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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old. - Jonathan Swift

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Annemiek van Vleuten and Mitchelton-Scott women motivated to defend their Giro-Rosa title

Mitchelton-Scott sent me this: 

Mitchelton-SCOTT women return to the Giro-Rosa as the defending champions, looking for a second consecutive title in a hard edition of the 10-day Italian Grand Tour starting on Friday.

After their success last year, the team knows what it takes to win such a race and is well prepared, bringing arguably the strongest line-up to date, ready to perform in the main goal of the 2019 season, the only women's Grand Tour of the year.

The 2018 champion, Annemiek van Vleuten, will lead the six-rider team with a strong support squad built around her, including talented Australian climbers Amanda Spratt, who finished in third-place in last year's race, and the recent Durango-Durango winner Lucy Kennedy.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Van Vleuten winning a stage in the 2017 Giro Rosa

Bringing the crucial horsepower and speed to round-out the impressive squad will be Dutch super domestique Moniek Tenniglo, sprinter Sarah Roy and Australian time trial champion Grace Brown, who will make her debut appearance in the race.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:

Grace Brown - (AUS, 26) Debutant
Lucy Kennedy - (AUS, 30)
Sarah Roy - (AUS, 33)
Amanda Spratt - (AUS, 31)
Moniek Tenniglo - (NED, 31)
Annemiek van Vleuten - (NED, 36)

The Course:
Like last year, the Giro-Rosa will begin with an 18kilometre team time trial to get the wheels in motion. For 2019, the race will also feature two summit finishes, the first coming on day-six with a much-anticipated summit finish on the Passo di Gavia, and the second on stage nine, finishing at the top of the Malga Montasio.

These stages are likely to be key general classification days along with another major test on stage-seven, a brutal 12kilometre uphill individual time trial, where Van Vleuten will get to show off her world championship rainbow bands once again.

The general classification should be quite clear going into the final stage, the riders just need to tackle a cobble climb up to the finish in Udine where the final race winner will be crowned.

History:
In 2018 Mitchelton-SCOTT set out to win the overall general classification in the event for the first time and did so, dominating the race in style. The Australian outfit claimed six out of ten stage wins on offer with two riders finishing on the podium in first place (Van Vleuten) and third place (Spratt) along with claiming the points and mountains jerseys.

Previous to this, the team finished on the podium in 2017 with third place (Van Vleuten) and fifth place (Spratt).

The Competition:
Every year the women’s peloton increases it’s strength and depth and this year is no different. The new Trek-Segafredo team has had a strong start, claiming many victories and includes local Italian climber Elisa Longo-Borghi who will be one of the main competitors.

Former winner Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) returns to the start line and along with last year's runner-up Ashleigh Moolman (CCC-Liv), they will be two key riders to watch. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram) are amongst other big names likely to be prominent in the race.

Annemiek van Vleuten - Team Leader and 2018 Champion:
“I’m super excited, I really love the Giro-Rosa, it is the biggest stage race and it is a super beautiful team goal to do it together. It is really a team effort, not just the riders but all the staff and everybody is preparing for it a lot, doing recon and even between the girls, it feels like everybody wants to be in the team.

“I think I have prepared optimally for it, I know altitude works well for me. It was train, eat, rest, repeat for three-weeks, so I have worked very hard for this.

"I was also together with Amanda and Lucy at altitude and before at Bira, Spratt showed she is super good form with a stage win and also for Lucy Kennedy to win in Durango, we came home from that race with a good team spirit. I think we are coming in with some a really good team also with some horsepower with Moniek, Sarah and Grace.

“I’ve been so focused on the Giro-Rosa and not really doing any flat time trial training, I rode my time trial bike but more uphill, so I knew if at the nationals I wasn’t super strong I could explain it, but to win the national time trial with such a big time difference, it gives me a good sign that I still have power.

"I feel really strong and feel confident going to the Giro, now I know the power is still there and I am super prepared for the climbing too and that combination can work out very well.

“With two summit finishes it is epic, also with an uphill team time trial and individual time trial and a few more stage finishes slightly uphill, they designed a really hard Giro this year. I really love that they put in a famous climb like the Gavia so people back home can understand what we are doing in the Giro and that there are really hard climbs.

“I have the feeling that more girls are targeting the race this year, I’ve seen many girls climbing better, it will be a good battle and that makes it nice that all the climbers will there this year.

