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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday February 1, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. - James Baldwin

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Herald Sun Tour team reports

EF Education First sent me this report on the second stage:

Mike Woods made it two for two for EF Education First Pro Cycling Team at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. The Canadian out-climbed and then out-sprinted Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) to take the stage two win.

Michael Woods

Michael Woods wins in front of Richie Porte

Woods will start stage three in the race leader’s jersey worn by his teammate Dan McLay during Thursday’s stage.

“We have been riding so well as a team here in Australia,” said Woods. “It had been frustrating that I hadn’t been able to finish it off. Dan felt the same way. Everyone was doing his part, executing on his part, but the results weren’t reflecting that. This race. Today. It was a continuation of the great teamwork. Having Dan win yesterday was a bit of a release.

“Everyone was excited and rode out of their skin again today,” Woods added. “Mitch [Docker] and Scud [Tom Scully] were on the front all day controlling and still managed to make the front split in the wind. Dan McLay was in yellow and getting bottles and protecting me. Lachy was there in the end. Everyone was working so hard for me, and I wanted to honor their hard work.”

A six-rider breakaway escaped early into the 127 kilometer stage between Wonthaggi and Churchill. The leaders managed only a three-minute maximum advantage ahead of the bunch paced by Docker and Scully.

Just inside the final 40 kilometers, first a crash and then an uptick in speed due to winds split the peloton.

“It wasn’t a problem for us,” said sport director, Tom Southam. “Sky hit it in a small crosswind section, and it caught Jimmy [Whelan] out unfortunately, which meant we had one less for the climb. But having a smaller bunch reduced the potential complications in the group for Mike, so that was fine for us.”

The stage came to a climax up Jeeralang, the category one climb that topped out 12-kilometers from the finish and included a 1.1-kilometer dirt-road section near the summit.

Team Sky’s Pavel Sivakov and Bridgestone’s Chris Harper were the first to attack. Kenny Elissonde (Sky) bridged the gap, giving Sky two up front. Behind the leaders, an elite chase group formed that included Woods, Porte, Dylan van Baarle (Sky) and Mitchelton-SCOTT’s trio of Lucas Hamilton, Damien Howson and Nick Schultz.

As the chase group made grounds on the leaders, Woods attacked and only Porte could follow. The pair reached the gravel sector alone with Woods leading Porte across the summit.

"We reconned this stage three days ago,” said Woods. “Southam spent over five hours in the car, driving to the course, driving behind me, to make it happen. We had a long talk about the stage, and we executed exactly as we had planned. It was a huge advantage, and it paid off. It couldn’t have gone better today.”

Although Woods slightly distanced Porte uphill, the pair agreed to work together on the descent to keep their chasers at bay. They reached the line together with Woods besting Porte in the sprint. Their efforts netted them a 17-second advantage on Elissonde and 19 seconds on both van Baarle and Hamilton.

Having picked up a 10-second bonus for the stage win, compared to Porte’s six seconds for second place, Woods holds yellow by four seconds over Porte heading into stage three.

“We’ve got such a strong team right now and have been riding so well together,” said Woods. “I’m confident in our abilities to defend. That said, four seconds over one of the best climbers in the world is not a margin you can rest on.  We’re gong to have to be smart, and I’m going to have to lean on my teammates heavily.”

Woods has grown increasingly comfortable with the leaning that leads to winning.

“I’ve learned so much over the last three years,” said Woods. “Every year I’m progressing. Last year I took a big step in terms of finding the front of a race on a regular basis, but I hadn’t yet figure out how to win. It’s only been in the last six months that I’m starting to figure out that part. And I’m enjoying that quite a bit. It’s a lot more fun to be at the front of the race, having expectations and living up to them on occasion. To be 32 and feel like you have this whole world to still learn and understand and explore, it’s really exciting.”

“Mike is a born winner,” said team founder Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s learning how to use his talents, and as he learns, we’ll see him win more and more.”

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour continues on Friday with a 161-kilometer stage between Sale and Warragul. While hilly, it’s not a big day for the general classification.

“There are only a small number of guys close on the general classification now,” said Southam. “We just have to focus on that and the rest will take care of itself.”

Mitchelton-Scott sent me this report about the women's edition of the race:

After a second place last weekend at Cadel Road Race, Lucy Kennedy has gone one better at the Lexus of Blackburn Jayco Herald Sun Tour, taking the final stage win and overall title in emphatic style today.

