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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 18, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of Switzerland stage 8 team reports:

Here's the update from stage winner Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team:

On a street circuit that rode more like a Belgian kermesse, it was the sprinters who wanted to take the win on the last road stage of the Tour de Suisse. While there was a third category climb ridden eight times over the day, a flat finish meant the fast men would be doing everything they could for the victory. A late attack surprised the bunch, with high speeds tearing the peloton to pieces, but in true Sagan style, the UCI World Champion kept his head in the finale and left his rivals in his wake to take his record fifteenth stage victory and his second of this year’s edition of the race.

On the penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse, and the last road stage of this year’s edition of the race, many of the GC riders – especially those who aren’t time trial specialists – would be hoping to pull back a few seconds in the overall standings. The parcours would make this difficult, however, with the same 12.5km circuit being raced eight times over the stage’s 100km distance and the sprinters looking to take their final opportunity for a stage win, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for anyone to build the kind of advantage that would change the top of the GC. In spite of the climbing and descending of the Herblingen eight times, the short street circuit would promote a fast and furious style of racing, that would only get more frenetic towards the finale.

A quartet made their move almost from the start of the stage. The highest placed GC rider in this break was fifty-five minutes down in the overall race, and so the peloton was happy for this group to go ahead. However, on such a short stage, the outcome was anything but certain, with the fast pace taking its toll on both the break and the sprinters. As the day progressed and the kilometres ticked down, the break was unable to break two minutes, but the fact the peloton was pushing hard and still not making much of an impact on the gap, suggested there was still every chance of a surprise. With the commissaires making the decision to take the GC times at the end of the 7th lap, it meant there would be no fireworks for the overall contest, leaving the sprinters to fight it out among themselves.

The 20km mark came and went, and this was when the chasers really surged into action, reducing the gap from over a minute to just twenty seconds in the space of a few kilometres. On the front, BORA-hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy was instrumental in this move, riding hard on the front of the peloton, showing massive reserves of strength, and just before 10km remaining, the catch was made. An audacious attack from Sunweb’s Michael Matthews surprised the peloton, which had only just regrouped after pulling in the break, but Marcus Burghardt reacted quickly to jump in and attempt to slow down the attack and reel them back. Having achieved this, it was all back together for the finish – a reduced bunch battling for the win. The UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was sitting five riders back and staying absolutely calm in spite of the chaos around him. Starting his sprint at just the right moment, the Slovak rider left his rivals trailing just as he had done on stage 5, and added another win to his tally at the race – now standing at fifteen.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins stage eight.

After his BORA-hansgrohe teammates had worked so hard to reel in the attacks of the day, Peter had no hesitation in thanking the riders who got him safely to the finish. “It was a very good day for us and once again I have to thank my teammates for their strong effort. We were practically the only ones to control the race today, so they did an excellent job. I’m happy for my second stage win this year – my fifteenth overall. The Tour de Suisse is a race I like, although it’s too early to talk about next year. I hope I can come back.”

Stage after stage, BORA-hansgrohe showed strength in their teamwork, as Sports Director, Jan Valach, noted from the finish. “Today’s excellent victory for Peter Sagan was the result of perfect teamwork by every single rider of the team. The stage started with a very strong pace, and our plan from the morning was to be in control from the outset. We put riders in the front from the first metres with the aim of also being able to assess this very fast and technical circuit. Juraj Sagan was the first to pull hard in the front, followed by Michael Kolar. In the last lap, it was up to Jay McCarthy, Maciej Bodnar and Marcus Burghardt to do the tough job. Jay was brilliant and closed nearly one minute on the breakaway on his own. He had incredible legs. We are happy to see how Peter got off in the final sprint and I think he showed he has very good form.”

Tomorrow, only 28.6km of the Tour de Suisse remain, and it will all come down to ‘The Race of Truth’ – an individual time trial in the streets of Schaffhausen. The smooth, flat roads will give riders an opportunity to build up some high speeds and a strong rhythm, with only a few corners likely to test riders or force them to slow, but a climb later in the route may cause trouble for those who prefer a flatter profile. The race is still not over and there’s every chance of a shakeup in the GC top ten.

And here's Quick Step's report on the Swiss Tour's 8th stage:

Quick-Step Floors helped Matteo Trentin snatch another top-3 finish at the Tour de Suisse, this time on the last road stage of this edition which will end on Sunday with a testing individual time trial, taking the team's tally at the race to three podiums.

