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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Life is a travelling to the edge of knowledge, then a leap taken. - D. H. Lawrence

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Tirreno-Adriatico final reports

First, here's the organizer's summary:

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) won the conclusive individual time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico for the second year running. He bettered his performance from 2017 by four seconds on the same 10km course of San Benedetto del Tronto over the same runner-up, Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo). For the overall victory, Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) fended off Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team) to become the first Polish winner of Tirreno-Adriatico one year after he claimed Milan-Sanremo.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 – Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
2 – Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team) at 24″
3 – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) at 32″

STAGE RESULT

1 – Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) – 10km in 11’14”
2 – Jos Van Emden (Team Lotto NL – Jumbo) at 4″
3 – Jonathan Castroviejo (Team Sky) at 8″

JERSEYS

  1. Maglia Azzurra (blue), general classification leader – Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
  2. Maglia Arancione (orange), sprinter classification leader – Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia)
  3. Maglia Verde (green), King of the Mountains classification leader – Nicola Bagioli (Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini)
  4. Maglia Bianca (white), young rider general classification leader – Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)

PRESS CONFERENCE:

Overall winner Michal Kwiatkowski said: “I was very nervous when I was warming up because it was raining. I was scared that something would go wrong and I’d have to go a bit slower in the corners. But I had good feelings and that’s how I could finish it off so well. Tirreno-Adriatico is the most important stage win in my career so far. This is a beautiful race with a beautiful trophy. It’s also one of the hardest stage races to win. It’s been a difficult week for Team Sky. We had some bad luck with Geraint Thomas but, at the end of the day, we were really motivated to have a very good race. We did it. The trident trophy gives me a wonderful feeling. I’m confident in Team Sky to support me to try and win Milan-Sanremo again on Saturday.”

Stage 7 winner Rohan Dennis said in the press conference: “I wasn’t coming to Tirreno-Adriatico for GC. I was supposed to ride in support of Richie Porte and, once Richie was out, Damiano [Caruso] got called out. Today, I was hopeful that I could repeat last year or go a bit better. I went faster – it’s a good sign. My coach said it’s normal that I struggled in longer days like the Scarponi memorial stage (stage 5). I’ve had some heavy racing for two and half months. I’ll take a break now before I’ll resume racing at the Tour de Romandie ahead of the Giro d’Italia in which I won’t make a big deal of the opening time trial in Israel as I’ll look at the bigger picture.”

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis turning the big gear.

Second placed overall Damiano Caruso said: “It’s a very good result for me and for my team. It makes me more confident for the next races. Kwiatkowski is a very strong guy. This morning I knew it would be very difficult to beat him. I gave my best. To keep the second place over Geraint Thomas who is a specialist is good!”

Third placed Geraint Thomas said: “It was slower in the corners when I raced because of the rain. I didn’t want to crash, that was for sure. I knew the stage [win] wasn’t gonna happen but it was a matter of getting on the podium. The gap to Caruso was just too big. It’s nice to be third. On a personal note, the mechanical I had when I was leading the race cost me the race personally but at least the team was still strong enough to win.”

Awarded as the most aggressive rider Peter Sagan said: “I have no stage win but I’m happy with how the week went. I did a good job. Every day I felt better and better. My shape is ok for this time of the year. Everything is going according to the plan. It’s nice for Kwiatkowski to win Tirreno-Adriatico. We’ll have another interesting match at Milan-Sanremo.”

Best young rider Tiesj Benoot said: “I gave it a 50-50 chance to keep the white jersey against Jaime Roson. With the wet conditions, it was a tricky time trial. I had to go fast but I didn’t take too many risks. I had a greater chance of winning the white jersey than moving up four places on GC. Fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico is, for me, a bigger surprise than winning Strade Bianche, especially because I lost fifty-eight seconds in the opening team time trial and the last time trial wasn’t to my advantage, so I’m really happy with my week of racing.”

Points classification winner Jacopo Mosca said: “It’s incredible for me to beat Peter Sagan in the points classification that he usually wins here. I looked at his race hoping that he wouldn’t go full gas. When I saw his time split, I understood he wouldn’t make the top 7 today and I’d win. I made a big effort this week. It’s a very nice result.”

King of the Mountains Nicola Bagioli said: “At the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, I didn’t expect to make the final ceremony. But I went for the first KOM price on stage 2 and I took it from there to bring this jersey home. I hope to keep improving my cycling and reach the level of the strongest riders.”

