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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 7, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes. - Richard Dawkins

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Critérium du Dauphiné stage three team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Team Sky:

Team Sky stormed to an emphatic victory in the team time trial on stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine to move Michal Kwiatkowski back into the race lead.

The impressive team display saw Team Sky finish 37 seconds ahead of nearest rivals BMC Racing in second, with Lotto Soudal third. This has moved Kwiatkowski back into the overall lead and elevates Gianni Moscon up to second, three seconds back with Jonathan Castroviejo third and Geraint Thomas fourth.

Celebrating the result on stage three was far cry from the end of the previous day, which saw Kwiatkowski crash in the closing kilometres and the race leader was pleased he suffered no ill effects today.

“I’m so happy that I got no major issues after the crash yesterday. If I could have picked up one stage win in the Dauphiné, I’d like it to be the TTT, he beamed. It’s a wonderful feeling to win as a team. We rode a perfect stage, technically and tactically, on the entire course.

"The 35km were demanding with changing rhythm and speed all the time. On paper we had the strongest team, but it’s a different thing to win and I’m very happy we did it.”

Kwiatkowski's words were echoed by Gianni Moscon who was delighted by the team's performance, adding: “Today was just perfect. We had a really smooth ride as a team. We paced it very well on the climbs. It was simply perfect. It’s the best TTT I’ve ever done.

"I’m here to support G [Geraint Thomas] and Kwiato to try and bring home the overall victory. We have a super strong team here. If we commit together, we can make it. I’d like to stay up in GC as long as possible as well but it depends on how the race goes.”

Tea Sky

Team Sky going faster than anyone else.

As a Team Sky rider since the inception of the team, Thomas was well-placed to judge on how impressive the performance was, and he concurred with his teammates, but was aware that there was still plenty of work to do. He said: “It was fluid and fast. It’s probably one of Team Sky’s best time trials ever.

"Now we have four hard stages ahead of us and we’ll see how it goes. But we’ll defend the jersey. We’ve got several cards to play but it’ll still be difficult to win, that’s for sure.”

Second-place BMC sent me this:

6 June, 2018, Louhans-Châtaeurenaud (FRA): Stage 3 of this year's Critérium du Dauphiné saw teams racing against the clock with BMC Racing Team putting in a strong performance out on the 35km course to finish second and secure three spots in the top ten on the General Classification going into the last four days of racing.

Team BMC

BMC riding to second place. Sirotti photo

BMC Racing Team was one of the last to roll down the ramp and as they settled into a seamless rhythm, which is now almost synonymous with the team, they were looking to better 38'06", the benchmark set by Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

Fastest at both the first and second intermediate checkpoints, BMC Racing Team dug deep heading into the closing section of the course, and following an excellent show of strength and teamwork, the first four riders stopped the clock at 37'10".

With just three teams left to finish, it was a short but nervous wait in the hot seat for the team and in the end, only Team Sky, the penultimate team to finish, could better the time set by BMC Racing Team and push them into second.

The results of the stage saw a reshuffle of the General Classification with Brent Bookwalter, Damiano Caruso, and Joey Rosskopf sitting fifth, sixth and seventh respectively behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), who regained the leader's yellow jersey, heading into stage 4 and the first summit finish of the race.

Quotes From the Finish Line:

Brent Bookwalter:
"I think we did well today and we should be proud of our effort. We rode solidly over the whole course. We were consistent, smooth and really strong but to pull off the win we would have needed an exceptional and unique ride."

"It was a super fast course and we rode it this morning but it's always totally different at race speed. There weren't a lot of speed variations and not a lot of corners. I think we did a really good job staying together and relying on each other and working together."

"The next four stages are daunting for sure. I'm unproven in the mountains back to back like this, so I don't have any delusions about pulling off something miraculous but I think that being said we are still here in a unique position without a favourite or a superstar rider if you will and we can have fun racing and try our best each day."

Damiano Caruso:
"I think it was a perfect day. Of course, we missed the victory but we are at the Dauphiné and the level is really high. The guys did an amazing job as well as all the staff to help us be as prepared as possible. We did a good ride and now the real race starts tomorrow. The next four days are completely different to the first half of the race but we are in a good position at the moment so I think everything is going okay so far."

