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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Giro d'Italia stage ten news

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Matej Mohoric's Bahrain-Merida Team's reports with the stage ten results.

Here's the report from GC leader Simon Yate's Mitchelton-Scott team:

Stage nine winner Simon Yates has extended his lead at the Giro d’Italia, taking bonus seconds at an intermediate sprint on a brutal stage 10. Whilst Yates extended his advantage, teammate Esteban Chaves fell out of overall contention after losing contact with the main bunch on the first climb.

The Britan now sits at 41 seconds ahead of nearest rival Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Mitchelton-SCOTT will re-direct their efforts to a sole leader.

Brutal stage and even more brutal start:
Already the longest day of the 2018 Giro d’Italia, stage 10 was extended by organisers by another five kilometres to make a total of 244km. Falling immediately after a rest day and starting immediately uphill, the peloton was an active as ever trying to form a breakaway and catch anyone on a bad day.

Countless attacks went off the front and teams set a brutal pace, even after an initial move of 14 went away. Unfortunately for Chaves, he was caught out, and lost touch.

A long chase, against a gang of rivals:
Off the back and with over 200km still left to race, Chaves had teammate Sam Bewley to assist in the chase. With Yates strong in the front, Mitchelton-SCOTT could also afford to send Chris Juul-Jensen and Roman Kreuziger back to try to bring the Colombian back. Unfortunately, rivals saw the opportunity to attack a serious contender and the powerful combination of Yates and Chaves, and sent riders to the front of the bunch to keep the gap.

With sprinter Elia Viviani in the group, Quickstep Floors combined with Mitchelton-SCOTT and at the feed zone they had the advantage down to around a minute before the elastic broke from the effort and the chase was abandoned.

Sprinting for seconds:
Ahead, with teams burning riders to keep up the pace, Yates sat in pretty with teammates Jack Haig and Mikel Nieve. Seizing the opportunity, Yates outsprinted a full Groupama-FDJ train to take three bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint and extend his advantage. The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider now has 41seconds on Dumoulin and 46seconds on Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).

Simon Yates

Simon Yates remains in pink.

Simon Yates - Race leader:
"You dont really know how the body responds after a rest day, I am very dissapointed for him (Chaves) but hopefully he can bounce back and get a few stage wins.

"I was going to go for the bonus seconds, and once I saw Pinot was lining up with the team to do a lead out for the sprint I came behind him and managed to beat him in the sprint. I am going to need every second I can so maybe I need to start sprinting for more than bonus seconds. We will still approach the race in the same way, there's many more difficult stages to come so we will see how it goes."

Esteban Chaves:
"It hurts. That's my general classification at this year's Giro gone, so it's always going to hurt. I have to thank the team for everything they did to try to bridge the gap, but with all the other teams working against us, we had to call it and save our legs for the bigger picture.

"Simon is still in the lead and he is looking strong. We don't have each other to play off, but we still have a strong team. Our strategy might change, but our final goal doesn't. We will pull our shoes on again tomorrow and get back to work."

With RAI Sport:
"I’ve got a difficult relationship with Italy; it’s love and hate. Just a few days ago, I enjoyed one of the best days of my career and now it’s hard for my morale. But that’s life, we can only do our best. The important thing is that we’ve still got the leader’s jersey. Our plans won’t change.”

Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this Giro update:

The stage after the first rest day was dominated by many attacks and high pace right from the start. Shortly before the finish a duo went up the road, and M. Mohoric took the stage win. BORA – hansgrohe stayed in a good position in the first group, and sprinter Sam Bennett won the sprint out of the reduced bunch.

The Stage
After a well-deserved rest day, the peloton started into the longest stage of this year´s Corsa Rosa today. The race took the riders from Penne, a small city in the region of Abruzzo to Gualdo Taldino over 244km, a last minute change has added 5km to the race profile.

