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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour. - William Blake

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Latest completed racing:


Elia Viviani to lead Team Quick-Step at Giro d'Italia

Here's the team's news:

More than half a decade ago, the Giro d'Italia had its first foreign start, from San Marino, and since then, the race had left also from Monaco, Belgium, Vatican, Greece, France, The Netherlands, Denmark and Northern Ireland. The tenth different country to add its name to this list will be Israel, host of the first three stages at the 101st edition: a 9.7km individual time trial held on a technical course and two road stages projected to end in a bunch sprint.

The race will then hit the Italian roads in Sicily, which will provide opportunities to shine to both the fast men and the climbers, with the latter going up Mount Etna for the second year in succession, but this time on a tougher side. Montevergine and Gran Sasso will bring the maglia rosa contenders again to the fore before a tricky second week which includes some rolling terrain perfect for an ambush and the infamous Monte Zoncolan (10.1 kilometers, 11.9%).

The final week of the race will kick off with a testing 34.5km-long individual time trial between Trento and Rovereto, but the real race will be in the mountains, with Pratonevoso, Bardonecchia and Cervinia all set to host summit finishes, before one last roll of the dice for the sprinters in Rome's Piazza del Popolo.

Most successful sprinter of the season with six victories to his name, Elia Viviani returns to the Giro d'Italia for the first time since 2016, and the 29-year-old Italian, a stage winner at his home race, will look to enhance his palmares at the Corsa Rosa, where he'll rely on a strong squad built around him.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani wins stage one at this year's Tour of Dubai

Eros Capecchi, who has nine Giro d'Italia starts under his belt, Dwars door West-Vlaanderen winner Rémi Cavagna, Michael Mørkøv, Fabio Sabatini, Maximilian Schachmann – a stage victor in March at the Volta a Catalunya – Florian Sénéchal and Zdenek Stybar, one of the most consistent riders of the cobbled classics, will all travel this week to Israel for the first Grand Tour of the season.

"We've had a fantastic first part of the season, but that is history now and we don't plan to rest on our laurels. The Giro d'Italia is one of the most important races of the season, one where we have always enjoyed tremendous success, winning stages, distinctive jerseys and being up there in the general classification, so it's only natural to be motivated and ambitious for this fresh challenge. Our roster has a mix of youth and experience, and Elia will be the leader for the next three weeks, but this doesn't mean we won't try to be in the mix also in other stages and grab every opportunity we'll be presented with", said sports director Davide Bramati, who as a rider had 12 Giro d'Italia participations.

Team BMC heads to the Giro d'Italia

The team sent me this update:

30 April, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will line up with a strong and ambitious team at the Giro d'Italia when the first Grand Tour of the season gets underway this Friday, 4 May.

A 9.7km race against the clock in Jerusalem, Israel, sets the stage for the battle for the maglia rosa and BMC Racing Team's first objective.

"Our first goal comes on day one with the time trial. It's a technical course, lots of turns, and a good time trial profile for Rohan Dennis. We want to start the Giro d'Italia with a good result there and then move on to our other objectives. In terms of the General Classification, Rohan is motivated to see how far he can go and we plan to take things week by week. There are quite a few uphill finishes in the first ten days so we will know more by then and of course, the time trial from Trento is also a good one for him," Sports Director Maximilian Sciandri explained.

"Nicolas Roche also has General Classification ambitions and is looking to see where he can end up. After the Mount Etna stage in the first week, we will see how Nicolas is going."

In 2017, BMC Racing Team claimed two Giro d'Italia stage wins from breakaways and the team is hoping to repeat that success in 2018.

"Stage wins will be a big focus for us and we have riders suited to many different stages. In Jürgen Roelandts and Jempy Drucker, we have two fast sprinters who can do well in a reduced bunch sprint or from a breakaway. Alessandro De Marchi is a proven breakaway specialist and he is coming out of the Ardennes Classics in good shape, while Francisco Ventoso brings a wealth of experience and will be our road captain throughout the race," Sciandri said.

"With Loïc Vliegen and Kilian Frankiny we have two young riders who have already already raced the Vuelta a Espana last year. The Giro d'Italia will be a good chance for them to gain more experience and take any opportunities that come their way. Overall, we have a well-rounded team and I think we can make a lot of our objectives a reality."

