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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, May 23, 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

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:

Giro d'Italia news

Tuesday, May 23 is the Giro's Queen stage, with three legendary climbs, the Mortirolo, Stelvio and Umbrail. Can maglia rosa Tom Dumoulin withstand the hammering Nairo Quintana and others have promised. This could go down as one of the Giro's legendary days of racing.

Giro Stage 16

A very daunting profile, to say the least.

Here's the organizer's stage preview: Alpine queen stage with approx. 5,400 meters cumulative elevation gain. The course runs first on a mild climb heading to Edolo and then climbs up the Mortirolo from Monno (only one precedent in 1990). The parcours takes a pass over the finish line in Bormio, climbs up the Passo dello Stelvio (Cima Coppi) and reaches Prato allo Stelvio and Glorenza, crosses the borders to Switzerland and clears the Umbrail Pass leading back to Italy, just 3 km from the Stelvio summit, and running down to Bormio

And here's the Giro preview Nairo Quintana's Team Movistar's posted:

TDF volume 1

The Movistar Team offers the most important quotes from Nairo Quintana's press conference held at the Blues' hotel in the Alps on Monday, during the third, final rest day of the 2017 Giro d'Italia. The Colombian will tackle the final six days of racing -starting with Tuesday's Queen stage, 222km Rovetta to Bormio, including the 'Passi' of Mortirolo and Stelvio (2x)- in second place overall, 2'41" behind Maglia Rosa holder Tom Dumoulin (SUN).

"We've been in such a place before many times; at some races, things turned out well, and at other races, they didn't. However, we will always continue to give our best and chase them with all of our heart. We've got five days ahead which should play in our favour. The leader has shown to be really strong, though we don't know how he could react against such a parcours. In our case, we're confident our team will be strong, and we will use that to try and take back the time so we can win this Giro. We believe in our winning chances. Plus, as some people say, I always tend to do better on the third week. I hope that Sunday's crash doesn't undermine my chances, because I was feeling great before it. If we look at what has happened in the past, this third week should be good for me."

"I'm in a worse place that I was before the crash (smiles ironically), but to be honest, I'm doing better than what could have been if the crash were a real bad one. It was only a scare; I've got a couple of blows over my body, but it shouldn't condition by performance. Dumoulin's gesture when he told his riders to stop was beautiful. It's true that we would probably have made it back thanks to my team in any case, but it would have taken a bigger effort. It was a gentleman's move and we thank him for that."

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana at the start of stage 12

"Tomorrow's outcome depends entirely on how the stage starts. We don't know whether it will be a fast start or a slow one. Surely many times would like to have people go for the early break, and we must also keep an eye on it because it might turn decisive. We hope to create some gaps at the finish, even if it's not a mountain-top finish. It's also known that some of our rivals are skilled descenders, but we will still take the chance and try to make up some time at the end. I don't have any more fear to the downhill sections because of yesterday's crash - it hasn't really been a problem of mine. Of course there will be some riders who will go on the attack into descents, buy I feel like the biggest difference in the upcoming stages will be done on the climbing sections.

Tomorrow's stage is a really tough one, where we all could also pay after all the wear and tear we've gone through in this Giro. It'd be good for me to have a fast-paced race tomorrow, but we must keep our minds on what will be ahead of us after Tuesday, because some stages which seem less difficult than tomorrow's could become even more dangerous and destructive."

On the race leader Tom Dumoulin: "We've already seen him performing at such a level in the Vuelta a España two years ago. Becoming the race leader after a long TT and then remaining behind the wheel of the strongest climbers in the toughest days - he already did that. We only saw him cracking on the last real day of the race, at a big mountain stage. We've also had some big climbs so far in the Giro, and he defended himself perfectly. It's not a surprise for me to see him wearing pink, but rather how he's going - he's much stronger than expected. He's proving to have come to this race in excellent form, and up to this moment, we haven't seen any real weakness from him. He left all of us climbers behind in Oropa. We're yet to see if he remains as consistent in the climbs coming up from Tuesday, which will be really long. Our hope is to see him fading a bit in this third week while we continue to grow, all mountain stages containing more than one climb. Theoretically, there are four or five riders who could win this Giro other than him, and these stages suit us really well. An alliance against Dumoulin? That can only happen depending on how the race goes and which are each one's interests, that's not something you can plan on ahead."

"I don't know which should be my gap to retain pink at the final TT if I get back to the lead. Our goal is to at least taking back all time Tom's got on us at the moment, and then gaining some for the last time trial. I don't know how much time I'd need; maybe thirty seconds, fourty... I won't think about that at the moment, rather than Tuesday's stage. If we can't take back time on him tomorrow, at least we'll be taking some energy out of him (laughs)."

Lotto-Soudal previews the upcoming Tour of Belgium:

The day after tomorrow the 87th Belgium Tour kicks off. Five days long, the peloton will head across the country, from the coast to the Ardennes.