Right after the start a second category climb awaited the riders, after the descent, the second climb of the day and an intermediate sprint followed. Before the peloton headed into the finale, they had to tackle the third climb of the day as well as another intermediate sprint. The finale ran on a flat open route into the city of Gualdo Taldino.

The Team Tactics
Like in the previous stages BORA – hansgrohe focused on their GC contenders, trying to limit any further time losses. If the stage will end in a sprint, Sam Bennett would be the man for another podium spot.

Matej Mohoric

Matej Mohoric wins the third stage.

The Race
It was a fast start into today´s stage with many attacks right after the start. Twelve riders managed to distance themselves from the bunch with an advantage of more than two minutes, while BORA – hansgrohe stayed together in the main bunch. After a solo attack of T. Martin it was all back together with 170km to go. E. Chaves had some problems and lost with some other favourites the contact to the Maglia Rosa group, the gap enhanced to more than ten minutes during the race. Sam Bennett, Felix Großschartner, Davide Formolo, Patrick Konrad and Christoph Pfingsten represented BORA – hansgrohe at the front of the peloton and pulled hard. As one rider was able to distance himself from the peloton, two chasers tried to close the gap, however two riders made it to the finish line, where M. Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) took the win ahead of N. Denz (AG2R). Some seconds later the reduced bunch headed into the last corner, and Sam Bennett won the sprint out of this group and finished in third place.

From the Finish Line
“It was a hard day in the saddle, the pace was high and the attacks were started right from the start. We were able to stay together in the main bunch and our two GC contenders didn’t lose so much time in the overall. We couldn’t close the gap as the two riders went up the road in the finale, therefore I finished third. I also want to thank the guys for their super efforts today. The result may not show it but they rode out of their skin. I would have liked to get the win for their efforts. Tomorrow will be another stage and we will give our best like in the previous days.” – Sam Bennett

“The riders make always the race, after 20km on the 15km long ascent the race spilt into several groups, and with Chaves in the back the 220km turned into a real chase. We supported our sprinter Sam for the finale. The boys did a really great job but the gap of the two riders at the front was enough for taking the victory, therefore we achieved another third place.” – Jens Zemke, sports director

Tour of California stage three team reports

We posted the report from GC leader Egan Bernal's Team Sky with the race results.

Here's what third-place Caleb Ewan's Mitchelton-Scott team had to say:

A rolling third stage of the Tour of California wound up the coast to finish on the Laguna Seca race track in Monterey with Caleb Ewan taking third place for Mitchelton-SCOTT and now only missing the win to complete a full house at this year’s race.

After finishing second on the opening stage in Long Beach, today’s lumpy parcours did not look particularly suited to Ewan’s sprint characteristics, but the 23-year-old proved in Milan-San Remo that he can climb well, and today it was only the late attacks of eventual stage winner Thomas Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) that stripped Ewan of the chance of sprinting for the stage win.

Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Adam Yates finished just behind Ewan in the front group and maintains his third place overall ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial in San Jose.

Tom Skujins

Tom Skujins wins the stage.

Decisive moments:
The longest stage of this year’s race saw numerous breakaway attempts get pulled back by the peloton before a trio of riders were allowed up the road, quickly gaining five minutes on the bunch.

The situation did not change over the first climbs and with the sea wind the only thing affecting the riders until the closing 65kilometres when the peloton upped the ante and started to eat into the deficit.

Over the closing kilometres the race came alive with constant changes at the front as attacks came out of the peloton over the final climbs towards the Laguna Seca Raceway with two riders narrowly ahead of a reduced bunch.

With the duo maintaining around ten seconds onto the circuit, Ewan and Yates were the only two riders left in the chasing group as the race wound down the ramps to the finish line with Skujins Holding on for the win and Ewan winning the sprint behind for third.

Caleb Ewan – Third:
“It was a pretty tough day out there today and I didn’t feel great at the beginning, but my legs got better as the stage went on and the team did a great job of keeping me towards the front over the climbs.”

