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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 8, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. - Lao Tzu

Current racing:

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Paris-Roubaix: Author Les Woodland talks about the fabled classic bicycle race that has been sending riders over cobblestone roads for more than 100 years.

Samuel Sanchez crashes in Basque Tour Queen Stage

Here's the report from Sanchez's BMC team:

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Samuel Sánchez’s Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco queen stage ended in disappointment when he crashed in the closing kilometer after launching an explosive attack from the leading group of General Classification contenders.

With six categorized climbs over the 139.8km route, three of which are first category ascents, it was another battle to make it into the breakaway from the moment the flag dropped.

After 35 not-so-relaxed kilometers, and with most of the day’s flat terrain covered, 18 riders, including Amaël Moinard and Danilo Wyss, had extended an advantage of almost two minutes.

However, the peloton was determined not to let the breakaway get too far up the road. As the race hit the slopes of the third categorized climb, Puerto de Trabakua, the remaining breakaway riders were reeled in, and the bunch was back together with 54km to go.

The kilometers began to tumble, and riders were dropped off the back under the fierce pace being set at the front of the peloton. But, it wasn't until the final hike to the finish line above Eibar-Arrate, that the race saw any explosive action.

Sánchez paced the climb perfectly and remained in the thick of the action with just seven riders left at the front of the race with 2km to go.

Going under the flamme rouge, the Spaniard, who had won here on three occasions previously, attacked as the road dipped down to the finish line. However, his late effort was spoilt after a high-speed crash saw him knocked out of contention for the day's honors.

Sánchez was able to get back on the bike and crossed the line 13th place eventual stage winner, and the new race leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

Samuel Sanchez

A wounded Samuel Sanchez finishes the stage

After the stage, Sánchez was taken to hospital for observation, and an update on his condition will be provided as soon as possible.

Quotes from the Sports Director’s Car with Yvon Ledanois:

"Today definitely didn't go to plan. It was a bad day. Samuel Sánchez was looking great on the final climb. He had good speed and was keeping a consistent rhythm to bridge across to the leaders. He knows this climb well and has a huge amount of experience, and this was showing. He did a perfect job to get into the position to attack."

"He knew everything about the descent, and I am disappointed for him as, for me, the speed at which he was accelerating was enough to go all the way. With the speed of the descent, it's hard to know what happened exactly but I think the race could be finished for us. But, that is cycling, and, right now, the main thing is that we get Sánchez checked out at the hospital and hope that it is nothing bad for him."

Here's a later Medical update:

Samuel Sánchez suffered a serious crash in the final kilometer on stage 5 of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa provided the following update following the examination of Samuel's injuries.

“Samuel Sánchez sustained multiple superficial injuries in a crash in the final kilometer of today’s stage at Pais Vasco. He has extensive abrasions all over the body including his hands. He has a contusion on one of his knees but luckily he didn’t sustain a head concussion in the fall."

"The X-rays at this point are all negative so we don’t think there are any broken bones. But, Samuel had a laceration of one of the extensor tendons of his fourth digit on the left hand. They are currently treating that surgically to re-attach the tendon and luckily it was a partial lesion."

"The plan is to take Samuel back to the hotel tonight and re-evaluate his condition on Saturday morning before the final stage. Given the degree of his injuries it is very unlikely that he will start but we will make that call then.”

While we're at it, here's the Basque Country Tour report from Katusha-Alpecin:

A day in the mountains of the Basque Country can bring many surprises. Unfortunately Friday’s stage 5 from Bilbo to Eibar brought an unwelcome one for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Simon Špilak in the form of an untimely puncture just as the race was gearing up for the final.

“Simon faced an impossible situation today when he had a puncture with 45k still to go and the race in full flight. His teammates dropped back to help him but the race was so fast just at this point. He used so much energy getting back that there was little left for the race final,” said team director Claudio Cozzi. In the end Simon Špilak did his best to earn 14th place behind stage winner and new race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

Špilak’s problem came on the second ascent of the category-1 Izuako Gaina, the fourth of 6 climbs on the 139.8k stage ending atop Eibar-Arrate. Valverde outsprinted his companion of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran of Cannondal-Drapac, all on the time of 3:26:32 (40.613 km/h). Behind them a long stream of riders crossed the line, including Špilak at 47-seconds.

Valverde is on the same time for the general classification as Uran and Bardet as the final stage takes place on Saturday. The individual time trial at 27.7k will be in Eibar before crowning the overall winner of the 57th Vuelta al País Vasco.

