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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, November 15, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Patience is the companion of wisdom. - Saint Augustine

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Mitchelton-Scott reports on Tour of Fuzhou stage one

Here's the team's post:

Ripping up the format of starting a stage race with a sprint or a prologue, today’s opening stage of the seventh Tour of Fuzhou dove straight into GC territory with a tough uphill finish and a solid ride from Liu Jiankun for Mitchelton-BikeExchange.

Covering only 107kilometres, everything built towards the final with a second category climb leading on to a first category summit finish right at the end of what was essentially a flat approach across urban circuits that led to the main event.

It took over an hour of racing for a group to go clear and with 45kilometres to go, four leaders had one-minute 35seconds on the chasing peloton.

That lead did not last for long, and the group were caught by the second intermediate sprint, fresh attacks came going into the last 25kilometres as the route headed out of downtown Fuzhou and into the countryside, but the fast pace being set by the bunch kept things just about together until the base of the climb.

The Eritrean team were the most active as the fireworks ignited on the climb, attacking the field and shattering the bunch. As the gradient stiffened a select group struggled to form with riders scattered across the slopes.

Liu Jiankun was best placed for MBE and fought on behind the leaders, four favourites emerged in the closing kilometre and battled out the stage victory with Chinese rider Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) taking the win with a late sprint and the first leader’s jersey of the Tour with Liu crossing the line in 13th.

Sport director James Victor:
“Liu rode really well today, and we can see that he’s in good condition and carrying his form from Quanzhou Bay, which is great to see especially on a challenging finish like we saw today.”

“There was a lot of pressure on the overall contenders from the start today and the boys rode well into the climb when the race started to come alive. Tomorrow things will settle down a bit and it should be a day for the sprinters.

“With Kaden Groves stage win last week and the form he’s showing we can go into tomorrow looking for a result and we will support him 100% for the sprint finale and do our upmost to have him in the best possible position.”

Tour of Fuzhou stage one results:
1. Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling Team) 02:31:31
2. Ilya Davidenok (Beijing XDS-Innova-Cycling Team) ST
3. Hanibal Tesfay (Eritrea) ST
13. Liu Jiankun (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +1:09

2019 Arctic Race of Norway route revealed

Here's the organizer's news:

2019 Arctic Race of Norway map

Map of the 2019 edition of the Arctic Race of Norway

The Arctic Race of Norway is a suspense-filled race where the young stars shine each year. In 2018, Dutch rider Mathieu Van Der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won two stages and confirmed all the hopes that have been placed on him on the road. This year again, the fast and powerful riders will get to show their stuff on two weekend stages. Prior to that, the peloton will visit the Lofoten Islands where the sprinters will battle for victory.

For the second time in seven editions, the Arctic Race of Norway will take place on the Lofoten Islands, known around the world for their atypical scenery where the roads run between the mountains and the sea. The town of “Å” will, for the first time, host a stage of the Arctic Race on Thursday, August 15. This small village with such an original name (the final letter in the Norwegian alphabet!) is also called this because it is here where the last inhabitants on the extreme west side of the island live. Over 182 kilometres, the peloton will pass the finish line twice to complete the two loops. Although four classified climbs will be part of the King of the Mountain classification, this won’t inhibit the sprinters from battling for the win at Leknes.

On day two of the race, the riders will, once again, look to both their left and right to admire the stunning Lofoten Islands scenery. Henningsvær is known for having one of the most spectacular football pitches in the world as well as being the start city for stage two, which will finish in Svolvær, and which was featured in the first edition in 2013. The 168.5km-long stage will run along the seafront and will not pose any major difficulties. It will be the ideal finish for sprinters like local hero Alexander Kristoff!

Following the Lofotens, the Arctic Race will change islands to arrive in Vesterålen on Saturday 17 August. This 176.5km-long stage starting in Sortland was designed for the strongest riders with three climbs that will have to be negotiated before the riders take on an all-new ramp at Storheia Summit, in the town of Melbu (3.5kms at 11.8%). A crazy finish similar to the famous “repechos” of the Vuelta a España that will start just a week later and could be of interest to some riders looking for performance on the final big tour of the season. At the highest altitude, the caravan will have the chance to admire the splendid panoramic view at the observation level that reminds one of a certain Mont Ventoux.

The Arctic Race of Norway will return to the mainland for the final stage that has the look of a rollercoaster between Lodingen and Narvik. While the start city will be all-new, all the roads of this 4th stage (166.5kms) have already been raced on in the Arctic Race. During this stage, the “Midnight Sun Jersey” of the leader of the general classification and the “Salmon Jersey” of the best climber could switch riders because there will be six climbs, three before the final 10.5km circuit then three others (Skistua Summit: 2.2kms at 6.6%) located on the same circuit where Dylan Teuns took a memorable win in 2017. The Narvik ski station will conclude this 7th edition at the bottom of the slopes.  The town is bidding to become the Norwegian candidate to host the 2027 World Alpine Skiing Championships.

