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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 27, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred. - Woody Allen

Current racing:

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Tour de Romandie stage two team reports

We posted stage winner Thomas de Gendts' Team Lotto-Soudal report with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team LottoNL-Jumbo:

Primoz Roglic starts tomorrow as the leader in the general classification in the uphill time trial of the Tour de Romandie. During the second stage it seemed that the leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo would be bumped from the first place, but in the final the breakaway lost a lot of ground.

According to sports director Sierk Jan de Haan, it was a hard day for the team. "The leading group raced very hard. Lars Boom, Floris De Tier, Stef Clement and Robert Wagner led the peloton in the beginning of the stage, when the gap increased to more than seven minutes. Yet the peloton didn’t come very close. Then Bram Tankink took his turn in the front of the peloton and saved Roglic’ classification. A big chapeau for the leaders, but also for our team. Everyone has given the maximum and we’ve managed to keep the lead."

The goal for tomorrow is very clear. "Roglic and Kruijswijk have to give everything. The others are going up as economically as possible, so that they appear at the start on Saturday as fresh as possible", De Haan said.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic will start stage three in yellow.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this update:

The day saw a breakaway of 5 riders go clear relatively early, with several of the escapees falling back to the main field throughout the stage. By the latter part of the stage, this left two riders in the break. With 25km remaining, T. De Gendt took his chances and launched a solo attack, which proved successful. The chasers were left to fight it out for the minor placings, but it wasn’t to be for BORA-hansgrohe, with Emanuel Buchmann and Pawel Poljanski finishing as the highest-placed riders in the team 2 minutes in arrears of the winner.  

The Stage
Today’s stage of the Tour de Romandie lead the riders from Delémont to Yverdon-les-Bains over a 174km-long course containing almost 2000 meters of elevation. The route featured a fair number of smaller ascents and descents, as well as two categorised climbs. At only 3km into the race, the riders faced the Col des Rangiers, an ascent of 8.4km in length with an average gradient of 4.5 per cent. The only other categorised climb of the day, the 5.6km ascent of the Col des Etroits, appeared in the last third of the course, and featured a gradient of around 6 per cent on average.

After crossing under the finish gantry in Yverdon-les-Bains for the first time, the riders completed a 34km-long local lap around the finish town, which featured relatively hilly terrain up until the final 10km, when the route flattened out as it headed towards the finish. The riders also needed to be particularly attentive today, with there being no less than 7 level crossings scattered throughout the stage, but luckily none to report of in the last 30km of racing.

The Team Tactics
The lumpy terrain featured in the finishing lap could be expected to provide a launch pad for a flurry of last-minute attacks, however, it was likely the race would culminate in a sprint from a reduced field. The team’s plan was therefore to ready ourselves for the final sprint, for which Pascal Ackermann was our protected rider, and bring him in a good position leading up to the finishing stretch in order to achieve a good result on today’s stage. Unfortunately the tempo was too high on the second climb of the day for Pascal to hang on, and he wasn’t able to contest the sprint at the finish, even for the minor placings.

The Race
Just as on yesterday’s stage into Delémont, a breakaway was able to establish itself relatively early in the race and build up a solid advantage relatively quickly. Due to a mechanical, one of the escapees lost contact with his breakaway companions and was reeled back in by the main field. For much of the day, the peloton did not put down the hammer in pursuit of the four leaders, leaving the quartet to build up a maximum advantage of more than 7 minutes throughout the day. With 65km remaining until the finish, another one of the riders in the break found himself unable to keep up with the tempo and was forced to fall back into the main field. After this, the peloton, being led by Bahrain-Merida, began to put the foot to the pedal and slowly brought down the advantage of the three remaining escapees. At the 25km mark, T. De Gendt attacked from the breakaway and rode the remaining kilometres solo. Despite attempts from the peloton to reel him back, his advantage remained constant at around 2 minutes, and he triumphed alone on the finish line.

From the Finish Line
“Today the peloton gave the escapees too much of an advantage, and so the break wasn’t able to be brought back. With 50km remaining, the peloton had to crest a difficult climb, and it was at this point that Bahrain-Merida increased the tempo in order to shed the other sprinters. Pascal Ackermann wasn’t able to keep up with the tempo and was therefore unable to be in the mix in Yverdon-les-Bains today. Looking ahead to tomorrow, Emanuel Buchmann is in good form and we are optimistic that he’ll be able to put in a solid performance in the time trial.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

Teams are looking towards the Giro d'Italia, which starts May 4

Mitchelton-Scott sent us this Giro update:

Mitchelton-SCOTT will start next week’s Giro d’Italia with a firm eye on the general classification battle, lining up with dual leaders in Colombian Esteban Chaves and Britan Simon Yates.

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves happily crossing the line of stage four of this year's Herald Sun Tour.

