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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 22, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. - Oscar Wilde

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National Championships reports

Rosskopf wins back to back US time trial championship

BMC sent me this:

21 June, 2018, Knoxville (USA): Joey Rosskopf smashed the race against the clock to claim the gold medal at the US National Time Trial Championships for the second consecutive year, with teammate Brent Bookwalter securing the bronze medal.

Bookwalter, who was second in 2017, started in the third wave and quickly settled into a good rhythm over the 33.7km course to clock the provisional second-fastest time of 40'20" as he crossed the line in Knoxville.

As defending champion, Rosskopf was the last rider to roll down the start ramp and made his intentions clear by posting the fastest time at the first and second checkpoints, on the first two of three laps, before powering home to stop the clock with 39'46", 28 seconds ahead of Chad Haga and 34 seconds in front of Bookwalter, to secure the Stars and Stripes skinsuit until mid-2019.

Joey Rosskopf:
"I felt good. I felt fast. I couldn't have asked for better legs. It was pretty hard to match Chad Haga's time on the first lap especially. I felt like I had the advantage to know the time checks, to base my own ride off of them. The only option to win is to go out and match the times and do better. If you fade, at least you tried. Luckily I felt good enough to do that. This year's course was a pretty similar distance to last year's but this year was a bit longer. This course was flatter, and three laps with three U-turns per lap. I preferred last year's course as it was more dynamic, and it felt good when you nailed the corners. No one feels good doing U-turns, you slow right down and then have to speed right up so it's never a good sensation. But it was the same for everyone."

"Winning Nationals is a gift that you get to enjoy the whole year and it's easy as I already have the skinsuit. During my last few time trials in Europe I tried to enjoy what might be my last chances to wear the skinsuit so to keep it for another year is really special. There's no way I can show up to a race like this expecting it to happen. Really everything has to come together perfectly and you saw the weather shape up in the last lap which was a big advantage for me. It's hard to show up here and know that Neilson Powless, Chad Haga, and Brent Bookwalter have all done better time trials pretty much so far this season, every time we have raced against each other. So, something special came together this year and last year at Nationals. My family is in town, super special support from them, and we have three staff for just two guys."

Rosskppf

Joey Rosskopf winning stage one of the 2016 Limousin Tour.

Brent Bookwalter:
"I've had a lot of seconds and a lot of thirds at Nationals. It's bittersweet because the goal is obviously to come here and win, but I'm always consistent. That's kind of my trend, I'm proud to be able to keep riding consistently and always be fighting and even if I haven't got the big win, I'm proud of always being right there and close."

Leah Kirchmann rakes Canadian time trial title

Team Sunweb sent this report:

Team Sunweb's Leah Kirchmann (CAN) has today secured the Canadian national time trial title, taking gold with a time of 36 minutes and 12 seconds.

Kirchmann: "I'm really happy with my first victory of the season! I felt strong at the Women's Tour, but I didn't know how I would recover from the race and travel over from Europe. This was also my first time trial of the season, so I didn't know what to expect but I prepared well in training. I was able to find a good rhythm and paced the race well to finish strong. I'm looking forward to the rest of the races here at nationals and to wearing the jersey for the upcoming year."

Leah kirchmann'

Leah Kirchmann racing in the 2016 Giro Rosa

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED): "Leah showed whilst racing in Great Britain last week that she is in good form and she once again confirms this with an impressive national time trial title. This is not easy in a country like Canada with lots of tough competition so it's great to see Leah's hard work rewarded with the national title.”

Victor Campenaerts is Belgian time trial champion

Lotto-Soudal sent this:

Victor Campenaerts has won the Belgian Time Trial Championship for the second time in his career. Lotto Soudal teammate Thomas De Gendt, who claimed silver, was only three seconds slower on the 43.2 kilometres long course in Anzegem. Yves Lampaert, who was the champion of 2017, finished third at twenty seconds. As Frederik Frison got fifth at 1’04”, all three Lotto Soudal riders finished on top five!

Victor Campenaerts:
“I had expected to have lost time on Yves Lampaert after the first of three laps, because he is a fast starter. Fifteen seconds wasn’t a small time gap, but at the end of the second lap I had five seconds advantage and in the end I was twenty seconds faster than Lampaert, but only two and a half seconds faster than Thomas De Gendt. Thomas was obviously the fastest in the last lap. I am very happy he stood next to me on the podium.”

“Before the race I had said that I am the best Belgian time trialist of the moment and of course I put pressure on myself that way. I am very glad that I could achieve my goal. This is my first victory for Lotto Soudal. I had already contested some time trials, in which I performed well, but I hadn’t been able to win yet. I am happy I could win today. I want to prolong my European title at the European Championships in Glasgow on 8 August, although it won’t be easy. If I can’t win that Championship, I will be happy to ride time trials in the Belgian jersey. On 7 July I leave on a team training camp to Livigno and I will stay two more weeks on my own, which means I will be on altitude training camp for about four weeks. I hope to optimally prepare myself for the European Time Trial Championship.”

