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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 12, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. - Muhammad Ali

Current racing:

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Les Woodland gives the inside story on Paris-Roubaix

Richie Porte triumphs on Paris-Nice queen stage

Porte's BMC team sent me this report:

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

11 March, 2017, Col de la Couillole (FRA). Richie Porte launched an impressive attack on the Col de la Couillole summit finish to take the solo win on the queen stage of Paris-Nice, his fifth career win at the race.

Four categorized climbs, including three category 1 climbs and the highest finish in the history of the race, were on the menu, with a breakaway going clear in the first 10km of racing.

The General Classification contenders started pulling the breakaway back halfway through the stage and on the penultimate climb of the day, Alessandro De Marchi, Amaël Moinard and Nicolas Roche were protecting Porte in the bunch.

At the base of the final climb the peloton was down to forty or so riders, and as the pressure was put on by De Marchi and Team Sky, riders began to drop away. The group caught the remaining breakaway riders and a huge effort by Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) saw a select group of just seven riders in front, including Porte, with 5km remaining.

Porte seized his opportunity 3.2km before the finish line and launched a solo attack.  Within a few hundred meters Porte has distanced himself from the group and gained 15 seconds on the chasers.

His lead extended to 35 seconds and as Porte approached the finish line he had time to zip up his jersey and celebrate as he crossed the line, 21 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), and 32 seconds ahead of Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors).

Porte has moved into 12th place on the General Classification with one stage to go.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte has a good day in France

Quotes from the Finish Line:

Congratulations Richie! How does it feel to win the queen stage?

"It hurt so much but it was such a sweet victory after the disaster we had early in the week. But I must take my hat off to the team, they were absolutely incredible all week and they never lost faith in me. So I say a big thank you to them. I wasn't always easy to deal with this week."

You have had a lot of success at Paris-Nice. How important was it for you to win a stage?

"I love this race. It means so much to me. To win a stage here is incredible. It gives an incredible feeling of satisfaction. Words don't sum it up."

Tell us how it played out for you.

"I did know this climb. Two weeks ago we did reconnaissance of it. It was a beautiful climb. We were lucky with the weather that we could get this high. It's the highest finish of Paris-Nice ever which is incredible. I'll take great memories from this."

"It was hard to line up on Tuesday after stage 2, but it makes you a little bit hungrier. I had a couple of little goes at it on the way up. I didn't so much as attack, but more rolled off the front a little bit there. The others didn't have to chase me for GC but the last 3km were absolute hell. To finish it off is a great way to finish the week."

"The boys rode on the front basically from kilometer 0 to put me in the good position. I must tip by hat to those guys. It's not over. We still have another hard stage tomorrow. It's nice for me to take a bit of a backseat and sit back and watch the fireworks. I think it's going to be a spectacle tomorrow. It will be a really exciting race."

Does this give you confidence for the next part of the season?

"It's good signs for me. I have a new coach David Bailey who has really been good this last year and I think we are on a good path for July. My climbing is up there with the best in the world. So we'll take it race by race now, but I'm looking forward to July for sure."

Nairo Quintana takes the lead in Tirreno-Adriatico

Here's the report from Quintana's Movistar team:

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) fulfilled expectations to take the GC lead in Tirreno-Adriatico on top of the Monte Terminillo. The Colombian got full support from an excellent telephone squad: kept safe by Oliveira, Dowsett, Bennati and Sütterlin all the way towards the decisive, final 16km climb, climbers Moreno, Amador and most notably Jonathan Castroviejo were at the front in the decisive moments.

'Castro' took charge of covering a dangerous move by Simon Spilak (KAT) and Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY) from almost the foot of the climb, an attack that reached a 50-second gap over the main favourites. Remaining calm, going easy on the wheel of accelerations from Tom Dumoulin (SUN) or Adam Yates (ORS), the Colombian waited until the final 2.5km to launch his first move, reached down by only Yates, Thomas (SKY) and Urán (CDT). Two subsequent attacks from the 'Cóndor de Boyacá' were the decisive strike on his rivals, chasing down solo leader Spilak and winning with about twenty seconds that ciment a strong hold of the 'Maglia Azzurra'.