The Arctic Race of Norway shines the spotlight on the stars of tomorrow
A few hours before the arrival of the professionals in the streets of Narvik, the 17 and 18-year old talents coming from all over Norway and five European countries will have their moment in the sun in the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race. This race for junior riders organised jointly with Equinor, the main sponsor of the Arctic Race of Norway, and the Norwegian Cycling Federation, has become the revelatory event of the future stars of the men’s and women’s pelotons in a country whose passion for cycling is well-known. Winner of the first edition of the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race in 2013 in Harstad, Kristoffer Halvorsen won the World Junior Road Race Championship in 2016, before joining the Sky team this season.

Thor Hushovd, World Champion and race ambassador: “This 7th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway will again be spectacular and undecided just until the last day in Narvik. The first two stages will be an open-air show. In 2013 when I won stage 2 at Svolvær, I rode the most beautiful stage of my career on that day. The finishes at Storheia Summit, the «Mont Ventoux» of the Vesterålen Islands and at Narvik will certainly be won by the strongest riders.”

You can find results of previous editions of the Arctic Race of Norway here.

Team Astana has ten riders leaving team at end of 2018

Here's the team's retrospective of the departing riders:

The structure of cycling is such that every year in professional teams there are changes in their rosters: some of the riders leave the team, someone comes. In the end of 2018, 10 riders will leave Astana Team: Michael Valgren, Tanel Kangert, Oscar Gatto, Jesper Hansen, Moreno Moser, Sergei Chernetskii, Andriy Grivko, Truls Korsaeth, Riccardo Minali and Ruslan Tleubayev. Someone will continue his career in other professional teams, setting new goals, someone decides to quit his cycling career, focusing on life outside the sport.

- We are grateful to each of the riders who were part of Astana Team, no matter if it was just for a year, two, five or ten. On behalf of Astana Pro Team I want to wish all the guys who are leaving our project a good luck and success in the new season! - said general manager Alexandr Vinokurov.

Michael Valgren spent two seasons in Astana. During this time, Michael proved to be a strong classic rider with serious ambitions both in cobblestones classics and in the Ardennes. In Astana Team Michael scored two big victories at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite and the Amstel Gold Race.

- I think that this year Michael was one of the strongest classic riders not only in Astana, but also around the world. His wins at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Amstel Gold Race, a podium at the Bretagne Classic and a great performance at the World Championships speak for themselves. In Astana Michael was able to make a big step forward, and I am sure that his development will continue in the new season, even if not in our team. I was pleased to work with him in Astana, and I wish him a great success in the new project, - said sports director Lars Michaelsen.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren winning 2018 Amstel Gold Race. Sirotti photo

Tanel Kangert joined Astana Team in 2011, having spent 8 strong seasons in the Kazakh project. Among the personal achievements of Kangert in Astana colors it is worth noting a GC victory at the Abu Dhabi Tour (2016), a stage at the Tour de Suisse (2012) and two stages at the Giro del Trentino (2016). Three times Tanel Kangert helped the leader of the team to achieve success on the Grand tours: two times at the Giro d'italia in 2013 and 2016 and once at the Tour de France in 2014.

- Tanel is a great athlete, an excellent mountain rider, who spent 8 wonderful seasons in Astana. He made a great contribution to the team's victories in the Grand tours. Now, perhaps, came the moment when he began to think about some changes in his career, perhaps he wanted to try something new in one of the other teams. I think this is absolutely normal. We fully respect Tanel's decision and wish him continued success in his career. I want to say a big thank to Tanel for all the years spent with us, – said team manager Dmitriy Fofonov.

Oscar Gatto spent two seasons in the Kazakh team. In 2017 he won a stage at the Tour of Austria and finished 5th at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In the 2018 season at the same classic race Oscar provided a great support to Michael Valgren who, finally, became the winner of the Omloop.

- Oscar is a good rider and a wonderful person, very open and sociable. In Astana he had a number of good results, in each race Oscar tried to be as useful as possible to the team. But perhaps the time has come to change something, and I hope that in the new team he will succeed more than with us. Regardless of that in the future he will ride in the colors of another project, we part as good friends, - said sports director Bruno Cenghialta.

Jesper Hansen came to Astana Pro Team in 2017; together with the team he did two Grand tours (Giro in 2017 and Tour in 2018) and took a solid second place in the general classification of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

- Jesper came to the team as a rider, who was supposed to help the leaders in the high mountains. Last year at the Giro d'Italia he showed himself very well, also this season at the Tour de France he did everything he could to help our leader. Well, we can only wish Jesper all the best in the new team, I hope that this transfer will have a good impact on his career, will give him some new impetus that will lead to success, - said Lars Michaelsen.

