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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 4, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move. - Georgia O'Keeffe

Current racing:

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Esteban Chaves takes the lead in Herald Sun Tour

Here's the report from Chaves' Mitchelton-Scott team:

Colombian climber Esteban Chaves has taken a solo victory atop Lake Mountain on stage three of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with a bold attack with 17km remaining.

After a furious pace was set at the bottom of the concluding 20km climb, Chaves escaped alone and was too strong, finishing 42seconds ahead of Alexander Evans (Mobius-BridgeLane) and one-minute 9seconds ahead of a small chase group.

Having covered all of the attacks in a small chase group behind, 2015 winner Cameron Meyer and reigning champion Damien Howson finished fourth and fifth on the stage to give Mitchelton-SCOTT the top three positions overall with one day of racing remaining.

A long, bold attack:
The early breakaway’s day was ended in the wind up to the final ascent of Lake Mountain as Mobius-BridgeLane set a furious pace on the early slopes and began to shell tired riders off the back immediately.

Chaves attacked with 17km still left to ride and immediately forced a gap on the quickly diminishing front group. Evans was the only rider to get a distance on the chase group and at one point was within touching distance before dropped off to finish 42seconds behind the stage leader.

Covering every move:
A small group of 14 had the work of chasing behind Chaves, but Mitchelton-SCOTT had every move covered. Defending champion Howson, 2015 winner Meyer and young climbers Lucas Hamilton and Robert Power followed every attack launched in the final 15km, disheartening the break to support their leader.

One, two, three for Mitchelton-SCOTT:
With Chaves crossing the line solo to throw his arms in the air for victory on the stage, and Meyer and Howson sprinting to fourth and fifth in the chase group, Mitchelton-SCOTT go into tomorrow’s final stage with the top three riders on the general classification.

Esteban chaves

Esteban Chaves earns a great solo win

The Colombian has 32seconds on Meyer and 39seconds on Howson, with the team’s nearest competitor Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) at 45seconds.

Esteban Chaves – Stage winner and overall leader: “I’m really happy to start the season with this form. It was a really hard tough race, nearly six hours on the bike. We have a really strong team here and now finally we have a stage win and the jersey and this is really special for me.

“I made the move with 17kilometres to go and it was a really long way but the plan was I try and if they bring me back then we have the other guys. It is beautiful in this team that everybody has a chance, everybody has an opportunity. The young fellas here are really strong.

“We are now top three overall and we need to enjoy this as winning bike races is not easy. Tomorrow is a hard one and people will attack for sure so we need to keep everything under control.”

Damien Howson – Defending champion and third overall: “I’m just as happy today as I was last year. Esteban has obviously worked really hard all summer and we had a lot of confidence in him. We have such depth in the team, I think we had five riders in the final and other teams just didn’t have as many numbers still up there and they had to really commit to riding rather than attacking if they were ever going to bring him back.

"The team that rode really hard at the bottom caused a group of 10 to 15 guys left and I think everyone including myself was pretty pinned. Esteban was just breathing through his nose so once he opened up a gap he was pretty hard to follow. We were then just covering moves and hoping he could pull it off. It was a full team effort today and we can’t thank Alex Edmondson and Michael Hepburn enough for controlling such a long stage.”

Tomorrow: Kinglake to reign supreme:
The 2018 Jayco Herald Sun Tour will be decided by tomorrow’s final stage at Kinglake. The circuit race is far from easy with undulating roads ensuring no easy ride to the esteemed overall victory for teams needing to control.

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 3 Result:
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 5:53:55
2. Alexander Evans (Mobius-BridgeLane) +0:42
3. Ruben Guerreiro (Trek Segafredo) +1:09

Jayco Herald Sun Tour – General Classification after stage 3:
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 14:56:35
2. Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:32
3. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:39

UAE-Team Emirates to race Dubai Tour

The team sent me this:

UAE Team Emirates is preparing meticulously for their first “at home” race, the 2018 Dubai Tour from 6 to 10 February.

The Emirati race is an important event in light of the basic premise behind the UAE Team Emirates cycling project, which is to promote the sport in the UAE; it will also mark Alexander Kristoff’s professional debut riding for President Matar’s formation.

