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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us – Bill Watterson

Today's racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of Poland news

Here's the report from GC leader Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

Cycling's World Championships

Having stunned the peloton by challenging for the win on a mountain stage yesterday and extending his overall lead, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was back on familiar territory today. With the racing today taking place on a long flat stage, Peter’s BORA - hansgrohe teammates protected the GC leader and set him up perfectly for the predicted bunch sprint. In an aggressive sprint, where his adversaries clashed with him, Peter crossed the line in third to extend his GC lead, while Rafał Majka held onto his third spot in the overall contest.

It was the longest day of the Tour de Pologne, and by a long way. At 238km, the only stage that would come close to this distance would be the penultimate day, at 189km. While there was just one categorised climb, this came at the 30km mark, and as a fourth category, was unlikely to trouble anyone. This meant the sheer distance was the main challenge for anyone wanting to be in with a chance of taking the win – and with a street circuit finish in Zabrze, it was likely to fall to the sprinters to provide the excitement in the closing kilometres.

On such a long route, it was only the bravest riders who would want to get in the breakaway, with the potential of riding such a long distance as a small group putting off many. A small group of escapees took up the challenge, however, with six making their way up the road and fast building a healthy advantage. Even at this early stage, the sprint teams wanted to ensure the day ended as they had planned, and didn’t allow the gap to extend past six minutes. With 100km remaining, this gap was down to four minutes, the BORA-hansgrohe team fulfilling the dual role of protecting the race leader, Peter Sagan, as well as putting him in a strong position for the sprint.

Spending such a long time off the front was taking its toll on the break, and in spite of their best efforts, it was clear that they were struggling. The first of the escapees returned to the peloton with 50km to go, and with 20km remaining, the gap was reduced to just over a minute. With just three left out in front with 15km to go, it was only a matter of time until they were caught – with BORA-hansgrohe pushing the pace even harder once the break was in their sights. With 5km remaining, it was all back together, leaving only the sprint for the line to play for. Over the demanding street circuit, it was chaos as riders fought for position. With some aggressive bumping in the sprint, Peter was forced to shift his line, finishing the day in third position, extending his lead in the GC contest to ten seconds.

With high speeds, the long distance and temperatures approaching 40°C, Peter felt the efforts on what was a very tough day. "It was a very long stage, I could even say maybe too long, under a scorching sun and hot temperatures. It was also very fast, with an average speed of 42km/h. The team worked hard all day to control the escapees and reel them in, which we did in the final 10km. I tried my best in the sprint, taking third and four bonus seconds, but Ewan proved the fastest of the bunch. Again, sensations were good and tomorrow is another day."

Caleb Ewen

Caleb Ewen wins Poland Tour stage four

It was another fantastic team effort for BORA -hansgrohe today, as Sports Director, Christian Pömer, explained. "Today, we put in again a powerful team performance. Cesare Benedetti controlled the breakaway throughout the day, and in the finale, the rest of the squad took over. Erik Baška did a great job in the lead out for Peter in the final stretch and brought him in an excellent position. It was evident that yesterday's strong effort took its toll, but Peter still managed to fight and take a nice third place, bagging another precious four bonus seconds that will be important for the overall leadership."

It’s a short stage tomorrow, but riders can’t let the 130km distance fool them. The parcours is undulating from start to finish, and includes four categorised climbs over its length. While not the toughest day of the race, all the riders will find the terrain hard going, and while the finish is relatively flat, the last climb of the day could act as a launch pad for a late attack.

Quick-Step Floors' neo-pro Cavagna had a good day in Poland. Here's the team's report:

Klein Constantia alumni and Quick-Step Floors first-year neo-pro Rémi Cavagna stole the show on Tuesday's stage 4 of the Tour de Pologne, when he embarked on a five-hour breakaway in which he was joined six other riders, all of whom attacked once the flag was waved and the peloton rolled out from Zawiercie.

Despite being only seven months into his maiden World Tour season, the Frenchman has already began to make a name for himself, from the fourth place he finished in the Vuelta a San Juan individual time trial to the runner-up spot in the century-old Belgium Tour, where only a handful of seconds separated him from a resounding win.

In the longest stage of the Tour de Pologne, he showed again that he's one of the peloton's most promising rouleurs and a rider who never gives up, by making it into the escape and helping the seven-man group open a 7:30-gap over the chasers, who scratched the deficit only in the final 70 kilometers of the stage to Zabrze.

