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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 2, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

"Remember the 38" - motto remembering the mass execution of 38 Dakota Native Americans by hanging in front of 4,000 spectators in 1862. It was on orders of Abraham Lincoln and was the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

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Aqua Blue Sport reports on stage one of the Herald Sun Tour:

Lasse Norman Hansen sealed Aqua Blue Sport’s first win in 2018 in spectacular fashion by powering to victory in an hectic sprint finale on stage one of Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The Dane, who is also the new yellow jersey of the race, made cycling history by taking the first UCI professional road race win with a 1x drivetrain bike - the 3T Strada.

One day after taking third place in the opening prologue Lasse Norman Hansen stood on top of the podium as Stage 1 winner and new yellow jersey after sprinting to glory in FlagStaff Hill in the aftermath of a long and hectic 161 kilometre race along the Great Ocean Road into Warrnambool.

The windy conditions on the day played a key factor in the unfolding of the events as strong crosswinds inside the final 25 kilometres caused chaos in the peloton splitting the race apart. The early six-men breakaway was caught just inside the last 15 kilometres and what followed was some first grade frenzied riding with multiple attacks at the front.

Track Olympic gold medallist Norman Hansen and teammate US National road Champion Larry Warbasse were attentive and made the selection in all the crucial moves as the wind decimated the peloton. In the end, the stage honors were contested by a select group of only nine riders with the 25-year-old Dane emerging as the convincing winner.

Norman Hansen’s final kick was unmatched and the great Dane powered his 3T Strada bike to victory out-sprinting Steele von Hoff (Bennelong SwissWellness) and former Jayco Herald Sun Tour winner Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT), who finished second and third, respectively.

Lasse Norman Hansen

The stage is Lasse Norman Hansen's

“We knew there was going to be a lot of crosswinds and knew we had to stay close to the Trek-Segafredo boys and we did that with the whole team. Everyone did a really great job. In the end it split down to a 20 men group and Larry and I made the selection after that, with about 10 km to go it split yet again and I was able to jump across from the second group to the first. From there it was pretty much like an old-fashioned track race, attacking left and right and it ended up in a 10 man bunch sprint. I kicked a bit early and brought good speed into the climb. It was a little bit uphill to the finish line and I managed to get a jump on Steele (von Hoff). I’m really stoked to win the stage but it was definitely a team performance today, they all made this possible and I’m super happy to have been able to finish it off for the team,” said an ecstatic Norman Hansen after the stage.

With the win, his second as a professional road cyclist and the first as a rider for Aqua Blue Sport, Lasse Norman Hansen moves into the top of the overall classification. He has nine seconds advantage on second placed Meyer and will wear the yellow jersey on stage two of Jayco Herald Sun Tour (198.6kms from Warrnambool to Ballarat).

Team BMC's Volta a Valenciana stage two update:

Greg Van Avermaet survived the tough final El Garbi climb on stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to sprint to fifth place out of a chase group, featuring Brent Bookwalter and Kilian Frankiny, behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

Early in the stage, five riders went clear and gained an advantage of almost three minutes after just 15km of racing while behind, all BMC Racing Team riders remained in the bunch.

The peloton was happy to sit up and allow the group go seven minutes clear until the halfway mark of the 154km stage when the peloton had brought their advantage down to four minutes.

On the Puerto de Eslida, Alessandro De Marchi jumped clear with five other riders and hovered ahead of the bunch but the group was eventually reeled in over the top of the climb with 66km to go. From there, the peloton continued to bring the breakaway back and as Team Sky led the charge at the base of El Garbi, the five riders were just one minute ahead.

The fast pace on the steep climb saw riders immediately dropped from the back of the bunch and as the group made the catch with 35km remaining, the pace lifted again as more riders tried to go clear.

Valverde responded to an attack from Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) in the final kilometers of the category 1 climb and the duo quickly gained an advantage, before later being joined by Fulgsang’s teammates Luis Leon Sanchez.

Team Sky led the chase on the descent and in the final 20km, were joined by Bookwalter and Frankiny who put everything they had into the chase to bring the trio back and set the stage for Van Avermaet in the finale.

Despite a strong and coordinated chase behind, Valverde’s group managed to hold their 30-second advantage and stay away until the line, where Valverde beat Sanchez and Fulgsang in the sprint.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde wins Valenciana stage two

19 seconds later, Van Avermaet’s group came charging down the finish straight and in the battle for minor places, Van Avermaet crossed the line second to take fifth place on the day.

