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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 20, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Please give me some good advice in your next letter. I promise not to follow it. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

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BinckBank Tour stage seven news

We posted the organizer's report with the results

Here's the report from stage winner Michael Matthews' Team Sunweb:

Team Sunweb's Michael Matthews (AUS) has taken the win at the final stage of the BinckBank Tour today, after a fantastic team effort saw a late break brought back in time for Matthews to contest the stage honours. He also secures 2nd in the general classification.

Matthews said: "This win is incredible. We came here with a GC goal and it was a real big team effort to secure 2nd. Today was a big goal for me personally, we wanted to finish off the race on a high note. Søren did a great job in the final and sacrificed his chances so we could take the win. We tried everything to crack the leader but he played it really smart so we have to be happy with 2nd. I'm so happy with this win, it's the big victory I've been looking for."

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews wins the final stage of the 2018 BinckBank Tour

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) added: "The team did a great job today and were always in the right moves with Søren and Michael. Søren tried to break Mohoric by attacking in the final so that Michael could save energy, and he nearly succeeded on the final time up the Muur. In the end Michael out-sprinted everybody to take the stage win and finishes 2nd in the GC. The team have worked really well together this week and we can be proud of how we have raced. It's great that Michael could finish it off today and it's good to end the race with the stage win."

Bora-hansgrohe reports on EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg

Winner Elia Viviani's Quick-Step team report is posted with the results.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

On a day when the BORA-hansgrohe team did everything perfectly, a cruel twist of fate ended the team’s chances in the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg less than 2km before the finish line. The course in Hamburg was deceptively tough, with the Waseberg climb hitting gradients of up to 22% proving instrumental in thinning out the field each of its three passes on the course. On the final run to the finale, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were still there, having been instrumental in pushing the pace and reeling in the break, only for disaster to strike as the German National Champion, Pascal Ackermann, hit the ground as he was preparing for the bunch sprint. The courageous 24-year-old got back on his bike to finish the race, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, taking 10th to add to his lead in the UCI WorldTour standings.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani wins a close one in Hamburg.

The Stage
Starting and finishing in Hamburg, the 216.4km route took riders on a figure of eight course, first towards the east before a long stretch back through Hamburg followed by a shorter loop back towards the city. The closing stages of the race would give fans a treat, with three laps of an 18km circuit giving spectators an excellent opportunity to watch the hardest part of the course, and of course, the finale. The terrain in northern Germany is fairly flat, which means the race is known as one for the sprinters, but this would by no means make for an easy race, with the finishing circuit taking in a climb of the Waseberg which, with an average gradient of 10% and sections hitting a painful 22% towards the top, would thin out the field – especially after climbing it three times over the course of the day.

The Team Tactics
The BORA-hansgrohe squad was on home turf today, and so the team would be taking every opportunity to impress the fans in Germany. Riding in the black, red and gold jersey of German National Champion, Pascal Ackermann, would take centre stage and the team would be working to make sure the 24-year-old was in a strong position for the finale. Currently heading the UCI Individual World Rankings, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would also be aiming to be up there at the finale to take some extra points to supplement his lead if the opportunity presented itself.

The Race
With a group of five off the front early on, this small breakaway managed to hold the peloton at bay with more than two minutes’ advantage. While each team represented in the break only had one rider, this escape worked together well, managing their lead as though the peloton were on a piece of elastic, drawing them close before extending their lead again. The break was making the peloton work hard, and with 64km remaining, the peloton split in two, the front group driving the pace to reduce the gap, leaving the second group to chase to stay in touch. The break’s lead dropped to 40 seconds in a few kilometres of concerted effort from the peloton, but with the lead group in touching distance with 55km to go, it looked as though the escapees would be reeled in on the first ascent of the Waseberg. Cresting the climb and making the most of the fast downhill section, that lead was extended again to 1:30. The peloton had other plans though, and wouldn’t be denied. In the final 30km, the BORA-hansgrohe jerseys were prominent at the head of the peloton, working to draw in the break. In their midst were the jerseys of German National Champion and the UCI World Champion, worn by Pascal Ackermann and Peter Sagan respectively, and with the gap dropping quickly, it was clear that the peloton was looking to take charge and push for the win, and even an attack late on the final climb of the Waseberg wasn’t going to put an end to the peloton’s ambitions. Hamburg’s city streets made for some fast-paced riding and high speeds, but a crash with less than 2km remaining saw Pascal go down, cruelly putting an end to his chances. As Peter Sagan crossed the line to take 10th spot, the German National Champion bravely remounted his bike to finish the race.

From the Finish Line
"The Cyclassics Hamburg was for me the first real race after the Tour de France. I felt quite a bit better today, I think I'm improving day by day but I still need some more time to recover in full. Up to the last kilometres, we had a good race, the team worked well but, unfortunately, Pascal's late crash disrupted our plans for the sprint. Viviani was the fastest and won the race while I was 10th. Time to turn my attention now to the next big goal, the Vuelta, a week from now." – Peter Sagan, UCI Wolrd Champion

"Of course I am disappointed now, but there is nothing more I can do about the crash. I lost some skin, but I am confident I can start at the Deutschland Tour next week. Until the crash happened, I had exceptionally good legs and was still fresh going into the final kilometres. The team did a great job and we controlled the race the whole day. Just before the crash I had caught Viviani's wheel and was in a perfect position, but I felt a blow from my left and then all of a sudden I found myself on the ground." - Pascal Ackermann

"It’s a pity that all the hard work didn‘t pay off today in the end. The team worked very well and everything was under control. We pulled hard in the finale to set up a bunch sprint and both Pascal and Peter were positioned really well. Unfortunately, Pascal then crashed and our whole lead out was affected by that. There isn't a lot more we can say, we tried hard, but you cannot win every day." – Jan Valach, Sports Director 

Łucasz Owsian signs with Continuum Sports

The team sent me this:

19 August, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Łucasz Owsian is the second Polish rider to sign with Continuum Sports in a move that will see the 28-year-old make his debut with a WorldTour team in 2019.

After seven years with CCC Sprandri Polkowice at the Professional Continental level, Owsian will join Polish shoe and bag manufacturer CCC at the WorldTour level when they become title sponsor of Continuum Sports from 2019.

"We are very happy to welcome Łucasz Owsian to the team. Although this will be Łucasz' first time riding for a WorldTour team, he has gained a lot of experience at races over the years, including two Giro d'Italia participations. He is known for racing aggressively and was rewarded for this with the mountains jersey at the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain, and narrowly missed out on the mountains jersey at the Tour de Pologne this year after what was a very active week in various breakaways," Ochowicz said.

"Although Łucasz is not a pure climber, he certainly has the legs to climb well and can make the most of a breakaway opportunity which was evident when he narrowly missed the win on stage 5 of the Tour of Croatia this year. Łucasz will have the opportunity to continue his development with us and learn from some of the most experienced riders in the peloton, so we are looking forward to seeing his progression."

Oswian is relishing the opportunity to graduate to the WorldTour. "I am very excited to join Continuum Sports because I have been racing at the Professional Continental level for a long time and it is a dream to join the WorldTour. Of course, CCC is a Polish sponsor and I am a Polish rider, so this makes it even more exciting," Owsian said.

"I am looking forward to learning from riders like Greg Van Avermaet and helping the team as much as possible. I am ready to give 100 percent to do my job for the team. I am not the best climber but when I have good legs I can climb well, so I think I can support the team in a lot of races. I am not a bad time trialist so I know this is an area in which I can improve, especially because of the team's strength in this discipline."

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