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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 17, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts. - John Steinbeck

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Lots of news in my inbox.

We'll start with the Stage 2 Tour Down Under team reports

Winner Patrick Bevin's CCC Team sent this:

January 2019, Angaston (AUS): Patrick Bevin continued his strong start to the season by sprinting to his first WorldTour stage win on stage two of the Santos Tour Down Under, which saw the New Zealander move into the race lead.

Bevin, who became the New Zealand national time trial champion two weeks ago, made the most of a chaotic and crash-marred finale to launch his sprint with perfect timing at 150 meters to go and deliver CCC Team’s first WorldTour win of the season.

Patrick Bevin

Patrick Bevin wins stage two.

With ten bonus seconds from his stage win, in addition to five bonus seconds from stage one, Bevin now leads the Santos Tour Down Under by five seconds over Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), and nine seconds over Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) with four stages remaining.

The sprint finish came after a relatively quiet day for Bevin and his CCC Team teammates after a three-rider breakaway went clear in the early kilometers and continued to hover around two minutes ahead.

The peloton pulled the breakaway back inside the final 50 kilometers, of the 122-kilometer stage, which allowed Matthieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ) to launch a solo attack in the closing 30 kilometers.

After delaying the catch, the peloton eventually brought Ladagnous back three kilometers from the finish line in Angaston but a large crash in the final kilometer disrupted the sprint trains and allowed Bevin to chase down Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team), who was the first rider to launch his sprint.

Bevin’s kick and speed were unable to be matched from the sprinters behind and as he crossed the line, Bevin raised his hands in triumph to celebrate the biggest win of his career to date.

Interview with Patrick Bevin

Congratulations, Paddy! How does it feel to win your first WorldTour stage?

“It’s my first WorldTour win. It’s huge. WorldTour wins are so hard to come by. I wouldn’t have put money on it being a sprint like that. I’ve been working so hard on my time trialing to take my career that way. It’s amazing. In the last few years we haven’t had sprinters and then we were third, and close, yesterday and today to win it sets a precedent for this team. Like I said here yesterday when I was most aggressive rider, we are going to fight for everything we can get. This [CCC Team] is a revamped outfit with a totally different mindset, totally different goals, and we want to give it everything we have. I love the Tour Down Under. It’s always been a great race for me.”

Talk us through that final sprint.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good run in a bunch sprint but I’ve done a lot of work in the off season on my time trialling, with the power simplifying what I was doing. Obviously, it’s working as I was floating around that finish thinking I’ve got some legs here. The team was riding for Jakub Mareczko and I had a free role. But, chasing GC here you have to stay up there and not lose time. We knew it was a tough finish and because the stage was so easy, it was on for the last five kilometers when it was full gas. Coming into two kilometers to go I got myself in a really good position and I put myself on the shoulder and as that crash happened, I came around. [Luis Leon] Sanchez went off the front and I thought I would just go and try and use him as a springboard off the front. Straight sprinting I wasn’t going to be able to beat those guys but I had to capitalize on how hard it was.”

You came here looking for a good General Classification result and you’re already in the race lead. How are you feeling about the rest of the race?

“It’s a long week from here. We have had the two easy days so we’ll look at tomorrow. Tomorrow is tough. It’s my fourth time at the Santos Tour Down Under and I think it’s the toughest stage I’ve ever done. Leading the race changes the tactics a bit, you absorb a bit more pressure, but I feel like we are in a great position to box on in the next four stages.”

Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“Paddy has been working hard and knocking on the door for a result like this for a while so it’s great to see it become a reality for him. It’s a great feeling for the whole team. We started the season with a new title sponsor, new colors, a lot of new faces, so this is a fantastic way to kick the season off for CCC Team. We came here to win a stage and to win one already is huge, and now Paddy is in a great position for the General Classification. I think we are meeting and beating our expectations and if we can keep going with this morale and momentum, then it will be a great race for us.

“We’re really happy with the race so far. We came here hoping to be competitive in the GC and where we could do well in the sprints, and we’ve already done well in both. We reconned the finish earlier this week and we took Paddy out of the train and protected him from losing time. He took the opportunity today and went for it, and he found himself ahead of that crash. We took five seconds yesterday, and that was the plan, but today was a bonus. Now we have the jersey, but we have the team for it. It changes our strategy a bit and tomorrow will shake things out quite a bit.”

Here's the update from Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

It was another scorching day at the Tour Down Under, with riders already feeling the full effects of the Australian heat. A shortened stage saw the day taking place on a parcours almost 30km shorter than planned, but riders pushed hard from the start, with two breakaways making the peloton work hard for the predicted uphill bunch sprint. This looked to be the case until a huge crash with less than 1km to go blocked the road and saw riders frantically trying to recover. The Slovak National Champion, Peter Sagan, took third, avoiding the chaos of the crash, with his BORA-hansgrohe teammates finishing safely and ready to contest the later stages.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan was in the hunt (white jersey with rainbow sleeve cuffs).

With temperatures expected to hit 40°C (104F), stage 2 of the Tour Down Under had been shortened from 149km to 122.1km. This would be a welcome decision for riders, given that the parcours saw more climbing than the race’s opener, including the second category Checker Hill which, at 13.3%, would be even tougher in the heat. This didn’t deter riders from attacking, with a determined trio going off early and building a lead of 3:30 on the peloton. As the temperatures climbed, the break started to suffer and were swept up by the bunch, but no sooner were they caught, another break went off, leaving one determined rider up the road. With 5km remaining though, the pace rose, the peloton wanting to take the win and the catch was made with less than 3km to go, the BORA-hansgrohe riders out in force on the front. Having just passed under the flamme rouge, a huge crash took out most of the bunch, blocking the entire road and blowing the finale to pieces. Coming through unscathed, Peter Sagan took third in a reduced bunch sprint, a strong finish after a hot and hectic day.

