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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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Part of the loot went for gambling, part for horses, and part for women. The rest I spent foolishly. – George Raft explaining how he spent $10 million

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing:

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)

The big news for the last few days in cycling has been the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) used by Team Sky riders Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins riding to victory in the 2012 Tour de France

Before going on, in no way do I want to even hint that the Sky riders broke any rules regarding drug use. That's not the point of this screed.

But I must confess. I have not dealt with this subject because this is a topic I hate. In the 1990s I was the American distributor for the cycling shoes Marco Pantani used. It was a painful day for me when Pantani was tossed from the 1999 Giro d'Italia for having a 52-percent hematocrit. He about had the race won, with just one mountain stage to go.

And then there was the whole Armstrong mess, as well as all the other doping scandals that fill cycling's history. I am not a Pollyanna. I assume the stakes in pro racing are too high for many to merely let natural athletic ability decide the outcome. But somehow, this latest round of riders using products that could enhance their chances of winning, for whatever reason, was a subject I didn't want to pursue.

If a rider has a health problem and cannot compete without taking a drug that is on the list of performance-enhancing substances, then that rider is sick and should not be competing at the highest level of athletic endeavor.

That sick rider should be allowed to take the drug and be forced take a month off from racing to get healthy again. Competing with performance enhancing drugs, for any reason, should be forbidden. This should be a line that should not be crossed.

With that in mind, the CyclingTips website had a superb discussion of the subject that I highly recommend. The readers' comments at the end of the story are also well worth your time.

Tinkoff's Eneco Tour stage 1 report:

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After flying in late last night to make the start of the final WorldTour stage race of the season, Peter Sagan was close to picking up where he left off yesterday in Brittany on the opening stage of the Eneco Tour. In what’s expected to be the first of several sprint showdowns in the race, the newly crowned European and World champion took third in a frantic bunch finish in Bolsward, the Netherlands.

With a late catch of the day’s break, the scene was set for a fast finish, but on the large open, straight roads running into the finish there was a lot of movement and it became a case of every sprinter for himself at the end. Biding his time, Peter, as usual, managed to find the right wheel and came up just short of a second win in two days.

After the race, he told us: “I knew the stage would have a complicated bunch finish because everybody wanted to be at the front to sprint. I gave my best throughout the day and in the final sprint so I am happy with the result. Congratulations to the winner who got the best out of the tight finish.”

The first stage of the week-long race got off to a steady start with five riders pulling clear from the start, and the peloton was happy to allow the gap to grow. However, with a probable sprint on the cards, the bunch was still eager to keep the break in check, and the gap never grew over four minutes. Tinkoff was focused on staying calm and looking after Peter in the wheels, with the goal of getting him into position for the finish.

The gap dropped steadily throughout the stage and even extended slightly when a crash caused some panic in the peloton, however the catch always looked likely and came with three kilometers to go. From here in it was a fairly straight forward sprint, but a busy one with lots of riders in contention, as Sport Director Tristan Hoffman explained.

Dylan Groenegen wins Eneco stage 1

Dylan Groenewegen wins Eneco Tour stage 1

“If you look to the line-up here I think every team brought a sprinter so it was always going to be tough. But Peter did a good sprint at the end for third place. From kilometer zero we had five guys in front and other teams worked to get them back. We came up later on and the guys kept Peter in a good position. At the end he stayed on the right wheel but couldn’t come around.

“There was no wind today, so it was not too crazy, and when it got nervous the guys moved up in the right movement and stayed out of trouble which was good. Now we can focus on tomorrow’s time trial, but first we have a long transfer this evening and then we will look at the route in the morning before racing in the afternoon.”

The first of two time trials, with a team effort later in the week, will cover 9.6km around Breda on a course that suits the powerful specialists. It will be a day for Maciej Bodnar to test himself and it will also see the first shake up in GC.

De Marchi extends with BMC

The team sent me this release:

19 September, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team today announced that two-time Vuelta a Espana individual stage winner Alessandro De Marchi has renewed his contract beyond the 2016 season.

De Marchi, who joined BMC Racing Team in 2015, is one of the team's most versatile riders, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

Alessandro de Marchi

Alessandro de Marchi

"Alessandro De Marchi is one of our most important riders when it comes to his role in our stage race and Grand Tour teams. He is a key support rider for our leaders, especially on the climbs, but is also highly capable of wining stages as we have seen with his two Vuelta a Espana stage wins and the many occasions where he has come close. Alessandro is an aggressive rider, often jumps in breakaways, and is exactly the type of rider that we want with us at BMC Racing Team," Ochowicz explained.

It was a natural decision to stay with BMC Racing Team, De Marchi said.

"It's a pleasure for me to continue to work and grow in such an important team like BMC Racing Team. My desire is to grow and find my ideal profile as a cyclist. I am convinced of being in the right team to achieve this goal and I hope to give even more to the team as I continue on after this season."

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy no other details of the contract were released.

Giant-Alpecin headed to Tre Valli Varesine

The team sent this update:

The 96th edition of the Tre Valli Varesine takes place on Tuesday 27th September, starting in Saronno and finishing in Varese. The Italian one-day race consists of 192.8km and after 77.6km of racing the riders will tackle nine closing laps of 12.8km on a hilly circuit.

"The Tre Valli Varesine is one of the most demanding one-day races in Italy," said coach Aike Visbeek (NED). "The objective of the team is to be visible at the front of the race as the breakaway usually makes it to the finish.

"It will be important to ride an offensive race. The climb to Orino after 55km of racing will be a key moment and we have to stay alert and be in a good position. We have an experienced and strong team with more than one card to play, with Simon, Tobias and Sam all showing some good form in recent weeks."

RACE: Tre Valli Varesine (1.HC)

DATE: 27/09/2016

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Sam Oomen (NED), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Martijn Tusveld (NED) 

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