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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 10, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Paris-Nice stage six team reports

Tim Wellen's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

Tim Wellens finished second on the sixth stage of Paris-Nice today. The Lotto Soudal rider climbs to the fifth place on GC before the penultimate stage.

The sixth stage of Paris-Nice took the riders from Sisteron to Vence, over a distance of nearly 200 kilometres. The break of the day consisted of thirteen riders. At first six riders, including Lars Bak, escaped the peloton. After the peloton took the wrong side at an intersection Thomas De Gendt and six others bridged to the front. The peloton didn’t give them much advantage; not even after Dylan Teuns – fourteenth on GC at one minute – had decided to wait for the peloton. De Gendt took the maximum amount of points on all four climbs of the second category and is now second in the KOM classification.

With 25 kilometres to go all escapees had been reeled in and so the climbers and GC riders could fight for the stage win. About ten kilometres from the finish there was a climb of 1.8 kilometres with an average gradient of 10%. Lotto Soudal brought Tim Wellens to the front of the peloton, before reaching the foot of that climb. There were a few attacks on the climb, but it was only after the top that Simon Yates got a gap. Tim Wellens bridged to the front with Sergio Henao on his wheel, but the trio couldn’t stay ahead. At the end Rudy Molard jumped away from the small front group and two seconds after he had finished, Tim Wellens sprinted to the second place ahead of Julian Alaphilippe. Wellens climbs from the eighth to the fifth place on GC, 35 seconds behind GC leader Luis León Sánchez.

Rudy Molard

Rudy Molard wins Paris-Nice stage 6.

Tim Wellens: “My legs were really good today. The teammates brought me in perfect position to the bottom of the last climb. I could respond rather smoothly to all attacks. When Yates had jumped away, I bridged the gap with Henao on my wheel but he got dropped. It’s a pity that Yates didn’t go full gas, because we could have stayed ahead till the finish. Despite all efforts I sprinted to the second place, so I could have won the stage. That’s why I am a bit disappointed.”

“I gained seven bonus seconds, but tomorrow the time gaps will be much bigger. Tomorrow will be an important day for the GC and for me it will be a test to see how I perform on such a finish. I know what I’m capable of in stages and finales such as today, but tomorrow is something different. I am looking forward to it tough, with the shape I am in now.”

Thomas De Gendt: “It was not my intention to join the break today. I was riding at the back of the bunch, when Lars Bak took off. Not much later the peloton chose the wrong side at an intersection. I was one of the first riders to notice, together with Teuns and Van Lerberghe. We turned around and that way we established a chasing group. It was the first time in my career that I got in a front group by accident. The KOM jersey wasn’t a goal this morning, but now I’m second we’ll see what the next days will bring. Tomorrow the team will work for Tim Wellens, but Sunday something might be possible in that short and explosive stage.”

Tiesj Benoot finished third in Tirreno-Adriatico’s third stage, with uphill finish in Trevi. The stage from Follonica to Trevi was 239 kilometres long, the longest stage of this edition.

The stage was won by Primoz Roglic, who attacked from the peloton on the final climb of 2.5 kilometres. Three seconds later Adam Yates finished second and another three seconds later Strade Bianche winner Tiesj Benoot crossed the finish line as third.

Tiesj Benoot: “I got boxed in at five hundred metres from the finish and I could only go full with three hundred metres to go. Otherwise I could have followed Yates. I have surprised myself by becoming third. I hadn’t expected this at all with all those light climbers.”

“It was obvious quite soon, that the peloton had the break within reach and that the winner wouldn’t be one of the escapees. My teammates helped me on the way to the first ascent of the last climb with less than fifteen kilometres to go. Afterwards I was alone, but that was no problem as I could follow the pace set by Sky. Tomorrow I won’t hold back if I feel good, but I won’t force anything if I have a bad day. I like the stage of Sunday, but I’m taking things day by day this week.”

Julian Alaphilippe's Quick-Step Floors team posted this report:

Beautiful Sisteron – dubbed by many the gateway to Provence – was the start town of Paris-Nice stage 6, and the riders left it behind under blue skies and sunshine for a 198km-long stage to Vence, which featured for just the second time on the parcours. Multiple attacks came from the peloton as soon as the flag was dropped, but it took more than 30 kilometers for the breakaway to form, and when it did, twelve riders put three minutes between them and the bunch.

The escapees got to stay in the lead and fight for the KOM points until with 25 kilometers to go, when the peloton – under the impetus of several teams, including Quick-Step Floors – reeled them in and began setting up their leaders for the 1800m-long Côte de la Colle sur Loup, a grueling climb averaging 10%, where the race was blown apart once Dries Devenyns drove a fierce tempo for Julian Alaphilippe.

