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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 31, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

Today's racing:

Latest completed racing:

Danny van Poppel takes over the Tour of Poland GC lead

Here's the report from van Poppel's Team Sky:

Danny van Poppel narrowly missed out on stage two of the Tour of Poland by less than a bike length but moved into the race lead. Van Poppel launched a powerful late sprint and, despite closing fast, he couldn't quite overhaul winner Sacha Modolo (UAE Emirates).

But, allied with his third place on day one, the Dutchman moves into the race lead ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe).

The 160 kilometre stage played out in a similar fashion to the opening day in Poland, with the peloton keeping things under control on a punchy city circuit around Katowice. The day's break was swept up a hefty 40km from the finish yet, surprisingly, few attacks followed, setting up a straightforward sprint finish.

Petr Vakoc (Quick-Step Floors) did launch one meaningful attack inside the final 2km but Salvatore Puccio helped to close the gap, leaving Van Poppel in a perfect position heading under the flamme rouge. Diego Rosa put in a long stint on the front before Lukasz Wisniowski led out the Dutchman.

Sacha Modolo

Sacha Modolo wins Tour of Poland Stage two.

Van Poppel passed several riders inside the final 100 metres but couldn't quite overhaul Modolo to claim his second win of the season. Wout Poels earned one bonus second during the stage to push him into the top 10 overall, nine seconds back on team-mate Van Poppel.

The third stage is the hilliest of the race so far, with four punchy climbs, and Poels will hope that if Van Poppel slips back, he'll be the man to move into the race lead.

And Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team had this to say about the stage:

With the race leader’s jersey on the back of the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, today, it was incumbent on the BORA-hansgrohe riders to keep him safe on the second day of the Tour de Pologne. Driving a brutally fast pace throughout the day, the team kept Peter safe and delivered him to the line to contest the finish. Numerous attacks in the finale left the bunch contesting a messy sprint, where Peter took eighth after being boxed in.

The second day of the race saw riders tackling a similarly undulating parcours to the first stage in Kraków, with two categorised climbs over its 142km length, both coming towards the end of the stage, where the route covered a 17km finishing circuit three times. While there was a slight kick up to the finale, the stage has traditionally been earmarked for a sprint, and barring any upsets, it was likely this would be the case today.

Looking to create such an upset for the sprinters, the day’s break went from the drop of the flag at the start of the stage. Four riders built up an advantage swiftly, and while this gap didn’t exceed three minutes as the day went on, it held steady and the escapees looked confident off the front. With 50km raced, it seems the pace wasn’t high enough in the break, and a solo rider attacked, leaving the remnants of the escape to be mopped up by the peloton. Keeping their distance, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were controlling the pace in the bunch, keeping race leader, Peter Sagan, safe, but as the race entered the 17km finishing circuit for the first time, the gap was dropping steadily, and just before the final lap of this circuit, the catch was made and it was all back together.

With the peloton as one, there was every risk that another attack could come, given that there were still 20km of racing to go, and every opportunity for a late grab for glory, but with BORA-hansgrohe driving the high pace in the bunch, this was going to make this that much more difficult. Attacks came and went, making the fast pace even more demanding as the peloton worked harder to keep things together. The final kilometres passed and with 500m to go, a messy sprint started, the brutally fast pace having taken its toll. Peter, in his race leader’s yellow jersey, found himself boxed in as the bunch spread out, and in spite of picking off several places in the push to the line, the Slovak rider had to settle for eighth position. At the end of the day, Peter was tied for the GC top spot, with three riders sharing the same time.

While Peter was disappointed to be boxed in for the sprint, he was grateful to his BORA-hansgrohe teammates for bringing him to the finish safely. "As expected, stage 2 of the Tour de Pologne was very fast and finished with a bunch sprint. The team did a very good job of protecting me – pulling hard at the front to close the gaps and neutralise the attacks. Unfortunately, I was closed in the finale and wasn't able to sprint the way I wanted. However, I felt in good form and with strong legs, so I'm confident about my chances in the upcoming stages."

