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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, October 10, 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

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour - William Blake

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Milano-Torino reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

The everlasting consistency and fine legs of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) will see him reaching the end of yet another season with a shot at one of the big prizes in the 2019 classics season. The Spanish road race champion put an end to his preparations for Il Lombardia, the last race for the Blues next Saturday, with another podium (2nd) in Italy at the 100th Milano-Torino, held over 178km at impressive speed and finishing with two climbs to the Basilica di Superga.

Michael Woods

Michael Woods beats Alejandro Valverde to win Milano-Torino. Sirotti photo

The commitment from the Telefónica-backed squad all race long was worth many mentions today. Jasha Sütterlin and Jaime Castrillo worked until the final 25km to keep under control the morning break of five riders, while Carlos Betancur and Rubén Fernández covered the Spaniard into the ascents, with Rubén picking up the pace into the second climb to help Valverde find a better position.

Alejandro tried to keep a check on the multiple accelerations by an impressive Michael Woods (EF1), the only one which matched, and even bested, the Spaniard’s pace when his final move, 400 meters from the end, made the former World Champion hesitate to follow him just before the sprint. Eventually, ‘Bala’ finished on the Canadian’s wheel, without overtaking him, and remained on the podium of the ‘MiTo’ after his 3rd spot from the 2018 race.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“First of all, hats off to Woods for his victory. And thanks a lot to my team-mates, for the great work they did at all times, keeping me covered before the last climb. I’d of course have liked to finish this off and win, but we must remain happy with this 2nd place. I may have lacked some confidence to follow Woods’ acceleration into that move prior to the final straight, but I’m content with this podium.

“We weren’t really fortunate with the incident at Tre Valli yesterday. Everyone just followed the motorbike. I realized that wasn’t the right direction, but seeing that everyone was going there, I wasn’t going to turn right and cause a crash. It was a completely different race today, with different weather – we spent the first 100km under the rain and with cold weather, and so my legs didn’t feel particularly great, a bit swollen because of the humidity, yet we were able to keep the pace in the end.

“A fifth spot, two second places – it seems like these tests before Lombardy show good signs. This will help me reach a really good fitness level for Saturday. Lombardia is a race that I still miss in my palmarès, and we must take advantage from this form. Roglic should be the man to beat there.”

And here's the report from third-place Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team:

Tour of Croatia winner Adam Yates climbed to third place after an attacking finale at Milano-Torino as attention now turns to Il Lombardia on Saturday.

The 27-year-old was in the mix up both ascents of the decisive Superga climb but couldn’t go with the late attack from eventual winner Michael Woods (EF Education First).

Milano-Torino podium

The podium, from left: Alejandro Valverde (2nd), winner Michael Woods & Adam Yates (3rd). Sirotti photo

The Road to Torino:
A five-rider breakaway formed as the peloton rolled out of Milan for the 179km route to Torino, with drama striking early when a small crash took down several riders, including American Brent Bookwalter who was left needing stitches in his chin.

The escapees were allowed an advantage of around the five-minutes mark for most of the day, with the peloton content to let the break go on the largely flat run to the finale and the two ascents of the Superga climb.

Italian Edoardo Affini moved to the head of the bunch for Mitchelton-SCOTT with Yates on his wheel and the neo-pro significantly reduced the breakaway’s advantage as the climb approached. The gap was down to just over one-minute as the race hit the slopes and the break soon began to attack each other.

The Superga:
The final man from the original escape was brought back as the summit approached, with Damien Howson joining Yates towards the head of the reducing peloton. Team INEOS were the ones controlling the pace on the descent and on the flat roads as the bunch looped back around to the climb.

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) was the first rider to make a move on the climb with Yates sticking to the Dane’s wheel before Woods launched a counter move. This time GP Bruno Beghelli podium finisher Jack Haig followed the attack, with a trio going clear before Woods attacked again and was joined by David Gaudu (Groupama - FDJ).

Yates then bridged across to his teammate and a small chase group formed with two kilometres to go. Haig dug deep to close the leading pair down before swinging off, leaving a select group of favourites at the head of the race. Several attacks came and went, but nodbody could follow Woods as he jumped clear with 400-metres to go, with Yates racing to third behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).  

Adam Yates:
“This race suits me quite well and as a team we tried to keep it really simple and have a battle on the last climb.”

“At all sections of the race I had someone with me to help out and I saved as much as possible. Shultzy kept me out the wind all day and coming into the climb we had perfect position thanks to Eddie the first time and Damo the second time and from there on it’s just a matter of having the legs."