STATISTICS

Michal Kwiatkowski makes Poland the twelfth nation on the record books of Tirreno-Adriatico. Before him, only one Polish rider had made the podium: Zenon Jaskula, second in 1990.

Two Polish riders have won stages in the Race of the Two Seas: Lech Piasecki (two) and Czeslaw Lang (one), all time trials.

No stage win for the overall winner, like Vincenzo Nibali in 2013.

Geraint Thomas is the second British rider to make the final podium of Tirreno-Adriatico, after Chris Froome who finished second in 2013.

Damiano Caruso is the first Italian on the final podium since Vincenzo Nibali won the race in 2013.

Here's the report from overall winner Michal Kwiatkowski's Team Sky:

Michal Kwiatkowski held his nerve in tricky conditions to secure overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico following the final time trial.

The Pole clocked a competitive time across the 10-kilometre course in San Benedetto del Tronto, staying out of trouble despite a late downpour creating tricky conditions.

Kwiatkowski comfortably extended his lead out to 24 seconds over nearest rival Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), and was happy to be joined on the podium by Geraint Thomas following a committed ride from the Welshman.

Thomas jumped up a place to third overall, 32 seconds back on his teammate, to cap off a superb day which saw a first ever victory for Team Sky at the ‘Race of Two Seas’.

Dry conditions greeted the early runners and helped Team Sky placed three riders in the top 10 on the stage. Jonathan Castroviejo registered the third quickest time, just eight seconds back on stage victor Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing). Gianni Moscon (5th) and Vasil Kiryienka (10th) demonstrated the team’s strength in depth after a hard week of racing.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski sure looks good on his time trial bike.

After the podium celebrations Kwiatkowski paid tribute to his teammates and admitted a late rain shower had made for a few nervous moments prior to his time trial. "It's been wonderful racing together with the boys from Team Sky. I'm happy me and G could finish on the podium. I know he had some back luck but at the end of the day we played it tactically really well. It was a really good race, straight from the start in the team time trial. I had really good feelings on the final time trial which was important. It was nervy from my point of view and when I was warming up on the KICKR it started raining. It was scary as anything could happen. In the end it was a good day.

"I'm getting older so let's hope I can keep on progressing. I'm working a lot on my time trialling and climbing and that allows me to make better results at stage races. I signed for Team Sky which is built around riders who can go for overall GC victories. I'm managing to keep up and that's great."

Attention now quickly turns to Saturday's Milan-San Remo, which will see Kwiatkowski line up as defending champion. He added: "My motivation will be even bigger as I had some great feelings here. I just need to recover. I will spend three days at home and I will be ready to ride on from Milano to San Remo for 300 kilometres."

After the stage Thomas admitted that third place was a nice reward, but remained a bittersweet result in a race he had the legs to win. He explained: “After the back luck on the mountain stage it’s nice to get back on the podium. It’s still bittersweet in a way, as when you’re in the position I was in you want to win. A lot of people have said ‘don’t worry, your hard work will pay off and your luck will change’ – but I still want to win this race. That’s the way it goes, but also you’ve got to put it into perspective. Finishing (stage five) where Michele Scarponi came from really brings it home. It is just a bike race.

“It’s been a good week for the team. Good job to Kwiato for finishing it off, and having us both on the podium is a nice way to finish.”

Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

This afternoon Tirreno-Adriatico came to an end with an individual time trial of ten kilometres with start and finish in San Benedetto del Tronto. Thanks to a strong race against the clock Tiesj Benoot moved up to the fourth place on GC!

Before the time trial Benoot was eighth overall at 39 seconds of leader Michal Kwiatkowski. The Lotto Soudal rider was faster in the time trial than Formolo, Adam Yates, Urán and Landa which made him climb to the fourth place on GC at 1’06” of overall winner Kwiatkowski. Benoot is the best young rider in the general classification. Jaime Roson is the second best young rider at nine seconds. For Benoot this fourth place is the pinnacle of a wonderful week during which he claimed three top ten places.

Tiesj Benoot: “I am very happy with this fourth place on GC. This is better than expected. Before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico I aimed for a place on top ten, but this fourth place is beyond expectations. I hadn’t thought to climb four places on GC today. Before the time trial began I hadn’t even thought much about what would still be possible on GC. Gaining one, or maybe two places seemed possible, but it was a surprise that I climbed over Landa and Urán too.”

