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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, April 29, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - Winston Churchill

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Tour de Romandie stage four team reports

We posted stage winner Jakob Fuglsang's Team Astana report with the results.

Here's the stage four report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team lottoNL-Jumbo:

Primoz Roglic has successfully defended his overall lead in the queen stage of the Tour of Romandie. The 28-year-old team captain of Team LottoNL-Jumbo countered all attacks with ease and sprinted to the second place in the stage, his third podium this week. With tomorrow’s final stage left on the menu, Roglic defends a lead of eight seconds on his closest opponent.

The stage through the Alps counted no less than five major climbs and eventually became a true battlefield. It took a long time before a breakaway was established. Team LottoNL-Jumbo controlled the stage and brought leader Roglic in an ideal position to the final climb.

Sports director Sierk-Jan de Haan had seen his team controlling the stage very well. “Today, we had four strong riders with Primoz, Steven, Stef and Bram”, he said. “Especially Stef and Bram did a lot of work and controlled the race for a very long time. They proved to be of great importance. Thanks to them, the leading group never gained an advantage of more than two and a half minutes. Behind them, Primoz and Steven were well-positioned in the Team Sky train. Bernal tried it five, six times, but Primoz never got into trouble.”

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic has one more stage to go.

In the final, the later stage winner Fuglsang attacked. “That was an ideal scenario for us”, De Haan continued. “From then on, Primoz only had to think about the bonification seconds and that’s what he did. Due to his second place he has extended his lead with two seconds. We never got into trouble today and we are confident that everything will turn out OK tomorrow. The danger is always there, but we have to rely on our strength and power as we have done all week.”

Egan Bernal was third today. Here's the report from his Team Sky:

Egan Bernal battled to third on stage four of Tour de Romandie as Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) triumphed on a challenging Queen stage.

Bernal and race leader Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) traded attacks on the final categorised climb as the Team Sky rider aimed to close in on Roglic’s six second advantage at the top of the overall standings.

The Colombian had been given the perfect springboard to launch an attack by his teammates who had set an uncomfortable tempo for the dwindling peloton with David Lopez, Geraint Thomas and Jonathan Castroviejo all driving a fierce pace and shutting down attacks from the main group.

And when the moment came, 33 kilometres from the finish in Sion, only Roglic could cope with Bernal’s burst of pace and the pair quickly powered past the remnants of the early break, until they engaged in a game of cat and mouse that allowed fellow GC contenders Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Rui Costa (UAE-Team Emirates) to join them.

Egan Bernal

The sprint for second place was won by Roglic, Bernal was third.

This larger group did not last long however, as Bernal attacked again and once again was matched by Roglic as the Team Sky man earned maximum Mountain classification points as the duo crested the Les Collons.

The descent allowed the others, as well as Fuglsang, to bridge the gap once again before the Astana rider, who was no significant threat to the race leader, managed to break free with 15km to go and stay away for the solo victory. 

This just left the pursuing quartet to contest the sprint for second, which saw Roglic edge Bernal on the line and extend his lead overall.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this Romandie Tour report:

Today’s fourth stage meted out the toughest challenge of this year’s race. With its demanding climb and fast-paced finish, today’s stage presented a significant challenge to the riders. At the end of the day, J. Fuglsang snatched victory on the queen stage after a decisive attack on the downhill. Continuing to show good form, Emanuel Buchmann finished the stage in 9th place, which meant that he was also able to successfully defend his 9th position in the general classification.

The Stage
The penultimate day of the Tour de Romandie saw the riders tackle the queen stage which commenced and finished in the town of Sion. The decisive 149km-long course led the peloton over 3584 metres of elevation as well as 5 categorised climbs, including three Category 1 and two Category 2 ascents. Not long after the drop of the flag, the riders embarked upon an 8.9km-long Category 1 climb with a maximum gradient of 15 per cent, which presented the most challenging climb of the day. Following the descent, a 35km-long flat stretch awaited the peloton, after which the climbing began again in earnest, with a brutal Category 1 climb to Vercorin followed by 2 Category 2 ascents after that. The most difficult task of the day, however, was to be found towards the end of the route.

By this time, the riders had already conquered a total of no less than four categorised climbs, yet were now required to take on the challenging climb to Les Collons, a Category 1 ascent with an average gradient of 6.6%. At the summit, the riders reached an elevation of 1800m, the highest point on the stage. Following from this was a 27km-long fast-paced descent and a flat 5km run-in to the finish line in Sion, which lay 514m above sea level. In light of the particularly demanding course, today’s stage required not only very good climbing abilities, but also solid descending skills.