Giro d'Italia (5-27 May)

Sports Directors: Maximilian Sciandri (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Rider Roster:

Rohan Dennis - AUS (2017)
"The opening time trial would be great to win but I'm not putting too much pressure on myself. There are not many Australians who have worn all three Grand Tour leader's jerseys so if I take the Maglia Rosa it will be special. But, if I don't get it on day one then hopefully there are more chances in the race. I'm never going to be bad in a time trial but I haven't been specifically training for it. My focus has been on trying to come climb better after the fourth or fifth hour of racing."

"I found out last year that anything can happen, even in the first couple of days, so I'm not too worried about the end result this year. I want to take things day by day. The first two weeks I can manage but the third week is a real unknown for me. This Giro d'Italia is about seeing where I am at with the training I have been doing."

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis at this year's Tour of Romandie

Alessandro De Marchi - ITA (2011, 2012, 2016)
"I'm at the start of my fourth Giro d'Italia and like always, I'm feeling the emotion of a race that will travel through my country. For an Italian, there's something special about being at the start. For me, the Giro is something special. It was my first Grand Tour, my first time close to a stage victory, and it's the race I remember more from my childhood. At this Giro, I want to be in my old role: breakaways and breakaways. I would like to be "in the race", to be in the moves, I want to feel the race every occasion I will have during the three weeks around Italy. I'm impatient to race the stages in Friuli, two days in my region on May 14th-15th."

Jempy Drucker - LUX (First time racing)
"It is my first Giro d'italia and I have only heard good things about this race so I am really looking forward to discover the beautiful roads of Italy and the amazing tifosi fans on the side of the roads. Personally, I hope to do some good sprints and fight for a stage win. I know it wont be an easy target but I want to give it a good crack, and for the rest I will support my teammates wherever they need my help."

Kilian Frankiny - SUI (First time racing)
"This is my first Giro d'Italia and I'm really looking forward to it because I love Italy. My personal objective is to help the team as much as possible. I think we can have a really good start with Rohan Dennis in the time trial and I hope he can get the pink jersey and I can help him to keep it for a few days. Regardless, I will be there to help our leaders on the climbs and I hope I can make a good stage result during the three weeks. To have the freedom to go in a breakaway one day would be really nice. But my priority is to help the team."

Nicolas Roche - IRL (2007, 2014, 2016)
"I'm looking forward to getting the Giro d'Italia started. I want to race aggressively and see how I go in the General Classification. We always say we want to take things day by day, but in my case that really is the truth at this Giro. Typically, I'm better later in the season so I am keen to see how I go."

Jürgen Roelandts - BEL (2016)
"This is my second time lining up at the Giro d'Italia and I would like to do some good sprints. I haven't raced since Paris-Roubaix so I will see how I go in the first few days. There is always a bit less stress in the Giro d'Italia compared to the Tour de France. It's a bit like Milan-San Remo, easier at the beginning but then explosive finals and I like that style of racing. I'm looking forward to seeing the start in Jerusalem and the stages in Israel."

Francisco Ventoso - ESP (2005, 2011 (Winner stage 5), 2012 (Winner stage 8), 2013, 2014, 2017)
"I want to support the team and our leaders for the General Classification and take an opportunity for myself, maybe in the second week in a breakaway and try to fight for the stage win. This will be my seventh Giro d'Italia and for me, it is the most beautiful Grand Tour so I am really lucky to be racing. I hope for a good three weeks of racing and we will take things day by day, starting in Israel."

Loïc Vliegen - BEL (First time racing)
"This is my first time at the Giro d'Italia and I'm really looking forward to discovering the race. I would like to take a lot of experience from it and try to make a breakaway. I will take things day by day and try to go in a breakaway on a stage that has a finale that suits me well."

Team sponsor Sunweb Tours signs sponsorship contract for indefinite amount of time

Here's the team's press release:

Sunweb solidify their statement of commitment to the sport through the new agreement and stay true to their word, which they echoed from Team Sunweb’s launch through long term future-focused investments. Tim Van den Bergh, Sunweb’s CCO said: “We’re extremely pleased with the extension of our partnership, which contributes hugely to our business goal of significant international growth in summer and winter holidays. Rather than being a temporary sponsor, Sunweb aims to build a strong legacy with the team and also as an investor in the sport, taking responsibility in the fields of youth development and anti-doping. The new agreement should not only be good for Sunweb and for the team, it should also be good for the sport of cycling and its future.”

Team Sunweb

Team Sunweb at the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico

SHAPING THE FUTURE

The new contract runs for an indefinite amount of time and both parties now focus on the long term, looking towards their shared vision of developing the team and the sport of cycling as a whole.