33" over Yates, 56" to Pinot (FDJ) and 1'19" to Dumoulin -former leader Dennis (BMC) now sits at 1'01"- are a decent margin for Nairo heading into Sunday's difficult climbs on stage five -210km, finishing in Fermo-. There, he will again count on support by a Blue squad that features two GC top-ten members -Castroviejo in 4th, Moreno in 9th-, a sign of overall strength by a Movistar Team that has claimed today its 8th success of the 2017 season.

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana has plenty of time to enjoy his win

Nairo Quintana: "It went all as we planned it, I'm really happy. I wasn't really confident about my condition since I had got a bit sick during the last few days, sort of a flu. It has taken some energy off me during the week, and I don't feel superb yet. However, the team was really great all week supporting me. All my team-mates kept me calm until the foot of the climb, and later on, Andrey and Dani were really attentive to those attacks, just like Castroviejo.

Our strategy was having all three taking care of those attacks, before the moves from the big favourites, and Castro really delivered. As the big moves came, I stayed on their wheels until I found the moment to attack and overtake them. I feel like experience and maturity give you a real edge in such moments - the older the better, and it really paid off today for me.

There’s still a couple of dangerous stages left; actually, I think Sunday will be harder than today. It’s a nice gap in the overall standings for us, though, one that we can manage well through both tomorrow and the ITT, so we can bring this jersey home on Tuesday. We’ve got a strong team and I’m hopeful we can fulfil that goal.

Here's Team Sky's Tirreno-Adriatico news:

Geraint Thomas narrowly lost out to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in a brutal battle up the Terminillo on Tirreno Adriatico’s queen stage.

Quintana attacked with five kilometres to go to leave Thomas, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) and earlier leader Simon Spilak (Katusha Alpecin) behind and was able to hold off a spirited chase to finish 18 seconds ahead of the Welshman.

Mikel Landa was also in pursuit and finished eighth, while Thomas’ result moves him up to eight overall in the general classification, 1’23” behind race leader Quintana, but just 27 seconds from the podium.

Earlier it looked as though a long distance break may prevail as a six rider breakaway had a lead of nine minutes over the peloton, which would later extend to over 10 minutes.

However, as the ascents began to take their toll on the leaders, their advantage was halved with 40km to go before they were snapped up by the peloton with just 30km to go, despite a late counter-attack by Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec).

The battle really started in the final stages as Michal Kwiatowski led a small breakaway containing five riders, which gave birth to Spilak’s solo break that nearly paid dividends.

However, the Slovenian rider was caught by the group led by Quintana and Thomas with two kilometres to go before the Movistar rider was able to accelerate again and set up his march to the overall lead.

One of Britain’s biggest in cycling sees 2016 sales drop by 26%

Bike Europe sent me this business update:

BIRMINGHAM, UK – In its earlier this week published trading update for the whole year of 2016 Tandem Group plc (owner of among others the brands Claud Butler and Dawes) reports that its bicycles and mobility division was loss-making. In what Tandem Group describes as ‘challenging market environment’ the company saw its cycling revenues decline by 26%.

Tandem Group which names itself “designers, developers and distributors of sports, leisure and mobility equipment,” announces a trading update ahead of its annual results for 2016 which are due to be announced in April 2017.

Tandem Group saw its overall revenue come in at GBP 38.4 million (€ 44.2m); up 12% compared to 2015. The company also expects it operating profit to be ahead of the prior year. This despite exceptional costs of GBP 191,000 (€ 220,000) it made in respect of redundancies and restructuring of the bicycles division. “These costs were offset by exceptional income of GBP 334,000 (€ 384,000) being a release in over provided deferred consideration in respect of the Pro Rider and ESC acquisitions,” states Tandem Group.

Tandem Grouop reports further on its bicycle business, “Revenue was approximately 26% behind the prior year.” The 2015 total turnover of the company’s bicycles and mobility division stood at about GBP 15.5 million (€ 17.8m). The Tandem trading update continues with “Both corporate and independent bicycle businesses encountered difficult trading conditions. Unlike the prior year, there was no significant promotional contract in our corporate bicycles division and revenue reduced as a result.  We continue to seek opportunities for future promotional business where it is possible to make an acceptable margin.

You can read the entire story here.

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