“Roger Kluge dropped me off really well at the foot of the penultimate climb and from there I managed to go really well as the group started to reduce and made it into the Laguna circuit near the front, but by then we could see we weren’t going to catch the two guys ahead.

“The chase never really got organised cohesively, but I am really pleased that I went so well on the climbs in that group with Adam and after a super-fast run down to the line it was pleasing to win the sprint for third, but the stage win is eluding me here so far and that’s quite frustrating.”

Sport director Matt Wilson:
“It was a bit of a surprise because we knew how hard it was going to be over the climbs leading into the final and we hadn’t really earmarked it as a stage where Caleb would be up there, but he surprises you sometimes when he is focused on doing something and making it happen.”

“He produced an incredible ride when you look at how many guys were left in that group and it was just a shame that those two guys jumped away beforehand because he would have been the favourite to take the sprint out of that group.

“The plan with Adam was to save energy ahead of the time trial tomorrow and save energy and we ticked that box, it’s not his specialty, but he has shown he is going well and we’ll see what happens.”

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

The Tour of California’s GC race really started to heat up on stage 2, but with a parcours that suited the all-rounders, it was every man for himself today, with the stronger sprinters and faster climbers looking to take the victory, while the riders in the overall race would be aiming to take time. In the end, it was an attack in the final 30km that took the glory, leaving the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, to fight among the chasers to take fourth spot, with Rafał Majka coming in with the bunch to hold his second position in the overall standings.

The Stage
After a hard second stage, it was another day of undulating terrain for the peloton today at the Tour of California. Not only was the distance longer, at 197km, but the day saw riders tackle five categorised climbs – three of which were second category. The final three of these were squeezed into the final 30km before the finish in Laguna Seca, and while there wasn’t a summit finish like on stage two, these closely packed climbs would make it hard to predict who would be able to go for the win – a strong one-day rider would be in as good a position to contest the finale as a punchy climber.

The Team Tactics
The profile meant an all-rounder had a good chance of taking the stage win, but while the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would have an eye on the victory, the team was just as focused on keeping Rafał Majka safe in the GC race, having jumped to second in the overall standings on Gibraltar Road yesterday. Much of the team’s tactics would depend on how the day unfolded and who was in contention in the closing stages.

The Race
The GC race had really come to life on yesterday’s stage, but on a parcours like today’s, the GC riders would see competition from the all-rounders, who would be going for the stage win. With a lot at stake on the day, it took some time for the day’s break to get away, the peloton making the eventual group of three work hard to escape. Once they were away though, they held their gap much of the day, but having broken the five-minute barrier, the peloton started working to reduce their lead, and as always, BORA-hansgrohe were instrumental in bringing the leaders back to a more manageable distance. With the final 10km looming and the escape within touching distance, some attacks came from the peloton, driving the bunch to up the pace, stretching this group thin as the speeds increased. In spite of a hard effort from the chasers, the two leaders frustrated the group by staying out in front as they entered the famous Laguna Seca racetrack for the finale, taking first and second, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, fighting it out in a reduced bunch sprint to take fourth. Finishing safely with the bunch, Rafał Majka held his second position in the GC. With a change of scene for tomorrow’s Individual Time Trial, Maciej Bodnar would fly the flag for BORA-hansgrohe on a challenging 34.7km route.

From the Finish Line
"Stage 3 of the Tour of California was very hard, very fast, started with cool temperatures and was hot at the finish. I'm starting to get into race mode after my high-altitude training and today as well, I had good sensations. We would have liked to win but it was very tough. All the guys gave their best and we will keep fighting every day." – Peter Sagan

"It was a very hard and demanding stage and I'm proud of the work of all the BORA-hansgrohe riders. They pulled in a tremendous effort from start to finish but, unfortunately, in the end, we weren't able to achieve our goal today, which was for Peter Sagan to win. That's part of cycling, the escapees were strong today and the bunch wasn't able to close the gap. Tomorrow we have an individual time-trial and we will try to do our best with Maciej Bonar." – Patxi Vila

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