"I tried to ride smart on the last climb and having Haigy there to close the gap to the guys in front helped a ton, I just think the guys who placed ahead of me were better on the day; but having said that it’s good to be up there and show myself before the big one on Saturday."

"Unfortunately, we lost Brent quite early so hopefully he’s not too seriously hurt!"

Matt White (Sports Director):
"We’ve had a tricky day, Brent Bookwalter crashed and has probably ended his season, he was involved in an early crash and had go to hospital for stitches, so it didn’t start well. Then Jack had some back luck on the run into the first climb when he had a puncture 10km before the bottom, then a bike change at the bottom, so he’s done well to get around the first time."

"On the second time up the plan was for Adam to sit tight and if other guys were there they’d react to go with attacks. As it turned out it worked out quite well, Adam came across and we got Jack to bring back Gaudu and Woods on the flatter section before it kicked up before the line and I think Adam did a very calculate ride."

"If you look at the replay Adam was on Gaudu’s wheel and Gaudu blew and let Valverde’s wheel go with around 500 to go, so Adam had to go around him and Woods had already started to go. But in the end, there was no hiding on that climb, the strongest guy won."

CCC Team Signs Pavel Kochetkov for 2020-21

CCC Team sent me this:

9 October 2019: Pavel Kochetkov will join up with compatriot Ilnur Zakarin at CCC Team in 2020 with the Russian rider signing a two-year contract until 2021.

Kochetkov, the former Russian road race champion in 2016, will add experience to the team’s 2020 roster with eight Grand Tour participations to his name since turning professional in 2013.

“We are in the stages of finalizing our roster for the 2020 season and we are very happy to announce that Pavel Kochetkov will race for CCC Team in 2020 and 2021. Pavel will be an asset for the team in a team support role, especially in terms of racing with Ilnur Zakarin as the two have raced together for the last five years. Given Russia is a key market for our title sponsor CCC, we are also excited to be developing more of a presence in Russia and increase exposure for CCC Team and CCC,” Ochowicz explained.

“Pavel will also have the opportunity to have more freedom at races and with his experience at the Grand Tours, he will be an important rider in our Grand Tour teams. I think we will provide a good environment for Pavel to reach his potential as a rider, especially as we continue to grow as a team. With our additions to the roster for 2020, it is shaping up to be an exciting year for CCC Team.”

33-year-old Kochetkov is excited to join the Polish WorldTour team in a move he sees as a fresh start in his career. “CCC Team is an ambitious project and I like the look of the team and the organization, so this was what attracted me to CCC Team. I have raced a lot with Ilnur Zakarin so this was also a big reason to join him in moving to the team. I will support him and he trusts me so, I hope to help Ilnur race well in the next years, as well as working hard for the whole team. I’m really looking forward to starting the next season with CCC Team,” Kochetkov said.

“After six years at Katusha-Alpecin, I want to thank Igor Makarov for his passion, for everything he did for me personally, and allowing me to be part of the team, and for cycling in general. Personally, I see this as a chance to re-start my career. I think a change will be good for me as I want to continue to grow as a cyclist and be better than I have been in the last years, especially as I have had some bad crashes during this time. I am motivated and I will do my maximum for the team.”

Kochetkov is the seventh new rider to sign for CCC Team in 2020, joining Zakarin, Matteo Trentin, Fausto Masnada, Michał Paluta, Jan Hirt, and Georg Zimmermann.

Lawson Craddock re-ups with EF Education First Pro Cycling

The team sent me this news release:

EF Education First Pro Cycling is proud to announce the re-signing of Lawson Craddock. The American has played an integral role in the team’s successes during the 2019 season.

“EF is a great place for me to continue to grow,” said Craddock. “I feel like I’m in a really good spot in terms of my role in the team. I stepped into the domestique role a bit more than I have in the past, and I discovered it’s actually something I really quite enjoy, being there and helping our leaders as much as possible to deliver them to success. In the second half of the season, I also had a few opportunities to race for myself, for my own results.”

Craddock is best known for one of his worst, on paper, results. The American sustained a high profile scapular fracture on the opening stage of the 2018 Tour de France and captivated audiences worldwide as he raced all the way to the Tour’s conclusion in Paris as the race’s Laterne Rouge, the rider the occupies the final spot on the overall classification En route to Paris, Craddock raised nearly $400,000 for Houston’s Hurricane Harvey battered Alkek Velodrome, where he first learned to race.

Lawson craddock

Lawson Craddock signing in to stage 14 of the 2019 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

Craddock came to the team in 2016 as a rider tapped for the longer stage races. The past two seasons, he’s shifted his focus. "Lawson had a year where he was really under-performing," said EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. "I thought he could grow into a top ten three week Grand Tour rider, not necessarily a contender but a guy that could finish in the top 10. I was training him for that, and I don't think that was the right decision for him, formula for him. Now he's more focused on getting into breakaways, his time trial, helping his teammates. He's where he should be in the sport now.