On Wednesday the race starts in Lochristi and the finish lies in Knokke-Heist on De Wandelaar. An opportunity for sprinters. The second stage finishes in Moorslede, the previous years a host of the Belgium Tour for women. After ninety kilometres the riders will cross the finish a first time. After a second crossing of the finish line, the riders head towards Monteberg and Kemmelberg. Then they return to Moorslede. On Friday an individual time trial of 13.4 kilometres in Beveren is scheduled. The next day, a small version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège is waiting for the riders. The stage starts and finishes in Ans that day. There are eleven hills on the course, three in the last 25 kilometres: La Roche aux Faucons, Saint-Nicolas and Rue Naniot. The last hill lies at six kilometres from the finish. Sunday it’s a flat stage between Tienen and Tongeren.

Seven of the eight Lotto Soudal riders at the start are Belgians. They will have to compete against a number of compatriots like Philippe Gilbert, Oliver Naesen, Jens Keukeleire and Wout Van Aert. Of course there are also opponents from abroad, such as three-time winner Tony Martin and Mathieu Van der Poel.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “The first stage is a sprint stage in theory, but you never know. There are only five WorldTour teams at the Belgium Tour and the other teams are always really keen to show themselves. If a large break gets away, then we definitely need to have someone in the group too. In case it is a sprint, Jens Debusschere is our man. Jürgen Roelandts, who will be riding his first race since Paris-Roubaix, will do the lead-out.”

“The second stage is new. We ride through Heuvelland that day, including over the Kemmelberg. The riders do the ascent of the Kemmel with still forty kilometres to go, but it can always be a decisive moment. We will also need to be attentive for echelons. In that case there could be time gaps on GC. We have several guys who could do well on that stage. We have to perform as a team that day.”

“The field will completely fall apart on Saturday. This stage and the time trial will normally determine the overall ranking. If we aren’t high on GC, we will need to attack. Jelle Vanendert could set a good result in Ans. Tiesj Benoot has just come back from altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada, so we have to see how his body reacts.”

Jurgen Roelandts

Jurgen Roelandts will be at the start of the Tour of Belgium

“We are aiming for a stage win and a good GC. Top five or top three should be possible and winning the GC would be great of course. The bonus seconds can definitely play a role in the battle for the overall victory. The Golden Kilometre (three bonus sprints during one kilometre, LTS) in the finales of the stages could be crucial, with a maximum of nine seconds that can be gained each day. This could make it exciting. Philippe Gilbert will be a main opponent, just like Tony Martin.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Jelle Vanendert and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Marc Wauters.


Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this update:



Team Sunweb line up at Tour des Fjords this Wednesday, May 24. Taking place over five stages, riders will cover 844 kilometres through the duration of the race. The first stage sees riders cover two categorised ascents, before what is likely to be a reduced bunch finish. A final climb at 40 kilometres from the finish on the second stage could cause some gaps in the overall standings. A fast finish is expected at stage three followed by a smaller group going through to the line on stage four. The final stage ends with a local circuit and could be a day for a breakaway or a bunch sprint finish.

Team Sunweb coach Dirk Reuling (NED) said: "We start the race with hopes for day results, with Zico we have a guy that has a good sprint to so it will be good to see how he can do here. On top of that, we also have some opportunistic riders in Albert and Lennard that can surprise the bunch with attacks. This is Max's first race back after a period of sickness so we will see how things develop with him day by day."

RACE: Tour des Fjords (UCI 2.1)

DATE: 24-28/06/2017

COACH: Dirk Reuling (NED) 

LINE-UP: Lennard Kämna (GER), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER)


Nestled into the women's racing calendar in-between WorldTour events, Team Sunweb line up with a strong roster for Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik in Belgium on Sunday, 28 May. At 136 kilometres riders have a variety of hilly terrain to contend with before an expected reduced bunch sprint finish. With Floortje Mackaij (NED) finishing inside the top 10 in last years edition, Team Sunweb will be looking for another solid result this year.

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) explained: "The parcours are exactly the same as last year so we go there with a good knowledge of the course. We saw earlier in the spring that these kind of 'classics' play to the team's strengths. The climbs of the Muur and the Bosberg are usually the most decisive parts of this race and we aim to still be there with good numbers to make it a hard final. We have race leaders in Ellen, Lucinda and Floortje who's form so far this season has demonstrated that they are more than capable of taking a good result on these kind of parcours. This is also Molly's first race back from injury, we are all looking forward to having her back in action."

RACE: Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 28/06/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Lucinda Brand (NED), Ellen van Dijk (NED), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Julia Soek (NED), Sabrina Stultiens (NED), Molly Weaver (GBR)


Development Team Sunweb take to the start line of the U23 edition of Paris-Roubaix this Sunday, May 28. At 183 kilometres in length the race finishes at the iconic Roubaix velodrome and with various good results within the team here in previous years, Development Team Sunweb will be looking to implement all of their progress into a successful race. German U23 Champion Max Kanter will debut on Sunday in his new jersey.

Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers explained (NED): "The morale in the team is really high after Max's win of the German national championships on Sunday so we are really looking forward to racing this coming weekend. This will be Max's first time wearing his national championship stripes and the team will be keen to do the German jersey proud. The plan is to cover big breaks and be on the front in all of the important moments. We line-up with a couple of different options depending on how the race plays out. Joris and Nils are two guys that we think could do well here and we have a strong team behind them to support."

RACE: Paris-Roubaix U23 (UCI 1.2)

DATE: 28/06/2017

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

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