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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, October 8, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Paris-Tour race reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Winner Soren Andersen's Sunweb team sent me this:

Team Sunweb's Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN) displayed his dominance at Paris-Tours today, forcing a selection with 30 kilometres to go and later going solo to take the race win.

Kragh Andersen said: "I really wanted this win, but I didn't believe it was possible. I was really focused on today so I'm super happy with the outcome. The parcours were awesome, I loved it. It's my first classic-style win and I couldn't be happier. I didn't stop to enjoy it until 100 metres to go, the last 10 kilometres were super hard but it was completely worth it. The kind of guys I've beat here is really awesome and I'm surprised I was able to do it. It really is the best of the best here so this win is crazy."

Soren Andersen

Søren Kragh Andersen enjoys his win.

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) added: "Our goal today was to go with Søren for a result and to focus on being together during the race ahead of the difficult moments. As a team we did a great race, we were together all of the time, communicated really well and brought Søren into a good position for him to attack. It was a very good performance from the team and an incredible ride from Søren to finish it off with a win like this."

Second-place Niki Terpstra's Quick-Step team had this to say about the race:

New course turns the French Classic into a lottery, with a series of punctures making the difference at the 112th edition.

Quick-Step Floors were prominent from the beginning at Paris-Tours (214.5 kilometers), the penultimate major one-day race of the season, moving to the front of the peloton and setting a hard tempo as soon as the six escapees who went up the road stretched out their advantage to three minutes. Our riders, with the help of two other teams, brought back the gap to less than a minute before the first of the day's nine gravel road sectors, just one of this edition's novelties.

With 60 kilometers to go, the bunch was already split to pieces, mainly due to the numerous flats, the elite group numbering around twenty men, including a strong Quick-Step Floors delegation. On the small hill leading onto the third unpaved segment, Niki Terpstra accelerated and was joined by a handful of riders, including teammate and double winner Philippe Gilbert, who unfortunately was hit by bad luck, an untimely puncture forcing him to drop from the group and ruining any chance of fighting for a third Paris-Tours victory.

Inside the final 40 kilometers, Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) attacked only for Niki Terpstra to respond with superb ease. The duo worked well together and opened a 30-second lead over a group from which Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R) jumped clear and bridged across, while further behind, Philippe Gilbert put in an amazing pursuit race despite being more than one minute adrift at one point and managed to join the first chasing group by the time they left behind all the difficulties of the day.

The winning move was made 11 kilometers from home, when Andersen accelerated and built a 20-second gap which couldn't be erased by Niki despite his best efforts. The 34-year-old Dutchman eventually concluded in second, after outsprinting the young Frenchman on Avenue de Grammont, where he netted Quick-Step Floors' 140th podium of the season. He was joined in the top 10 by Philippe, who came home 50 seconds later and took eighth from a small group.

"I really wanted to win this race and finish off in style with the team that has shaped me as a rider over the last eight years. I worked well together with Kragh Andersen, but Cosnefroy made it confusing as he refused to take part in the work. When Andersen attacked I hesitated for a second and he quickly built a gap, showing how strong he was by going all the way. At the end of the day, I am happy to be again on in the top 3 of this tough and demanding race, just like last year", said Terpstra, the only active rider with three podium finishes at Paris-Tours.

For Niki, this was the last representation in the jersey of Quick-Step Floors – a team for which he wrote history ever since joining it in 2011, by winning Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke, Dwars door Vlaanderen twice and four gold medals at the World Team Time Trial Championships as part of a well-drilled squad that in past decade has become one of the most successful in the history of the sport – and he didn't waste any time in showing the same determination, hunger for success and fighting spirit as in those last eight years.

"I am still uplifted though and think this season has been a fantastic one, the World TTT Title in Innsbruck serving as a beautiful ending of this cycling chapter I have been riding for Quick-Step Floors since 2011. I will miss the amazing atmosphere, my teammates and all the staff I have worked with during these fantastic years. There's a special and unique feeling in the team, the will to win is like nowhere else and I have enjoyed an environment where I've been able to stay relaxed and focus on doing what I love. It's a team I will never forget", an emotional Niki concluded in Tours.