Moreno Moser ends his second season with Astana Pro Team. Due to some health problems Moreno was forced to skip the middle of the last season. This year in the jersey of the Italian National Team Moser took a nice win at the Trofeo Laigueglia.

- Moreno spent two years with us. Perhaps he was not able to fully realize what he expected from himself, and what the team expected from him. There were also objective reasons related to health. However, Moreno is still not told everything in cycling, it was great to watch his success at the Trofeo Laigueglia early in the season. Well, if not everything turned out in our team, I hope that it will turn out in the new team. Good luck, Moreno! - said sports director Giuseppe Martinelli.

Sergei Chernetskii rode two nice seasons together with Astana Team. In 2017 he did a good Vuelta a España and showed well himself at the Il Lombardia, taking a solid 10th place, while in 2018 he brought to Astana an overall win at the Arctic Race of Norway and finished 3rd in the general classification of the Gree-Tour of Guangxi.

- Sergey is a big professional, he is 100% dedicated to the sport. We spent two seasons together, not everything worked out for Sergei at the beginning of this period, but I am very glad that in the second half of this year he began to really open up. He has great potential, he always works honestly for the benefit of the team and, as we have seen, he knows how to win. I hope that Sergei will continue career in a good team, where will be able to realize himself completely, - the sports director Dmitri Sedoun told.

Truls Korsaeth began and, unfortunately, ended his fleeting professional career in Astana Team where he came in 2017. In a year and a half Truls showed himself as a talented and hardworking rider with some good perspectives in the classic races. But, last summer he decided to quit his career and to focus on the studies.

- We were a little surprised by the decision of Truls to finish his sports career right in the middle of the season. He spent a year and a half with us, but apparently felt some limit in cycling and decided to finish his career. Well, that's his decision, we accepted it. As far as I know, Truls decided to focus on his studies, chose a medical direction. Of course, this is a serious step in his life. We were counting on Truls for the classic races, such as the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, we saw a certain potential in him. During the time spent in the team, he showed himself really well, his work was done perfectly. But, unfortunately, it did not work for his cycling career. Nevertheless, we wish him good luck in life outside the sport, - said Dmitriy Fofonov.

Andriy Grivko spent in Astana Team 9 seasons, coming to the team in 2010. The veteran of the Kazakh team won La Méditerranéenne in 2016, became 2nd at the Driedaagse Pe Panne-Koksijde in 2010 and 3rd at the Eneco Tour in 2013. Many times he was one of the key riders for the leaders at the Grand tours.

- Andriy spent a very long period of life with us, perhaps it was a separate little life. I think that for him the period in Astana is the best in his career, together with us he was able to achieve good results, while giving the team a lot. The team always believed in Andriy, and he always justified this trust. It was a wonderful time. All I can say now is a big thank for all these years, - said Dmitri Sedoun.

Andriy Grivko

Andriy Grivko racing in the 2016 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

Riccardo Minali signed his first professional contract with Astana Pro Team in 2017, becoming the main sprinter of the team despite his young age. In two years in the Kazakh project Riccardo won two stages at Le Tour de Langkawi and took a number of podium places at the stages of Dubai Tour, Tour of Croatia, Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, Tour of Denmark and Baloise Belgium Tour.

- I think that Riccardo is a very good sprinter, who is able to win much more than he has won at the moment. Perhaps, in such a team as Astana, which pays great attention to the Grand tours and is focused on the fight for the general classifications, the young sprinter might have some problems to prove himself in full. Nevertheless, some results were shown – two victories in Langkawi and a few podiums in other races – it's very good. I wish Riccardo to find a team that will be 100% suitable for him and where he will be able to realize his talent. I hope to see new victories of Riccardo, even if not in the Astana jersey, - said Giuseppe Martinelli.

Ruslan Tleubaev joined Astana Team in 2011, first as a trainee, and in 2013 as a neo-pro rider. For six big seasons, Ruslan proved to be an excellent team rider, at the same time, having achieved a number of good results. So, in 2014, Tleubayev won the Asian Cycling Championships and in 2016 he won a stage of the Tour of Hainan. At the end of 2018 Ruslan Tleubaev will end his professional career.

- Ruslan joined our team 6 years ago, he started here his professional career. During this time together, we have gone both through many wonderful moments and through difficulties. In his career, Ruslan had victories, high achievements and team successes, which he shared with all of us. I think, together, we all tried to do our best. I would like to thank Ruslan on behalf of our team and wish him all the best in the new turn of his life, - said Dmitri Sedoun.

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