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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 8, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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Lotto-Soudal previews Critérium du Dauphiné

The team sent me this update:

From Sunday 9 June until Sunday 16 June, Lotto Soudal will take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné. This French WorldTour stage race, spread over eight stages, is considered to be the perfect preparation for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday 6 July. With three stages on a hilly course, two flat days, an individual time trial and two summit finishes, the riders will get a first tough test in their lead-up to the Tour de France.

This 71st edition will start in Aurillac and end one week later in Champéry, Switzerland. The first two stages will be very hilly. The third stage can either end in a sprint finish or a breakaway that makes it to the finish. Wednesday 12 June, an individual time trial of 26.1 kilometres is scheduled. On day five and six, the peloton will face another flat and hilly race before heading to the mountains. The last two stages will be decisive for the general classification. The penultimate stage will take the peloton to the top of ‘Montée de Pipay’, a nineteen kilometres long climb with an average incline of 6.9%. The final stage to Champéry is only 113.5 kilometres long and will probably show the spectators an exciting race!

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas won the Dauphiné in 2019. Sirotti photo

The British rider Geraint Thomas won the Critérium du Dauphiné last year. Lotto Soudal also achieved some good results with amongst others a third place in the team time trial. Sports director Herman Frison talks about the plans and ambitions they have this year.

Herman Frison: “Every year, the Critérium du Dauphiné is a hard stage race. Almost all general classification riders of the Tour de France show up for this WorldTour race. In my opinion, there’s only one stage that can lead to a mass sprint. I consider the other stages to be more suitable for those who perform well uphill. That’s the reason why so few sprinters will compete in this race.”

“The Tour de France remains our priority. Carl Fredrik Hagen and Bjorg Lambrecht will be given a free role in the Critérium du Dauphiné, because we don’t want to put pressure on them. Our strategy is to ride offensively and see where it takes us. The main goal is to win a stage. Hagen and Lambrecht are the guys for the general classification, but once again: there’s no pressure!”

“If it would come to a sprint in a reduced group, we still have a chance with Jens Keukeleire. Most stages are rather short, although there is one of 220 kilometres long without any flat parts, which allows us to ride offensively. Just think of Sander Armée or maybe Bjorg Lambrecht who could possibly make it to the breakaway.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Jens Keukeleire, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Rémy Mertz and Harm Vanhoucke.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Stages:

Team Sunweb's upcoming races

Here's the team's update:

Critérium du Dauphiné: JUN 9-16

Aike Visbeek - Team Sunweb coach:
"Critérium du Dauphiné presents a challenging course throughout the race with a particularly difficult final stage. Our main focus will be stage success and we aim to achieve that by riding both offensively and attentively throughout the week. The early stages will be contested by Joris and Capser, who are both in great shape with some solid results in recent races. If all continues according to plan, Tom will make his return to racing at the Dauphiné after injuring his knee at the Giro d'Italia. His recovery has been slower than we hoped for and he will undergo a final MRI scan tomorrow [Thursday], as a final check before he heads to France. Then he will use Dauphiné to get back into racing rhythm for bigger goals in July. We'll take a day-by-day approach, taking no risk and with no focus on the GC. Alongside Tom we also have Martijn back from injury which is great, and Robert fully recovered, after his Giro was also ended early after a crash."

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin (shown at the 2019 Giro d'Italia) will be back in action racing the Dauphiné. Sirotti photo.

Line-up:
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Robert Power (AUS)
Florian Stork (GER)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)

OVO Energy Women's Tour: JUN 10-15

Hans Timmermans - Team Sunweb coach:
"We arrive at the Women's Tour with a lot of confidence after a good team performance in Thüringen. Unlike last year where the race was decided by bonus seconds between Coryn and Vos, this year there are two really tough GC days which should see bigger gaps. We expect the first three stages to end in sprints and the team will work to set up Coryn for those. While the following two days are the big GC stages and we should see some exciting racing. We'll go into those days with a more open approach, with Liane and Leah as leaders. Coryn and Floortje will also look to get in the breakaways for the team, riding aggressively at the head of the race."

Line-up
Susanne Andersen (NOR)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED)

Remco Evenepoel wins Hammer Limburg climb

Here's the report from Evenepoel's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

On the attack from the opening lap, 19-year-old neo-pro Remco Evenepoel dropped everyone else with 30 kilometers to go and won the Climb for our team.

Remco Evenepoel put in a dominant performance at the first Hammer Limburg race of the weekend and single-handedly netted a memorable Deceuninck – Quick-Step victory, our squad’s 32nd since the start of the season.

“The team wanted me to take as much points as possible and I think I did my job well. After that small group went clear, I made sure of joining them and scoring points at each sprint. With four laps to go, a big group was closing in and there was some hesitation at the front, so I took advantage of this and rode clear, adding to our points tally. It was a good day and I’m proud to help the team get the win and start Hammer Limburg on the right foot”, Remco said after the podium ceremony.

Consisting of eight laps of a gruelling 8.4km-long circuit containing two ascents, the Hammer Climb was raced full gas from the start, when a rider went clear and put some daylight between him and the chasing group, from which Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert emerged to net the team’s first points of the day. Shortly after, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) went clear and the only one to respond and bridge across was Remco Evenepoel. The group swelled to four riders and opened a half a minute gap over the next five laps, which saw Remco score well, as he constantly was in the top two at the top of the Vaalserberg.

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenpoel emphatically winning the junior men's world championship road race in 2018. Sirotti photo

Evenepoel’s strong and composed ride bumped Deceuninck – Quick-Step into the hot seat, but the 19-year-old from Aalst was keen on increasing that margin and on a downhill section, he accelerated showing the others a clean pair of wheels before riding out of sight. This nicely-timed move left the chasers incapable of narrowing the margin, which Remco – oblivious to what was happening behind – stretched out beyond the one-minute mark as he continued to mop up important points. His impressive haul helped the team crack 1000 points and go to the top of the Hammer Limburg standings ahead of Saturday’s Hammer Sprint.

Sports director Tom Steels was a happy man at the end of the 69.4km race: “I think that we already saw in Norway that Remco is going well and he continued today on a hard course. He rode his own race and ended up crossing the line first, more than a minute clear. We didn’t think today would be our day, as the team was more setup for the sprint and the TTT stages, so this is quite a nice victory.”

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