Sports Director, Maximilian Sciandri:
"We came into today quietly and we are taking the race day by day. I would have been really happy with a top three result and we actually did a fantastic ride and finished better than that. I think the guys did the best they could. It was executed to perfection and we got the best out of each individual rider. Of course we like to win, everybody does, but that's how it goes. I don't think we can be disappointed."

"From here, we need to go back and reassess ahead of the next four stages. We are still going to have a day by day approach to the race. Every stage from now on is really hard with around 3000m of climbing every day."

And here's the report Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

BORA – hansgrohe showed a good team effort and finished the 35km undulating course in a time of 38:19 minutes, 1:46 behind Team Sky, who took the stage win ahead of BMC in today’s team time trial.

The Stage
Today was the race against the clock, the third stage of the Criterium du Dauphine saw a 35km long team time trial. The undulating course started in Pont-de-Vaux and took the riders to Louhans-Cháteaurenaud, two intermediate times check were taken at 14km and 24km.

The Team Tactics
It was a day for the GC, with the results of the stage no doubt making their mark on the overall standings. BORA – hansgrohe went motivated into today’s stage after Pascal’s victory yesterday. The goal was to achieve a top ten spot in today’s team time trial.

Bora Hansgroeh

Team Bora-hansgrohe. Sirotti photo

The Race
In the early afternoon, the German team rolled off the ramp. Peter Kennaugh led the team ahead of Emanuel Buchmann, Lukas Pöstlberger, Jay McCarthy, Alex Saramotins, Rudi Selig and Pascal Ackermann, who was wearing the sprint jersey. At the first intermediate time check, BORA – hansgrohe set up a new best time with a time of 15:18. After 38:19 minutes the clock stopped as the team crossed the finish line. At the end of the day BORA – hansgrohe finished the team time trial in 13th place. Team Sky had the fastest time and took today’s stage win.

From the Finish Line
“It was a really good team performance! We worked smooth together and kept a good rhythm from the start to the finish line. It was a though race, strong tailwind made it even harder to keep the pace high on this undulating course. All in all, we are on the right way, the passion and the team spirit are already on top level, the performance follows.” – Lukas Pöstlberger

“I think the team shows a solid performance today. They worked together and found the rhythm right from the start, of course a spot in the top ten would have been nice but the wind and the undulating course made the race hard.” – Steffen Radochla, sports director 

Team Sunweb announces Tour de France long list

Here's the team's release:

Team Sunweb's Tour de France coach Tom Veelers said: “We have pre-selected a strong group of riders who are all capable of going to the Tour. We have two goals for this year’s Tour de France; we will make the first careful step in exploring our future GC ambitions and we will aim for stage results in the difficult sprint stages. As the world champions, the TTT is a stage that we have already highlighted and we will look for a solid result there. We’ve never been to the Tour de France with a GC focus and it will be a completely new experience for us and a long-term challenge that we are looking forward to.

“The parcours are demanding this year. The first week will be an extremely hectic one, with stages near to the coast, lots of narrow roads, the TTT, two uphill finishes, ending with the Roubaix cobble stage. The second week features summit finishes, short explosive stages, sprint opportunities and rolling terrain before the final mountain showdowns and an ITT ahead of the closing stage in Paris.”

Dumoulin commented: “I am very proud of what we’ve already achieved at the Giro and I consider any result that we can take at the Tour de France a bonus for this season. My season so far has been focused on the Giro and the team purposely waited to the make the decision about the Tour until after the Giro had finished. After a good Giro we’ve chosen to go to the Tour with a GC focus, to learn without a specific result in mind. Doing two consecutive grand tours for a GC will be a new experience for me and the team, and will give us some valuable insights for the future.”

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin (shown racing in this year's Giro) will be on the Tour de France's start line

Matthews said: “Last year we had a perfect Tour de France with four stage wins and two jerseys. Taking the green jersey to Paris was a dream come true for me. This year my primary focus will be to support the team’s GC objective and in the uphill sprint stages I will be the team’s designated rider for the finale. We had a very good training block in Livigno and we’ll head to the Tour de Suisse on Thursday to put in the last bit of intensity before July.”

Trainer Adriaan Helmantel explained: “The Giro was our main goal with Tom this year. We’ve managed to finish on the podium for two years in a row which is an extraordinary result. We’ve monitored his condition coming out of the Giro and have used this to finalise his program for the upcoming period, maintaining a focus on learning and development for the long term. We will go to the Tour de France to make the first step in exploring our bigger GC ambition for the future. We want to get through that process with Tom this year, without any pressure on results and to create the foundations to build on for the years to come.

