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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 1, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1953 "Cross of Iron" speech.

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Michael Matthews out of Strade Bianche with shoulder fracture

Matthews' Sunweb team sent me this bad news:

Due to a small fracture to his shoulder sustained from a late crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, Team Sunweb's Michael Matthews (AUS) is unable to compete at this weekend's Strade Bianche, also leaving participation at Tirreno Adriatico next week uncertain. Initially suspected to be purely external abrasions, Matthews underwent further investigation upon returning home where the fracture in his left shoulder was discovered.

Team Sunweb Physician Anko Boelens explained: "The diagnosis from the MRI scan is a non-displaced fracture of the greater tuberosity of the left upper arm. Because the fragment is not displaced, surgery in this case is not required. Michael will need to take some rest and afterwards undergo physiotherapy before restarting training on the rollers. Much is dependent on improvement over the next days, but at the moment we can certainly say that Strade Bianche on Saturday is not possible. The healing process and Michael's pain levels will determine when he can return to the bike. After the weekend we will re-evaluate for his upcoming races and see if Tirreno is realistic."

Lennard Hofstede (NED) will replace Matthews at Strade Bianche. 

Team Quick-Step Floors headed to Strade Bianche

Here's the team's update:

Former winners Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar will headline our squad for the 12th edition of the Italian one-day race.

Famous for its dirt roads, rolling hills, picturesque landscapes and one of the best finish venues in the sport, Strade Bianche has turned into an instant classic ever since its inception, despite being one of the newest races on the block. With a terrain mixing gravel sectors and undulating roads, the Italian race showed that it's open for the taking for both Classics specialists and climbers, going down every year as one of the finest and most spectacular events of the season.

The fourth World Tour stop of 2018, Strade Bianche will see the peloton set out on Saturday morning from Siena's Piazza della Liberta and head into the countryside for a 184km-long route that includes 11 gravel sectors – many of which have double-digit gradients – totaling 62 kilometers. After leaving all these sterrate behind, the riders will have to overcome one final hurdle, the steep climb leading to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, one of Europe's greatest medieval squares, renowned for hosting the Palio twice a year.

Philippe gilbert

Philippe Gilbert winning in 2011

Philippe Gilbert, runner-up this week in a thrilling edition of Le Samyn, and Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar will lead the charge for Quick-Step Floors at Strade Bianche, where the two former winners will be joined by Eros Capecchi, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse, Maximilian Schachmann – who comes after two solid displays at last weekend's Classic Sud-Ardèche and Drôme Classic – and Pieter Serry.

A protagonist at the previous four editions, our squad will look to shape again the race and be in the mix for a resounding victory, as sports director Davide Bramati underlined: "We make no secret of the fact that we have several guys capable of winning on Saturday, but it won't be easy, because there's a star-studded field out there, with many strong riders all wanting the top prize. Unlike other years, the weather could play a bigger role this time, as we expect low temperatures and rain during the race, but we'll do our best to kick-start the month of March on the right foot."

Team Sky announces Strade Bianche squad

Here's the team's news:

Team Sky are ready to take on the unique challenge of Strade Bianche, with an exciting squad set to line up in Tuscany.

The team return with the defending champion in the line up following a rousing solo victory from Michal Kwiatkowski in 2017. The Pole is back again this year in a bid to win the WorldTour event (March 3) for a record-equalling third time.

Michal kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski winning in 2017

Team Sky have a number of cards to play on the famed sectors of gravel road, with the race day forecast looking set to make the weather a big factor on the ride to Siena.

Three Italians will ride on home soil, with Gianni Moscon and Salvatore Puccio both impressing at the race in the past. Leonardo Basso continues his debut pro season in a support role.

Fresh from a strong Classics Opening Weekend in Belgium, Lukasz Wisniowski will hope to continue his momentum, with Michal Golas also on hand to back up compatriot Kwiatkowski. Owain Doull completes the seven-man team for his second start at the race.

The team: Leonardo Basso, Owain Doull, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Salvatore Puccio & Lukasz Wisniowski

Following the team’s recon of the course, Sport Director Dario Cioni talked us through the squad selection and the conditions expected on race day.

He said: “We have a really good team here with a lot of strong guys coming off some good results. Kwiato won the race last year and starting with the number one on your back is always nice. He’s here to try to repeat that win. Together with Kwiato we also have Gianni, and you could consider this the first race towards the Classics for him. Lukasz had a really good weekend in Belgium, and with Salva, Golas and Owain we have some great support. Leonardo will also be getting his first experience of Strade Bianche.

“We did a recon of the course and there was a bit of snow around. It should be warmer over the weekend but it is very likely to be wet. It’s definitely a race where you need to be a bit lucky. It’s good to have a couple of really strong riders and cards to play. Kwiato and Gianni are contenders for the win and they have some really strong back up. It will be an exciting race.”

Tejay van Garderen to ride Paris-Nice

Van Garderen's BMC team sent me this note:

28 February, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Tejay van Garderen will line up at Paris-Nice, his first UCI WorldTour stage race of the season, with a well-balanced team to support the American's General Classification objectives.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said both van Garderen and the team are motivated for a good result in France. "Tejay van Garderen is our outright leader at Paris-Nice and after a strong performance at Volta ao Algarve, I think he can produce another good result in France. Having lived in Nice, Tejay is familiar with the climbs on the final two days and he will have good climbing support with Nicolas Roche, Dylan Teuns, and Alessandro de Marchi," Baldato explained.

"For the flat stages, Jempy Drucker, Simon Gerrans, and Jürgen Roelandts are excellent riders to have around Tejay, so we have a well-balanced team lining up. Tejay put in a strong time trial in Portugal and this will be another important day for a good overall result at Paris-Nice."

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen (shown in the 2017 Vuelta) will be on the line at Paris-Nice.

Van Garderen has lined up at Paris-Nice on five occasions and was last at the start line in 2015. "Volta ao Algarve was a good form builder and confidence booster. To be able to nab a podium result was a good way to start the season as well as a chance to learn what I needed to address in training heading into Paris-Nice. I've done some more work on the time trial bike in preparation for stage 4," van Garderen said.

"The last time I raced Paris-Nice was in 2015 where I had a disastrous day in the cold, so hopefully we can learn from that and correct the mistakes from the past and make a solid push for a high General Classification result. With the strength, experience, and motivation BMC Racing Team is bringing to Paris Nice we shouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a top result."

Paris-Nice (4-10 March)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).

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

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