With 20 kilometers remaining, Rémi decided to leave the other riders and took on a solo mission which saw him fend off the pack until the last five kilometers, where a frantic peloton stormed past him and went on to contest the victory, which was notched up by Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) ahead of Danny van Poppel (Team Sky).

Exhausted and gasping for air after 225 hard and long kilometers spent in the escape, 21-year-old Cavagna gave us his take on the stage: "It was a long and really, really warm day. I had good legs the whole stage and when we entered on the circuit I decided to give it a go, so I just put the hammer down, took a gap and went as strong as I could. I was hoping to keep them at bay until the finish, but I was caught inside the last five kilometers. It's always unfortunate when this happens after such a long day in the break, but that's how it is. I'm sure I'll get other opportunities."

BMC sent me this bad news about Ben Hermans:

1 August, 2017, Krakow (POL): Ben Hermans has suffered multiple fractures and contusions after crashing out of stage 3 of the Tour of Poland on Monday, BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Daniele Zaccaria confirmed.

"Ben Hermans was transferred to the Szpital Wojewodzki hospital immediately after his crash where extensive scans were performed to determine the nature of his injuries. X-Rays revealed a fractured right wrist, a fractured left hallux (big toe) and a fracture on his sternum. He also has three broken teeth and many contusions, including facial contusions, sustained in the crash. Fortunately, CT and abdominal scans revealed no broken vertebrae or internal bleeding so Ben is quite lucky to escape with the injuries he has. Ben did lose consciousness for a few moments as he crashed and although he regained consciousness soon after, we will continue to monitor his concussion which is why he remains under observation," Dr. Zaccaria explained.

"As of today, it looks like Ben will be off the bike for at least four to six weeks however, once he is back in Belgium, we will monitor his recovery and adjust this prognosis accordingly. Ben will be transferred to a larger hospital in Krakow or home to Belgium as soon as he is fit to do so. At this stage, no surgery is required."

Hermans has some recollection of the crash.

"I don't really remember anything directly after the crash but what I think happened was we were going down the descent of the first climb at high speeds. We went into a wide corner and riders started to panic and brake really hard. I don't think the corner was dangerous, it was doable, but I was close to the rider in front of me and I had to veer to the right and so I went out of the corner and hit the rail," Hermans explained.

"I had a couple of hours' sleep last night and I'm in quite a lot of pain. My broken teeth are painful as is my fractured wrist. I have muscular pain in my other arm so right now I can't really move my arms. My fractured sternum also makes it painful to try and move. It's definitely disappointing to be out like this."

Of course Team Movistar is at the Vuelta a Burgos. Here's their stage one report:

Mikel Landa (SKY) took a convincing win at the opening stage of the 39th Vuelta a Burgos, held over 152km from the capital city’s Human Evolution Museum to the dual ascent of the Alto del Castillo. The Basque climber surged from a break forged on the flat section between the climbs. The move was almost made by Dani Moreno, who crested the first summit within the best five riders in the peloton.

Moreno (5th) finished just before team-mate and local hero Carlos Barbero (6th), at the front of a first big group which finished 7” behind the new race leader. Earlier in the stage, Catalan youngster Marc Soler had made part of a dangerous, 14-man move, whose strongest members were only caught inside the final 20km.

Barbero will still have two more chances -leaving aside the mountain-top finishes of Picón Blanco (Thursday) and Neila (Saturday)- on Friday, atop Clunia’s Roman city, and also in Belorado on Wednesday, after a rolling 155km parcours which includes the early climb of the Portillo de Busto (Cat-2).

Mikel Landa

Mikel Landa wins Burgos Tour stage one

Pologne: No incidents for Blues at eve of decisive three stages: The almost-endless, hot (temperatures well over 30ºC) stage four in the Tour de Pologne, over 238km from Zawiercie to Zabrze, brought Caleb Ewan (ORS) the stage win as José Joaquín Rojas took 17th. The former, two-time Spanish road race champion was well supported into the final circuit by Alex Dowsett, successfully recovering from neck injuries on his stage one crash. Gorka Izagirre remains 13th overall, 35" behind Peter Sagan (BOH), before the Tatr mountain stages find an excellent prelude on Wednesday's intense, 130km day four over the Lany climb (Cat-2), just 11km away from Rzeszów's finish.

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