“We’ve considered going to the Vuelta, which he can start slightly fresher, but the learning argument for the long-term at the Tour is more significant to us. It’s new for the team and of course it’s possible that he will have a tough second or third week, but even if this happens we will still consider this a successful process. We will have learned, acquired data and new knowledge, which will be favourable to our future GC ambitions at the Tour de France and the development of our riders.”

After some good rest Dumoulin restarts training, and next week leaves for altitude camp to train at La Plagne, France – from where he and the team can also do recons of the key TDF stages.

LONG LIST

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Phil Bauhaus (GER)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Laurens ten Dam (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Edward Theuns (BEL)

Richie Porte to make Tour de Suisse debut ahead of Tour de France

BMC sent me this:

6 June, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte is set to make his debut at the Tour de Suisse this weekend, where he will target the General Classification in what will be his final race before the Tour de France.

Porte is backed by a strong team, including Tejay van Garderen and Greg Van Avermaet, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

"The Tour de Suisse is a very important race for BMC Racing Team and this year, we are lining up with one of the strongest teams we have ever taken to a stage race. The race serves as the final preparation before the Tour de France so we will naturally be supporting Richie Porte for the General Classification. Richie is motivated and has been training well since the Tour de Romandie so we are looking forward to seeing how he goes. We know that Tejay van Garderen is in good shape after California, as is Alessandro De Marchi, who is coming from the Giro d'Italia, and Simon Gerrans, who showed good form at Hammer Limburg, so these three riders will be there to support Richie on the key General Classification days," Baldato explained.

"We are always motivated to do well when there is a team time trial, especially when it comes on the opening day so I expect a strong performance from the team on Saturday. Of course our Swiss riders, Michael Schär and Stefan Küng, always want to perform well on home soil and the individual time trial is also a good opportunity for Stefan. Greg Van Avermaet showed he is racing well at the Hammer Series and I think there are a couple of stages suited to Greg. So, I think we have multiple cards to play over the nine days to finish with a nice result before the Tour de France."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte racing in this year's Tour de Romandie

Porte is looking forward to gauging his form across the nine days of racing.

"I'm excited to race Tour de Suisse for the first time. This year, with the change in calendar, the Tour de Suisse was a good fit for my Tour de France preparation and I think the nine stages will give us a good indication of my form. I like the look of the race and I think the team time trial will be a good way to get things started," Porte said.

"I'm feeling good and have put a few solid weeks of training in since Tour de Romandie, so I hope to continue my good results in Switzerland. We definitely have one of the strongest teams so I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be an aggressive race, and hope to come out of it with a lot of confidence before we turn our attention to the Tour de France."

Tour de Suisse (9-17 June)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Stefan Kung (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Allan Peiper (AUS).

Thomas de Gendt stays with Lotto-Soudal through 2020

The team sent this release:

Thomas De Gendt has extended his contract for one season and will remain at Lotto Soudal at least till the end of 2020. The 31-year-old Belgian still had a contract till the end of 2019, but the team decided to adjust the deal. The contract extension is a sign of appreciation for the performances of De Gendt during the past few years. Since he joined Lotto Soudal in 2015, the Belgian rider not only took six fine victories but he also provided the team with a lot of publicity with his numerous breakaway attempts. In recent years, he won a stage in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. This year, he already took a stage victory in the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie.

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt winning stage two of this year's Romandie tour.

Thomas De Gendt: “I still had a contract till the end of next year, but both the team and I were interested in extending the contract. That way, I don’t have to worry about getting a new contract at Lotto Soudal or at another team next year. Having the certainty till the end of 2020 gives me some peace of mind.”

“I feel good within the team. Lotto Soudal gives me the freedom to race the way I want and they also encourage my style of racing. So, it really wasn’t a difficult decision to sign for an additional year. I wasn’t thinking of changing teams, the only thing I was worried about was whether adjusting my contract would be possible.”

“For sure, I want to keep racing the way I did the last three years. That style of racing resulted in two victories in both 2016 and 2017. This year, I already won twice. I have always raced offensively and I gave the team a lot of screen time.”

“I still want to maintain my current level of performance for at least five years, which can only be achieved through hard work. In the next few years, I still want to grant myself a few opportunities to go for some victories. If I could accomplish that goal, I would be very happy.”

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