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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 8, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming. - David Bowie

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


UCI president David Lappartient calls for inquiry into Team Sky following 'unacceptable' findings in DCMS report

The Telegraph posted this news:

David Lappartient, the president of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has called for an independent investigation into Team Sky to determine whether they violated anti-doping rules in their use of the corticosteroid triamcinolone, labelling the findings of this week’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee report “unacceptable”.

Lappartient said the image of cycling, specifically in the United Kingdom, had been badly damaged by the report, which concluded Team Sky had “crossed the ethical line” that team principal Sir Dave Brailsford drew up a decade ago.

[Bradley] Wiggins was granted Therapeutic Use Exemptions to take triamcinolone, which can treat allergies and respiratory issues, shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Wiggins insisted he needed the drug for medical reasons, but his own coach, Shane Sutton, suggested otherwise, telling MPs “what Brad was doing was unethical, but not against the rules”.

David Lappartient, the president of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, has called for an independent investigation into Team Sky to ­determine whether they violated anti-doping rules in their use of the corticosteroid triamcinolone, labelling the findings of this week’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee report “unacceptable”.

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins after the final stage of the 2012 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Lappartient said the image of cycling, specifically in the United Kingdom, had been badly damaged by the report, which concluded Team Sky had “crossed the ethical line” that team principal Sir Dave Brailsford drew up a decade ago.

Wiggins was granted Therapeutic Use Exemptions to take triamcinolone, which can treat allergies and respiratory issues, shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d’Italia. Wiggins insisted he needed the drug for medical reasons, but his own coach, Shane Sutton, suggested otherwise, telling MPs “what Brad was doing was unethical, but not against the rules”.

You can read the entire story here.

And here is Team Sky's response:

Team Sky is happy to co-operate with any investigation by the UCI and we would welcome further scrutiny of the Select Committee's report.

While we have acknowledged past failings, we strongly deny the very serious new allegations about the use of medication to enhance performance, as does Bradley Wiggins.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the Committee presented these unsubstantiated allegations without providing evidence to support them, which is fundamentally unfair to the Team and its riders.

We welcome any review by the UCI which can help establish the nature of the evidence relied on by the Committee in coming to its conclusions.

Paris-Nice Stage 4 team reports

Here's the report from stage winner Wout Poels' Team Sky:

Wout Poels clinched an impressive time trial victory at Paris-Nice to move into second place overall after four stages.

The Dutchman clocked a superb time of 25 minutes and 33 seconds to go 11 seconds quicker than anyone else into Saint-Etienne. That winning time elevated Poels to second on the general classification, 15 seconds back on the yellow jersey of Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana).

Team Sky enjoyed a strong showing across the 18.4-kilometre course, placing four riders inside the top 16 places. Sergio Henao (9th), David de la Cruz (12th) and Dylan van Baarle (16th) all topped the time sheets at one point during the day.

Wout Poels

Wout Poels going really fast

An impressive time from Henao was enough to move him up into ninth overall, 48 seconds back on Sanchez. “It’s my first win in the WorldTour in a TT so I’m really happy with that. It was a hard course but perfect for me,” a happy Poels explained after the stage.

“We still have a few cards to play, I’m up on GC and Sergio is still doing good, so I think we can make a nice plan to go for the jersey. It’s always easier when you have a few guys up at the front.

“We’re in a good position now but Sanchez is really strong, and also behind (there are contenders). It’s not a big time gap but it’s always hard. Saturday’s finish with the long climb is going to be tough too so we have to see.

“I really made Paris-Nice a goal so it’s nice to start well, and especially to win a TT is always really nice.”

GC leader Luis Leon Sanchez's Astana team posted this report:

At today’s Time Trial, Luis Leon Sanchez finished 7th at ’28 seconds behind winner Wout Poels. With his strong performance in this technical stage, he successfully defended his lead as he is now ’15 seconds ahead of Poels and ’26 seconds of Julian Alaphillipe.

- We have a great atmosphere in the team and so far everything is working really well, from the very first race we are holding a high level in the races. Several factors came together in this season, we became stronger, changed our mentality a little bit and our style of racing and now the results are coming.

There are many riders still in the race who can win, I can't name only a few. This is Paris-Nice, a big race and still everything is open here with a few really hard stages to come. We have a strong team here, we have to stay focused and concentrated on our race and do all what's possible to get the highest result, - told Luis Leon Sanchez.

A hard and technical Time Trial for the riders today, starting in La Fouillouse and finishing in Saint-Étienne. 18.4 kilometers with a climb and a fast descent, deciding the General Classification before going into the mountain stages on Friday.

Before Luis Leon Sanchez started at the end of the day, it was Jakob Fuglsang riding to a fastest time at the first checkpoint and finishing second behind Dylan van Baarle, who was the fastest rider at that moment. Fuglsang rose 17 places in the General Classification, to a 37th place. Luis Leon Sanchez rode a good Time Trial with a strong start, but in the fast descent he limited the risks on the wet roads. At the first checkpoint he lost 15 seconds to winner Wout Poels, but at the finish he was still in the lead in the General Classification, as he finished ’28 seconds behind the Dutchman.

