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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 3, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes. - J. R. R. Tolkien

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Nick Schultz wins Herald Sun Tour queen stage

Schultz's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

In his debut season for Mitchelton-SCOTT, 24-year-old Nick Schultz has won the Queen stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour for the first victory of his professional career.

Nick Schultz

Nick Schultz has the best day of his pro career.

Capping off an aggressive race, Schultz won a two-up sprint with Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky), the pair the final survivors of an earlier breakaway that completely shook up the race. The ride puts the Queenslander in second overall, 24seconds behind Van Baarle, with one day left to race.

Sitting fourth overall with Lucas Hamilton going into the penultimate day, Mitchelton-SCOTT went in with a clear objective to threaten the leading teams with aggression. They succeeded almost immediately, causing a big split in the peloton in the opening kilometres, with race leader Michael Woods (EF Education First) and second overall Richie Porte (Trek Factory Racing) both missing the split.

The race pulled back together, but the tension was already on as a new group of five riders went off the front and were shortly joined by three more, including Schultz, to make eight in the lead. By the first of four ascents of Arthurs Seat, the lead group had over two-minutes advantage on the bunch.

As they crested the top, the breakaway was already showing small splits, with Schultz in the front four who were clearly the stronger climbers. Behind, riders were quickly losing touch from the bunch too. By the second time up the climb the break had reduced to five and the chase to just 20 riders, with Mitchelton-SCOTT still represented by four riders including Hamilton, Damien Howson, Dion Smith and Callum Scotson.

EF Education First and Trek-Segafredo were struggling to maintain control, and losing men fast and by the top of the penultimate climb, their leaders Woods and Porte were isolated. With no one left to ride, their intensity disappeared from the chase as they accepted the inevitable loss.

With just Schultz and van Baarle remaining out in front for the final laps, the two worked together before Schultz took the lead to ride up the final climb with the Dutchman on his wheel.  The Australian had just enough left to launch a sprint to claim the mountain-top win.

After a stagiaire stint back in 2016, Schultz re-joined the Australian WorldTour outfit in 2019. The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is his third race this year, following the Australian Championships and Race Melbourne Cirterium. Today’s victory is his first win for the team and the first in his professional career.

Nick Schultz – Stage 4 Winner:
“A lot of it was down to right time right place. The whole team was really strong, we put the GC teams under the pump right from kilometre zero.

“I was the lucky one to sneak into the right move that was given a bit of leeway. It was the perfect scenario, Sky had numbers and they also had Van Baarle up there who was ahead of me on GC, so they just drilled it until Dylan and I went with two and a half laps to go and from there it was all out.

“Initially I had to dig pretty deep to get across (to the break), but also Sky waited to let us across. Basically, from their point of view it was so we wouldn’t chase from behind. I worked a bit at the start, until it was clear that they were sacrificing two guys full gas for Dylan, so I just sat in the wheels like he did.  It wasn’t until we were two up that I worked with him, but still again there I had to play a bit of cat and mouse to show that I was more interested in the stage win than the GC and I think that aligned with his views.

“This means the world. I have been kicking around in Spain for two years in a small Pro Continental outfit. It was a great experience but I can’t thank Gerry and the team at Mitchelton-SCOTT enough for the opportunity to be here, first of all, and to be part of a structure that allows a win like that.

“In 2016, I was a stagiaire in this team. When I went into that role Whitey was pretty clear that there wasn’t going to be a spot for me, it was more about experience and getting to know the environment. At the end, he said not to discount anything in the future and I thought, ‘oh yeh, they say that to everyone who doesn’t get a ride on the team after their stagiaire stint’, but two years later here I am.”

Bora-hansgrohe reports on third stage of Mallorca Challenge

The team sent me this:

Today’s third race of the Mallorca Challenge, the Trofeo de Tramuntana, saw an unbelievable fast and aggressive start. Attacks were flying all over the place and several groups were on the move. But the main bunch didn’t allow them to go far. When counter attack followed counter attack also BORA – hansgrohe was active at the front, trying to put yesterday’s winner Emanuel Buchmann in comfortable position.  After all this action, the main bunch was back together at the beginning of the climb up to the Puig Major, were the race erupted again.

A reduced group of just 20 riders, including Buchmann, Majka and Konrad for BORA – hansgrohe, rode at the front when World Champion Alejandro Valverde tried to distance himself from the rest. But Buchmann was the one to counter his attack. Again, the young German tried to go for a solo, leading the group of favorites by 30 seconds at the top of the Puig Major. With about 20k to go, a trio tried to catch up with Emu, who still was leading by 25 seconds, and finally Tim Wellens bridged across. The new leading duo worked hard to maintain their lead, while Valverde attacked from the chasing group. With 5k to go Wellens was able to drop Buchmann. The Belgian repeated his win from last year, with Emanuel Buchmann taking second place today after another impressive ride.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens wins the third stage.

"The race was really fast the whole day. Our plan was to wait until the Puig and save as much energy as possible before. But there were so many attacks, it was crazy. My team mates did an incredible job to control these situations and at the foot of the Puig all was back together. It was extremely cold on the climb. I didn’t feel really good, but decided to give it a try. I also wanted to avoid any risk in the downhill, it was an advantage to be in front by then. When Wellens bridged the gap, I knew it would be difficult to take a second win. But I am super happy with my performance. My shape is really good, and I gained lots of confidence during the last two days.” – Emanuel Buchmann

"It was brutal today. Just around zero degrees and some snow at the top of the Puig Major. At the beginning there were plenty of moves and sometimes were a little on the backfoot. But the boys did an amazing job to control the race for our climbers. When the pace went up on the Puig, we had Emu, Rafa and Patrick in the front group. Emu attacked before the top. Unfortunately, Rafa and Patrick struggled with the temperatures and both lost some ground in the downhill. At the front it was really close for Wellens to catch up with Emu. Ten seconds more and he would have done it again. To be beaten in the end by Wellens is no shame. It was another impressive performance from Emu. But I have to say that the whole team made a strong impression. Cheapeu.” – Jens Zemke, Sport Director 

Deceuninck-Quick Step report on Vuelta a San Juan stage six

Here's the team's update:

On paper, it should have been an easy day at the Vuelta a San Juan, but the reality on the road showed once again that the beauty of cycling resides in the fact that it’s impossible to predict 100% what will happen in a race.

Nicolas Tivani

Nicolas Tivani wins the sixth stage.

A flat 153km-long course with a short uphill drag to the finish – this is what was on store for Saturday’s Vuelta a San Juan stage 6, which took place on a loop starting and finishing on Autodromo El Villicum. A four-man break animated the day from the opening kilometers, carving out a maximum lead of five minutes, which began to really worry the peloton inside the final 25 kilometers of the day, when the escapees still held a three-minute lead.

Despite the furious chase, all that the bunch could do was reduce the deficit to under a minute by the time they entered the circuit which was to be covered twice. The strong crosswinds, the rain and the rise to the line made for a very chaotic finale, which saw the pack split into several groups. From one of these, Maximiliano Richeze and Julian Alaphilippe sprinted to a top 10, a handful of seconds behind winner Nicolas Tivani (Agrupacion Virgen De Fatima).

Neo-pro Remco Evenepoel overcome all the traps that made the last kilometers of Saturday’s stage harder than expected and concluded safely in the main bunch, keeping the green jersey he’s been wearing since stage 3 of the Vuelta a San Juan. All that stands now between the 19-year-old – ninth in the general classification – and his first important result is a flat 141.3km-long stage around San Juan.

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