"Lawson has been a great part of this program since he came to us, and we're happy to have him for another two years," Vaughters added. "You know, he didn't make the Tour team this year, and he showed a lot of grit  and gumption to come back in the second part of the season to do a great Vuelta, a great World Championships. I was really proud of the attitude he showed surrounding that. That's the kind of thing we really appreciate on this team -- someone that takes a hard decision and comes back stronger from it."

The time trial has been an obvious area of development for Craddock. He finished sixth at the 2019 Road World Championships in Yorkshire last month, fourth in the stage 10 time trial at the Vuelta a España in mid-September, sixth in the Tour de Suisse opening stage time trial in June and seventh in the time trial at Paris-Nice in March.

“I’ve had the ability to do a lot of work on my time trialling, and that’s shown this year, and there’s still a lot of room for improvements in terms of overall strength on the bike and my position on the bike,” said Craddock. “I look forward to putting in the effort to see what I’m capable of in the TT.”

“In terms of other ambitions next year, I’m well-suited towards races like Amstel Gold Race,” noted Craddock. “I had a good race there this year, helping Clarkely get second, and next year I’d love to have another crack at that, whether that’s helping the team or getting a chance to go for it for myself. I also really want to make the Olympics team for the USA.”

Craddock’s evolution has coincided with the evolution of the team. “The team nearly folding in 2017 actually ended up being the thing that saved us all,” said Craddock. “EF learned about the team because of the #SaveArgyle campaign we launched as a last ditch effort to keep the team afloat. They’ve come on board and changed how we all operate, given us a clear goal to all work towards. And while they do want us all to best that we can be on the bike, they recognize that there are other aspects of life out there that we can all focus on together, other goals we can strive to reach together.”

For Craddock, his daughter has provided a new focal point. “Having Sweet Caroline around at the races, just around all together, it has changed my life completely,” said Craddock. “She’s given me more patience, and she’s also helped me recognize what’s really important – which is being the best father and husband that I can possibly be. And that realization has helped me come into races a bit more relaxed, to not stress about racing so much.

“This sport is so hard,” Craddock added. “I’d argue that it’s the hardest sport in the world mentally and physically. To have something to come home to that has nothing to do with that hard, to step away and look at my daughter and say: ‘This is why I do it. This is why I do everything. This is what’s important to me.’, its removed some of the pressure on the bike, and I think that’s why I’ve progressed in the way I have this year, why I’m hopeful and excited about my future progression.”

Lucy Kennedy continues with Mitchelton-Scott

The team sent me this update:

Australian rider Lucy Kennedy will continue with Mitchelton-SCOTT into 2020 after enjoying her best season to date where she picked up her first WorldTour podium placing and three impressive individual victories.

After being plagued with injury and illness in her first season with the team in 2018, Kennedy showed her resilience to bounce back and turn things around in 2019 and is ready to challenge for bigger results with more confidence heading into her third season in the professional women’s peloton.

Lucy Kennedy:
“I feel like this year I have made a lot of progress and I am satisfied with the season but I definitely still want more. I feel like I am in a good place to really step up again and help the team even more and start next year on a really positive note and try to keep it going.

“I think I have shown that when I am given the opportunities I can perform. Both roles are awesome, it is also an honour and a privilege to ride for riders like Annemiek and Amanda and I relish that role. Because of these riders we have in the team, it always feels like a special opportunity to be given a chance and I really appreciate that.

“I can't believe how strong the team will be next year, particularly in the hard hilly races. This year when I was put to work, it was often early so then maybe I wasn’t there later in the race and I think next year we will be able to share that working role and have more numbers in the finals.”

Martin Vestby - Sport Director:
“Lucy has a big potential, she has a big engine and she is one of the best climbers in the world. Her challenge has been that she came late into cycling and she has had to manage riding in groups, racing downhill and she’s taken some bigs steps this year and worked really hard on that side of things.

“That is the reason why we have seen her win races this year. She is a rider that can win races but she will also continue to be very important for the team in the hard hilly races next year and it will be exciting to see what else she can achieve.”

Lucy Kennedy:
Date of birth: 11th July 1988 (31)
Nationality: Australia
Place of birth: Brisbane
Joined Mitchelton-SCOTT: 2018

2019 Results:
1st  Clasica San Sebastian
1st  Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria
1st  Women’s Herald SunTour - GC
2nd Giro Rosa - Stage 3 (WorldTour)

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