Kennedy used the move of world championship silver medalist Amanda Spratt to bridge across on the final climb before leaving her Mitchelton-SCOTT teammate in her wake, on route to a solo victory.

A gap of 39 seconds over the line to Spratt, who won a two-up sprint for second, gave the pair top two on the general classification to perfectly wrap up their Australian summer.

After plenty of unsuccessful attacks throughout a taxing and windy day, Mitchelton-SCOTT assembled at the same right hand corner as the men’s race, to put pressure on in crosswinds. With immediate effect, the group reduced quickly to less than 15riders, with five still present for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

One by one, as their jobs were finished, Gracie Elvin, Georgia Williams and Grace Brown peeled off the group to leave their leaders in the perfect position for the start of the final climb.

After a small effort by Kennedy on the bottom slopes of the climb, Spratt put in another move with more emphasis and immediately gained a gap. It was enough to shatter the remaining group as three riders formed a chase, with Kennedy there to patrol for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

As reigning champion Brodie Chapman (Tibco) worked to close the gap on Spratt, Kennedy used a steeper rise to launch off her wheel, straight to and past her teammate, to lead the race.

By the top of the climb Kennedy held a little under 30-second's advantage to Spratt and Chapman, and she slightly increased that advantage down the descent and to the finish line to win by 39 seconds.

Behind, Spratt and Chapman battled it out in a two-up sprint, with Spratt prevailing, to give Mitchelton-SCOTT top two overall and the team’s classification.

The conclusion of the Lexus of Blackburn Jayco Herald Sun Tour brings to an end a successful Australian Summer of Cycling for the Mitchelton-SCOTT women's team.

After walking away with the time trial title from Ballarat, the team regrouped for the Tour Down Under where they claimed two stage wins, first and second overall, the sprint jersey and best team classification.

Last weekend’s second and third place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race were capped off with a stage win, first and second overall and the team’s classification here in Victoria.

Lucy Kennedy - Champion
"As a team we just wanted to make it really really hard leading into the final climb and it was with the cross wind and alot of people were being really aggressive.

"The plan was to go from the bottom of the climb. I went first in a 'not too hard' attack, then Spratty got away.  Brodie was chasing her so I managed to sit on her until I could tell she was hurting a bit and I managed to go over the top, put my head down and kept going.

"It (the race) didn't feel sedate. With the wind, it was taxing all day. It felt like the least sedate day of the Australian summer. Although nothing really got away, there were alot of attacks.

"It's really special. A home win is always really exciting to get. The team have been nailing it all summer and it's nice to be the one that gets to cross the line first this time. But it really was a complete team effort, the girls were just awesome, everything went according to plan and first and second over the line is just a great way to finish the summer."

Lexus of Blackburn Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 2 Results:
1. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:28:02
2. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:39
3. Brodie Chapman (Tibco) +0:39

Lexus of Blackburn Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 2 Results:
1. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:58:21
2. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:36
3. Brodie Chapman (Tibco) +0:45

Lotto-Soudal reports on Challenge Illes Balears/Ciclista Mallorca stage one

The team sent me this:

The first European race for Lotto Soudal ended with mixed feelings. Rasmus Iversen made his debut as a pro rider and immediately went on the attack, joined by two other riders. Their advantage reached a maximum of seven minutes, but Movistar took the initiative in the peloton to catch the break. During the stage, Iversen stood out on the climbs and seemed to take the mountain classification and most aggressive rider award, but unfortunately, the Danish rider broke his collarbone, caused by a massive crash.

Iversen was taken to the hospital in Manacor and will be out of competition for a couple of weeks. On the final climb to San Salvador, Jesus Herrada attacked at the right moment and rode to victory. Tim Wellens was also involved in a crash after 50 kilometres of racing and has some abrasions. The Belgian Lotto Soudal rider finished fifth today.

Jesus Herrada

It was Cofidis' Jesus Herrada who took the first stage.

Marc Sergeant: “The plan was for Brian van Goethem and Rasmus Iversen to get into a breakaway but only if WorldTour teams joined. Before he realised it, Rasmus was at the front of the race, together with two other riders. That way, Movistar had to take the initiative and we could hide in the bunch. Rasmus took the KOM points on the three climbs and even when they got caught, he took second place on the fourth climb. But only moments later, he was one of the main victims of a massive crash. It was immediately clear that he broke his collarbone. Talking of mixed feelings… His first race as a pro, immediately 140 kilometres on the attack and breaking your collarbone. That makes already two riders out of competition during the coming weeks after Jelle Wallays crashed in Argentina.”

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