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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 28, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made. - Groucho Marx

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Challenge Illes Balears stage three team report

Winner Toms Skujins' Trek-Segafredo team posted this report:

Latvian star Toms Skujins rounded off an impressive display of teamwork to take his first victory in the Trek-Segafredo stripes at the Trofeo Lloseta – Andratx. He attacked with around 7 kilometres remaining and held off all competition to the line to savour a solo victory in Andratx.

"That was hard, much harder than expected. I was in trouble a lot of times but in the end with the teamwork we had it was just incredible. The way we rode today it was really a pleasure to be wearing the Trek-Segafredo Jersey."

"We never sat back, we were always up there for the action, and if it were not for Michael Gogl going on the attack for 60kms, we wouldn't have won today. We saw in the end when Gogl was still solo - we had 3 or 4 guys in the next group so all we had to do was follow the wheels, and that we could go on the offensive again when he was caught."

The race is part of the Mallorca Challenge, a series of four one-day races on the Balearic island. The race featured a hilly parcours over 165 kilometres, with two categorised climbs and rolling hills throughout. Such an amount of climbing combined with uncharacteristic inclement weather meant this race was never going to be easy.

There were many attacks from the moment the flag dropped, but none were allowed much breathing room due to the relentless pace of the peloton. Eventually, a group of escapees jumped clear for a while, but never gained a comfortable lead. Michael Gogl’s attack on a descent was the first to look threatening, and he gained a decent advantage of just over a minute over a reduced bunch. Michael rode strongly and lead solo for 60 kilometres, an effort which earned him the day’s combativity award and set the stage for Toms’ attack.

After the race, Michael gave his thoughts on his solo breakaway: "I got a gap and I heard over the radio "Just go!" So I went, I took the guys from the original breakaway straight away and I put the hammer down as hard as I could and I was really motivated, but I knew I was on a big mission so it would take a lot to hold it to the finish. But at 20km to go I still had a minute so I was still going full gas, giving it all I had. I'm really happy for Toms and for our team that we managed another win. It was a really big day and I think everyone saw what we are capable of doing here, and we are hungry for more."

By forcing the other teams to do the chasing, Toms had the perfect opportunity to launch his winning move in the closing kilometres. The young Latvian talent took his chance with both hands, holding off two looming chasers and the rest of the peloton all the way to the line to take an impressive solo victory – his first since joining the team – which takes Trek-Segafredo’s winning tally up to three this season. It was a successful day all round, winning both the stage and the combativity and combined awards, as sport director Steven de Jongh confirmed.

Tomn Skujins

Toms Skujins takes a brilliant solo win.

"We said in the meeting that the plan was to race aggressively because that was the only way to beat Wellens and Valverde. The guys stuck to the plan, and Gogl went out with 70/75km to go. He did a really good ride and demolished the other teams chasing and when everything was back together with 12km to go we still had 3 riders in the front group. Then Toms saw an opportunity to attack and the other riders just hesitated and then they were looking back and saw Bauke ready to react. Then they were a little demotivated and straight away the gap was 10 seconds, then 15 and there were two chasers. Eventually he had 30 seconds over the bunch and held it all the way to the finish. Really good ride."

BMC Racing Team set to target Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Team Time Trial

The team sent me this news:

27 January, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana as BMC Racing Team's road captain, while Brent Bookwalter and Kilian Frankiny represent the team's General Classification aspirations.

The team lines up at the five-day race with multiple objectives, including the team time trial on stage three, Sports Director Valerio Piva said. "We have a tradition in this team to target the team time trial so that is one of our objectives at the race and like last year, we want to win. It's the third stage and it's a technical parcours. We also want to win an individual stage and for this we have Greg Van Avermaet, who is our road captain, as well as Jürgen Roelandts for a sprint finish. There is a short, uphill finish which will make the selection for the General Classification so we will have Brent Bookwalter and Kilian Frankiny as our protected riders, as both are in good shape and can climb well," Piva explained.

Van Avermaet will open the season with Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to test his early season form, as he did in 2017. "I'm feeling pretty good and I'm happy with my winter. We have trained hard in Spain before the race so I'm happy to finally put my training efforts to the test in the race. Everybody always looks forward to the first race of the season. We are motivated again for the team time trial, which we won last year, as it's a nice way to start the season. The parcours is a little different from last year but I think we are one of the favorites there. Personally, I just want to have a good feeling in the race, and not necessarily go for a big result. My bigger goals are later in the season so sometimes the best thing you can take out of a race is a good feeling on a climb or something else like that, and I hope to finish Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with this feeling," Van Avermaet said.

Greg vanAvermaet

Greg van Avermaet winning stage four of the 2017 Tour of Luxembourg.

The long road back:

The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana is not only Bookwalter and Frankiny's first race of the season, but also their first race since suffering nasty crashes at the Tour of Britain and Vuelta a Espana respectively.

Bookwalter is looking to gain confidence from his first race back before embarking on the rest of the season. "I'm ready to start the season. It's been a long off season for me as I stopped the season pretty early last year with my concussion at the Tour of Britain, which was a forced, early off season. The recovery was much longer than I had hoped and planned for so it was a new challenge in the off season. I feel like I'm back to a good level and can start racing. I've never done Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana before so I'm always excited to do a new race, especially after 11 years with the team. It fits well with our training camps as we ride these roads in Valencia every year," Bookwalter explained.

"My biggest objective is to improve my condition and my confidence going into the rest of the season. Coming off my first time dealing with a head injury, my confidence definitely took a hit. To get back into my first race and get through it safely is important. We are defending our team time trial win from last year so that's definitely a focus for us. We'll see how the General Classification goes. Kilian Frankiny looks to be climbing the best out of anyone in our group right now so whether it's helping him out or my form allows me to go for it, we'll see how it goes."

Frankiny is excited to return to the start line after his long off season. "I'm very motivated as I had a long off season after my crash in the Vuelta a Espana. This is the first race in five months so I'm happy to be at the start line and I'm well prepared having done a lot of good training at home and at our training camps. Stage 2 will be pretty hard. The last climb we know from stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana and it's a very steep climb. We will see how many guys make the selection and I hope I can be in the front group. Then of course, the team time trial is a big objective for the whole team as everyone knows that BMC Racing Team is really good in the discipline," Frankiny said.

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (31 Jan - 4 Feb)

Rider roster: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)

Sports Director: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)

Peter Vakoc post-crash & surgery update

Here's the news from Vakoc's Quick-Step Floors team:

The Quick-Step Floors rider will return to Europe in ten days.

Petr Vakoč underwent surgery at the Mediclinic Nelspruit to stabilize the broken vertebrae he sustained during his Thursday training ride in South Africa, when he was clipped by a truck. Stable and conscious after the accident in which also teammate Laurens De Plus was involved, the 25-year-old Czech went into surgery Friday afternoon and spent the entire night under observation, before being awakened by the doctors on Saturday.

Peter Vakoc

Peter Vakoc in 2016

The post-surgery tests conducted this morning showed Petr responding to all stimuli, moving and talking with the doctors, who deemed the intervention a success. Now, the Quick-Step Floors rider will remain for ten more days in the hospital before traveling back to Europe.

"This morning I talked with Petr and he was relieved that everything went fine. The last 48 hours were long and nerve consuming, but we are happy things are good now. Petr needs a lot of rest and time to recover now, and we will be by his side to help him", said the team's trainer Koen Pelgrim.

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