Tomorrow there’s a 163.5km-long stage from Salon-de-Provence to Sisteron, with one 1st category climb and a few smaller climbs, where Astana Pro Team will try to defend the yellow leader jersey of Luis Leon Sanchez.

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this stage 4 report:

With an astonishing ride, which put him in 4th place of today’s leader board, Felix Großschartner moves up to 6th place in the GC. Nevertheless he lost the White Jersey, BORA – hansgrohe is now in a comfortable position ahead of the first mountain stage, because also Patrick Konrad did a strong TT and sits close to the top ten in the general classification.

The Stage
Stage 4 in Paris – Nice was a 18.4 kilomter long individual time trial between La Fouillouse and Staint-Étienne. The profile looked fairly flat, but actually the parkour was undulated all the time with a long uphill drag on the first 10k, before a fast downhill section and another steep one-kilometer-long climb. Therefore, it was pretty hard for the riders to judge their pace in the beginning. It was key don’t over pace on the first climb, but at the same time nobody was allowed to take it too easy and lose precious time.

The Team Tactics
Just for Felix Großschartner and Patrick Konrad it was a true race of truth today. For all other BORA – hansgrohe riders it was just about finishing inside the time limit and save as much energy as possible for the upcoming stages. But for the two Austrians it was about every second. Both are still well placed in the GC at the same time like all race favorites, therefore, with a strong time trial, the two Austrians could possible put themselves in a promising position ahead of the mountain stages later this week.

The Race
Patrick Konrad was the first of the two going into the race. As a punchy rider, the parkour suited him well but he struggled a little to find his rhythm. With a strong performance in the second part Konrad showed himself well improved compared to the time trial at the Volta ao Algarve. In the end he clocked a 26:12 to take a strong 13th place in the end. For Felix Großschartner the TT was also about defending his White Jersey as best young rider. Felix did a tremendous start and was second fastest on the intermediate split. Digging in deep, Großschartner showed an impressive performance, finishing in 4th place with a time of 25:53. With this astonishing ride, Felix also moved up to 6th place in the GC now, although he lost the White Jersey to M. Soler who finished second today.

“When I heard the split times in the radio, I thought the guys in the car just wanted to motivate me. I never thought that I’ll be up there to fight for a podium today. But these kind of time trials with long uphill drags suite my style rather well. In the downhill I didn’t risk everything, so I might lost some seconds there. This result makes me really proud, and I am looking forward to the mountains now. It will be a tough fight man against man.” – Felix Großschartner

“I changed my position before the Algarve TT. It took some time to adapt, but now I feel good again. At the beginning of today’s race I struggled a little to find my rhythm, I really had to suffer on the first climb. But I felt better and better during the race and I am happy with my performance and time today. Now it’s time to hit the mountains.” – Patrick Konrad

“Both, Felix and Patrick, showed a top class performance today. It is always special, if riders that grew up in our team, or actually are growing now, achieve such strong results. With both well placed in the GC, we have plenty of options now for the decisive stages. For sure we will try something.” – Christian Pömer, Sports Director 

Tirreno-Adriatico stage one team reports

We posted winner BMC's report with the results

Cavendish sustains broken rib but ruled out of race. Here's the team's report:

Mark Cavendish has been ruled out of Tirreno-Adriatico after a heavy crash on the opening stage, in which he sustained a rib fracture, saw him finish outside of the official time limit.

The 32-year-old got back onto his bike after crashing and completed the stage, where he was immediately treated by Dr. Jarrad van Zuydam on the team bus.

Preliminary examination revealed no concussive symptoms but Cavendish did complain of pain in his chest which the medical staff ruled warranted further investigation at a local hospital.

“Unfortunately Mark was involved in a crash with about 5kms to go in today’s team time trial. He came down pretty hard at around 55km/h and he sustained multiple abrasions and soft tissue injuries to his knees, hips, hands and some swelling on his face as well; but he had a lot of rib pain which we went to x-ray, and found that he has a fracture of the seventh rib on the right side. The fracture’s nice and stable and should heal well,” he said.

“The plan was to let him start the race tomorrow (stage two) but unfortunately it was ruled he finished outside the time limit today and so won’t be allowed to take the start tomorrow,” said van Zuydam.

Cavendish expressed his gratitude for the messages of support he and the team had received since the incident. “Thanks, as always, to everyone that’s sent messages, it’s hugely appreciated. It’s frustrating to have crashed today, particularly in light of the concussion that I sustained in Abu Dhabi, but I’m just pleased that there’s no major damage done.

“Despite the pain from my injury I was really looking forward to a fast second stage and naturally disappointed that I’m not going to be a part of it.”

Here's the Mitchelton-Scott race update:

Australian WorldTour outfit Mitchelton-SCOTT began the 53rd edition of Tirreno-Adriatico in purposeful fashion today, flying to second place in the opening team time trial in Lido di Camaiore.