The General Classification shake up now see Van Avermaet sit in 7th place overall and Bookwalter in 9th ahead of the 23km team time trial.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“My sensations were really good. It was really nice to be there with the best on the top of the final climb and I was really happy with it. It was a bit sad that we could not bring Valverde and the others back because it was a really nice opportunity to have a stage win. Team Sky tried and we directly put Kilian Frankiny and Brent Bookwalter up there after the descent. It was just crazy that we we couldn’t bring them back because I thought we could close the gap easily and I would have a chance for a stage win. But in the end, it is like this. I was feeling really good and I was really happy that I was up there with a lot of climbers.”

Brent Bookwalter:
“It’s been a good five months since I’ve pushed myself hard like I did up that finishing climb. It’s a little bit of a relief to know that it’s still in there and it was also really nice and encouraging to be at the front of the race, feel the moment, and have the chance to work for Greg again. We see it all the time. Sometimes you’re on the good end of it and sometimes you’re on the bad end of it but it was one of those days where you logically look at the effort we were doing, with the guys we were doing it with, and you would have thought that time gap on those roads would have come back. But here we are. Hopefully we have a good ride tomorrow. As everyone knows, the team time trial is kind of our thing. I haven’t done a team time trial with the guys since Catalunya last year so I’ll try not to bring up too much PTSD from that.”

Kilian Frankiny:
“Already yesterday in the final it was a bit harder and I was still up there and that was the main goal yesterday. Today, I felt good. I was still in the first group on the last climb and the three guys went and behind, we began to work for Greg. Brent and I gave it all, and most of the others I think, but we didn’t catch them. We were five or six guys pulling full gas behind behind we couldn’t bring them back. The first big objective is to win the TTT tomorrow and then we will see how it looks for the young rider jersey. It would be a nice way to start the season but I think if we can get a victory with Greg or with Brent, it’s even better.”

And here's Team Sky's Valenciana report:

Team Sky remain in touch at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, with Wout Poels and Diego Rosa moving into the top five after pushing hard on a mountainous second stage.

The team looked to control the final El Garbi climb, and were forced into action to limit losses and chase down a three-man escape in the closing stages. Poels, Rosa, Gianni Moscon, and David de la Cruz all finished in a chase group, 19 seconds back on stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

The Spaniard attacked on the climb, and combined with Astana teammates Jakob Fuglsang and Luis Leon Sanchez to stay clear into Albuixech. Poels and Rosa sit fourth and fifth respectively, 29 seconds back on the new yellow jersey holder, with Moscon and De La Cruz also sitting on the same time.

Team Sky had controlled the early slopes of the first-category ascent through Vasil Kiryienka and Michal Kwiatkowski, after strong work from Ian Stannard during the 153.9km test

After a rapid descent the gap to the lead trio spun out to 30 seconds, with other teams looking to Sky to shut the gap. Eventually reinforcements arrived to limit the losses slightly ahead of Friday’s decisive team time trial.

Team Quick-Step Floors will race Dubai Tour

Here's the team's announcement:

Elia Viviani will headline our squad for the five-day race, which will run between 6-10 February Three overall wins, three secondary classifications and seven stage victories have made the Dubai Tour a happy hunting ground for Quick-Step Floors since the inception of the Middle East race, which this year celebrates its fifth edition, one that in the first two days will give the peloton's speedsters as many opportunities to test their legs and go for victory.

On paper, also stage three could end up in a bunch gallop, but it will all depend on what will happen on an unclassified climb topping 47 kilometers from the finish, whose gradients range from 2.3% to 7.2%. A stern test will come on the penultimate day, when the peloton will travel to the now traditional uphill finish of Hatta Dam (17% maximum gradient), before a return to the center of Dubai, on Saturday, for another stage suited to the sprinters.

Elia Viviani

Viviani winning stage three of this year's Tour Down Under

Elia Viviani – the first Quick-Step Floors rider to grab a win this season – will be at the start of the race, which will mark Maximilian Schachmann's first outing for the team since crashing out of the Tour de Pologne last year and injuring his foot. Also making the squad for the Dubai Tour will be Belgian powerhouse Tim Declercq, neo-pro Fabio Jakobsen (a rider who impressed with his string of successes in the U23 ranks), Yves Lampaert, Fabio Sabatini and Niki Terpstra.

"We like a lot the Dubai Tour. Not only it's a very well-organised race, with good weather, but there's also the fact that we came out on top of the GC in the last three years and enjoyed many beautiful wins. This time we are arriving here with Elia Viviani as our leader, and I must say that I'm super excited to work with him. He took a stage victory in Australia, at the Tour Down Under, and our goal will be to repeat that result in Dubai", said sports director Brian Holm. "I am also thrilled about the return of Max Schachmann after that long injury lay-off and the debut of Fabio Jakobsen; he's young but talented, and it will be exciting to see him race for the first time with the big boys."

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