“It will be good to have Anna van der Breggen there this year, Katie Hall is also good climber but wasn’t at the race in 2018, and I expected Boels-Dolmans to bring many other strong climbers that can target the GC that weren’t there last year, so that will for sure be a factor. The harder the battle the better.”

Martin Vestby - Sport Director:
“We are going into this race fully committed to defending our title and win with Annemiek. We have a strong team, we have riders who are really really strong on the climbs and the other riders who are strong and powerful, so I think we are very well balanced.

“There is always so much that can happen during a long 10-day stage race, so you never know, you can have a bad moment or bad luck and everything can change, but with Annemiek’s form and this course that should suit her very well, we have a big chance to win and we have prepared very well for this race.

“The Gavia stage is obviously a key stage, but I think there’s quite a few key stages were you can win or lose the race or see surprises to the GC. The time trial stage will also play a big part too.

“This year there’s not too many sprint stages, so I don’t think too many teams will bring too many big sprinters which opens up a possibly that Roy can get a chance to sprint for herself if the situation allows. But we will always solely focus on the GC, that is very clear and of course our main goal for this year’s Giro-Rosa.”

Giro-Rosa 2019 Race Details:

Friday, 5th July: Stage 1: Cassano Spinola-Castellania, 18km (TTT)
Saturday, 6th July: Stage 2: Viù-Viù, 78km
Sunday, 7th July: Stage 3: Sagliano Micca-Piedicavallo, 104km
Monday, 8th July: Stage 4: Lissone-Carate Brianza, 100km
Tuesday, 9th July: Stage 5: Ponte in Valtellina-Passo Gavia, 100km
Wednesday, 10th July: Stage 6: Chiuro-Teglio, 12km (ITT)
Thursday, 11th July: Stage 7: Cornedo Vicentino-Fara Vicentina, 128km
Friday, 12th July: Stage 8: Vittorio Veneto-Maniago
Saturday, 14th July: Stage 9: Gemona-Malga Montasio, 125km
Sunday, 15th July: Stage 10: San Vito al Tagliamento-Udine, 120km

CCC Team to fight for stage wins at the Tour de France

The team sent me this update:

1 July 2019: CCC Team is set to line up at the Tour de France with eight riders motivated to go for a stage win when racing gets underway this Saturday in Brussels.

Two-time individual stage winner Greg Van Avermaet, the last Belgian to wear the Maillot Jaune, will lead the team on home soil at the Grand Depart and will be joined by fellow countryman Serge Pauwels. Simon Geschke, who won a stage in 2015, Team Time Trial winners Patrick Bevin (2018) and Michael Schär (2015 and 2018), and three-time Vuelta a España stage winner Alessandro De Marchi will bring a wealth of experience to the team, whilst former United States time trial champion Joey Rosskopf and Polish rider Łukasz Wiśniowski are set to make their race debut.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet wore yellow for 11 days in 2018. Sirotti photo

CCC Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the 2019 Tour de France will mark an important milestone in the team’s history.

“The Tour de France is always an exciting time in the cycling season and this year’s edition will be special for the team, for our title sponsor CCC, and for Polish cycling. For the first time, the CCC brand will race on the world’s biggest stage and we will make our debut at the Tour de France with the CCC Team name, the first Polish WorldTour team in the history of the race. Dariusz Miłek, President of the CCC Group, has dreamed of this for a long time and we are proud to make it a reality on Saturday,” Ochowicz said.

“We are lining up at the Tour de France with a fresh approach and new objectives. This may be the team’s tenth Tour de France but it will be the first year in that time that we line up without a General Classification contender so, this is new terrain for us. Instead, we are bringing eight motivated riders who will look to race aggressively and work towards achieving our primary objective which is to win a stage. We have to and we will line up at every start line with the belief that we can win that stage. It’s not easy to win a stage at the Tour de France but we have riders who have won before, and the opportunity given to all eight riders to go for their own results gives them a level of freedom most have never had. We are excited to see what they can do.”

Sports Director Fabio Baldato believes the unpredictability of this year’s Tour de France can work in the team’s favor. “Our Tour de France this year will be all about attacking, looking for good breakaways, and working as a team to win a stage. We don’t have a pure sprinter and we don’t have a pure climber, we have a team of opportunists which means we have to look at every stage and see how we can win it. I think the fact that the General Classification is so open this year will work in our favor as there is not one team with the responsibility of controlling the race, which should help us to achieve our goal and race as aggressively as possible,” Baldato explained.