Editor's note: Terpstra will ride for Direct Energie in 2019

Fabio Aru, Dan Martin and Rui Costa will participate in upcoming Italian races

UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

UAE Team Emirates will have three events back to back in Italy, where they are expected at the Tre Valli Varesine (Tuesday, 9 October), in the Milano-Torino (Wednesday, 10 October) and at the Gran Piemonte (Thursday, 11 October).
Sports Director Mario Scirea (Italy) will be called upon to lead the following selections:

Rui Costa

Rui Costa will race Tre Valli Varesine & Milano-Torino. Sirotti photo

– Tre Valli Varesine (Saronno-Varese, 192,8 km): Andrea Bagioli (Italy – trainee), Matteo Bono (Italy), Rui Costa (Portugal), Edward Ravasi (Italy), Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belorussia), Ben Swift (United Kingdom), Oliviero Troia (Italy).

– Milano-Torino (Magenta-Superga, 200 km): Fabio Aru (Italy), Andrea Bagioli (Italy – trainee), Rui Costa (Portugal), Filippo Ganna (Italy), Daniel Martin (Ireland), Jan Polanc (Slovenia), Rory Sutherland (Australia).

– Gran Piemonte (Racconigi-Stupinigi, 191 km): Filippo Ganna (Italy), Marco Marcato (Italy), Manuele Mori (Italy), Simone Petilli (Italy), Edward Ravasi (Italy), Rory Sutherland (Australia), Nicolás Tivani (Argentina – trainee).

These are the team’s prospects for the three races, in the words of Sports Director Scirea: “We’re expecting three interesting races in which we can line up some important riders. Rui Costa will find routes suited to his skills in the Tre Valli Varesine and in the Milano-Torino, races in which we will have several options, since Aru and Martin will be there as well. In the Gran Piemonte, Tivani could have a good chance if things should end in a sprinting arrival. We will try to make the most of the three races as we prepare our approach to the Il Lombardia”.

Rob Stannard wins Piccolo Lombardia

Stannard's Mitchelton-BikeExchange team sent me this report

It couldn’t have worked out better for Mitchelton-BikeExchange and Australian Rob Stannard at Piccolo Lombardia in Italy today as the 20-year-old sprinted to a stunning win in his last race with the UCI Continental outfit.

Attacks came flying out of the neutral zone and although two separate groups formed, they gained little ground before the race split definitively over the Madonna del Ghisallo and sorted the contenders from the pretenders.

GP Belvedere winner Stannard was well positioned over the climbs and animated the finale as part of a strong group that went on to contest the result.

Timing his attack to perfection, Stannard sprinted clear of a group of nine to take the race win.

A sunny Autumn day on the shores of the picturesque Lake Como welcomed the riders to the start of the 90th edition of the U23 version of cycling’s end of season monument Il Lombardia, with a quartet of riders immediately taking advantage of the conditions and attacking to form the early breakaway.

Despite their efforts the original move didn’t get far, and the peloton reformed after 50kilometres of racing before the next group tried their luck as this time three riders skipped away gaining three minutes on the bunch by the halfway point. As the bunch hit the first real climb of the day, the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo with less than 70kilometres to go, the leaders saw their advantage slashed to one minute before being caught as the race blew apart over the climb.

Stannard was a part of a lead group of around 30riders that pushed on towards the final two climbs and reduced further as more attacks started to fly, eventually shattering inside the last 20kilometres with a quartet that included Stannard taking control.

The quartet swelled to nine as the chasers made contact over the last climb and the group started to eye each other for the sprint with Stannard hitting out early and strong to win ahead of Andrea Bagioli (Colpack) and Clement Chevrier (AG2R-La Mondiale).

Rob Stannard:
“It’s awesome to have been able to get the victory today, there’s no better way to finish my last race with Mitchelton-BikeExchange and no better way of saying thank you to everyone involved with the team for everything they have done for me over the last couple of years.”

“The early attacks weren’t really any threat today and the pace didn’t increase significantly until we hit the Ghisallo and then it was full gas. We raced the climb hard and a large group formed that stayed together until the Colle Brianza – which is really steep and caused more splits.

“There were nine of us going into the final and I was saving myself for the sprint, so I followed all the moves over the last 20kilometres and shut them down because I felt confident in my own sprint and I wanted to make sure the group stayed together.

“I attacked over the last few hundred metres and no-one managed to come around me and I think tactically we played it perfectly today.”

Piccolo Lombardia results:

1. Rob Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange)
2. Andrea Bagioli (Colpack)
3. Clement Chevrier (AG2R-La Mondiale)

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