The two leaders will be supported by one of the strongest line ups possible from the Australian outfit, including the in-form Roman Kreuziger and Jack Haig, and new recruit Mikel Nieve.

The Team:
Sam Bewley (NZL, 30)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 28)
Jack Haig (AUS, 24)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 28)
Roman Kreuziger (CZE, 31)
Mikel Nieve (SPA, 33)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 40)
Simon Yates (GBR, 25)

The Race:
The first of the three Grand Tours of the season, the Giro d’Italia, is considered the hardest yet most beautiful. The 2018 route doesn’t disappoint with a historic three-stage start in Israel, before heading to Sicily and eventually Italy’s mainland.

The 21 stages cover a total of 3562.9km and feature two individual time trials, six sprint stages, six ‘hilly’ stages and seven challenging mountain stages.

The Objective:
Mitchelton-SCOTT starts the Giro d’Italia with a clear focus on the general classification. The Australian outfit lines up with two leaders in Chaves and Yates, and a team stacked full of climbing pedigree to back them up.

With a podium at Amstel Gold Race and a worst place of eighth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege throughout the Ardennes, Kreuziger has demonstrated he is ready for the month ahead, whilst fellow climber Haig also animated the same races, primed to play a key support role at the Giro.

After a pre-season crash Nieve debuted for Mitchelton-SCOTT in Liege and impressed in his first race since September 2017. He will fine tune at the Tour of Romandie and be of immense value to the team’s young leaders. Svein Tuft, Chris Juul-Jensen and Sam Bewley round out the team supporting the leaders on the flatter stages throughout.

Race History:
In the past six years Mitchelton-SCOTT has claimed eight stages of the Giro d’Italia and had five different riders feature in the pink leader’s jersey for a total of 12 days.

The most recent of that time in the Maglia Rosa came in 2016 where Chaves wore it on stage 20 before eventually settling for 2nd place overall, the team’s best general classification result in history.

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“We are making no secret that our focus for the Giro d’Italia is on the general classification and Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves are our leaders. They have worked really well in the past in these roles and we’re expecting the same again."

“We are not the favourites, but we have two guys who are going to challenge the favourites whenever the opportunity arises.”

“On paper we have a really good team, everyone is arriving into the shape they need to be in at the right time. It’s quite a interesting course because although the first indication of the overall will come early on stage six on Mt Etna, besides the last week with stages 18-20, there is not more than two days in a row of ‘effort’ for the general classification riders. It’s sporadic and this will make for aggressive racing throughout.”

Esteban Chaves:
“I’m really happy to be going back to Italy. When I became professional, I lived in Italy and it has been the place for my toughest moments, but also the most beautiful moments of my career."

“Like always, the Giro will be hard but I have been in Colombia training in the last few weeks and the preparation has gone well so we can hope we can find similar form to 2016.  This year we have a really good team, we are looking to be competitive and do the best we can, like always.”

Simon Yates:
“I’m really looking forward to starting the Giro d’Italia this year for the first time. A last-minute change of program that meant I was unable to debut as planned last year so we decided to give it a try again this season."

“Even without having raced before it’s clear the Giro is one of, if not the most difficult and demanding race on the calendar. Here at the Giro I think we have assembled one of the best teams we can for a Grand Tour and I’m excited to join up with the boys, and as a team achieve the best possible result.”

2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb sent us their 2018 Giro roster:

After a memorable 100th edition in 2017 which saw Team Sunweb secure their first grand tour victory, the team line-up with defending champion Tom Dumoulin (NED), who will once again search for a strong result in the overall standings. With riders ages ranging between 22 and 38, the team’s line-up provides the perfect combination of talented youth and experienced riders. Chris Hamilton (AUS), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Sam Oomen (NED) and Louis Vervaeke (BEL) will all play key supporting roles whilst capitalising on the experience of Chad Haga (USA), Laurens ten Dam (NED) and road captain Roy Curvers (NED), who between them have a combined 28 grand tour starts.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin in pink during the 2017 Giro. Here is is with the great Hennie Kuiper. Can Dumoulin repeat?

“We go into the 101st Giro with similar targets to last year; looking for a GC result with Tom,” explained Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED). “Lining up as defending champions will bring special dynamics into both the team and the race, and we will be prepared for that. Fighting for a GC result is entirely different in comparison to a stage success focus – everybody in the team needs to be completely focused for three weeks in-a-row, which is very demanding for all. We learned a lot from last year and we will bring this experience into the mix for this edition.

“Tom, Sam and Louis have been on a team altitude camp at Sierra Nevada to put in final training efforts and once again, video recons and analyses of data from the key stages will beneficial in preparing our guys for what’s coming. On paper the course is even tougher than last year, with more climbing and fewer time trial kilometres, and we are expecting a really challenging three weeks. Our Giro squad selection is made based on the characteristics of the course with the right balance between talented climbers and our experienced captains. We head to Israel with a strong and confident squad and we look forward to getting the Giro started.”

