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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 13, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me. - Sigmund Freud

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Lotto-Soudal headed to Ruta del Sol

The team sent me this update:

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

Lotto Soudal rides a double programme next week. On Wednesday the Vuelta a Andalucía and Volta ao Algarve begin. Both races last five days and are part of the Europe Tour. Today we have a preview of the Vuelta a Andalucía or Ruta del Sol, tomorrow we’ll publish a preview of the Volta ao Algarve.

The Ruta del Sol is a race in the south of Spain, in the region Andalucía. This stage race starts with a stage to Granada. In the finale the riders need to climb the Puerto de Monachil. From the top it’s still 18.9 kilometres to the finish. The day after, there’s a summit finish on Peña del Águila. On Friday an individual time trial of 11.9 kilometres is scheduled in Lucena. Saturday it’s the most flat stage of the week, a stage to Sevilla  that’s very likely to end with a bunch sprint. The last stage takes the riders to Coín. In the beginning of the stage the riders need to overcome several altitude metres, after a flat part there is one last hill at sixteen kilometres from the finish. That third category climb could be decisive for the stage win.

Sports director Bart Leysen takes a closer look at the stages of the Ruta del Sol.

Bart Leysen: “The GC riders will have to be attentive on Wednesday during the ascent of the Puerto de Monachil, but it’s definitely possible that a big group will sprint in Granada. The top of that last climb lies at twenty kilometres from the finish. The descent is not technical, so I don’t expect specialists to attack on that descent. If the group doesn’t fall apart on the climb, that won’t happen afterwards either.”

“The stage on Thursday will determine the overall classification a lot. Bart De Clercq and Tim Wellens are our leaders for that stage. The Peña del Águila is a pretty steep climb, with lots of turns. Friday is another important day for the GC riders with the individual time trial. The course is not too hard, but still tough. It will be a power time trial, which should suit both Bart and Tim.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens

“We can expect a bunch sprint on Saturday. Moreno Hofland or Jasper De Buyst will sprint for us. On the last day it’s also possible that the stage ends with a sprint, but a successful break is also possible. There is also a climb at fifteen kilometres from the finish that could reduce the bunch. We have to see how Moreno and Jasper feel by the end. We have another asset. Tosh Van der Sande has already set several good results in sprints after a tough finale. The GC riders can’t relax on Sunday though, because the first part of the stage is tough and it won’t be easy to control the race.”

“We have different options for each type of stage at the Ruta del Sol. We aim for a top three place on GC, although that won’t be easy with the strong competitors. Alejandro Valverde will be the main contender. His victory in Murcia was really impressive. At the Challenge Mallorca Tim already proved that he is in very good condition though and he beat Valverde.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Bart De Clercq, Moreno Hofland, Tomasz Marczynski, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.


Rudi Selig captures second-place at Clásica de Almería

Here's the report from Team Bora-hansgrohe:

After yesterday’s strong showing of Patrick Konrad in Murcia, today Rudi Selig secured a superb second place in the Clasica de Almeria. In a very long sprint he just missed out the top spot on the podium, being beaten to the line by M. Cort Nielsen (ORS).

Magnus Cort Nielsen

Magnus Cort Nielsen winning the Clasica de Almeria

Opposite to yesterday’s race in Murcia, today the parkour favoured the fast men. Mainly flat 191kms around Almeria, with one hilly section about half way through the course, promised a sprint finish in the Clasica de Almeria.

Sam Bennett, who wasn’t part of today’s BORA – hansgrohe line-up, won this race back in 2014. Also a former winner is the team’s new Italian signing Matteo Pelucchi, who celebrated in 2011 on the top podium spot. After his strong start to the young season in Mallorca, Matteo was appointed as today’s leader of the team.

Straight from the start a three men breakaway decided to go for early glory in today’s race. Their lead increased rapidly to more than 8 minutes, while the race favourites didn’t panic at all. After about 100km the peloton started to organise the chase, slowly but constantly. Always on top of the action was also BORA – hansgrohe.

With 50k to go the gap was already down to 3 minutes, 30k later their time at the front of the race was finally over. As Matteo Pelucchi didn’t have the best legs today, BORA – hansgrohe changed tactics and decided to enter the final sprint with Rudi Selig.

On the last laps of the finishing circuit in Almeria Orcia-Scott took over control in the peloton for their sprinter M. Cort Nielsen. The pace was high and when the fight for positions started to get a little frantic, a crash happened with P. Ackermann being involved. Still BORA – hansgrohe had C. Pfingsten and M. Schwarzmann to lead-out Rudi. With an early move, 250m from the line, Rudi tried to fool his rivals. But M. Cort Nielsen (ORS) reacted fast and just was able to beat Rudi to the line.

“The team did an excellent job again today. Silvio worked the whole day on the front of the peloton. When we discovered that Matteo had some problems today, we switched tactics to go for Rudi. That worked our really well, Magnus was just a little stronger today. But the second place is a strong result again, and I think the next win is just a matter of time.” – Christian Pömer, sports director

“When we decided to switch tactics, Schwarzi took over control of the lead-out. Unfortunately, Pascal was involved in a crash, but still Christoph rode us into a good position. When Schwarzi dropped me on Magnus’ wheel I thought: go for it. I thought maybe a can surprise him by going early, but he reacted immediately and we sprinted 250m head to head. In the end, he wasn’t faster than me, but could hold the speed a little longer. It was close, but not enough. Still the second place is an excellent result.” – Rudi Selig

Team Quick Step Floors for Volta ao Algarve

Here's the team's update:

The 43rd edition of the 2.HC race will take place between 15-19 February.

Algarve is not only one of the most beautiful and picturesque regions of Portugal, with a variety of enchanting and breathtaking landscapes, but it's also home to one of the country's finest races, Volta ao Algarve, which Quick-Step Floors have won on three occasions (2008, 2013, 2014), racking up 11 stage victories in the process with 8 different riders.

This year's edition is sure to be one of the most difficult and testing in recent history, despite the fact that the sprinters are expected to cut the lion's share on the first (Lagos) and the fourth day (Tavira). Alto da Fóia (highest point of the race, at 902 meters) and the iconic Alto do Malhão (2.5km, 9.4%) will give the climbers a chance to shine, but also the ground to distance the strong time trialists, who can count on a 18km-long stage against the clock in Sagres to come back into contention.

Fernando Gavria

Fernando Gaviria is headed to the Volta ao Algarve

A star-studded field is expected to line up for the 43rd edition of the Portuguese race, and Fernando Gaviria and Maximiliano Richeze, who won two stages apiece at the Vuelta a San Juan in January, will be part of it. Daniel Martin, fifth at last week's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, will make his Volta ao Algarve debut, while Dries Devenyns, neo-pro Enric Mas, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote will round up the eight-man squad, thus giving Quick-Step Floors a balanced and experienced team for next week's five-stage race

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