Julian was prominent at the front and followed the numerous moves launched by his rivals on the steep ramps, before Astana took over for race leader Luis Leon Sanchez, setting the pace behind Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). The duo got caught with three kilometers to go, but the attacking didn't stop there and the Izagirre brothers (Bahrain-Merida) each tried their chance. Alaphilippe was the one to respond, closing the gap as the flamme rouge approached loomed on the horizon.

That was the moment that Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) tried his chance and taking advantage of the lack of copperation behind, soloed to victory, two seconds clear of Wellens and Alaphilippe, who sprinted from the chasing group to round out the podium. With Wout Poels (Team Sky) out of the race, after crashing on the descent, and four bonus seconds in his pocket from Friday's third place, the 25-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider will line up at the start of the queen-stage in second place overall.

"The final climb was very hard, and the subsequent descent tricky, making for a nervous finish. I felt good and covered many attacks, but when Molard went there was nothing left to be done, as I had already spent a lot of effort", Julian said in Vence. "I would have loved to win, but it wasn't possible today. Third is a good result, one that wouldn't have been possible without the help of my teammates, who were fantastic today, riding for me from the outset. I also want to send my thoughts to Poels, who crashed on the downhill, I hope he'll have a smooth recovery."

And here's Bora-hansgrohe's Paris-Nice stage 6 report:

Already in the run down to the last climb of the day, a lot of riders were dropped as the peloton did set a furious pace in the downhill. Attacks were flaying and a selected group of just 16 riders was fighting for the stage win. R. Molard took the stage with a late attack, while Patrick Konrad sprinted to 7th place. Felix Großschartner struggled on the final 5k, but was able to limit his losses at 1:11.

A sunny day, but tough stage awaited the riders in stage 6 at Paris – Nice. Five categorized climbs, with a first cat. just 10k from today’s finish, the 198 kilometers from Sisteron to Vence were a real challenge. Narrow roads with twists and turn complicated the final even more.

It was expected that punchy riders like J. Alaphilippe use the last climb as a launch pad for a late attack. Because of the narrow roads in the final, it was key to enter that climb at the head of the main bunch. BORA – hansgrohe’s Felix Großschartner and Patrick Konrad were aware of these challenges, and both knew that they have to stay focused on the last 20 kilometers. For the rest of the team it was important to survive the first climbs, in order to be able to help Felix and Patrick before the last tricky section.

Again, attacks were flying from the beginning and after 10k a group of 6 riders went away from the bunch, a little later joined by a 7 men counter attack. As with D. Teuns one guy in the break was only at 1’ in the GC, Astana had to pull in the bunch immediately. After around 60k of racing, Teuns got dropped from the front group, therefore, the pace in the bunch dropped a little. Still, the peloton allowed the breakaway never to extend their lead over 3 minutes, and when also Quickstep and Bahrain-Merida started to pull, the gap started to come down gradually. While the break did split up on the penultimate climb, Sky took control in the bunch and little later in the downhill all breakaway riders have been reeled in from a, once again, flying peloton.

From there on, the pace never dropped again. Michelton-Scott was on the move, with BORA – hansgrohe also fighting hard for positions. There were attacks all over the place and Patrick Konrad went really deep to stay with the first group, while Felix Großschartner struggled a little on the last 5 Kilometers. R. Molard took the stage with a late attack from a selected group of just 16 riders. Patrick Konrad crossed the line in 7th place, while Felix lost 1:11 and took 25th. In the GC Patrick moved up to 10th now, with Felix still in contention in 18th place.

From the Finish Line:
“From the penultimate climb we went full gas all the time. I really was on the limit and suffered a lot to stay with the best, but I think everybody did today. On the last roundabout I was maybe on the wrong side and was boxed in afterwards. But my performance was good and the 7th place is ok as well. Most important – I was up there.” – Patrick Konrad

“Actually I didn’t feel bad today, me legs were good, but I just couldn’t really go deep on the steep sections. When I realized that I will lose some time today, I decided to find my rhythm and limit my losses. There are still two hard days ahead of us, and there is still a lot possible.” – Felix Großschartner 

Tirreno-Adriatico stage three news

Here's the organizer's report:

Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) became the first Slovenian stage winner of Tirreno-Adriatico as he jumped from the bunch with one kilometer to go in the spectacular uphill finish in Trevi. Having lost his hopes on GC in the first two days, he anticipated the action of another unlucky favourite, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who was also a victim of the crash on stage 2. Strade Bianche winner Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) rounded out the podium while Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) moved into the lead, equal on time with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team). On stage, Primoz Roglic mimicked the gesture of the ski jumper he used to be (junior world champion).

The stage winner, Primoz Roglic, said: “I came to Tirreno-Adriatico to win the overall. But we didn’t do our best TTT and we had some bad luck yesterday. I was forced to change my bike after the crash. My GC was over, so I needed to find some new goals because I worked really hard for this race. After winning a time trial at the Giro d’Italia (2016) and a mountain stage at the Tour de France (2017), I’m happy to get an uphill finish win. I’ve already lost some sprints in my career so I knew I shouldn’t wait for the last moment but just fight and go for it. The best feeling in cycling is when you don’t see anybody in front of you and you’re first on the finish line.”