Sport Directors Matxin (Spain) and Marzano (Italy) will call on the following seven athletes:
– Anass Ait El Abdia (Morocco)
– Matteo Bono (Italy)
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway)
– Simone Consonni (Italy)
– Filippo Ganna (Italy)
– Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
– Yousif Mirza (United Arab Emirates)

Kristoff is enthusiastic about the idea of starting the season in Dubai. “I can’t wait to start my season with the new team. This will be my first time racing in the Dubai Tour. I really like the idea, because when I went to the United Arab Emirates for holidays I discovered that it’s a wonderful place.
It’s going to be a very competitive race; there will be a lot of top notch sprinters. It will be fantastic if we manage to win a stage. It’s always nice to start off a season on a positive note”.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff winning a stage in the 2017 Tour of Oman

Mirza is also highly motivated. “I’m as excited as I was for the 2017 edition, when the Dubai Tour marked my first race with the team. I am very motivated and I really want to give it my all for the team. Last year I made a break in the second stage; we’ll see if I will be able to make the most of my skills as an attacker in this edition as well”.

Kilian Frankiny takes lead in Valenciana young rider competition

Here's the update from Frankiny's BMC team:

An impressive ride from Kilian Frankiny on the queen stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana saw the young Swiss rider finish ninth on the steep Alto de las Canteras summit finish and move into the lead in the young rider classification.

With the stage set for a General Classification showdown, any attempts to form a breakaway in the first hour were neutralized and eventually after 65km, of the 181km stage, the peloton allowed six riders to go clear and maintain a two-minute advantage for the next 60km.

A reshuffle at the front of the race saw Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) jump ahead and catch the breakaway to form a new four-rider group which forced Movistar Team and Astana Pro Team to take control and initiate the chase.

In the final 20km, three riders jumped ahead of the bunch and eventually caught the breakaway before Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) launched a solo effort from the group 3km before the final climb.

With 5km to go, BMC Racing Team hit the front of the bunch with Jürgen Roelandts, Alessandro De Marchi and Michael Schär leading the chase behind Visconti, who was eventually caught at the base of the climb.

The steep slopes immediately caused riders to drop from the already-reduced peloton and while attacks from the major General Classification contenders saw a six-rider group form at the front, Frankiny, Brent Bookwalter, and Greg Van Avermaet rode at their own pace and stayed within reach.

As the road flattened out halfway up the climb, the front group swelled in numbers and Frankiny and Van Avermaet made contact, and Bookwalter was just behind. From there, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) launched an attack and created a gap but Valverde proved to be too strong and passed Yates with 200 meters to go to take the stage win.

Alejandro Vavlverde

Alejandro Valverde wins the stage.

Frankiny crossed the line 24 seconds behind Valverde in ninth place which was enough to move into ninth place overall and inherit the white jersey, in his first race since crashing out of the Vuelta a Espana in 2017.

Bookwalter and Van Avermaet put in strong rides to finish in 16th and 21st place, 44 seconds and 1’14: behind Valverde respectively.

Quotes from the Finish Line

Kilian Frankiny: “The team worked the whole day for me, keeping me out of the wind, going for bottles, all of the things that I did last year. I was very thankful that they helped me the whole day and it was nice to see because I’m still young. I was very happy that I could finish well at the end and pay them back for helping me today.”

“I started the final climb a bit too far behind and then I worked my way back to the front guys. I knew the climb from our recon and I knew that there would be a flat part so I wanted to be there in the wheels. In the last part I just suffered and held on. I gave it everything I had. I’m very proud and very happy that I have this white jersey. I hope that I can hold it to the end tomorrow.”

“My next race is the Abu Dhabi Tour. I can go in with a lot of confidence and I think the team has now seen what I am able to do. I still have two weeks to prepare more and maybe I can show even better form.”

Valerio Piva, Sports Director: “From the beginning, it was clear that the Team Time Trial was our main goal and for the General Classification, we would give the opportunity to Kilian Frankiny and Brent Bookwalter. They showed good form on the second stage to arrive with the first 25 riders and then of course, yesterday didn’t count for the overall. Today in the meeting we said that we would protect Greg Van Avermaet as Greg wanted to try, and help Kilian and Brent for positioning. Kilian was very strong in the final climb. I am happy for him as the white jersey was an objective for him and it is a good sign and good for the morale. Brent and Greg finished well especially as we know that we can’t compete with the pure climbers like Alejandro Valverde and Jakob Fulgsang. This is the first race for the season for these riders and we have seen good signs from all of them.”

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