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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Paris-Nice stage two team reports

Stage winner Dylan Groenewegen's LottoNL-Jumbo team sent me this:

Dylan Groenewegen has won the second stage in Paris-Nice in an impressive way. The 24-year-old rider from Amsterdam was superior in the bunch sprint in Vierzon and sprinted to his fifth win of the year. Groenewegen’s victory is also the sixth victory for Team LottoNL-Jumbo this season.

For a long time, the 187,5 kilometre long stage from Orzonville to Vierzon was a calm stage with an average of just 33 kilometres per hour during the first three hours. The stage was eventually spiced up by Lars Boom, who was in the leading group. After a part of this group, which initially consisted of six riders, was chased down, Boom helped ensure that the remainder of the leading group was caught in the final. Groenewegen was then perfectly positioned by Robert Gesink, Paul Martens, Tom Leezer, Amund Grondahl Jansen and Timo Roosen.

Groenewegen thought it was a nice victory. “It was a difficult sprint. The last two hundred metres went uphill. The boys perfectly dropped me off for the last corner. I was well positioned for the sprint. I just went full throttle and nobody was able to keep up with me. I am very happy with this victory, because I beat a lot of good sprinters, like Viviani, Démare and Greipel. It’s always good to be able to beat those top guys. I am very grateful for my teammates, because without them this would never have been possible.”

This Paris-Nice update came from Bora-hansgrohe:

Sam Bennett hits the front too early in tricky Paris – Nice sprint finish.

While the peloton took it easy at the beginning of today’s second stage at Paris – Nice, the final was full on again. BORA – hansgrohe protected their sprinter Sam Bennett well until the final kilometer, but then Sam had to go too early in a challenging uphill sprint. D. Goenewegen took the win in the end, while Sam struggled on the last 100m and finished just outside the top ten.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegan wins Paris-Nice stage two

The Stage
Today’s second stage of Paris – Nice was totally flat. Not a single KOM doted the 187.5 kilometers from Orsonville to Vierzon, which were purely earmarked for sprinters. Because there was also not a lot of wind forecasted, the chances for a bunch sprint were up to nearly 100%.

The Team Tactics
Also BORA – hansgrohe expected a sprint finish today. Therefore, team tactics were clear from the beginning. Sam Bennett, who won stage 3 in last year’s edition of the race, was the man to support. With Michael Schwarzmann, Sam had also another fast guy next to him for the last 1000m. For Patrick Konrad and Felix Großschartner instead it was only about not losing any seconds today. 

The Race
It seemed like also among the riders nobody really believed in a chance for a break today. Therefore, they took it easy, just covering 33 kilometers in the first hour. Finally, after more than 90k a group of six riders went away from the bunch. But the peloton was not happy with the composition of the group and didn’t allow them to open a proper gap until they did split up and just two riders stayed away from the main bunch. The duo was no threat and stayed in front until 8k to go. Then Groupama-FDJ and Lotto-Jumbo started to prepare a sprint finish, while also BORA – hansgrohe was moving up in the peloton. It was key to hit the front before the last tricky corners in Vierzon, then the final 600m uphill stretch waited for the riders. Michael Schwarzmann protected Sam Bennett well through the last corners, but Sam went too early. He launched his sprint already with 250m to go, looked strong at the front, but finally struggled on the last 100m. D. Goenewegen took the stage while Sam Bennett missed the top ten in the end.

From the Finish Line
“The guys did a great job to keep me in position until the last kilometer. On the home straight, I saw FDJ coming and thought I have to go to don’t get boxed in. This was too early. I felt really strong when I hit the front with 250m, but on the last 100m I couldn’t match the speed of the guys coming out of my slipstream.” – Sam Bennett

“The final of the stage was really fast. It’s often like that when the bunch takes it easy in the beginning, then everybody is fresh on the last kilometers. A lot of teams were pushing, that made it dangerous coming into the village. Luckily I was able to stay out of trouble.” – Patrick Konrad 

Tirreno-Adriatico starts Wednesday, the 5th

Here's the race preview from UAE-Team Emirates:

UAE Team Emirates will race the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico, this March 7 to 13, with two leaders for the overall classification.

“We are going to Tirreno-Adriatico with an aim in the general classification,” said Sports Director Mario Scirea. “We can aim for the overall both with Fabio Aru and Diego Ulissi, who showed at the start of this season to be going strong.

