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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 7, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. - Audrey Hepburn

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Lotto-Soudal looks to Paris-Roubaix on Sunday

The team sent me this preview:

The Lotto Soudal line-up for Paris-Roubaix did a recon yesterday and saw that the cobbles were very muddy. There are a total of 54.5 kilometres of cobbles to conquer on Sunday, spread over 29 sectors. Lotto Soudal goes to the hell without a specific leader, but with a team of motivated riders who all have a free role.

Lars Bak: “I really want to be in the break, that’s the best way for me to avoid crashing and to survive the selections. I think Jens Debusschere and Marcel Sieberg are the two men in our team with the best chances of surviving. I might be able to support them if I get in the break. Once you are part of the break, you need to hope for a good day and no bad luck. Then you see how long you can survive.”

Jens Debusschere: “Paris-Roubaix is my favourite race. Both as a junior and as a U23 rider I got second. As a pro I finished ninth in 2015. Last year I had three punctures. I must be able to ride the finale this year as the condition is good. I definitely have the same shape as in 2015, maybe even better. I feel fresher anyway. I’m not focussing on names or parts on the course, but I am watching my roomie Marcel Sieberg. He is the master of positioning. When you follow him, you can most of the times turn up the cobbles in the best position.”

Frederik Frison: “This is my second participation, after my début in 2016. I had a good feeling on the cobbles that day, but I got behind because of a crash and I could never return to the front. My perfect scenario is that I am part of a large breakaway. The race is less explosive than the ones over the Flemish hills. Everyone who has done the recon knows that de sectors of Haveluy and Arenberg will be crucial. Those two sectors are in a really bad state. It will come down to surviving that battle first.”

Jens Keukeleire: “It will be a special race. I have been ill and I am not yet in the shape I had before my illness. If I would have been at my best, that still wasn’t a guarantee to be riding the finale. On Sunday I will be supporting my teammates who feel best and I will try to follow as long as possible. I can play a role in different ways: by closing a gap or by taking someone to the front. If it would rain more the next days, I expect splits already early on in the race. The more selections you survive, the better the result can be.”

Nikolas Maes: “I kept calm during the recon after an intense Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. A recon is mainly necessary to test the material and that was all fine. By riding the Scheldeprijs I know have faith that after my illness – which kept me out of Bruges – De Panne and the Ronde – I can play a role for the team on Sunday. In 2017 I was part of the group of André Greipel, who sprinted to the seventh place. It’s nice to be racing in a team with so many riders who have a free role.”

Marcel Sieberg: “This will be my twelfth Paris-Roubaix, so this race doesn’t have any secrets to me anymore. It’s a special race. You can have the best legs of the season, but not be playing a role. Bad luck is an important factor. We knew there was a lot of mud, but some sectors were really bad during the recon. I was seventh in 2016 after a crash had caused the peloton to split. That proves that positioning at the front is so crucial. Hopefully as a team we still have many riders in the first part after the Forest of Arenberg, then we can see what’s possible for us.”

Marcel Sieberg

Marcel Sieberg checking out the Arenberg sector in 2014

Jelle Wallays: “My love for Paris-Roubaix dates back to my first participation in the U23 edition. I immediately finished fourth without any specific preparation. I have always loved to race Paris-Roubaix because it’s such an open race. Unfortunately bad luck is also part of it. Two years ago I was riding in the group of Mathew Hayman who won in the end. But a puncture just before the Forest of Arenberg, crushed my ambitions. I deliberately didn’t ride the Scheldeprijs. I hope to get in a large breakaway to survive the first selection and to be able to play a role in the finale.”

Tour of the Basque Country stage five team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Omar Fraile's Astana team on the stage results page.

Here's the update from GC leader Primoz Roglic's LottoNL-Jumbo team:

Primoz Roglic is in an excellent position to win the general classification in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The rider of Team LottoNL-Jumbo increased his lead in the gc. He now has an advantage of two minutes over number two Jon Izagirre.

The 28-year-old Slovenian finished in second place in today’s stage, with which he collected six bonus seconds. Sports director Frans Maassen had not insisted on a new stage victory after yesterday's success. Yet, in retrospect, it had been within reach. “The most important was that he didn’t lose any time on the competition. But now a stage win also belonged to the possibilities, a scenario that we hadn’t thought of beforehand. It went better than we had hoped.”