A superb and unified team effort saw Slovenian national champion Luka Mezgec put in a big turn ahead of Jack Bauer to get the team rolling on the pan flat course before big guns Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn rotated with Tour Down Under champion Daryl Impey ramping it up down the back straight.

The result is a great start to the week-long race with GC hopeful Adam Yates now in a good position after gaining time on some of the other contenders and sprinter Caleb Ewan looking ahead to a possible opportunity coming up on tomorrow’s stage two.

BMC-Racing-Team took the spoils on the day narrowly beating Mitchelton-SCOTT by only four seconds with Damiano Caruso moving into the race leaders jersey.

Team BMC

BMC was the fastest team of the day.

Best Times and The Eventual Winners: Movistar, Team-Sky and Katusha-Alpecin were the first teams off with Sky setting the early benchmark with 22:28” for the 21.5kilometre course.

Not long after Mitchelton-SCOTT set the third fastest time at the split before turning into a cross headwind for the return leg. The team stayed focused and working as one to beat the time of Team-Sky by five seconds.

The time held until BMC-Racing Team crossed the line four seconds faster to take the stage win and the race lead.

Daryl Impey – South African national TT champion: “I think we held it together pretty well out there and everybody stuck to the plan and we went out as hard as we could. The commitment was there right until the end and we are very happy to get Adam into a good position on the GC straight away.”

“We wanted to win today, we’ve got a strong team here and it would’ve been nice to see Luke pull on the leader’s jersey, but we are getting closer and closer now. For a couple of year’s we’ve been getting beaten by a fair margin, but we are closing the gap now and that’s important.”

Head sport director Matt White: “What we saw today was a really selfless ride from the team. Our goal was to go out hard and that meant that we had to sacrifice a couple of guys, our sprinter Caleb, Luka and Jack all did what they could and kept the speed high which enabled us to have a very good ride today.”

“It’s always disappointing when you don’t win, but it was so close and overall we are happy with the result and how that sets us up for the rest of the week.”

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

The 53rd edition of Tirreno-Adriatico started today, as has become tradition, with a team time trial in the seaside town of Lido di Camaiore on the west coast of Italy. The pan-flat, out and back route would see some fast times posted over the 21.5km course, but rather than exhaust themselves on the first day, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were keeping an eye on the horizon, ending the day in seventh position to stay competitive for the remaining six stages.

The Stage
The ‘Race of the Two Seas’ starts out, as the name suggests, next to the sea. The Tyrrhenian coastal town of Lido di Camaiore would host riders for a 21.5km team time trial on the very definition of an out and back route. Save for a couple of turns to bring the riders onto the home stretch, today’s stage would be less a test of bike-handling skills than the riders’ abilities to stay together on a rotating pace line and, depending on their strengths, either gain some time that could prove pivotal in the GC race, or limit their losses in order to gain back time elsewhere in the race. That said, this street circuit featured street furniture and drain covers that could catch riders unawares – a hazard for riders in a time trial position.

Bora Hansgorhe

Bora-hansgrohe was seventh.

The Team Tactics
This year’s edition of Tirreno-Adriatico would be more hilly than previous years’ races, meaning that the team would be a mix of riders who could go for the sprints when they were up for grabs, while also providing support to Rafał Majka in the GC race. This mix would make a team time trial more challenging, and so the team’s aims were to minimise losses, with time trial specialist Maciej Bodnar pacing the team, in order to pick up time in later stages and support Rafał’s ride for the overall.

The Race
Setting off in their seven-man teams, the earlier starters would be both setting the times other teams would be looking to beat, while also highlighting the riders who were going to be on form for this year’s edition of the race. With times around twenty-three minutes for the 21.5km course, riders knew speeds would be high and over such a short parcours, were going to put them into the red. Coming out of the gate second to last, BORA-hansgrohe had the benefit of knowing the times to beat, and worked hard to stay together over the first half of the course, before using up riders over the second half to come in with a time of 22:49, taking seventh on the stage. The first four riders over the line, Bodnar, Majka, Formolo and Sagan, would go into stage 2 thirty seconds down on the GC. 

From the Finish Line
"It was a good day. Although we knew it would have been very difficult to win against the strongest teams, I feel BORA-hansgrohe has improved from last year and our team time-trials have stepped up. I think the hard work of the riders and the effort of the coaches, last year and during the off-season, is paying off. The Tirreno-Adriatico is long and difficult, and we have many stages ahead of us where anything can happen but I think we had a good start." – Peter Sagan

"I think we can be satisfied with our result in the opening team time-trial of the Tirreno-Adriatico. We have achieved what we had expected, given also the fact we had some new riders today that raced together for the first time, in their first team time-trial. Still, we managed to be within the goals we had set. We knew we would have some very strong opponents and our aim was not to lose more than two seconds per kilometre. We crossed the line 30 seconds behind the day's leaders, which is very close to our target. Overall, we started the Tirreno-Adriatico as expected." – Patxi Vila

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