“It will be key to race a good team time trial, above all against those teams that are aiming for an overall victory. We can count on Ganna and Consonni, who just came from the track worlds, to help. And also Marcato and Ulissi, who rode a good time trial in the Abu Dhabi Tour.”

Fabio Aru will be racing his second event of the season after starting in the Abu Dhabi Tour. “Tirreno-Adriatico is for sure one of my season goals,” explained Aru. “I only have the Abu Dhabi Tour in my legs so far, but for sure that test that I did in the Emirates helped in understanding what I need to work on in the period ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico. This will be a complete race for us, where also the time trial is fundamental. We are going in motivated and setup to race well.”

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru at the 2017 Vuelta

Roster: Fabio Aru (Italy), Simone Consonni (Italy), Valerio Conti (Italy), Filippo Ganna (Italy), Marco Marcato (Italy), Jan Polanc (Slovenia), Diego Ulissi (Italy).

Sports Directors: Mario Scirea (Italy), Marco Marzano (Italy), Paolo Tiralongo (Italy).

Team Sunweb is going to Tirreno-Adriatico and elsewhere.

Here's their upcoming race schedule:

PREVIEW: MARCH 5 - 13

TIRRENO ADRIATICO (WT)
Due to a shoulder fracture sustained during a crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Michael Matthews (AUS) will miss Tirreno Adriatico as he needs more time to recover. Chad Haga (USA) will replace Matthews.

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): "Our main objective is to go for a GC result with Tom, alongside Wilco who has already showed his strong shape in Abu Dhabi with a second place overall. The race opens with a TTT, and we have a strong team here who will aim to put Tom immediately in a good position in the overall. Stages two and six are days for the sprinters where our main goal will be to get Tom home safe; we have Lennard, Nikias and Søren who will be key helpers on these days. The third stage has a finish on a steep, explosive climb; there we will first see which riders will battle out the GC this year. The queen stage on day four is another important day for the GC with the finish at the top of a 13 kilometre climb after a very tough and long day in the saddle. The fifth stage is something for the explosive classic riders and we finish it traditionally off with an ITT in San Benedetto del Tronto." 

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke will be on the line to start Tirreno-Adriatico.

RACE: Tirreno Adriatico (WT)

DATE: 7-13/03/2018

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

LINE-UP
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Wilco Kelderman (NED) 

ISTRIAN SPRING TROPHY (UCI 2.2)
Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED): "The final of the three Croatian races, we line-up with ambitions in the GC with Nils. We also want to go for stage results with Max, who is our road captain for the race. The race opens with a prologue where we want everyone to go full gas. The first stage’s final features three kilometres uphill which we think could suit Nils well. Here, we will have Marc and Felix following attacks whilst the rest of the guys stay with Nils. It’s another hilly day on stage three with a four kilometre climb at the finish, here we will also look to position Nils. The final stage is one for the sprinters, if we have Nils in a good position in the GC we’ll look to add any bonus seconds to his time and also look for a stage result with Max." 

RACE: Istrian Spring Trophy (UCI 2.2)

DATE: 08-11/03/2018

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

LINE-UP
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Max Kanter (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Martin Salmon (GER) 

DRENTSE ACHT VAN WESTERVELD (UCI 1.2)
Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED): "The wind always plays an important part at Drentse8, as do the passages of the Vamberg halfway through the race. The local laps are always quite selective and are a key part of the course where a breakaway could get away and stay away until the finish line; here the team will need to be sharp and make sure they are covering the right moves. Our goal here is to race with an open approach, we will ride aggressively and want to show that we can dominant in these kinds of races. The wind will make the decision on the final plan for the day, but we would like to have a small group in the final and to play out our numbers then." 

RACE: Drentse Acht van Westerveld WE (UCI 1.2)

DATE: 09/03/2018

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Pernille Mathiesen (DEN)
Julia Soek (NED)
Ruth Winder (USA) 

RONDE VAN DRENTHE (WWT)
Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED): "With the extension of the course and four times up the Vamberg just before the start of the new final, I expect that Ronde van Drenthe will be a completely different race this year. We line-up with a really strong team with two of our riders having already taken a victory at this point in the season. Lucinda finished on the podium here last year and will be one of our leaders, and with Coryn as our sprinter and Ellen as our final rider we have a lot of cards to play which puts us in a good position going into the race." 

RACE: Ronde van Drenthe (WWT)

DATE: 11/03/2018

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

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