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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 20, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage 17 team reports

Here's the report from stage winner Primoz Roglic's Team LottoNL-Jumbo:

Primoz Roglic won the 17th stage of the Tour de France with a solo move over the Galibier Pass and a hair-raising descent to Serre-Chevalier. The Slovenian rider, arriving 1-13 minutes ahead of the Chris Froome yellow jersey group, gave Team LottoNL-Jumbo its first win of the 2017 Tour.

Roglic notched his sixth win of the season and helped the team to its 17th.

“This is unbelievable, incredible,” Roglic said. “Winning this stage, over the Galibier… I have no words for it. At this moment, I do not realise what I have just achieved. That will come later and maybe then I will realise what a big win this is.

“The plan was to attack on the Galibier and go full-gas in the descent. I made plans for this stage earlier on. It is extra special that my girlfriend and my family are here today. Everywhere, I saw Slovenian flags today. It was amazing.”

“This is magnificent,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “I’m speechless. Last year, he joins the team and now he wins a mountain stage in the Tour de France.

“We got some blows to the head the past days with losing Bennett, Van Emden and Gesink, but this is just fantastic. He was in the front all day and in the final 28 kilometres his chasers only came five or ten seconds closer,” Nico Verhoeven explained Roglic’s strong ride. “He is very good rider, but we knew that already.

“For the team and for Primoz, this is amazing. If you win a stage in the Tour de France, your Tour is a success, but if you win a stage over these big cols in the Alps, that is just superb.”

Roglic wins stage 17

Primoz Roglic wins stage 17.

Roglic began as a ski jumper at a high level and competed in the national team. A heavy fall put an end to that career, but opened the door to cycling during his rehabilitation. Roglic joined Team LottoNL-Jumbo in 2016.

According to Zeeman, Roglic completed the fast metamorphosis from ski jumper to cyclist at WorldTour-lever because of a number of factors.

“He wants it badly and has an enormous drive. Besides that, there are a lot of good people in the team that worked with him. He has a huge drive and absorbs everything. He is a fantastic guy to work with.”

Here's what race leader Chris Froome's Team Sky had to say:

Chris Froome stood firm in the Alps to extend his Tour de France race lead following a showdown on stage 17. The Brit forced his way into third place across the line in Serre-Chevalier, finishing among an elite group of GC favourites after breaking clear over the top of the famed Col du Galibier.

Froome looked good on the Tour’s highest summit, following multiple accelerations from rival Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and distancing closest rival Fabio Aru (Astana) with the help of Mikel Landa.

The Basque star set a searing tempo on the hors-categorie ascent, helping to finish off another impressive performance from Team Sky across the 183km showpiece test.

Froome edged his overall advantage out to 27 seconds with three competitive stages remaining, while the battle behind intensified further, with Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and Bardet now sharing the same time.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome finished in the first chase group and extended his lead.

Aru dropped 35 seconds to Froome on the day but remains in fourth, 53 seconds off yellow. Landa played a superb team role and held onto fifth overall in the process, 1:24 back.

In part the day belonged to Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), who held on to win the stage solo after proving the strongest of a sizeable early break. In the Team GC classification Team Sky were also able to extend their advantage out to 10:35.
Froome reflected on the day after stepping off the podium, explaining: "I expected it was going to be a bit of a shadow chasing match between the main GC guys and that was my mentality going over the climb today, just to follow the other guys. Not necessarily doing too much with tomorrow in mind but it’s interesting to see this late in the game some guys struggling out there. Fabio Aru was the most noticeable GC contender who lost a bit of time today. Let’s see. Tomorrow is the last hard, hard stage, a mountain top finish on the Col d’Izoard. It’s still all to race for.

"I didn’t expect Fabio Aru to lose time today. That was probably the surprise of the day, but again I have to thank my team-mates. They emptied themselves today, each and every one of them to make sure I was safe until the final and I’m really, really happy with how the day panned out.

"Izoard is the last big mountain stage for us in this year’s Tour de France but the time trial is certainly something I’m looking forward to on Saturday. It’s something I’ve worked really hard at before coming to this year’s Tour de France. I’ve been up to Marseille and looked at the route already and I think it is a good route for me. I’d be happy going into that time trial with the gaps we have now."
"Well it was an exciting stage wasn’t it?" Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford reflected to Eurosport after the stage.