The Team Tactics
At the start of the stage, 27 riders sat within 3 minutes of the yellow jersey, a situation which led to the expectation that several riders who had ambitions of placing well in the general classification would pull out all the stops to make up lost ground. Emanuel Buchmann began the day 1:42 in arrears of the GC leader, but he was only 25 seconds behind R. Costa, the 5th best rider overall. The BORA-hansgrohe rider therefore had a good chance of successfully defending his standing in the GC, or even improving his overall position.

The Race
Only a few kilometres after the race got underway, the peloton was faced with the first Category 1 climb of the day, where several riders unsuccessfully attempted to break free from the main field. A group of 5 was eventually able to establish themselves at the head of the race after 30km of racing. For a long time the race situation remained unchanged, with the break being able to maintain an advantage of around 2 minutes. On the ascent of the penultimate climb of the day, the break’s lead was halved to 1 minute. It was at this time that Emanuel Buchman attacked from the field in an attempt to bridge to the 5 leaders. He formed a group with I. Izagirre and D. Martinez, which was able to successfully bridge to the breakaway. During this time, Team Sky was pushing the tempo hard behind, which resulted in several riders being dropped from what remained of the peloton.

Shortly afterwards, several riders attacked from the thinned out main field and managed to reach the head of the race, which included Emanuel Buchmann. As things became very hectic 2km to the summit of the climb, E. Bernal and P. Roglic were then able to distance themselves from the new leading group, and were joined a matter of minutes later by R. Porte, R. Costa and J. Fuglsang. Unfortunately, Emanuel was not able to keep up with the pace at this point, and had to fall back. With 15km remaining to the finish, the Danish rider from Astana attacked on a slight uphill section of the descent. After more than 4 hours in the saddle, he landed his first win of the season. Emanuel ended up taking out 9th position on the stage, and with this result, successfully defended his 9th place in the general classification.

From the finish line
“The plan was to attack before the last climb. After the attack that Pawel Poljanski and Emanuel Buchmann put in on the slopes of the penultimate climb, Emanuel was able to successfully bridge to the leading group. At the base of the last climb, the escapees had about a one minute advantage. The first part of the climb was not too steep and didn’t lead to any significant difficulties. However, then Team Sky took over the bulk of the pace making in the main field and the advantage of the leaders dropped to 30 seconds. I think that Emanuel put in an excellent performance today. We had a specific plan and he tried his best to execute it. I’m also proud of the sprinters in the team for fighting hard today and finishing the stage within the time limit. They refused to give up and did well on a very difficult stage.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director

Greg Van Avermaet returns to Tour de Yorkshire

BMC sent me this release:

28 April, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line at the Tour de Yorkshire next week (3 - 6 May) as part of BMC Racing Team's six-rider roster.

BMC Racing Team will head into stage 1 with both Greg Van Avermaet and Brent Bookwalter as protected riders, Sports Director Klaas Lodewyck said.

"Looking at the race, I think we have two riders, Greg Van Avermaet and Brent Bookwalter, who can both play a role in the General Classification battle. The first day should end in a bunch sprint so we will see how the guys feel there and then stage 2 has a finish that should suit Greg. I think it will be important for us to see what the situation is like after the second day of racing and then we can look to play different options."

"For sure, Brent, who finished fourth here last year, can also make a good GC result on the tough parcours. We are starting with six riders so it will not be easy for us. We will have to play it very smart every day and watch every move," Lodewyck explained.

Greg van aVermaet

Greg van Avermaet is heading to Yorkshire.

The now four-day stage race will mark Van Avermaet's return to racing after his Classics campaign. "After a small break, it's good to be getting back into the swing of racing and the Tour de Yorkshire is a cool race. I'm looking forward to racing on this year's parcours and especially experiencing the great atmosphere around the roads once again," Van Avermaet said.

Bookwalter is motivated about heading back to the Tour de Yorkshire.

"I've been looking forward to the Tour de Yorkshire all spring. After a strong debut at the race last year and enjoying the awesome enthusiasm and hospitality of the fans in the area, Yorkshire quickly became one of my favorite races. It comes after quite a long period away from stage racing in which I've done a block of training at altitude. This race will quickly lead into the AMGEN Tour of California where I'm hoping to be in peak shape so it should be a great way to polish my condition. Whether it's supporting the team or trying to improve on my fourth place overall from 2017, I'm ready to give it my all," Bookwalter added.

Tour de Yorkshire (3 - 6 May)

Rider Roster: Patrick Bevin (NZL), Tom Bohli (SUI), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

Sports Directors: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Allan Peiper (AUS)

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