And here's Quick-step Floors Basque Tour news:

David De La Cruz rode with his legs and heart on Friday afternoon, when the Vuelta al Pais Vasco took the peloton to its iconic Santuario de Arrate finish, on a stage which created significant gaps in the general classification, as the climbers came to the fore and tried to make the most out of the course which included six categorized ascents.

A huge break took off ahead of the first classified ascent of the day, Pagatzako, but despite the group counting 18 riders, they weren't allowed to take the gap over the two-minute barrier. Quick-Step Floors took the reins in the peloton, chasing the riders up front, before Movistar and Orica-Scott decided to step in and push a hard tempo which led to many riders being dropped before the last two climbs.

At the bottom of Usartzako, only some 30-odd riders were still left in the bunch, and as soon as the road began to rise, attacks started coming in. Yellow jersey David De La Cruz was in control until the closing thee kilometers, when the race hit the steepest sector of the climb. Leader of the race following his superb stage victory in San Sebastian two days ago, De La Cruz showed again not only the class, but also the big heart he possesses, as he continued to fight and try to stay in touch on the punishing gradients.

Despite the numerous attacks, no one managed to escape so a small group contested the win on Santuario de Arrate, where Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) entered first in the last and always decisive corner, dipping down to the line ahead of Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), a success which brought him also the yellow jersey.

Quick-Step Floors' David De La Cruz wasn't far off and concluded the stage in the top 10, impressing once again with his persistence and never-say-die attitude, which have already earned him many plaudits and several top results, from the stage he won at Vuelta a España last season to the two ne notched this spring at Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco.

Saturday's stage, a 27.7km-long individual time trial starting and finishing in Eibar, will close the World Tour race, and David – who lies ninth in the general classification – will try to conclude it on a high note.

Team Novo Nordisk was at the Tour of the Sarthe. Here's the squad's final report:

Saint Palais, France — Team Novo Nordisk Neo-Pro Romain Gioux pulled a veteran move on Friday at the final stage of the Circuit Sarthe, sticking with the lead group over a tough circuit on a hot day to finish 16th and register the first big result of his professional career.

Gioux and the rest of his teammates watched the day unfold from inside a nervous peloton, as leading teams competed for a tight general classification on an unexpectedly hilly course with strong winds for most of the day. On the 11km finishing circuit riders took seven laps in front of a giant crowd of French fans and watched as the leading group lost 30 percent of its workforce from the stiff competition.

The day’s breakaway of just four riders was never able to gain much more than one minute on the peloton, and faded back into the main bunch after just two laps on the tight and technical laps around Saint Calais. The team of overall leader Lilian Calmejeane kept the pace high and brought just half the peloton into the final corner, where Gioux stamped down on the pedals to sprint intelligently and efficiently to a very impressive top 20 finish.

Bryan Coquard

Bryan Coquard wins the final stage of the Sarthe Tour

Team Novo Nordisk Sport Director Lionel Marie: “We are happy with the gold-medal performance of Romain today, and in this block of French racing he and Charles Planet have pushed out at their limits to make progress from day one. The rest of the guys are in need of more racing days to find the same sharpness, with Gerd, Umberto and Quentin on the way up. Javi was very good on the Queen Stage here, and when we go to our next races we know the teamwork the guys showed in France will continue to improve.”

Romain Gioux: “The finishing circuits were really hard today, because the GC wasn’t done before the stage. Arthur Vichot and Calmejeane were just seven seconds apart, so it was full gas all day. With the crosswind it was very, very, very hard. For me Circuit Sarthe was a really good race, and every day I got better and better. For the last stage I was really good, and to do this block of competition in the last week has been really good for me.”

The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team will race next at Fleche Brabanconne.

Allied Cycle Works begins dealer deliveries, appoints international distributors

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update abut the American carbon-fiber frame maker:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BRAIN) — Allied Cycle Works, which produces carbon road frames at its factory here, began delivering bikes to its U.S. dealers in the last week, said Tony Karklins, the founder and managing director of HIA Velo, Allied's parent company.

"After our late January launch of the Allied Cycle Works brand at Winter PressCamp, we have never come up for air," Karklins said. "The response has been overwhelming and our message has really resonated with both the domestic and international markets."

"We are assembling a network of next-generation IBDs that appreciate our domestically produced products, fresh approach to the market, high levels of customization and attainable market pricing. We expect to close 2017 with 50 North American retail partners," said Karklins.

Internationally, Allied's initial focus has been on Canada and the Asian markets. Podium Imports will represent Allied in Canada and will be authorizing Allied's first 10 Canadian IBDs this spring.

You can read the entire story here

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