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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 17, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

I write to understand as much as to be understood. - Elie Wiesel

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of Switzerland stage 7 team reports:

Here's winner Simon Spilak's Katusha-Alpecin team update:

After steadily gaining ground in the days leading up to stage 7 in the 81st Tour de Suisse, Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Simon Špilak used his team to perfection on Friday to strike out for the stage win and the race lead. With precision help from teammate Rein Taaramäe at the start of the 12k climb on the Tiefenbach glacier to make the race hard and distance the others, Špilak struck out solo with 8k remaining to take the victory with a winning time of 3:58:36 (41.819 km/h) on the 166.3k stage. In the process, the Slovenian rider earned rights to the yellow leader’s jersey in an effort to repeat his 2015 victory in the Suisse tour.

“Immediately from the start this morning I felt that I had good legs. Yesterday it was 30 degrees, but today it was 20 and this is better for me. We had a plan for today and the team was so good. Not to perform well was not an option. (Baptiste) Planckaert and (Jhonatan) Restrepo went with the early break while the others stayed with me to keep me out of the wind. Taaramäe was getting our drinks and then at the end he was still with me on the final climb and did a great job,” said Simon Špilak.

Simon’s effort produced a solo win by 22-seconds to Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) and 36-seconds to Cannondale-Drapac’s Joe Dombrowski. For the general classification, Špilak holds 52-seconds to Damiano Caruso (BMC) and 1:05 to Steven Kruijswijk of Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Former leader Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondial) lost more than two minutes.

Simon Spilak

Simon Spilak takes control of the Tour of Switzerland

“With 7-8k to go, I dropped Rein and Joe Dombrowski. Maybe that was too far from the finish, but what else could I do? I had to take the jersey for my team. Now it is 52-seconds to Caruso and more than one minute to Kruijswijk. Tomorrow is a sprinter’s stage so we should be able to control that and then a long TT on the last day. And yes, I am not so bad in the TT,” concluded race leader Simon Špilak. It’s the ninth win of the season for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN and first of the year for Špilak.

“Today was a good day,” said sports director Claudio Cozzi. “I have such a good team here. We decided everything in the meeting before the start and I am very satisfied. Now we will see how things go, step by step.”

It’s goodbye to the mountains for this year with two stages still to race. Saturday’s stage 8 is a short one at 100k before the 28.6k individual time trial brings the race to a conclusion on Sunday in Schaffhausen.

Jon Izaguirre was second in stage 7. His Bahrain-Merida team had this to say about the day's racing:

Sölden, June 16th – Another stunning performance of Ion Izagirre, who finished 2nd atop the hardest climb of the whole race, just 22” behind the solo winner and new leader of the general classification Simon Spilak.

The Tiefenbach Glacier of Sölden (Austria) was the summit finish of Stage 7, the highest point of of this edition of the Tour de Suisse, at 2.780 m. Team BAHRAIN MERIDA leader Izagirre was one of the favourites for the stage win, seen he does always well at high altitude and yesterday showed that he was in good shape. For sure the key of the stage was the final climb to Sölden (14.3 km at 10.3%), but even today a group of riders went in the breakaway, including our Tsgabu Grmay.
The fight among the strongest climbers began in the early slopes of the climb.

Team BAHRAIN MERIDA worked very well to support their captain, who was able to stay in the small front group. After the attack of Spilak, Izagirre managed the chasing very well, dropping down his rivals and overtaking Dombrowski. From the 1.7 km long tunnel in the very last section, Ion appeared in second position. With less the one km to go, then it was impossible to catch Spilak in the downhill towards the finish line, where he came 2nd.

“Today was another hard day” comments Izagirre “My team made a very good job. We put Tsgabu in the breakaway and in the peloton the other guys worked very well for me to keep a good position at the beginning of the climb with Gaspa and Cink. At the end I finished 2nd. Again near to victory. I feel better day by day and it’s important ahead of the Tour de France. I hope next days to do a good job as in the last time-trial”.

Satisfied the SD Harald Morscher, who comes from Austria, so he knows well the difficult of today’s finish “It was a key stage here at the Tour de Suisse. So we’re proud that we were immediately in the breakaway with Tsgabu, because it was what we expected and that we were able to bring Ion save at the beginning of the climb. Then the rest of the team, also Gaspa and Ondrej, worked for Ion. He did a very very good finish in the end. His results means that he is in shape for the upcoming races especially for the Tour de France. We can look for next stages to do something special”.

Thanks to today’s result, Izagirre climbs up the overall standing, where he is 8th (+3’51”)

Team Movistar's Route du Sud stage two report:

Route du Sud, Viviani beats strong Carlos Barbero: It was just one step too short for Carlos Barbero to claim what would have been his fourth victory in his maiden Movistar Team season. The Blue fastmen was 2nd at a slightly uphill finish in Saramon, ending point of stage two in the Route du Sud (174km), which saw Italian Elia Viviani (Sky) beating Barbero after a powerful display by the man from Burgos.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani is too fast for Carlos Barbero

The Spaniard, well protected by his team-mates and support by splendid lead-out riders Daniele Bennati and José Joaquín Rojas, was the first to launch his sprint with 200m remaining. Viviani's strength ended up taking the better of Barbero in the final turn right.

The stage did not see any major gaps between the GC contenders as Julien Loubet (ADT) conserved his leader's jersey –Richard Carapaz now sits in 8th place, 36’’ back– before the Queen stage in the Pyrenees: 167km from Saint-Gardens to the Cat-1 climb of Gavarnie-Gèdre, following the grueling climbs of the Col du Tourmalet (Cat-1, 100km) and Gaborisse (Cat-2, 132km).

Tour de Suisse, Enormous suffering for Soler: In turn, the infamous ascent to the Tiefenbach glacier in the Tour de Suisse (14km at 10.5% average) ruined Marc Soler's chances to fight for a podium spot in the Tour de Suisse, which the Catalan youngster had hoped for after remaining fully in contention for the six opening stages. Soler put up with the initial pace set by Katusha for their team leader Simon Spilak –stage winner and new race leader–, yet ended up cracking with 10km to go as only seven riders remained into the front group.

The 23-year-old climber from the Movistar Team paid his efforts throughout the week and crossed the finish with 3'44" on the Slovenian, which takes him down to 9th overall as a fine Víctor de la Parte, 13th in the day, now sits in 11th place. The two Blues will seek for a top-ten GC spot at Sunday's TT showdown in Schaffhausen (29km); Saturday's racing will be an eight-lap, 100km TV-focused circuit race in the same city the race will end a day later.

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