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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 2, 2016

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An acquaintance walked past Algonquin Round Table member Marc Connelly and ran a hand over Connelly's bald pate. "That feels just as smooth and as nice as my wife's behind," he said.

Connelly, running his own hand over his head, replied, "So it does."

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing

Tour de l'Eurométropole now a single-day race

The race now called Eurométropole is a venerable race, though it has been run under several names, starting with Circuit Franco-Belge in 1924. Until this year it had been a stage race, but the 2016 edition will be a 195.6-kilometer single-day race starting in Poperinge and finishing in Tournai. Both are Belgian cities.

We'll post the results as soon as they are available. Here's race's recent podium history.

Il Lombardia (Giro del Lombardia) team reports

Here's Astana's news:

“I felt strong, really strong today” commented Diego Rosa after showering.

“It has been a very difficult race, as expected. After 60 km of race, my captain Fabio Aru said me that I was free to do ‘my’ race. However I tried to do my best to help the Team to gain a good result. In the final I’ve tried many times to attack because I wanted to win this race and cross the finish line in a solo victory. Unfortunately, I’ve found on my destiny a rider stronger than me today, congratulations to him!” explained Rosa.

On the other hand Fabio Aru said: “I didn’t feel particularly brilliant today, nonetheless I think we did a good race with my team mate Rosa and I finished in the second group, just behind the breakaway… for sure it has been a very difficult Lombardia”.

The winner of the Lombardia 2016 has been the Colombian, Esteban Chaves who has beaten Diego Rosa in the final sprint in the heart of Bergamo.

Diego Rosa

Diego Rosa just misses winning the big one

BikeRaceInfo note: Astana rider Michele Scarponi crashed in Milano-Torino (September 28) and could not join the team in the final big Italian race of the year.

Cannondale-Drapac rider Rigoberto Uran was third. Here's his team's race update:

Cannondale-Drapac lined-up for Il Lombardia hungry for a win to close out the season and with the form to match the motivation. While the victory proved evasive, the tactics in Italy on Saturday were textbook and put Rigoberto Uran into a race-winning position. In the end, the Colombian recorded the third Il Lombardia podium of his career as he sprinted to third place in Bergamo.

Minutes after the finish, Uran said: “I made a little mistake in the downhill and I paid for it. At the end, things went pretty well. I’m on the podium. I was going well too, but all day I was struggling a bit in the descents. I was a bit scared so I lost some time at every corner. But this is a beautiful race. I’m proud to have contested it for the win.”

The final Monument unfolded according to plan initially. A non-threatening early breakaway escaped following a fast and frenzied start. Davide Formolo and Moreno Moser took to the front to control the chase. With the unrelenting finale approaching and the gap tumbling, an elite peloton began to take shape after the Sant-Antonio Abbandonato. Fifty kilometers from the finish, a group of 16 emerged, including Uran and Davide Villella.

Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) surged on the lower slopes of the Selvino, fracturing the leading group. Only Uran and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) could follow initially. Diego Rosa (Astana) dug deep to bridge across to the leading trio before the top of the penultimate climb. The quartet reached Bergamo with a 58-second lead on 10 chasers.

Uran and Chaves gapped Rosa and Bardet when Chaves accelerated on the Bergamo Alta. Rosa clawed his way back to the leading duo with the flamme rouge in sight and then launched an attack of his own. Chaves marked the move, setting the scene for a three-up sprint. “We arrived for a sprint and the fastest won,” said Uran. “Esteban had the best legs of all of us in the front group.

Villella, who has quietly but consistently shown steady improvement throughout the entire season, was best of the rest, leading home the chase group in fifth place.

Il Lombardia podium

The podium, from left: Diego Rosa (2nd), Esteban Chaves and Rigoberto Uran (3rd)

Cannondale-Drapac leaves Italy with four podiums and an additional three top ten finishes from six one-day Italian races. “We rode already for two weeks in Italy,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “Maybe we were not the strongest team with the strongest riders but were consistently strong in every single race we did. We missed winning one of the races, but I can say nothing to the group I had here except ‘great job’ because they did all the right things. I’m very happy.