LINE-UP:
Roy Curvers (NED)
Laurens ten Dam (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL)

COACHES:
Marc Reef (NED)
Arthur van Dongen (NED)
Brian Stephens (AUS)
Hendrik Werner (GER)

And here's Lotto-Soudal's Giro roster announcement:

On Friday 4 May, the 101st edition of Giro d’Italia begins with a time trial of 9.7 kilometres in Jerusalem. Today Lotto Soudal can confirm which eight riders will defend the team’s colours until the last stage on Sunday 27 May in Rome. These are the names: Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Victor Campenaerts, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Adam Hansen, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.

Sports director Bart Leysen gives some more insights in the line-up: “When the route was unveiled it was immediately clear that Victor Campenaerts (26) would be part of our line-up as the Giro starts with a time trial. Victor meticulously prepared himself for the opening time trial in Jerusalem. This week he rode a good prologue in Romandie (Victor got fifth at 5 seconds of winner Michael Matthews, LTS), on a type of course that didn’t entirely suit him. With him we do aim for the pink jersey next week. It’s realistic that he conquers the pink jersey. The sixteenth stage is also a time trial, but then one of around 34 kilometres. He can aim for a stage win that day too.”

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts time-trialing in the 2016 Vuelta a España

“We have one leader for the sprints and that’s Jens Debusschere (28). There are five to six sprint stages, including the second and third stage in Israel. We have faith in Jens. In the sprint stages we will fully aim for a sprint with the team. Tosh Van der Sande (27) will be the lead-out of Jens. He is very good at taking someone to the front in the chaos ahead of a sprint.”

“Adam Hansen (who turns 37 during the Giro) has had a good preparation on his twentieth consecutive Grand Tour. In the beginning of the season he didn’t perform as we had expected, but the past weeks he got himself ready for the Giro. Many eyes will be on him. I definitely see opportunities for him to attack, such as the first two stages on Sicily, but he will also play an important role in support of Jens Debusschere in the sprint stages. Also Lars Bak (38) will be a crucial factor on those days. You can always rely on him. He can pull a long time in the bunch during sprint stages, but he can also help the other riders. In certain stages he could take Tim Wellens to the front in the finale.”

“Tim Wellens (who turns 27 during the Giro) is very motivated to go to the Giro. He really wants to win another stage. There are many chances for him, because a lot of stages are suited for a break. We’ll decide later in which stages he will attack. The same goes for Sander Armée (32). His condition got better and better the past weeks, also he is ready for the Giro. He is a real survivor and in the Vuelta he was rewarded with a beautiful victory. Of course that’s no guarantee for this Giro, but it proves that he’s capable of winning a stage in a Grand Tour. That stage win at the Vuelta has also boosted his confidence. The KOM jersey isn’t a goal, I rather have that we win stages. But when you join breakaways, you can often pick up KOM points and so it’s possible that someone in our team does wear the KOM jersey during those three weeks.”

“Last but not least, there’s Frederik Frison (25), for whom it’s the first Grand Tour participation. It’s good for the evolution of a rider to ride a Grand Tour and he has the age to take on this adventure. We don’t put any pressure on him, he just needs to make sure that he can do his job for the team. If there’s an opportunity he can join a breakaway, but we don’t expect him to attack day after day. It’s important that he divides his energy over the entire Giro. Experienced riders such as Adam Hansen and Lars Bak will definitely guide him.”

“Apart from the sprint stages in which Jens Debusschere is our leader, we want to apply the same tactics as in last year’s Vuelta: attack. Because we don’t have any GC ambitions, we give every rider the chance to join a breakaway in the non-sprint stages. We aim for stage wins. It’s the first time a Grand Tour is ridden with teams of eight instead of nine riders. For teams with a sprinter and a GC rider that can raise the pressure on the riders. Breakaways will therefore get more chance of remaining ahead till the finish. In sprint stages we will need to find the necessary allies.”

Shimano sales off to a strong start in 2018

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent this update:

OSAKA, Japan (BRAIN) — Shimano said a mild economic expansion in Europe, a buoyant labor market in North America, and a moderate recovery in Japan contributed to a 5.1 percent net sales increase in its bicycle division in the opening quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year.

The bike division notched sales of 68 billion yen ($626 million) in the quarter. Operating income for the division increased 5.5 percent over the prior year, to 14.8 billion yen.

"In the U.S., consumer sentiment was strong, driven by the buoyant labor market, and business conditions turned firmer, mainly in the manufacturing sector," the company said in its quarterly report Tuesday. "In North America, although retail sales of complete bicycles were sluggish at the beginning of the year, distributor inventories maintained an appropriate level."

You can read the entire story here.

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