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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, March 6, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope. - Ovid

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BMC Racing Team looks to repeat Tirreno-Adriatico success

BMC sent me this update:

5 March, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA)

With defending champion Greg Van Avermaet in its ranks, BMC Racing Team is sending a strong and experienced team to Tirreno-Adriatico, starting Wednesday, March 8. Sports Director Max Sciandri said that BMC Racing Team is targeting both the General Classification and stage wins at the UCI WorldTour race.

"We will line up at Tirreno-Adriatico with multiple objectives as we have a strong team that can race well in a lot of different scenarios. It is an important stage race leading up to the Giro d'Italia, so Tejay van Garderen and Rohan Dennis will have a chance to test their legs for the General Classification."

"With defending champion Greg Van Avermaet lining up, we have a good chance to aim for a stage win or two. The entire team is in good shape, so I'm confident that every rider will take any opportunity that presents itself. BMC Racing Team has already recorded some great results this year, so we want to continue this success as a team here."

Tirreno-Adriatico is an opportunity for Greg Van Avermaet to continue his preparation for the Classics still to come.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet winning this year's Het Nieuwsblad

"It will be a nice experience to race with number one on my back and go in as defending champion. It's a position I never thought I would be in and unless bad weather forces the cancellation of the queen stage again, my goal is stage wins this year. This race is good preparation for Tour of Flanders and the next block of Classics in Belgium, so I'm hoping for some hard racing," Van Avermaet explained.

Tejay van Garderen is excited to get back into the swing of European racing for 2017. "This is my first race in Europe this year, and I am eager to get back in the peloton after Abu Dhabi Tour. I feel like I am in good shape right now, so I'm motivated to contribute to the team's string of early season success and to be up there on the General Classification. We have a really strong group of riders with a good dynamic heading to Italy, so I'm looking forward to getting started," van Garderen said.

Tirreno-Adriatico (March 8 - 14)

Rider Roster: Damiano Caruso (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA)

Sports Directors: Max Sciandri (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)

Team Quick Step Floors' Paris-Nice report:

Wind played havoc Sunday afternoon, blowing the race to pieces and creating some big gaps in the overall classification.

A brutally tough day of racing unfolded at Paris-Nice, with the crosswinds ripping the peloton apart more than 90 kilometers away from the finish and forcing a big selection which saw many of the pre-race favourites lose ground. Quick-Step Floors didn't miss this key move of the race and was well represented, as the team led from the car by Brian Holm and Tom Steels placed six riders in the 29-man front group: Julian Alaphilippe, Jack Bauer, Philippe Gilbert, Marcel Kittel, Yves Lampaert and Daniel Martin.

The sextet were the motor of that group, driving it on the 74km-long loop around Bois-d'Arcy and making sure the chasers, which included Romain Bardet (AG2R), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Richie Porte (BMC), won't see them again until the end of the stage. In what will go down as one of the best stages in Paris-Nice history, Quick-Step Floors – a three-time World TTT Champion – put in a very impressive display of collective strength, pushing the pedal to the metal and taking the gap north of one minute inside the final 30 kilometers, while at the same time keeping its captains sheltered.

As the group continued to shrink, also the advantage of the leaders began to come down, and FDJ moved to the front inside the last three kilometers, dropping both Marcel Kittel and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) just before that unclassified climb in the final kilometer, which had a 5% average gradient.

Julian Alaphilippe, who came to Paris-Nice after showing a good form in last week's Abu Dhabi Tour, where he won the white jersey, was brought to the front by Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert just before the climb and unleashed a powerful acceleration under the flamme rouge, as the road began to rise. The 24-year-old Frenchman took 20 meters on the chasers, but was countered by countryman Arnaud Démare (FDJ), who made the catch with 700 meters to go and won the sprint, despite Julian giving it his all on the run-in to the line in Bois-d'Arcy.

Arnaud Demare

Arnaud Demare beats Julian Alaphilippe to take the first stage of Paris-Nice

"I am satisfied after this hard day which we rode full gas from the start. We had many guys at the front, they all did a great job and I am proud of them. I did my best on the climb, but Arnaud was the strongest in the sprint. I have no regrets, because the upcoming week will bring other opportunities", said Julian Alaphilippe, who took the first white jersey of the race at the finish, where he was congratulated by his family.