“From my point of view, I think now we get where we’ve been looking forward to arriving since last year,” Guidi added. “Things have changed a lot but we’re getting the confidence finally. Finally we are there. We need to keep working like this. We’re in the right direction.”

As the team looks toward next season, the recent results in Italy are something to build upon, according to Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “It’s a great way to end the season,” Vaughters said. “I think the hilly one day classics can be something we take a deeper focus on for 2017.”

Movistar finishes at the the top of the WorldTour rankings

Here's the team's posting:

It was difficult, as in every single previous season. And still, the Movistar Team made it possible with enormous dedication, commitment and team spirit to overcome all kinds of difficulties. The squad managed by Eusebio Unzué finished on top of the UCI ranking for the sixth time in its four-decade history after completing Il Lombardia, the last event of the WorldTour, with a 6th spot for an ever-dependable Alejandro Valverde. The 110-point advantage (1471 vs 1361) against Tinkoff confirmed the fourth consecutive title for the Telefónica-sponsored squad -beating the record-tied three triumphs both the Spanis outfit and CSC held-, also becoming the fifth success in just twelve years under the current competition system and points scale (2008, 2013-16).

The points achieved by Nairo Quintana (609, runner-up to Peter Sagan), Valverde (4th, with 436), Ion Izagirre (11th; 270), Rubén Fernández (88) and Andrey Amador (68) were a result of the work by more than 60 people and almost thirty different partners during a long, grueling season, starting back in January with events in Australia and Argentina - and set to finish in just thee weeks' time after the Doha Worlds and the Abu Dhabi Tour. A Grand Tour overall success (the Vuelta a España, with Nairo); podiums in the Giro -led by Amador-, Tour or Tour de Suisse; prestigious wins in Flèche Wallonne, Catalunya, Romandie; and steady growth by the youngsters, especially Rubén Fernández -GC leader in the Vuelta-, Soler, Arcas or late-season sensation Sütterlin, defined an ever-consistent, successful season. It was only overshadowed by multiple injuries, especially those by Castroviejo and Adriano Malori, who claimed a victory no other can match: his return to life and competition following a horrible accident in the Tour de San Luis, which almost ended his whole existence.

Regarding the 'Race of the Fallen Leaves' itself, the Movistar Team rode with determination as they started picking up the pace already at the first serious climbs -Berbenno, Sant'Antonio Abbandonato- of a hellish finale to the 241km course between Como and Bérgamo. The work by Dayer Quintana and Winner Anacona was continued by Giovanni Visconti and Alejandro Valverde, who jumped off the front as the decisive, 16-man move started to form and later tried to keep gaps short, as Chaves (OBE), Rosa (AST) and Urán (CDT), the three podium finishers, launched the crucial attack alongside Bardet (ALM) in the Selvino ascent, just over 30km from the end. Valverde won the pursuit group's sprint, as Visconti took 14th place.

REACTION: Eusebio Unzué: "I'll end up believing we're the best team in the world after all! Winning the WorldTour team ranking for the fourth year straight is a good tribute to the constance by this whole team for the entire season, in both good and bad moments. And it's increasingly difficult to win this, as we always have to beat tremendous groups - Tinkoff or Sky this year - that always excel, in every single race. Already in Australia we were taking points with Rubén, and thanks to Nairo Quintana's consistence, Alejandro Valverde's talent or a splendid season by Ion Izagirre, as well as brilliant performances by Rubén Fernández, Andrey Amador and so many others, we could win this classification once again. It's always another goal for us, and fulfiling it is a huge satisfaction. It's a reward to a way of doing things and tackling every race with focus and intensity. You will hardly be able to find a race where a Movistar Team hasn't been contesting the top places. Of course, I want to thank all of our staff, who hold a big share of this victory, as well as all of our partners, crucial for our team to do their job in the best possible conditions."

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