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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 21, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process. - John F. Kennedy

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UCI Suspends Andrey Grivko for hitting Marcel Kittel at Dubai Tour

In stage 3 of the 2017 Dubai Tour, Astana rider Andriy Grivko hit Marcel Kittel in the face. Grivko was expelled from the race and has now been suspended by the UCI for 45 days. Here's the way Kittel explained the incident:

"When we passed a construction site, the sand began blowing and as soon as we went into the crosswinds we were fighting for position, which is always stressful, and Andriy Grivko punched me. I really can't understand how he can do something like that. I get that riding in the crosswinds is always tense, but it gives him no right to act like that. He could have hurt my eye. It's a real shame what happened. In the finale, my mind wasn't 100% on the sprint, but I am happy I have no big injuries and I kept the lead."

And here's the UCI statement:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that its Disciplinary Commission has decided to suspend Mr Andrey Grivko for a period of 45 days from 1st May to 14th June 2017, following an incident which occurred at the Dubai Tour on 2nd February 2017.

The decision is based on article 12.1.005 of the UCI Regulations.

The UCI will not make any further comment on the case.

Program change to see Simon Yates line up at the Tour de France

Orica-Scott sent me this update:

A program change will see Vuelta a Espana and Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates line up at Liege-Bastogne-Liege this Sunday and the Tour de France in July.

The switch will give Orica-Scott a two-pronged general classification attack at the world’s biggest cycling race and will leave brother Adam Yates to lead the Australian team’s overall hopes at the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia next month.

The decision comes as teammate Esteban Chaves continues to gain fitness following a setback due to a knee injury earlier in the year.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates doing very well at this year's GP Miguel Indurain

“We are confident that Esteban has made a full recovery from his knee injury and is now back into his Tour de France preparation,” sport director Matt White said. “What we don’t know at the moment is how that time off and lack of racing will affect his performance over the three weeks.”

“The Tour de France is the biggest race of the year and we have been able to come up with a plan that will benefit our young GC riders, and the team ambitions for the season. Simon will be given the opportunity to line up in his third Tour de France and the pressure on Esteban will be eased a bit as he prepares for his debut. Adam will continue in his preparations for the Giro in a few weeks’ time.”

It also opens up the opportunity for the Yates brothers to both target white jerseys in their respective races.

“The new program will give Simon and Adam both opportunities to look at whitey jerseys this year - Adam at the Giro and Simon at the Tour de France. That is something we will certainly be aiming for as we ride for the best general classification results possible for our young climbers.”

All three riders could still line up in the Vuelta a Espana later in the year, but any decision confirming this will be made following the first two Grand Tours.

Team Sunweb announces Giro d'Italia long list

Team Sunweb sent me this:

The first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d'Italia is nearly upon the peloton and Team Sunweb are pleased to reveal their long-list of 13 riders for the 100th anniversary edition. This year, the race sees six mountain top finishes and two individual time trials, which are sure to shake up the overall classification.

Tom Dumoulin (NED) and Wilco Kelderman (NED) are two of Team Sunweb's riders of whom the team had already confirmed their participation during Team Sunweb's Launch at Münster-Osnabrück, Germany, last January. This year the team line-up for the first time looking to explore their GC possibilities in a Grand Tour. This is the perfect opportunity to grow and take the next step to see what it takes to become a GC rider, being focused on that for three weeks in a row. For this special Giro d'Italia a core group of German riders will be part of the final selection of the German Team Sunweb, which aims to inspire German and international fans during the three weeks of very prestigious racing in Italy.

Wilco Kelderman

Wilko Kelderman being presented at the 2016 Tour de France

Ahead of the race Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Our long-list consists of a mix of experienced Grand Tour riders and some who could potentially make their Grand Tour debut. From this we will select the strongest possible team to support Tom throughout the three weeks of racing at the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. The course this year is challenging and demanding and will for sure go down in history. The last week is crucial but with a lot of spectacular stages early on in the race, the GC riders have no opportunity to relax.

"It will be a different approach for this year's Giro in comparison to our ambitions in previous Grand Tours, when we aimed for stage successes. We need to be focused all race long and that will be even more demanding for the team."

BMC Racing Team's Olympic champions team up at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

BMC sent me this release:

20 April, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team's two Olympic Road Race champions, Samuel Sánchez (2008) and Greg Van Avermaet (2016), will line up for the first time together this year at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday, 23 April.