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic on his way to winning the Basque Country stage four time-trial

Tomorrow, the sports director expects a tough day for the team during the last stage. “They’re certainly going to attack us. But if the team works just as well as today, I’m confident about a positive outcome for us. Primoz is in a good shape and we are very pleased with the rest of the team today. We’re almost there”, Maassen said.

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this race report:

The penultimate stage of the Itzulia Basque Country race saw BORA – hansgrohe rider Jay McCarthy in the breakaway of the day, which was gone for most of the stage and ended with a 13th place for BORA – hansgrohe rider Emanuel Buchmann after a hard day in the saddle, In the general classification, he remains his 6th place.

The Stage
Today´s penultimate stage favoured the climbers in the peloton with three demanding climbs. The riders awaited a flat part in the beginning of the race but the second part covered two second categorised climbs and shortly before the finish a one categorised climb. After 165 undulating kilometres the riders will cross the finish line in Eibar.

The Team Tactics
BORA – hansgrohe started with a fourth and sixth place in the GC in this penultimate stage and wanted to secure these spots. Today´s hilly stage was earmarked for the BORA – hansgrohe climber Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad, with Felix Großschartner and the Austrian Champion Gregor Mühlberger the two GC contenders had a great support. To control the race at the beginning the team focused on Jay McCarthy.

The Race
At 13:00 the riders started in Vitoria into the 165km long hilly stage. After some kilometers of racing a group of 14 riders attacked and pulled away. Jay McCarthy, winner of stage 3, represented BORA – hansgrohe in this breakaway of the day, which had 5 minutes gap with 100 km remaining. After 96km of racing the front group passed the first intermediate sprint, where McCarthy took third place. With 40km remaining the escapees enjoyed still a gap of more than three minutes, while the reduced peloton tried to close the gap.

On the last climb of the day the race changed as the breakaway fell apart. C. Verona (Mitchelton-Scott) launched an attack but he was caught shortly before the finish, in the meanwhile Emanuel Buchman was in the chasing group some seconds behind the leading group. In the final metres O. Fraile (Team Astana) increased the pace and took the win ahead of leader P. Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). BORA – hansgrohe climber Emanuel Buchmann showed a solid performance and crossed the line within the first chasing group in 13th place. In the overall, he is still in sixth place.

From the Finish Line
“Today was a really tough stage, especially the last climb split the race once again. I was able to stay in the chasing group but I felt not really in best shape today. I am satisfied, that I managed to stay in this group and to be still sixth in the GC. Tomorrow will be the last stage, we will see what the outcome will be.” – Emanuel Buchmann

“I think, we had a good plan for today but on the final climb, at the worst moment, Patrick had a mechanical problem, therefore he lost all his chances for a podium result in the overall. After yesterday´s ITT, Emanuel hadn’t maybe the best legs, but with a solid ride he was able to remain his sixth place in the GC. Tomorrow will be another tough stage, but we will support our leader as best as possible and maybe he can jump into the top-five.” – Christian Pömer, sports director 

Team Sunweb extends contract with Lennard Kamna

Here's the team's press release:

Team Sunweb are pleased to announce the extension of contract with Lennard Kämna (GER). The new agreement sees 21-year-old Kämna wear the German team's colours for an additional year, until the end of 2019.

Kämna turned professional with Team Sunweb at the beginning of 2017 with the team having a specific focus on gradual development with the youngster. During his first year as a professional Kämna secured various promising results, including 8th at the Vuelta a España time trial, 2nd at the U23 world road race championships, 5th at the final GC of Tour des Fjords and he was a part of the winning world team time trial squad in Bergen, Norway.

Lennard Kamna

Lennard Kamna racing at the 2015 U23 World Time Trial Championship.

Speaking of extending his contract, Kämna said: "I’m proud that I can continue to ride for the team for the upcoming season. There is a nice atmosphere within the team and I am happy to have integrated myself into these surroundings over the past year. I feel at home in this team, which has a strong focus on the development of German talents. The expertise within the staff and the experienced riders help me to make the next steps in my development as a rider and a person. I look forward to being part of the future successes with the strong and talented group of riders that we have."

"We are happy with Lennard's development over the past year and the extension of our agreement," explained Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert (GER). "As a team the development of our young riders forms the basis of our existence, with a special focus on the German talents out there. Lennard has made good steps forward last season. Not only looking at his results, but across the board in terms of being a cyclist. He has raised his level of training, nutritional knowledge and we can see that he has become a valuable team player in the WorldTour races. Lennard is one of the up and coming German riders and we look forward to continuing our gradual development with him."

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