“During the warm-up I felt I had good legs. Just before the start of my time trial it started to rain. Of course it were the same circumstances for my opponents. I asked for a different set of tubes to take as little risk as possible. I planned my time trial well and had enough energy left to accelerate in the second half. Because it was a matter of seconds, I rode full gas until the finish line.”

“My overall result is the best result of the past week for me. My third place on the steep finish in Trevi was of course very strong. And becoming sixth on the summit finish on Saturday was better than expected. This proves that I have set a step forward on different terrains. Now I will rest a few days and enjoy my recent results, including my current second place in the WorldTour classification.”

And this report came from Bora-hansgrohe:

On the last day of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico, the final result was still not certain, meaning there would be two races taking place today on the individual time trial – the race for the overall victory and the final stage win. For BORA-hansgrohe, a similar race was taking place, with Maciej Bodnar putting in the team’s best time on the day, while Davide Formolo rode well in wet and slippery conditions to protect his 7th spot in the GC race. Throughout the week, the whole team had impressed with bold attacking moves from Rafał Majka and German National Champion, Marcus Burghardt, exciting sprint efforts from Peter Sagan, and Davide Formolo’s GC ride. The whole team had worked together well in varied terrain and conditions to bring the race to life on multiple occasions.

The Stage
At the start of the day, the GC race was still open, with just a few seconds separating the top spot and second, and less than a minute separated the whole top ten. While the stage was a short individual time trial, there were seconds available for the more powerful riders, and the parcours encouraged fast riding. The San Benedetto del Tronto street course featured only a few turns over its whole 10.05km length – just the two 90 degree turns to bring riders onto the return run, and some gentle chicanes – and these would barely dent the riders’ speeds on the straightforward out and back course. The pan-flat roads would bring with them quick times, meaning the overall contenders would be pushing hard, while the time trial specialists would be looking for the stage win.

The Team Tactics
After a hard week, the team would be showing the strain of strong attacks, daring breakaway moves and difficult sprints, the whole of the BORA-hansgrohe squad having pulled together to support each other on a race that had highlighted the team’s strengths. While there was only the one day left to race, this wouldn’t be a day to take it easy, with the team’s time trial specialist, Maciej Bodnar, looking to stretch his legs, while Davide Formolo would be aiming to achieve the best possible result for the GC race.

The Race
Setting off in reverse GC order, riders would have to wait until the last rider had finished to confirm who had won this year’s edition of the race. The short course also meant riders wouldn’t have the luxury of checking their rivals’ times before they left the start gate and would have to push hard from beginning to end. Having started the day in good weather, black clouds crowded the horizon, threatening not just showers, but the possibility of torrential rain, and while much of the team was unaffected – including Maciej Bodnar, who put in a good time of 11:44 – the going was about to get more treacherous. As UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, started his run, the roads were starting to get wet. While this didn’t trouble the Slovak rider, this would reduce speeds as the weather worsened, and saw riders slow down to a crawl on the corners, not wanting to take any chances and risk crashing. In a brave ride in difficult conditions, the Italian, Davide Formolo finished in a time of 12:12 to keep hold of his 7th spot in the overall standings and confirmed his top ten in the GC.

From the Finish Line:

"I think that today simply wasn't my day. I didn't have a bad time-trial but it wasn't brilliant either. You can't be at the top of your game every day." – Maciej Bodnar

"I'm happy that I finished the Tirreno-Adriatico safely, without any crashes. I came very close to victory in three stages but you can't win every day. I'd like to thank the whole team for their support and it's now time to focus on one of the big one-day races of the season, the Milano-Sanremo, on Saturday." – Peter Sagan

"We had two objectives today, to try to at least maintain Davide Formolo's overall position and score a good result with Maciej Bodnar. We achieved our first goal, as Davide had a very good time-trial. Not only that, he finishes the Tirreno-Adriatico just 9 seconds from 4th in the GC which is also encouraging. Maciej didn't have his best day but that's also part of the race. All in all, I think we had a good week and, obviously, it would have been nice to go back home with one of the four second places replaced by a victory... Everybody in the team gave his best and we now focus on the upcoming races." – Patxi Vila

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this preview:

NOKERE KOERSE (1.HC)

Team Sunweb coach Hendrik Werner (GER): "Typically, Nokere Koerse finishes with a bunch sprint on the cobbled uphill finish. Besides the Nokerehill, the race offers more challenges this year and includes more cobbled sections in the final of the race. With this introduction, a more select bunch sprint is likely possible. The new final also invites the breakaway opportunists forward, and we expect to see numerous late attacks try to make it to the line. The team will need to remain alert for both scenarios and in case of a sprint, we have Max in good condition to go for a result." 

