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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together.… Isaiah 11:16

The lion shall lie down with the calf, but the calf won't get much sleep. – Woody Allen

Recently completed racing:

Today's racing:

Tinkoff headed to Italy

Tinkoff sent me their upcoming racing plans:

Three different Tinkoff line-ups will tackle three separate Italian one-day races this week, with Tre Valli Varesini kicking off the action on Tuesday, followed by Milano-Torino and Giro del Piemonte on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Fresh from his recent overall victory at the Giro della Toscana, racing for the Italian national team, Daniele Bennati comes to Tre Valli Varesini looking to continue his run of strong form. He is joined by Roman Kreuziger at the head of the team for this first race, together with a strong line-up capable of both attacking and controlling the race. The roster is completed by Manuele Boaro, Michael Gogl, Jesper Hansen, Sergio Paulinho, Pawel Poljanski and stagiaire, Lorenzo Fortunato.

Manuele Boaro

Manuele Boaro will be at the Tre Valli Varesini

“Tre Valli covers 78km on a large circuit before the race hits nine laps of a smaller, 12.8km lap similar to that from the 2008 world championships,” explains Sport Director for the Italian trio of races, Lars Michaelsen. “We will try to look out for the dangerous early breaks with, say, half the team and then the others can save their energy for the finale. There are some climbs on the finishing circuit so we’ll try to stay fresh for that, and keep Daniele and Roman out of trouble until then. Michael Gogl comes out of the Vuelta a España really motivated and, together with Jesper Hansen who returns from injury, is a contender for the moves on the final circuit. We want to be there contesting the win.”

The following day, the team heads to Milan for the 97th edition of Milano-Torino, a race that saw Tinkoff finish in second spot last season with Rafal Majka. Starting on the south eastern edge of the Italian city, the race heads south west towards the tough finishing circuit around Turin.

Rafal returns looking to improve on his runner’s up spot this season, alongside Roman Kreuziger, Pavel Brutt, Jesper Hansen, Sergio Paulinho, Pawl Poljanski and the stagiaires, Davide Ballerini and Lorenzo Fortunato.

“Milano-Torino is a more straight forward race, and one we’ve again got a team that can challenge at,” Michaelsen continues. “We pass the Superga climb twice in the last 25km, once not all the way but then the second time goes to the top, so this can be decisive. Much like the day before, we will save some cards for the end with Rafal, Roman and Jesper suited to this kind of finish.”

The third of the three races is the Giro del Piemonte on Thursday, a 207km point-to-point race that Daniele Bennati has twice won previously, in 2006 and 2008, with the Italian finishing 7th last season.

Daniele returns here after not racing Milano-Torino, and is joined by two sets of fresher legs in Erik Baška and Juraj Sagan. The team is then completed by Manuele Boaro, Michael Gogl, Matteo Tosatto, Michael Valgren and the stagiaire, Davide Ballerini.

Looking at the plan for the race, Michaelsen says: “The last of the three mid-week races is Piemonte where we often see a sprint deciding the outcome, but the weather can also play an important factor in the race. Benna has won here before so he knows what it takes, and he’s motivated and racing well, and within the team he’ll have Erik and Juraj to help too who come into the team for this race.

“In my perspective, when you get to this stage of the season you have to consider two possibilities because people are tired after a long year. If the early break has the right composition, then it can go all the way to the finish. Also, you have guys who are still fighting for a contract and will give everything if they get away as they’re super motivated, so it’s quite hard to predict what will happen in these types of races compared to early season. We will go in with a plan and be ready to react, and hopefully by the end of the three races we will have achieved some strong results.”

The three days serve as a taste to the action coming at the weekend, with the final WorldTour race of the season, Il Lombardia, on Saturday.

The line-ups:

Tre Valli Varesini: Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Lorenzo Fortunato, Michael Gogl, Jesper Hansen, Roman Kreuziger, Sergio Paulinho, Pawl Poljanski.

Milano-Torino: Davide Ballerini, Pavel Brutt, Lorenzo Fortunato, Jesper Hansen, Roman Kreuziger, Rafal Majka, Sergio Paulinho, Pawel Poljanski.

Giro del Piemonte: Davide Ballerini, Erik Baška, Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Michael Gogl, Juraj Sagan, Matteo Tosatto, Michael Valgren

Press release from Lotto Soudal: Roelandts and Debusschere discuss their selection for the World Championships

Kevin De Weert, the coach of the Belgian national cycling team, has announced the official selection for the World Championships road race in Qatar which will be held on Sunday 16 October. The nine riders who will represent Belgium are: Tom Boonen, Jens Debusschere, Iljo Keisse, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Oliver Naesen, Jürgen Roelandts, Jasper Stuyven and Greg Van Avermaet.

Jens Debusschere will ride his first World Championships while it will be the fourth participation for Jürgen Roelandts. He already participated in Geelong 2010, Copenhagen 2011 (fifth place) and Valkenburg 2012.