Victor Campenaerts

Victor Campenaerts raing in this year's Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Thomas De Gendt:
“Yesterday I sat twelve hours in a car, coming home from training camp in Italy. That wasn’t the perfect preparation at all. I didn’t feel great during the Dauphiné, but I am building up towards the Tour. Today I was only two and a half seconds slower than Victor, which is an unexpected performance. Of course I rather would have won myself, because I was so close, but Victor is one of the best time trialists in the world so it’s no shame to be beaten by him.”

Mitchelton-Scott Tour de France team line-up

The team sent me this, Caleb Ewan is not riding the Tour:

Australian outfit Mitchelton-SCOTT has named an in-form, eight-rider team to line up at the Tour de France, poised to deliver results across the three-week race as it maintains its focus on the general classification.

The team will be built around 2016 Tour de France best young rider and fourth-place getter Adam Yates, with a diverse team of specialists to guide the 25-year-old through a dangerous and unpredictable first nine days before the climbers come to the fore in the mountains.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates finishes the 2018 Dauphiné stage seven in style. Sirotti photo.

Team:

With multiple stage wins and top-5 overall performances at Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of California and runner-up at the recent Criterium du Dauphine, Yates has had a stellar 2018 season despite the set-back of a fractured pelvis in March and has proved his worth as the team’s leader

The Briton will be supported by the engines of Australian trio Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman and Michael Hepburn and New Zealand’s Jack Bauer, who will be crucial teammates in the opening stages where crosswinds and cobbles have the potential to derail July campaigns. They also create a formidable base for the team time trial which will be a crucial early showdown for the GC contenders.

2018 Tour Down Under champion and recent Criterium du Dauphine stage winner Daryl Impey adds strength and experience in the transitional stages as one of the best all-round riders in the world.

Giro d’Italia stage winner Mikel Nieve, who supported Simon Yates in Italy in May will be the only man backing up after the team’s successful Giro campaign this year. He will return for the Tour de France and team up with another Australian in Damien Howson to play the all-important support roles in the mountains.

The Objective – Continuing the GC trajectory:
A vision from 2014, with the signing of a promising trio of young climbers in Adam and Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves, Mitchelton-SCOTT will continue their vision to become major general classification players across the UCI calendar.

Original plans were to split the Tour de France team between GC and sprint ambitions with Caleb Ewan. However, this season’s results have seen the high-performance team throw their support behind Yates as sole leader for the Tour de France with ambitions for results across all three weeks of the Tour.

Already with overall podiums at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2016, Mitchelton-SCOTT hope to add the Tour de France to this collection in 2018.

The Race:
There’s no easing into what is already the most stressful race on the calendar. The first nine days might not win you the race, but it can certainly end it for some general classification contenders, particularly if the weather turns bad.

Early coastal stages, followed by a team time trial on stage three and mini-Roubaix race on stage nine will be crucial, before the first serious mountain has even hit.  Further spicing up an always entertaining final week is a brutal 65km ‘three-pass’ stage that is one not to miss.

In total, the 21 stages of the Tour de France will cover 3351km and feature eight flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages, an individual and team time trial.

Race History:
Mitchelton-SCOTT has finished in the top ten overall in the past two years (4th in 2016 and 7th in 2017), both times claiming the best young rider’s white jersey.

Prior to that, that team’s emphasis was on stage victories and in its six appearances at the French Grand Tour the Australian outfit has claimed three – two in 2013 and one in 2016.

2013 was a particularly special edition and a major highlight in the team’s history. The two stage victories (Simon Gerrans and Team Time Trial) resulted in four days in the race leader’s yellow jersey – two days for Gerrans before he famously passed it onto teammate Impey.

Matt White – Head Sports Director:
“In what has been an incredibly successful season for the team already, we are really excited by the strength and potential of the eight riders we’ve selected for this year’s Tour de France. We know the depth of the field and our ambitions are high but whatever happens I am confident in the group assembled and their ability to deliver our objectives across the full three-weeks of racing.

“Adam’s performance continues to improve in leaps and bounds. He has had major setbacks this year and still his performances have been impressive to say the least. We have complete faith and belief in his ability as our leader at the Tour de France.

“This year’s Tour de France is almost a race of two halves – the unpredictability of the first half and mountains of the second.  We have a selected a diverse team, and one that can handle any situation that may be thrown in our path. We know the strength of this team as a unit and it’s the first year we have been able to assemble such depth at both Grand tours we have lined up in.

“There have been some really tough decisions made this week, the toughest in our organisation’s history. We have 12 riders who are ready to go, but based on our performances this season we believe we have selected the best group who can deliver our objectives at the Tour de France next month.”

Adam Yates – Team Leader:
“I’ve got great memories of the Tour in 2016 and it’s great to be back! At the moment, everything is going great. In both of my previous races (California and Dauphine) I came back at a really good level despite not having the ideal preparation. I even managed a stage win at the end of the Dauphine, which is great for the confidence ahead of my biggest goal of the season.

“As always with the Tour de France, there is a lot of stress and nervousness in the bunch in the first few days, especially with the possibility of crosswinds or splits.

“But, I’ve got a great team focused around giving me the best opportunity to ride a strong GC, whether that’s on the flats or in the big mountain stages. We have great strength and depth which means we are able to perform under all circumstances.”

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