RACE: Nokere Koerse (1.HC)

DATE: 14/03/2018

COACH: Hendrik Werner (GER) 

LINE-UP
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED)
Michael Storer (AUS)
Edward Theuns (BEL)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Max Walscheid (GER) 

HANDZAME CLASSIC (1.HC)

Team Sunweb coach Koen de Haan (NED): "Handzame Classic is a 200 kilometre race, with a long loop of 146 kilometres. The Kemmelberg is a key section, as well as the seven cobblestone sections and three local 18 kilometre laps with the Ruidenberg. Whether the Kemmelberg changes the race will be dependent upon weather circumstances and the way that the race develops. If it's rainy and windy there are chances of echelons and it will be a hard race from the beginning being close to the Belgian coast. With less wind the chance of a bunch sprint is higher; this is how it's ended in recent years. For some of our riders this is their first 200 kilometre race at 1.HC level, and there is some tough competition with six WorldTour teams at the start line. The goal here is to support Niklas, Jarno and Max into the final. Our road captain Florian, alongside Jens, Martin and Felix will support the guys through the race and deliver them to the final in a good position." 

RACE: Handzame Classic (1.HC)

DATE: 16/03/2018

COACH: Koen de Haan (NED) 

LINE-UP
Felix Gall (AUT)
Max Kanter (GER)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Florian Stork (GER)
Jens Vanoverberghe (BEL) 

MILANO-SANREMO (WT)

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): "The longest race of the spring classics, the 291 kilometre route is traditionally one for the sprinters with climbing capacities. We go into the first Monument of the season with Michael as our team leader. We're happy he's back after fracturing his shoulder at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. His fracture has been healing well and he has been able to do some high quality training over the past week. Despite losing Simon as a key support rider with a fractured collarbone sustained during Tirreno Adriatico and Søren who's still struggling with sickness, we line up with a very strong team ready to tackle a tough final on Saturday. Also back in action after crashing out of Tirreno Adriatico is Tom, and he will be one of the key support riders for the final. Roy is our road captain and starts his seventh Milano-Sanremo, so we have an experienced guy to lead the team. After a really tough week, we remain positive and look forward to the first Monument of the season." 

RACE: Milano-Sanremo (WT)

DATE: 17/03/2018

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

LINE-UP
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Edward Theuns (BEL) 

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews is scheduled to ride Milano-San Remo

TROFEO ALFREDO BINDA (WWT)

Team Sunweb coach Hendrik Werner (GER): "Coryn took her first win for the team at Trofeo Alfredo Binda last year and after a good opening to our season, we line up motivated as defending champions. The course is really hard throughout and the uphill sprint to the finish makes the race even tougher. We have a variety of cards to play with both Coryn and Lucinda, and a young team who can take some good experience from the race. Last year it was a select group who fought it out at the line and we anticipate the same situation for this year. We need to remain sharp and focused throughout the race and bring Coryn into the final in as fresh of a condition as possible." 

RACE: Trofeo Alfredo Binda (WWT)

DATE: 18/03/2018

COACH: Hendrik Werner (GER) 

LINE-UP
Lucinda Brand (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Ruth Winder (USA) 

VOLTA CICLISTA A CATALUNYA (WT)

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): "This year the route combines a mix of summit finishes, hilly stages and opportunities for the sprinters over seven stages. Our initial plan was to go with Wilco for a GC result, but with his fractured collarbone our plans have had to change. We line up with a young team who now have the chance to gain experience with no pressure on results. We will take a day by day approach and the younger guys can use this as an opportunity to learn from the more experienced riders like Laurens and Johannes, and also test what they're capable of without the expectation of a result on their shoulders. For the flatter stages we have Max as our sprinter, who we believe could take a nice result here." 

RACE: Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (WT)

DATE: 19-25/03/2018

COACH: Luke Roberts (AUS) 

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