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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. - Epicurus

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Vuelta a España stage three team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the stage results.

Here's the report from stage winner Elia Viviani's Quick-Step team:

World Tour team standings leader Quick-Step Floors have now nabbed at least a victory in the last nine Grand Tours.

Elia Viviani carried into the Vuelta a España the superb form that propelled him to a well-deserved win at the Cyclassics Hamburg one week ago and comfortably sprinted to victory on the race's third stage, which saw the peloton travel from Mijas to Alhaurin de la Torre, over 178.2 kilometers that packed a total of 2600 meters of elevation and a 20km-long first-category climb in the first part of the day.

"This wonderful season continues with a beautiful and very special moment. First Vuelta win, first Grand Tour victory in the Italian Champion jersey, all these make up for a perfect day, but I couldn't have pulled it off without this incredible team, who did again a marvelous job. It was difficult to control such a tough stage by our own for 90% of the time, but we prevailed again thanks to the Wolfpack's fantastic spirit", a beaming Elia said as he stood against the railings, after capturing his 16th success of the year.

Quick-Step Floors did what they know best on Monday, controlling a six-man breakaway for the most part of the day, not panicking even with 40 kilometers to go, when five riders attacked from the bunch trying to stir things up, and bringing everything back together ten kilometers from the finish, before taking Elia to the front with the flamme rouge in sight.

Led out by Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv, Viviani made his jump inside the final 200 meters and put in a storming sprint, beating Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) by a bike length. The 29-year-old Italian, who is riding the Vuelta a España for the second time in his career, was eyeing this stage before the start of the race and at the finish in Alhaurin de la Torre was full of praise for his teammates, who perfectly executed the plan concocted at the pre-stage briefing in Mijas.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani wins the Vuelta's third stage. Sirotti photo

"There's no such thing as an easy stage in a Grand Tour, and especially in the Vuelta, where he had a lot of climbing in store for what on the roadbook presented itself was a flat stage. We knew what to expect, because we did a recon last week, so Kasper and Pieter pulled at the front the entire day, then as we got closer to the finish, Dries kept a high speed, before Michael put me in an ideal position, from where I went immediately as I noticed Sagan making his move. With some tailwind, I felt that it was the right moment to go and I am happy for how things panned out in the end."

Viviani – who netted Quick-Step Floors' 85th Grand Tour stage victory – wasn't the only rider of the team to take it to the podium on Monday afternoon. Laurens De Plus, who wore the white jersey of the combined classification, retained his fourth place in the overall standings and was rewarded with the best young rider prize.

"The goal was to control the stage and win it with Elia, and having accomplished that makes up happy. We are having a great start to the Vuelta a España, I feel good and I'm now curious to see how my legs will respond in the high mountains", said Laurens ahead of stage four, which will finish on the 12.4km-long climb of Sierra de la Alfaguara.

Here's the report from GC leader Michal Kwiatkowski's Team Sky:

Michal Kwiatkowski retained his overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana as Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) won a bunch sprint on stage three.

Kwiatkowski was well-positioned by his teammates on the run into Alhaurin de la Torre, with a particularly tight turn with four kilometres remaining posing a potential threat that was averted by the well-organised Team Sky train.

And as Viviani came out on top in the final sprint, the Polish national champion was able to tuck in behind the front group to finish 13th and hold is GC position ahead of stage four's tricky summit finish which could be another battle of the General Classification contenders.

Earlier a six-man break had threatened to spoil the sprinters' day, attacking before the first climb of the day, the category one Madroño, as the group - Nans Peters (AG2R-La Mondiale), Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac), Jordi Simon (Burgos-BH), Antonio Molina (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) were able to stretch their lead to around four minutes.

The peloton, lead by Quick-Step and Team Sky worked to close their advantage though and were able to peg the escapees back to just over a minute's advantage until a trio countered from the bunch to boost the numbers upfront and give the break hope of staying away. 

However, a small headwind played into the hands of the chasers and despite Lukas Postlberger's (Bora-Hansgrohe) brave effort, he was caught with six kilometres to go to setup the bunch sprint.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski waits for the start of stage three.

Kwiatkowski was pleased with the team's performance and is focused on stage four's tough summit finish. He said: “It was pretty straightforward today. It was nice to be up there at the front of the bunch, out of trouble. It was a very nervous finish, a lot of guys tried to break [at the end}, with a lot of roundabouts and corners, short little climbs.

“It is always better to be on the front, also controlling Alejandro Valverde because I know he really wants this red jersey. I tried to stay behind him and not allow him to get any bonus seconds."

He added: “Congratulations to Elia Viviani and the whole Quick-Step team because they did a really hard job all day. I’m so happy to have the jersey for another day, tomorrow is going to be a hard one -  we’ll need to be very smart in the final climb.”

Gijs Van Hoecke to move from LottoNL-Jumbo to Continuum Sports in 2019

Team BMC sent me this:

27 August, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Continuum Sports' classics team will be bolstered by the addition of Gijs Van Hoecke to the 2019 roster, a move that will see the 26-year-old Belgian act as a key support rider for Greg Van Avermaet.

General Manager Jim Ochowicz highlighted Van Hoecke's classics experience as well as his ability to develop further. "Gijs Van Hoecke in an excellent addition to our 2019 roster, particularly for our classics team as these are the races where he has showed great potential. As a Belgian, Gijs is of course familiar with all of the roads and knows how to position himself on the cobbles which means he will be an asset to the team. The fact that he and Greg often train together is an added bonus," Ochowicz said.

"Gijs made his Grand Tour debut this year at the Giro d'Italia and has gained a lot of experience at stage races in the past few years. We are looking forward to seeing Gijs develop further as a rider and believe Continuum Sports is a great fit for him. With our focus on time trials, we have the experience and knowledge to help Gijs improve in this discipline as well. At 26-years-old, Gijs has a long career ahead of him and a lot of potential, so we are looking forward to welcoming him in 2019."

Van Hoecke, the 2012 Madison World Champion, signed his first professional contract in 2012 and initially combined track and road racing, before solely focusing on road racing and progressing to the WorldTour in 2017.

The opportunity to ride with Van Avermaet was what attracted Van Hoecke to Continuum Sports. "I am really excited to join Continuum Sports next year. Although I wasn't really looking for a change, I was charmed by the offer I received from Jim Ochowicz. With BMC Racing Team, Jim has proven that he can make one of the best teams in the World, and I am convinced that he can do the same with the continuation of team, sponsored by CCC. I'm honored that I can be a part of this team," Van Hoecke explained.

"Greg Van Avermaet is my daily training partner and a good friend of mine, so it's needless to say that I want to help Greg and the team to continue their top results in the classics, which are my favorite races. I am looking forward to working hard with the team in the coming years and to make the next step in my career."

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