“Of course, Greg Van Avermaet is the leader of our team, a title he deserves when you look at his palmarès and history at the race. There are quite a few stages that are suited to Greg and he will have the team’s full support on those days. Riders like Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Geschke, and Serge Pauwels are exactly the kind of riders who will be jumping in breakaways and have already proven they can win in these situations. Patrick Bevin has his sights set on the ITT but he showed fantastic form at Tour de Suisse so I think he is going to have a great Tour de France. We saw last year in the stage 13 breakaway that Michael Schär can make the most of an opportunity when given the chance so we can expect to see more of that. Joey Rosskopf and Łukasz Wiśniowski will make their debut so they are in for a special Tour de France and with the freedom to go for their own results.”

CCC TEAM at the TOUR DE FRANCE (July 6-28):

SPORTS DIRECTORS:

Fabio Baldato (ITA)
Piotr Wadecki (POL)
Valerio Piva (ITA)

PATRICK BEVIN (NZ)
Age: 28
Participations: 2017, 2018
Stage wins: 2018 Stage 3 TTT

“Going in without a General Classification leader is an exciting prospect and lends itself to a much more relaxed build-up to the Tour de France. I have come out of the Tour de Suisse with great form and I hope to parlay that into a result come July. I have two main goals. The first is the time trial. This has been my focus throughout the season and I have been constant in all the time trials I have taken part in. A time trial during the second week of a Grand Tour is a different prospect and I hope to be able to produce a top performance there and see where that puts me on the results sheet. My second goal is to be aggressive as the race progresses. I feel like I am climbing well enough to take some chances on the days where a break is likely to succeed. This is a different feeling to my last Tour de France experiences and this is the type of opportunity that really excites me as an athlete.”

ALESSANDRO DE MARCHI (ITA)
Age: 33
Participations: 2013, 2014, 2017

“I’m really happy to be back at the Tour de France but I am even happier to be back at the race with the team we have; a strong team with teammates ready, like me, to look for any opportunities. I think this approach is the best for a stressful and demanding race like the Tour de France. This approach will give everyone a smile in the hard moments and motivation in the moments when we need to fight. Personally, I will really try to live the moment and each stage, as I did at the Critérium du Dauphiné when I almost made it to the line on a sprint stage. If you feel it, you must go and try. This will be my mantra!”

SIMON GESCHKE (GER)
Age: 33
Participations: 2009, 2013, 2015-2018
Stage wins: 2015 stage 17

“I’m as excited as always for the Tour de France. It is a special feeling this year with a new team in a positive way. I’m sure we can make it a good one and I look forward to contributing with my experience and also the legs, of course. A lot can happen in the race so I prefer to take it day by day, that’s how I managed to win a stage in 2015. It can be a big advantage to not have the focus on the General Classification. I should be definitely a bit fresher after missing many races in spring. I wasn’t flying at the Tour de Suisse, but I made steady progress since my last injury. I did my best on and off the bike, since that time, to peak in July so I’m confident that I’ll be in good shape during the Tour de France.”

SERGE PAUWELS (BEL)
Age: 35
Participations: 2010, 2015-2018

“I’m really happy to be lining up at the Tour de France. To have the Grand Depart in Belgium is pretty unique. I’ve raced through Belgium in the Tour before but to have the Grand Depart there will make it even more special, especially as it will be the first and last time it happens in my career. There will be a lot of friends and family on the side of the road to watch and support me, so I am really looking forward to the first weekend. My role this year will be similar to what I had in the last years as we will be looking for stage wins. It’s basically about grabbing the opportunities that come up. I think there are a lot of good stages for riders like me, starting with the La Planche des Belles Filles stage, and with guys like Alessandro De Marchi and Simon Geschke, we will have strength in numbers. I feel good and I’ve had the opportunity to fine tune my form after the Critérium du Dauphiné so I’m ready.”

JOEY ROSSKOPF (USA)
Age: 29
First time racing

“I'm going to the Tour de France! What more is there to say? As we all know, the Tour is in many ways the pinnacle of the sport, but it is also one which I was never sure I would reach. It appears this year I'll get my chance! So I head to the start line with eagerness and even more with gratitude to our team for the confidence they have placed in me since the beginning of the season. When I look at the rest of our roster, I see a bunch of strong, determined, stage hunters and I hope to play that role as well. I think that between us we will constantly be ready to create and seize any opportunity we can for stage success. That freedom and aggression we will be allowed makes this an especially exciting group to be a part of. Aside from the results we hope to achieve, another highlight for me will be soaking in all the friendly faces and support of family and hometown friends who will be strewn along the roadside. Based on what I hear of their travel plans, it appears as though half of Decatur, GA is moving to France for the month of July. Let "La Grande Boucle" begin!”