Team Sunweb are thrilled with the new agreement, as it is unprecedented in terms of offering stability to a team, allowing them to roll out big plans and focus on extending their long-term investments.

One of these long-term investments is their Development Program; founded in 2017 the project is aimed at growing the very best German and international talents into WorldTour riders, whilst operating under the same umbrella as the existing Women’s and Men’s Programs. Another major pillar is their independent anti-doping program, which is designed to protect clean athletes and make cycling a better environment for them. In addition to this and new for 2019 and beyond, is the recently presented Keep Challenging Center – Home of Team Sunweb, which is due to come to life in the Euregio area (Germany and The Netherlands), Limburg. Alongside this, is the realisation of the team’s new office and logistical headquarters with an Experience Center for cycling enthusiasts, in Deventer later this year. If ever the parties decide to terminate the partnership in the far future, the agreement would then still run for nearly three years; two complete years on top of the full remainder of the year of which it was decided to discontinue the partnership.

Team Sunweb CEO, Iwan Spekenbrink said: “We keep shaping our future with our new Sunweb agreement and that’s a big compliment to the team, which I am extremely proud of. With this stability, our organizational focus can shift to many, many years into the future. It offers us the opportunity to not only think long-term but also to actually shape our future, ultimately becoming a durable elite cycling establishment for both men and women. It has been our dream from the start in 2008 to grow the team, with its vulnerable economics, into a revolutionary, durable cycling establishment. Several building blocks have now come to fruition, one of which is our Keep Challenging Center for athlete development and team optimization. On top, we can concentrate on setting up new innovative projects that we are launching in the upcoming years and beyond, where we’re aiming to set new standards in biomechanics, aerodynamics and equipment. To have Sunweb so committed to that dream and our Keep Challenging vision, and so firm on our side whilst exploiting the partnership intelligently in terms of marketing and activation to grow their business, is the very best one could wish for.”

Ben Swift looking forward to Tour de Yorkshire return

The organizer sent me this release:

Ben Swift is looking forward to making his return to action at the Tour de Yorkshire this week and is excited by the prospect of riding on home roads. Swift has not competed since suffering a non-displaced fracture of his vertebrae at the prestigious Tour of Flanders earlier this month. His recovery has gone well however, and the 30 year old from Rotherham can think of no better race in which to make his comeback.

Swift feels he has unfinished business with the Tour de Yorkshire. He had been one of the pre-race favourites going into the first edition in 2015 but crashed out on the opening stage into Scarborough and watched from home as his then-Team Sky team-mate Lars Petter Nordhaug took the overall title.

Since then Swift has changed teams to UAE Team Emirates, but will actually be representing the Great Britain Cycling Team when he arrives at the start line in Beverley on Thursday.

Although he is playing down his chances after his recent lay-off, Swift can’t wait to get going and knows the peloton will receive a warm welcome in his home county between 3-6 May. He said: “The crash at the Tour of Flanders forced me to have a week off the bike, and obviously that’s not ideal, but I’ve been feeling better and better over the last few weeks and am definitely looking forward to the race now.

Ben Swift

Ben Swift racing in the 2017 Dauphiné

“I haven’t had the chance to ride it since I crashed in 2015 so I’m really happy to be back, and it’s always an extra-special honour when you’re representing your national team.

“It’s going to be a really proud four days for me and I can’t wait to see the massive crowds that’ll be lining the route. I’m sure I’ll recognise a few faces along the way and I always look forward to riding in Yorkshire.”

With such a varied route for 2018, Swift feels there will be plenty of riders eyeing up opportunities for stage and overall successes, and is particularly looking forward to tackling the race’s first-ever summit finish on the Côte de Cow and Calf.

“I’ve ridden the Cow and Calf on training rides before, and while it’s not the longest climb, the steep gradient will mean a fair few riders should be dropped before the finish of stage two,” he added. “Stages one and three look like they’ll be suited to sprinters but that final day looks a really tough one.”

And Ben is also looking forward to competing in the same peloton as his younger cousin Connor, who will be representing Madison Genesis. He said: “We don’t get the chance to compete alongside each other that much so it’ll be nice to have Connor there, and I’m sure we’ll get the chance to have a catch up.

“It’s been great to see him make the step up to the professional ranks over the last few years and it’ll be great experience for him riding in front of such a big crowd, and going up against some of the best riders in the world.”

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