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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 6, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them. - Swami Vivekananda

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Tour of Qatar is cancelled

A quick note. The Tour of Qatar was originally scheduled to begin today, but it was cancelled in late December. The organizers were unable to round up enough sponsorship money to run the race. A shame, the UCI had elevated the race to World Tour status for 2017.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish won the 2016 edition of the Tour of Qatar

BMC's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana final report

5 February 2017, Valencia (ESP): Strong winds at the start line saw Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 5 shortened to a 35km circuit race around the center of Valencia with Ben Hermans and Manuel Senni securing their places on the podium.

With racing underway, the peloton provided the spectators lining the streets of the city with an intense and exciting afternoon of racing as they chased down a two-rider breakaway.

As the bell rang to mark the start of the fifth and final lap, the leaders were still holding a 30 second advantage. However, the sprinters' teams soon took control of the peloton and it was not long before the race was back together and heading for an inevitable bunch sprint, won by Bryan Coquard (Team Direct Energie).

With Hermans and Senni, who also won the Best Young Rider Classification, finishing safely in the main bunch, the pair sealed second and third place respectively on the General Classification, 13 seconds and 32 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team).

Bryan Coquard

Bryan Coquard wins the final Valenciana stage

Ben Hermans: "I feel really happy with this result. I was a bit disappointed yesterday as I was going for the win but when you lose against a rider like Quintana, I have to be proud of my performance. It was great to have Manuel Senni on the podium with me and I really appreciate the work that everyone has done this week. Without the effort of the team on the opening team time trial, I don't think I would be in this position so I am really thankful to them all. I think seventh on yesterday's stage was good, especially this early in the season and I am confident my condition will only get better from here."

Manuel Senni:  "I am really pleased with this result. We wanted to win the team time trial and we did that. The second objective was try to get the best result possible on the GC. I think we achieved this also with myself and Ben Hermans both on the podium. For me this will be always be a special race as it started with the yellow jersey and I think it is a perfect start to the season."

Sports Director, Valerio Piva: "Overall, we have had a good week. Our main objective was to win the opening team time trial and we achieved this goal. Now, to finish second and third on the GC with Ben Hermans and Manuel Senni is a great result, especially when you are racing against a rider like Quintana. It was a hard race and everyone has worked really well, as well as showing that they are already in good form. Now we focus on the races ahead and I can see that the condition of these riders is there."

Lotto-Soudal reports on the Etoile de Bessèges

The team sent me this update:

This afternoon Tony Gallopin won the closing time trial at Etoile de Bessèges. The French rider covered the 11.9 kilometres long course in 17’05”. He was thirteen seconds faster than Lilian Calmejane who had started the time trial as GC leader. Unfortunately Gallopin didn’t gain enough time to become the overall winner. The Lotto Soudal rider finished second on GC, five seconds behind his fellow countryman. It’s the third year in a row that Gallopin is second overall.

Lilian Calmejane

Lilian Calmejane was the final winner of the Etoile de Bessèges

Tony Gallopin: “Of course I am really satisfied with this victory, but I am also disappointed that I finished second again on GC. I know the course of the time trial really well. I already finished fourth and second on this course. Today, I aimed for the stage win and I wanted to take the overall victory as well. Calmejane was really strong though, he already proved that when he won the stage on Friday. I went full gas today and don’t need to have any regrets. I am happy that I already got my first victory of the season. My performance is very reassuring. Next weekend I’ll race in Murcia and Almería and then I go to the Volta ao Algarve, where I got sixth overall last year. This is a nice way to start the season and I’d like to thank the teammates for their support.”

Team Sky's final Herald Sun Tour report:

Ian Stannard ensured Team Sky finished the Herald Sun Tour on a high with a rousing final stage victory. The Brit had pushed on up the road as part of a large breakaway, and after ticking off laps on an undulating course around Kinglake, he attacked following the final climb.

With none of his rivals able to follow Stannard was able to open up a gap in the final kilometre, with enough left in the tank to cross the line and win by just under a bike-length.

Ian Stannard

Ian Stannard wins the final Herald Sun Tour stage

Team Sky threw everything at the stage, with Chris Froome, Kenny Elissonde, Luke Rowe and Sebastian Henao all on the attack in the closing stages.

Elissonde was able to finish in the chasing pack to make sure of third place overall, 53 seconds back on overall victor Damien Howson (Orica-Scott). Froome got some extremely useful racing kilometres in his legs too on the way to sixth.

A consistent week, including three stage victories, ensured Team Sky also wrapped up the team classification in Victoria. After the stage Stannard described the tactical balancing act: "I knew the guys wanted to spice it up behind and I wasn't quite sure how I felt. I had a big day chasing for that last 30km yesterday and I went pretty deep.

"I didn't feel great early on but I came round toward the end of the race. I knew they wanted to come up so I thought I might as well see if I could play the game a bit and hang on."

Froome was quick to pay tribute to his team-mate Stannard, as well as the Australian public who have come in their droves to support the race. "He's an absolute beast. An incredible rider. That's the thing about Ian. He's so versatile. He's 85 kilos or something but he wins on top of a climb. Scary!

"The atmosphere has been brilliant along the roadside and I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for coming out and making the race as special as it is."

In only his second stage race with the team the Frenchman told that he's enjoying life so far as a Sky rider, and content with third place in Australia. "It's nice, especially for me to learn how to race with the team. For sure we wanted to win the GC here, not necessarily with me but with Chris Froome. But I think I was able to show with third place the improvements I've made in the last few months riding with the team.

"It's great to have a leader like Chris who allowed me to do this, and I really have the desire to repay him at the big races he's targeting. I really feel happy in the team. One month on the road helps you to get to know everyone. I can't wait to go to the next race and I know I still have a lot of improvements to make ahead of the European racing."

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