MICHAEL SCHÄR (SUI)
Age: 32
Participations: 2011-2018
Stage wins: 2015 stage 9 TTT, 2018 Stage 3 TTT

“I am excited to start my ninth Tour de France. As I started in 2011 and we won the race with Cadel Evans, it was always special to go back to France in July. For many years my role was identical which meant that I had to ride the front on the flat stages for our General Classification contenders. This year is the first time that I have a different role and I am happy about it. I have much more freedom to take chances in breakaways. There are also a couple of stages that fit Greg Van Avermaet well and on those days, we will make everything possible to support him. There is no specific day that I pointed out for this Tour de France for me. I will take every day as an opportunity to show something. I feel ready and am happy with my form.”

GREG VAN AVERMAET (BEL)
Age: 34
Participations: 2009, 2014-2018
Stage wins: 2015 stage 9 TTT, 2015 stage 13, 2016 stage 5, 2018 Stage 3 TTT
Days in yellow: 11

"It’s really special to have the Grand Depart in Belgium. To have the chance to race the biggest race of the year in front of family and friends definitely gives me extra motivation. Also, to line up as the most recent Belgian to wear the yellow jersey makes it even more exciting and something I am really proud of. I want to win a stage, that’s no secret. Without a General Classification leader, we all have the freedom to go for our own results and that's really exciting. Not just for me, but for the whole team. I never expected to wear the yellow jersey for eight days last year and I think that is a good reminder of how you have to take every opportunity that comes your way during the race and be aggressive from start to finish.”

ŁUKASZ WIŚNIOWSKI (POL)
Age: 27
First time racing

“This will be my second Grand Tour but my first Tour de France. I’m really excited. Ever since I started cycling, I dreamed of being part of a Tour de France team and finally, the dream is coming true. I’m really looking forward to the race especially as we are going with a strong team and without a General Classification rider, we will, hopefully, with good legs and good luck, be able to win a stage. There is not one stage that I am looking at but I hope to be in some breakaways and do a nice result. Since the beginning of the year, I have really enjoyed being part of the Polish CCC Team project and now, to go to the biggest race of the year with a Polish team is really special. With the start in Brussels, where people are crazy about cycling, the atmosphere will be really nice. I’m really happy and I can’t wait to join the riders and staff there and have a great three weeks.”

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

Here's the schedule the team sent me:

Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile: JUL 5-14

Nicolas Marche - Team Sunweb coach:
"The Giro is the longest and one of the most beautiful stages races in the women's calendar. It is always difficult but this year looks set to be a really hard Giro and we’ll see the best climbers in the world head to the race. We arrive at the Giro with six motivated riders, all with different roles within the team. Lucinda will be our card to play in the GC: she's just back from altitude camp and motivated to repeat her performance that saw her come fifth last year. Juliette starts her third Giro and this year she will try to stay as long as possible with Lucinda and potentially fight for the young rider classification. Floortje and Leah will be there to support the GC riders in the mountains but also to fight for stage wins for the team. Julia will be our road captain and use her experience to guide the team, and Pfeiffer arrives at the race to support the team but to also gain valuable experience because it is her first time racing the Giro."

Line-up:
Lucinda Brand (NED)
Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Julia Soek (NED)

Lucina Brand

Lucinda Brand (shown at the 2018 Azencross) will lead Team Sunweb at the Giro.

Tour de France: JUL 6-28

Aike Visbeek - Team Sunweb coach:
"This year our focus at the Tour de France will be to go for stage success throughout the race. We have been in this situation before when we have had to change from a GC goal to focusing on stage results and I am confident we can do well again. We’ll have opportunities for good results with Michael in the sprint stages and reduced bunch sprints. Nikias will be our captain and with Giro stage winner Chad, we bring extra power for the both the TTT and TT. With Wilco, Nicholas and Søren we aim for opportunities in the more difficult hilly and mountain stages. We are also happy and proud that we bring two talented debutants to this year’s Tour with Lennard and Cees. Lennard has showed both in lead out work and in the mountains that he is very strong and with him we are aiming to make the next step in his development. Cees has made big steps this spring with several victories, but maybe even more impressive has been his dedication to working in a support role on different occasions. Cees will get the opportunity to gain more experience and develop at what is the highest level."

Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Cees Bol (NED)
Chad Haga (USA)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)

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