The 146 riders still in the race set off from Schaffhausen knowing an eight-lap circuit which included one climb, Alpenstrasse, was there to make up for an action-packed day with full gas action right from the start. Four riders slipped away from the bunch, but with the stage being just 100 kilometers in length, the bunch weren't willing to give them too much space, so the gap hovered around two minutes for most of the stage, before they were eventually reabsorbed.

With two kilometers remaining, Quick-Step Floors took the front, fracturing the peloton with its hard tempo and amassing a lead-out train for Matteo Trentin, who opened his sprint in the closing 200 meters and took third on the day, behind Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates). It was Quick-Step Floors' 61st top-3 finish of the season, a performance unmatched by any other squad.

Pierre Rolland wins the Route du Sud's Queen Stage

Here's the report from Rolland's Cannondale-Drapac squad:

Pierre Rolland took his second major victory of the season on Saturday. The Frenchman displayed his still-sharp Giro d’Italia form on the climb up to Gavarnie-Gèdre.

Pierre Rolland

Pierre Rolland wins a big one.

“At first I did not feel especially strong, but with this strong heat one should not pay attention to the sensations which sometimes feel very different,” Rolland said. “The victory in the Giro freed me of the weight of no longer finding the way to victory. I am happy with how I managed the Giro and heading into the Tour de France.”

The win comes on the heels of his stage 17 victory at the Giro and demonstrated both tactical acumen and strength. Rolland linked up with the breakaway from kilometer 20. The peloton narrowed the breakaway’s advantage to one minute on the Tourmalet, and Rolland rode away with Gianni Moscon (Sky) and Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing) on the descent.

Rolland entered the final climb up to Gavarnie-Gèdre with a 50-second advantage. He reached the top 42 seconds ahead of Moscon. Rigoberto Uran finished fourth on Saturday with the second group on the road.

“For me, that’s the demonstration that athletically that’s a really strong performance,” said sport director Charly Wegelius.  “He’s on form and he’s going good. He got in the break, managed himself, and he was super strong. All I had to do was ask him to wait for the BMC rider riding for GC in the valley.”

The 167km stage wound through the high mountains of the Pyrenees and provided a measuring stick for pre-Tour fitness. Rolland put in a smooth attack at four kilometers to go that dispatched Moscon and held it to the wire.

“There was a quick rush at first.  We never had a big advantage because there was Silvan Dillier from BMC, who was only 20 seconds back to the GC. On the Tourmalet our advantage was reduced and I decided to accelerate,” Rolland said. “We approached the last climb with little advantage, but I just told myself that I had not done it all for nothing so I'm going as fast as possible.”

The victory is further confirmation of what Rolland himself called “Pierre Rolland 2.0.” Rolland finished his first season with Cannondale-Drapac last season but didn’t notch a major win, something that gnawed at the two-time Tour de France stage winner as he rebuilt himself with Cannondale-Drapac boss and his trainer, Jonathan Vaughters.

“Pierre is a rider who follows the letter of the training to a T,” Vaughters said. “It’s so rewarding to be able to see him get these results this season because I know exactly how hard he works for them. Last week alone he put in 28 hours of solid training. Keep in mind that’s between the Giro and the Tour. He’s an incredibly hard worker and a very good guy. I’m so happy for him.”

La Route du Sud finishes tomorrow with 155km anticipated sprint stage from Gers-Saint Michel to Nogaro.

And over in the Netherlands there is the Ster ZLM Toer

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about the race's stage four:

Primoz Roglic finished third in the Ster ZLM Toer’s fourth stage and slipped to second overall. Jose Goncalvez, who attacked with Laurens De Plus, won the hilly stage to La Gileppe and took over the lead.

Jose Goncalves

José Goncalvez wins the fourth stage

“The intensity was high,” Roglic said. “It was good to race like this given the upcoming weeks in the Tour. It seemed like every man battling for survival. I took part in that by climbing the last climb full-gas. Credit to both attackers for remaining out of our reach.”

“Today, a strong rider won,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We have done everything we could to get him back, but he stayed ahead with about 20 seconds. Primoz went all in on the last climb, but we came up short to keep the leader’s jersey."

“It has not been such an open race in years. Normally this is a controlled stage race, but that was not the case today. Right from the start, a group of 40 riders took off with four of our guys in the group. That was a good scenario for us. After that, seven men took the lead and we began to control the race."

“On the Cote d’Annette, we lit the fire with Timo and Primoz. We came back at the front of the race. The two guys took off then. With the guys from the sprint train, we rode a very strong stage but we came up short in the end.”

“Tomorrow, I expect a bunch sprint and the GC to stay as it is now. Primoz remains second, but rode a good race here. Primoz’s final day of racing then he needs to take a good rest towards the start of the Tour de France.”

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