Sánchez and Van Avermaet will be joined by Dylan Teuns, whose breakthrough podium result at La Flèche Wallonne has earned him a position as a protected rider, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez at the 2016 Vuelta a España

"Samuel Sánchez is our main leader at Liège-Bastogne-Liège as the course is well-suited to him and he has produced some good results in the past, including fourth last year. Greg Van Avermaet has enjoyed the best spring of his career and is definitely capable of getting a top ten result, and now we have seen that Dylan Teuns is in top shape, so these three riders are our protected riders for the race," Piva explained.

"We are not the favorite team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège but we have a strong team and we will try to do our best. It's the last race of the Classics season and all of our riders are motivated."

Sánchez is confident after making his return to racing at La Flèche Wallonne. "I had good feelings at La Flèche Wallonne. I raced cautiously and in the final my legs were not too bad. For me, it was the perfect test to arrive in top condition for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I think we have a super strong team with Dylan Teuns, Greg Van Avermaet and myself, as we have a lot of possibilities. The parcours has changed and it is slightly easier than last year. There are a lot of strong competitors but I think we are capable of getting a good result," Sánchez said.

Van Avermaet will race at Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the first time since 2013. "It's nice to finish what has been a great Classics season with one last race in Belgium before I move onto the next part of the season. I'm definitely not lining up as the favorite but I have recovered well since Amstel Gold Race and I'm motivated to get a good result. We'll see how the race plays out and see what we can do as a team on the day. Anything can happen at these races," Van Avermaet added.

Hermans Ruled Out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Ben Hermans has been ruled out of racing at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after sustaining two broken ribs in a crash after the finish line at La Flèche Wallonne.

"Ben Hermans crashed after the finish line at La Flèche Wallonne and X-Rays taken this morning have revealed a fracture of the fifth and six interior ribs. Ben is unable to start at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and will require some easy days on the bike. We will continue to monitor his recovery and make the necessary adaptions to his racing program," BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Michel Cerfontaine said.

Hermans is hoping to make a fast recovery and be back racing as soon as his injuries allow. "It's not healthy to race with two broken ribs and we don't want to take the risks, so although it's disappointing to miss Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it is the best thing to do. The team will begin planning a new race schedule for me now based on my recovery, and I'll revise my goals for the season if necessary," Hermans explained.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège (23 April)

Rider Roster: Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Floris Gerts (NED), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

And here's UAE Team Emirates Liège-Bastogne-Liège news:

UAE Team Emirates, led by Rui Costa are focused on top results in the Spring Classic race Liège–Bastogne–Liège after reaching third place last year.

The 103rd race, nicknamed "La Doyenne" is one of the oldest races of the cycling calendar and the fourth Monument in the season, Liège–Bastogne–Liège is also the last of the Spring Classics before the Grand Tours begin with Giro d'Italia at the start of May. In 2016, Wout Poels (Team Sky) won the race, outsprinting a group of cyclists including Samuel Sánchez, Michael Albasini and UAE Team Emirates rider Rui Costa.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa winning stage five at the San Juan stage race

After an initial flat 70km there is an onslaught of ten hills over the 258km course. This year’s route has introduced three new hills Côte du Pont, Côte de Bellevaux and Côte de la Ferme Libert, Rui Costa noted, “The three hills between 168km and 180km will encourage some riders to attack: it will be important to see which athletes go clear to evaluate how to react. Managing energy is crucial in this race, on the last hill, the Saint Nicholas, every single drop counts!”

Liège–Bastogne–Liège is a race Rui has fond memories of, he continued, “This is the race of dreams, every year I work hard to be ready for it. I’ve come third and fourth, this year I’d like to add it to my list of victories.”

Teammate Diego Ulissi feels confident in his squad’s ability for Sunday: “I feel there is no other team with this high level of quality. The charm of this race is huge; having top riders like Costa and Meintjes in the same team is an additional value for us.”

The UAE Team Emirates lineup includes: Matteo Bono, Rui Costa, Louis Meintjes, Matej Mohoric, Manuele Mori, Simone Petilli, Diego Ulissi and Oliviero Troia.

The team will be directed by Marco Marzano and Simone Pedrazzini.

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