation”, sportive director Merijn Zeeman of Team LottoNL-Jumbo says. “It’s great news that he has chosen to join us, since he had several different opportunities. He prefers our team because he sees and believes that we develop young riders in a good way and that they improve while being prepared for the next level by us. It’s a nice confirmation of our policy and a proof for us of being on the right way.”

Powless himself is excited with his transfer too. “I’m almost at a loss for words at the moment. I've been aiming to race in the World Tour for a very long time and now I'll finally get the opportunity to do so with team LottoNL-Jumbo. My interactions with the team and staff up to this point have already exceeded my expectations of what I thought a world tour team would be like. I can't wait to see what the future has in store.”


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