"[Alberto] Contador lit it up with Nairo [Quintana] to start with and they were going to go for the stage win, and I think that changed the dynamic of the race. I thought the guys were in control all day and managed the effort really, really well. I think Vasil Kiryienka showed what he’s all about and another fantastic ride by Michal Kwiatkowski, keeping it all together. Then in the final, I’m sure Chris will be very, very happy with the work Mikel Landa did. To finish together like they did today after the work he did was super. A very good day for us.

"We’ve seen this as a two-day block as it were, starting today and finishing tomorrow, and it’s a difficult day tomorrow. It’s a mountain-top finish and a different challenge to the one we faced today. The start is different and the nature of the whole stage is different. We’ll be ready. We’re pretty excited about tomorrow."

Speaking to ITV after the stage Landa was asked if he considered attacking today: "Today, no. I wasn’t feeling so good from the beginning, but I’m happy. I finished with the contenders and I’m closer to the podium. We will see tomorrow what I can do.

"Tomorrow is an uphill finish and everybody has to give 100% to try to win or finish on the podium. We were very focused on this week and we’re doing well."
The day started in dramatic fashion with a huge crash early on as the peloton departed La Mure. The green jersey of Marcel Kittel was involved, and the Quick-Step Floors rider was later forced to abandon the race.

Team Sky were able to avoid the pile-up, and set about controlling the stage. Luke Rowe and Christian Knees took up the early running, before Vasil Kiryienka paced the race up the Col de la Croix-de-Fer.

Michal Kwiatkowski hit the front on the Col du Telegraphe, the first of a brutal pair of late climbs. With Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) and then Bardet attacking multiple times on the Galibier, Landa took it up to help restore some order.

Froome was equal to everything that was thrown at him, with the GC men largely covering each other off ahead of Thursday’s crucial summit finish.

Team Quick-Step's Marcel Kittel had to abandon while wearing the green jersey. Here's the team report:

24 hours after losing ground in the crosswinds, Daniel Martin gritted his teeth and went to the attack on the mythical Col du Galibier, the most featured Alpine climb in the Tour de France history, which this year was crossed for the 60th time. Lying in seventh place at the start of the day, the Irishman surged clear seven kilometers from the top of Galibier and managed to put pressure on the yellow jersey group, which got stretched out and thinned down by the meter.

Dan was caught with around five kilometers to go to the summit, but continued to ride with panache and push a hard tempo at the front of the group sensing that some of his opponents weren't having the best of times on the 7% gradients of the HC climb. His efforts paid off when Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), sixth in the overall standings, got dropped long before the top and lost more than a minute by the end of the day.

On the long descent to Serre Chevalier, which returned to the race after 24 years, four riders got a gap and fought for the remaining places on the podium, behind solo winner Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). Dan Martin led home the chasing group half a minute later and concluded the stage in seventh place, for another strong top-10 finish at this edition, after a day that delivered over 4000 meters of vertical gain.

"I attacked because I wanted to test my rivals. I didn't go too deep, but this doesn't mean I wasn't tired. Actually, everybody's tired 17 days into the race, so this is turning more into a mental battle. I'm glad we left this stage behind and I got to jump one place in the GC", said Dan, who also explained why he lost time on the descent. "Contador was in front of me and missed a corner, leaving a gap to the others, so that was that. It's already in the past and now my focus is on the Col d'Izoard, tomorrow. The war of attrition will continue there and Disco Dan is ready to dance!"

The day wasn't a perfect one for Quick-Step Floors, as Marcel Kittel had to withdraw from the race after being caught up in a crash which saw him hit the ground 20 kilometers into the stage. Winner of five stages, a remarkable performance which only a few riders have achieved in the entire history of the Tour de France, the German tried to continue, but the pain, illness and the tough gradients of Col de la Croix de Fer eventually took their toll on him.

Marcel kittel

It has to be unbearably tough to abandon while wearing the green jersey.

"I am very disappointed and I don't know how to describe my feelings at the moment. To go home with five stage victories is great, but to go home because of a crash and before hitting Paris is a major disappointment", said Marcel, who was leading the green jersey classification at the time he had to wave goodbye to the race.