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic wins stage three.

The Maglia Azzurra, Geraint Thomas, said: “I was going pretty well last year at Tirreno-Adriatico. We had some bad luck in the TTT with a wheel so I wanted to come back. Racing in Italy reminds me my early years with Barloworld. Roads here always make it an interesting race. I didn’t expect to be in this position today but it’s nice to lead the race. The team is here to win the overall. I’m in the best place now but tomorrow it’s a long mountain finish. Hopefully one of us can do it. If I don’t have the legs, I hope Froomey takes over. It’s nice to get better luck here this year. Tirreno-Adriatico is a massive race, one I’d love to win.”

Best young rider Jaime Roson said: “For Mikel [Landa] and myself, it’s a good result today. Mikel is a rider who is already consolidated in the peloton while I’m only in a development process. We’ll try our best for him tomorrow. Two years ago Tirreno-Adriatico was my first WorldTour race [with Caja Rural]. It’s a beautiful race and I’m looking forward to doing the Giro too.”

King of the Mountains Nicola Bagioli said: “After getting the green jersey yesterday, I had to break away again today. I managed to win all the KOM on the way. I’m happy with that and I’ll defend the jersey as much as I can.”

Points classification leader Jacopo Mosca said: “I was well positioned in both the KOM and the points classification. Bagioli made it hard for me in the climbs but I took as many points I could, hoping that neither Sagan nor Kwiatkowski would win the stage, so here I am with the orange jersey. Let’s see how many days I can keep it for.”

STATISTICS

New GC leader Geraint Thomas' Team Sky posted this report:

Geraint Thomas moved into the overall race lead at Tirreno-Adriatico following an exciting finish to stage three.

The Welshman enjoyed impressive support from his Team Sky teammates on a tough finale in Trevi, and was able to battle to a fourth place finish on the steep final kilometre.

That ensured Thomas moved into a slender race lead, level on time with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), but claiming the Maglia Azzurra on account of better stage placings.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas is the new GC leader

Team Sky entered the final five kilometres with the entire team on the front, and that strength in depth translated to the general classification. Chris Froome moved up to third overall (+3”), with Michal Kwiatkowski also elevating himself to fifth (+9”). Gianni Moscon was the second rider home on the stage, placing seventh.

Kwiatkowski worked hard to set a tempo in a continual battle for position, with Vasil Kiryienka, Jonathan Castroviejo and Salvatore Puccio all pulling hard in the closing stages.

Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked ahead of the final kilometre and held on to take an impressive victory. A late attack from Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was enough to take second on the stage.

After the stage Thomas told TeamSky.com: “It was tough trying to sprint with a load of lactate in your legs. It was a tough old finish but I’m happy with how the legs responded! It’s great to get the jersey – a nice bonus. It might have been better if I didn’t for the team tomorrow, but it’s certainly good for the morale. The team rode so well today. All of us were strong at the end which is great and encouraging for tomorrow.”

Sport Director Nicolas Portal was a happy man following the stage, telling TeamSky.com: “Tomorrow we’ve got the first long summit finish. Today we had a punchy one, something for the guys like Sagan and Van Avermaet. So we are obviously happy to finish this one in a good position, taking the lead with G. Froomey is third on GC and Kwiato fifth. Gianni was really good today – he had a crash but was still able to finish in a good position. The team is fantastic.

“The plan for tomorrow is to support our leaders. We have three cards to play so we will see. I’m confident that the guys will climb well on the longer climb, having just come from the Tenerife camp. They should also be in the racing rhythm a bit more after today – so let’s hope for the best.”

Simon Geschke fractures collarbone in Tirreno-Adriatico stage 3 crash

Team Sunweb sent me this bad news: Team Sunweb's Simon Geschke (GER) has unfortunately broken his left collarbone in a heavy fall late on during stage 3 of Tirreno Adriatico.

Geschke was part of a few riders who came down on a fast corner heading into the decisive stages of the day - hitting the safety barrier on the side of the road. The impact was enough to fracture his left clavicle, the same one he broke three years ago. During the stage, Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN) also abandoned due to sickness.

Team Sunweb doctor Chris Jansen (NED) explained: "We can confirm that Simon has a fracture of the left clavicle. This will have to be operated on but we will choose to do this where he lives in Freiburg. We expect that it will be one week from the operation until he is back on the rollers and if all goes well he could be back to full strength in 4-5 weeks."

After the diagnosis, Geschke said: "When a rider in front of me came down I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the speed I was travelling I had no chance at all to avoid it."

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) added: "It's a real disappointment for the team that Simon crashed out today because he could have been a of great value for the guys in this race given the shape he had. We hope that he will make a quick recovery following his surgery." 

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