Jurgen Roelandts

Jürgen Roelandts at this year's Giro d'Italia

Jürgen Roelandts: “I’m always happy if I’m part of the Belgian line-up. You just can’t say no to a World Championships road race, it's always a special race. I think that the course in Qatar suits Jens and myself very well. The race offers two possible outcomes. If the wind isn’t present on the course, we might ride the easiest World Championships since several years. But when the wind blows as usual, we will get a very hard race. The temperature will also be an important factor as it is now 38 degrees in Qatar. If Tom Boonen is fully recovered from his crash in the Eneco Tour, he will be the leader for the sprint. But when necessary, also Jens can be the leader as he’s in great shape. We are part of this line-up because of our abilities and experiences in several sprints and sprint preparations. Every rider in this line-up can ride in echelons, we’re almost born with it. So we don’t mind if the race will be extremely hard. My hamstring injury healed really well the past few weeks so I’m more than ready for the World Championships.”

Jens Debusschere: “I was already hoping for a World Championships selection before this season because this course suits me really well. I trained very hard to be good during this period after my crash in the Tour de France. But I’m always good in the final part of the cycling season. The Tour of Britain and the Eneco Tour secured my good shape. The only thing I missed was a victory, although there are still a few opportunities to win a race. A lot of Belgian riders showed that they have good legs the past few weeks so the coach had to make some difficult decisions. Nevertheless, I think that I deserve this selection. In my opinion, this line-up must aim for a good result in Qatar. Tom Boonen already showed that he’s the leader in the sprint, but it will be a matter of surviving and being attentive during the crucial parts of the race. If Tom isn’t able to sprint due to a certain difficulty, I think that I’m a good alternative. But there a lot of sprinters who’ll aim for the victory such as Bouhanni, Ewan, Sagan, Kristoff and Greipel.”

Senne Leysen will participate at the U23 World Championships individual time trial. Besides that, Enzo Wouters is selected for the road race.

Sofie De Vuyst, Lotte Kopecky and Anisha Vekemans will be part of the Belgian national ladies team for the World Championships road race.

Lotto-Soudal race preview, September 26 - October 4:

The team sent me this update:

MILANO-TORINO (1.HC) Team Giant-Alpecin lines up for the second of three Italian races this week at Milano-Torino. The 97th edition will take place on Wednesday 28th September on an almost identical course to the last year’s race, relatively steady and flat until the final 25km, where two sharp climbs will effectively decide the outcome for a total distance of 186km.

Coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "We have selected a strong team with the objective of racing aggressively here in Italy and aiming to be present in the breakaways. The important moment of the parcours will be the finale where the riders have to twice tackle the Superga climb on the outskirts of Torino, so we have to stay attentive and be at the front of the bunch.

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke will be at Milano-Torino

"Our aim is to perform well with Simon as the finale suits his characteristics. For Warren we will see how he can compete and see how he has recovered since La Vuelta."

RACE: Milano-Torino (1.HC)

DATE: 28/09/2016​

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) 

IL LOMBARDIA (WT): The third race in Italy this week is the penultimate WorldTour outing of the season, the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' - Il Lombardia. The 110th edition on Saturday 1st October is a 241km hilly course from Como to Bergamo. In total, the race will feature 4,400 meters of climbing as two new climbs have been added in the finale, the Sant’Antonio Abbandonato and Miragolo San Salvatore.

"We start Lombardia with nearly the same team as Milano-Torino and we will be looking for another good team performance," explained coach Aike Visbeek (NED). "The race organisers have made the last 100km of the course more difficult compared to previous editions, which should make it an interesting race.

"We also continue with the aim of racing offensively and we should be able to make an impact on this race. We are hoping to have a strong ride with Tom who is riding well at the moment and it will be a good race that fits in towards the World Championships in Qatar. He is capable of overcoming the climbs and he will be well supported by the team."​

RACE: Il Lombardia​ (WT)

DATE: 01/10/2016

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

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

SPARKASSEN MÜNSTERLAND GIRO (1.HC): The German one-day race Sparkassen Münsterland Giro takes place next Monday. The 208km race kicks off in Gronau with the peloton completing a relatively flat course, before an anticipated sprint finish in Münster where Nikias Arndt (GER) sprinted to third place in last year's edition.

Coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "Münsterland Giro is an important home race for us and we will have three German riders in Nikias, John and Max competing. We expect a controlled race and it will be important to stay out of trouble on the final technical circuit with the cobblestone sections.

"The outcome is normally a fast finish, therefore we will bring strong lead-out capabilities to support John. We will be aiming for a podium finish and he has already shown his speed in recent races so we can be confident in achieving a good result."

RACE: Sparkassen Münsterland Giro (1.HC)

DATE: 03/10/2016

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

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