Two other of the squad's riders – Philippe Gilbert (4th), who won the day's last intermediate sprint, and Daniel Martin (6th) – finished in the top 10, their results and the one of Julian taking Quick-Step Floors at the top of the team standings.

The team's showing, incredible amount of work at the front of the main group and results pleased sport director Brian Holm at the end of the day: "We knew since yesterday that the stage will be a grueling one, so we were expecting to see the peloton blown to pieces by the wind. It reminded me of the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem. Everybody was nervous, especially as there was a strong chance that some riders will lose the GC today. We were committed to pulling from the first lap and we did just that. We didn't win, but we can be happy with the way things panned out, as we did a perfect race."

Romain Bardet expelled from Paris-Nice

Romain Bardet crashed in the closing kilometers of the first stage of Paris-Nice. He was back up in a flash and, it turns out, held on to his team car for too long as he scrambled to get back in to the race. The race jury didn't like what they saw on TV and right after the stage was finished, kicked Bardet and his director Julien Jurdie out of the race.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet after stage 19 of last year's Tour de France

Responding to that expulsion, here's the note Ag2r sent me. Please excuse my rough translation.

Romain Bardet was expelled from Paris-Nice by the jury of the commissioners at the end of the first stage for being a "cyclist holding on to team vehicle".

Bardet: "We made a mistake, lacking lucidity at a key moment of the stage where I was caught up in the urgency of my fall and the circumstances of a superb and animated stage.

"I am deeply sorry because nothing justifies the extended team car assistance for mechanical service. This practice, too often tacitly tolerated in the peloton, is now being watched carefully to guarantee the honesty of our sport.

"I sincerely apologize to the organizers and the public. I approached Paris-Nice with great desire and conviction to be an important actor. Other races await me in the next few weeks when I will want to compete in my sport as I love it."

Van Emden victorious in the Dwars Door West Flanders

Here's the note LottoNL-Jumbo sent me:

Jos van Emden won impressively in the Belgian semi-classic Dwars Door West Flanders this afternoon. After 203 kilometres, Van Emden knocked out his breakaway companion Silvain Dillier in a two-up sprint. Team LottoNL-Jumbo team-mate Twan Castelijns came home ninth.

"I did not want the group to come back, so I took off," Van Emden said. "I had Dillier in my wheel and we worked well together until just before the finish. Then I started to play the game. Last Wednesday, I went for the win in Le Samyn, but had to accept defeat in the sprint. I thought, this isn’t going to happen here."

The race started in harsh conditions. The rain blew sideways through the 5° air. It helped whittle down the field. After several climbs, a group of about 40 riders formed containing almost the entire LottoNL-Jumbo team with Amund Grondahl Jansen, Gijs Van Hoecke, Twan Castelijns, Victor Campenaerts, Steven Lammertink and Jos van Emden. In the final, Van Emden and Castelijns managed to breakaway with eight men. When a chasing group neared, Van Emden took control.

His tactics worked. He came off the wheel of his Swiss rival, who was somewhat surprised. "I did not want to head into the sprint because my first kick is not that fast, but when I stood on the pedals to sprint, I felt strength in my legs and overtook the normally faster Dillier,” he added. “It's always nice to win this way. It helps if you’ve already ridden some finals as I did last Wednesday in Le Samyn. You learn from it. I am now nine years professional and it's my third win in a classic. All the other victories, I achieved in time trials."

Jos ven Emden

Jos van Emden wins Dwars door West-Vlaanderen

Sports Director Grischa Niermann saw a strong team and coached Jos van Emden from the car to victory. "I just told Jos that today he had to take his chances. He was not allowed to give this one away. This was his day,” Niermann said. “We tackled the race superbly as a team. We always were at the front and didn’t let anything surprise us. When Jos rode clear in the final, I had confidence that he was the strongest just like last week in Le Samyn. Behind Jos, Twan Castelijns did a magnificent job slowing down the others. The whole team fought in the race and that paid off with a great win.”

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