"I couldn't do anything to avoid that crash and lost some skin on my shoulder, back, elbow and hip, which are a bit swollen. I tried to carry on, but pedaling was just painful, especially as in the last couple of days I had to fight with stomach problems and a cold. Now I will take some time to recover before returning to racing and I'm confident the joy of winning five stages at the Tour de France will help me overcome these difficult moments", concluded Kittel, the most successful rider of the season in terms of victories, with 14 (seven of which came in the World Tour) to his name.

Team Sunweb was the beneficiary of Kittel's abandonment. Here's Sunweb's stage 17 report:

After a great team effort battling for the intermediate sprints and taking two of Team Sunweb's three stage wins at the Tour de France Michael Matthews (AUS) has taken over the lead in the points classification.

With one goal at the forefront of their mind, Team Sunweb set out to take stage victories at the 2017 edition of the Tour de France. When the opportunity came to take additional points in the green jersey competition, the team rose to the challenge. With strong tactics Team Sunweb positioned Matthews to collect intermediate sprint points wherever they could in order to rebound on a tough deficit. Matthews now leads the classification with a total of 364 points, 160 points ahead of his nearest rival.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews is the new points leader.

After the stage Matthews said: "After getting 50 points yesterday I knew that it was game on. I knew beforehand that I had to be active to get those 20 points today and was aware that even if I did get those points it was still going to be difficult. You never want to see a guy out of a race like this, it's been such a good battle up to this point and I hope Kittel is ok."

Team Sunweb's Tour de France coach Aike Visbeek (NED) added: "We've put in a big effort into taking the points at the intermediate sprints to close the gap towards the green jersey. This isn't the way that we wanted to take the lead after all of the work we had put in as a team for the points. We really put the pressure on and were prepared to fight all the way to Paris for this jersey."

Here's Orica-Scott's Tour Stage 17 report:

Today’s tough mountainous stage 17 of the Tour de France caused another shake up in overall standings with white jersey wearer Simon Yates losing some time overall, moving into seventh place on the general classification.

After two hard mountain passes, the Col de Criox de Fer and Télégraphe, the real fireworks began on the final Hors Category climb of the day, the Col de Galibier, with aggressive attacks from Dan Martin (Ettix-Quickstep) and Roman Bardet (AG2R) which caused the yellow jersey group to shatter and saw Yates distanced slightly over the top.

The 24-year-old ORICA-SCOTT rider fought hard to limit his losses over the final few kilometres of the climb to eventually finish the day in 14th place, three minutes 14seconds behind the solo winner Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) who survived from an early breakaway.

“It was a very difficult day, I didn’t have the best day and lost some time there in the final,” Yates explained. “I didn’t really blow up mentally, I think I limited my losses ok.”

“There was quite a lot of wind about and I got shelled off the group towards the end of the final climb. I really fought a lot to stay there as I knew there was still a long way to the finish but I couldn’t do anymore.”

Smon Yates

Simon Yates is still in white with one more mountain stage to go.

After today’s stage Yates maintains his lead in the young riders classification, now with a two minute 28second buffer over his closest rival Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates).

“We are pretty far into the tour now and I think I did really well to not lose too much time today,” Yates continued. “I went full gas on the final climb and I wasn’t strong enough today so I hope to have better legs.”

Sport director Matt White acknowledged Yates’ mature riding, staying out of the ‘red’ to remain in contention after 17 stages with a final challenging mountain test tomorrow. “Yates rode very conservatively over the top of the climb today, he went over the top around 15 to 20seconds behind and actually held the group for half of the descent until he finally came in contact with a rough headwind,” White said. “It was a little bit of a blow losing time but we’ve only dropped down one spot on the GC and we still have a two and half minute cushion in the young rider classification.”

“Tomorrow is the last real mountain stage so it is going to be an exciting day and there’s a lot to be won or lost on the stage.”

How it happened:

With over 4500metres of climbing ahead for the riders, the day began with an opportunistic breakaway of 30riders establishing within the first 20kilometres of the stage.