Sports Director, Christian Pömer, saw how hard the team had to work today – both to protect the yellow jersey and to deliver Peter to the finish. “Due to the high speed sprint, with the final kilometre a downhill slope to the finish, we knew today not only strong legs would count – you would also need luck in timing. With Peter in yellow, the team had the added responsibility of working hard to close all the gaps, therefore we lost two riders during the stage because they gave their all. We worked hard to bring Peter to the finish in a good position, and hoped he would have a good gap and some luck. Unfortunately that didn’t happen today and he couldn’t sprint like he wanted, but that’s a part of cycling. The team worked very well together and in tomorrow’s mountain stage we’re hoping for another good chance for us!”

Stage three sees the race take on a different character. After a flat opening 70km, the road will rise upwards steadily before taking in no fewer than four first category climbs. While not a summit finish, these four climbs will mean only the strongest riders will be in a position to contest the finale, and this is a day to expect the GC contest to really take shape.

Alexander Kristoff won RideLondon with Magnus Cort Nielsen finishing second

Here's the race report from Cort Nielsen's Orica-Scott team:

Vuelta a Espana stage winner Magnus Cort unleashed a strong sprint at today’s Ride London Classic to take second place for ORICA-SCOTT after teammate Daryl Impey animated in the races late attack.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff wins RideLondon

A long, yet fast race unfolded over 200kilometres with an early breakaway allowed plenty of rope before being brought back with 60kilometres to go. Fresh attacks followed with South African national time trial champion Impey part of a three-man move that held a gap going into the race finale.

Impey dropped off as the pace changed in the closing kilometres, leaving two riders out front that ended up getting caught in the final kilometre as the bunch brought about the anticipated sprint finish.

Cort was well placed and launched his sprint strongly, edging out front as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) came up on the Dane’s right to take a narrow victory with Cort in a very respectable second place.

“We had a great day today, almost perfect,” said sport director Gene Bates. “The guys rode a very intelligent race and we wanted to be ahead of the game and on the front foot as much as possible. The race situation worked out well for us when the second move with Daryl went away because it meant we didn’t have to work to bring about the sprint.”

“Daryl was very strong and if that group had stayed away to the line it could have been a very different story. The attack allowed us to conserve energy and maintain our position up near the front and once the race came back together we were ready.

“All of the guys rotated beautifully and Mitch Docker brought Magnus through the final turn in a great position and he did superbly in the sprint. Magnus is coming off a block without much racing, but you couldn’t tell with how he finished. It was very close and we are pleased with such a positive result.”

How it happened:

Drier conditions welcomed the riders to the start of today’s 200kilometre Ride London Classic with the large crowds around St James witnessing a fast start to the race. After one hour of racing a breakaway group of five riders had a developing lead of four minutes on the peloton.

The group reduced to three riders with 120kilometres remaining, but held their four-minute lead past the halfway point of the race. The peloton started to steadily eat into the advantage of the breakaway with 80kilometres to go, falling rapidly under two minutes as the race hit the climbs of the Surrey Hills.

Moment’s later five riders tried to jump across to the leaders, but this only increased the speed of the peloton and the front of the race came back together.

With 60kilometres to go Impey jumped clear followed by Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step-Floors). The duo quickly gained 40seconds over a chasing group of around 20riders with the main bunch further back. Impey and Trentin and were joined by Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) on the Box Hill climb with 45kilometres remaining and the gap now down to 20seconds.

The three riders worked well together and carried their lead into the closing 20kilometres until a change of pace saw Impoey drop off and Stuyven and Trentin push on.

The duo held off the peloton until the last kilometre, painfully being caught under the Flamme Rouge with Kristoff taking out the sprint victory and Cort taking a well fought second place.

Mavic owner Amer's cycling division sales down 12% in first half –
but Enve sales are a bright spot

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this business report:

HELSINKI, Finland (BRAIN) — Amer Sports' cycling business, done through its Mavic and Enve brands, was down 12 percent in local currencies in the first half of the year, and down 18 percent in the company's second quarter, the company is reporting.  But Enve sales were up in the half.

The company said Mavic sales were impacted by high inventories of bikes at both the manufacturer and retail level, combined with more new model launches planned for the second half of the year.

The company said it expects Mavic's sales to stabilize in the second half.

The company also said Enve sales were up 26 percent in the half mainly due to increased global distribution. It did not break out dollar comparisons between Mavic and Enve, which Amer bought last year.

Overall, Amer's cycling-related sales totaled 69.1 million euros ($80.6 million) in the half, down from 77.1 million euros in the same period last year. Second quarter cycling sales were down from 38 million euros last year to 31.4 million euros this year.

You can read the entire story here.

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