From the Finish Line
"Although there was a crash in the finale today, I think that yesterday's sprint was more dangerous. Today was on a slight climb and it was more about legs. I wasn't affected by the crash though as it happened behind me. I think someone touched my back wheel. When Luis León Sanchez attacked, I stayed behind him but Patrick Bevin won quite easily. Tomorrow will be a harder stage than the first two ones but I will see what I'll do. I'm not going to decide now, I'll see during the stage what chances I have.  As I said, I'm here mainly to train and if I can get something or a stage win then it will be fine but even if I don't, I will not be worried." – Peter Sagan

"It was a really warm stage and I think the right decision was taken to shorten it a bit. All riders were cooked and although it might have seemed not to be too exciting from outside, it was hard for the riders with 40°C temperatures. In the end, it came to a bunch sprint where Peter scored a very good third place. Once again, the team worked well to help him and overall, I think we had a good result today." – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

And UAE-Team Emirates sent me this:

Jasper Philipsen is showing his potential again as a young talent with a fifth place in Tour Down Under stage two. The stage covered 122.1km from Norwood to Angaston.

Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) won ahead of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal). Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took third and Danny Van Poppel (Team Jumbo-Visma) fourth ahead of Philipsen.

This stage finished differently from the sprint into town yesterday to open the Australian stage race, when the Belgian of UAE Team Emirates (photo Bettini) placed sixth. Stage two climbed slightly and consistently to its finish line, which allowed Philipsen to use his base and resistance over the other sprinters.

“It was a serious battle to get in position for the sprint,” said Philipsen, now 12th in the overall classification. “I jumped from wheel to wheel until I found the right situation, in the slipstream of Sagan. I felt well in the sprint, but not good enough to make up those positions for the finish line. We are at the start of the season, my condition will only continue to rise, which is a comforting feeling“.

UAE Team Emirates kept control of the top place in the teams classification even if in the final Diego Ulissi and Tadej Pogacar were involved in a crash. Luckily, the crash did not affect the riders seriously.

Stage 2 finish
1 Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) 3h14’31”
2 Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) s.t.
3 Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) s.t.
5 Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) s.t.

Overall classification after stage 2
1 Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) 6h34’03”
2 Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step 5″
3 Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) 9″
12 Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) 15″

Tramadol: UCI bans painkiller in competition starting in March

BBC Sport posted this news:

The powerful painkiller tramadol will be banned in-competition in cycling from March this year. Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, has announced its own ban despite the drug not being included on the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) prohibited list.

Penalties for a positive test range from disqualification from the event to a nine-month ban for a third offence.

Tramadol was detected in 4.4% of all samples taken in cycling in 2017.

The UCI said the aim of the ban is "preserving the rider's health and safety" because of the side-effects of tramadol. Possible side-effects include nausea and dizziness, while tramadol is also addictive and there are concerns it has caused crashes by making riders drowsy.

Wada's 2017 monitoring report showed that 68% of all urine samples containing tramadol taken from 35 Olympic sports were from cyclists.

Under the new ban, a rider testing positive for tramadol for the first time will be disqualified from the event they are tested at and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,925). A second offence will also result in disqualification and a five-month suspension, which increases to nine months for a third positive test.

You can read the entire story here.

Team Sunweb extend contracts with Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij

Sunweb sent this news:

Team Sunweb are delighted to extend their contracts with the talented duo of Lippert (GER) and Mackaij (NED) until the end of 2022.

The newly crowned German road race champion, Liane has gone from strength to strength in her development whilst in Team Sunweb’s ranks, securing a GC and stage win at Lotto Belgium Tour, amongst other top GC results through the 2018 season.

“To sign until 2022 shows the trust the team has in me, they know my strengths and also where I can improve still,” said Lippert of the extension. “I’m still such a young rider and I want to continue my development to become one of the best riders in the world, I believe this is the best place for me to do that. The team has already given me a leadership role within a race; to get this chance at such a young age is great and again shows their belief in me. I can’t wait for the next years together with Team Sunweb.”

“Liane is one of the rising stars in women’s cycling,” added Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED). “Last year she became German champion, won a four-day stage race and two WorldTour TTT’s. This is very special for a 20-year-old and we believe that the maximum of her potential is not even in sight. With our new Keep Challenging Center in Sittard we will have the opportunity to work closer with Liane, adding great value to the next steps in her development.”

One of the Women’s program’s long-standing members, Mackaij is a true part of the team’s core. As well as being a real team player, 23-year-old Mackaij is more than capable of going for a result herself. In 2018 she took two impressive stage wins at the Tour de Feminin, a win at Omloop van de Westhoek, finished in 2nd place at Le Samyn des Dames and 3rd at Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Mackaij

Floortje Mackaij having a good day in 2018

“I’m really happy with my new contract for the upcoming seasons,” said Mackaij of her extension. “I’m very proud to have been a part of the team since I was a junior. Team Sunweb suits perfectly with my personal development and together I want to take the next step up to the top level of women’s cycling.”

Hans Timmermans concluded: “Every year Floortje makes a step forward. She has a bright future ahead of her and I am confident that we will see her more often in the finals of WorldTour races – she was close to that level last year already. At the end of last season she had a lot of bad luck because of a hard crash in training, but here she showed how impressive her mental strength is which is just as important as any physical capability. We’re looking forward to continuing working with Floortje, it will be great to see where her development leads.”

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