ORICA-SCOTT were represented with Colombian Esteban Chaves and the group opened up a five minute lead on the chasing peloton. Behind Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) was the first to launch a dangerous attack which rattled the peloton and created the first real splits and tension between the GC contenders.

Finally after 120kilometres of racing, the breakaway group was swallowed up by the chasing group which contained Yates along with all the GC favourites.

On the final climb, Roglic, who had been part of the early breakaway, launched a long-ranged attack and was able to hold off the chase from the GC riders to take a solo victory into Serre Chevalier.

Behind Roman Bardet (AG2R), Chris Froome (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) battled it out in an attempt to steal the remaining bonus seconds, with the close top three positions changing once again.

Tomorrow provides the final mountains test for the riders with 179kilometre summit finish stage into Col de Izoard.

GP Pino Cerami report from BMC:

19 July, 2017, Frameries (BEL) / Serre Chevalier (FRA): It was a busy day of racing for BMC Racing Team with riders out at the front of the race at both GP Pino Cerami and on stage 17 of the Tour de France.  

GP Pino Cerami: Jempy Drucker returned to racing at GP Pino Cerami today and showed that he is ready to tackle the final part of the season as he rode out in front for almost 130km before taking second after a final sprint to the line.

It was a battle to get into the day's early breakaway with a flurry of attacks being pulled back by the peloton before three riders were given the freedom to build up an advantage.

After around 25km, of the 199.6km course, the trio was sitting 2'45" ahead of the main bunch as one other rider bridged across to join their ranks at the front of the race. The gap continued to rise before an injection of pace on the approach to the Muur van Geraardsbergen saw the peloton spread out across the road and the early leaders brought to within one minute as they went over the summit of the iconic climb.

With the race hitting the reset button with 127km to go, Drucker was part of the first attack off the front of the bunch before being joined by four other riders. As the lead group reached the halfway point of the day, their advantage was touching four minutes, and it continued to rise with every passing kilometer before peaking at 5'12" inside 80km to go.

As Drucker and the rest of the breakaway went over the line to begin the first of three finishing circuits around Frameries, the peloton had brought their lead down to around three minutes. The gap continued to fall, but the leaders were able to hold on to an advantage of over one minute as the bell rang to mark the start of the final 13.8km lap.

Despite several attacks heading into the final kilometer of the day, the group remained together, and eventually, victory came down to a head to head sprint on the final kick up to the line with Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems) taking the day's honors ahead of Drucker and Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors).

BMC Racing Team also saw strong finishes from Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen with the pair finishing at the front of the main bunch behind to secure eighth and tenth place respectively.

Jempy Drucker: "I can definitely feel it in my legs after today's race. It was my first race back after a short break, and my condition is not 100%, but we had a good day out there and I gave it my best shot. We were out in front for almost 130km, and we stayed in front which was good. I tried to win but I think at the end, everybody was on their knees. Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems) has already won a few races this season, so it is not such a shame to lose against him."

"We went pretty fast up the Muur van Geraardsbergen. At first, there were around 20 guys in front then, someone attacked. I was able to follow and soon it was just the four of us out in front. It was a pretty strong group so, in the end, we were able to take a lot of time out of the bunch. There was a lot of headwind on the way into the finish, and that made it really difficult for everybody, but we made it. Of course, I am a bit disappointed not to win but I can definitely build on that performance, and there is still a lot of racing to go this season." 

Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck: "It was a smart move from Jempy Drucker to go with the attack over the top of the Muur. We said from the beginning that if we weren't involved in the breakaway, we wanted to keep the pace high on the climbs as we knew that from KM 45 to KM 65 there was a lot of climbing. The guys did what they had to do, and they really made the race hard. For a moment we had five riders in a group of 25, and then the moves started again before the group with Jempy established itself at the front of the race."

"They quickly built up an advantage so there was no way back for them and they had to give it everything. Their advantage went out to more than five minutes, and then at the end, we saw that the peloton wasn't able to come back. We did everything to try and set Jempy up for the win, but I think he had put in so much work as part of the breakaway that he was just beaten to the line. After working all day, this is still a good result, and I think we can be happy with what we did as a team. For Jempy, I think this is a good sign for the rest of the season. If you can  ride out in front for almost 130km with the peloton chasing behind, then it means you have been working well and that your form is good."

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