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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, May 27, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. - George Orwell

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:

Giro d'Italia Stage 19 news

Tom Dumoulin lost the maglia rosa today. Here's the report from his Team Sunweb:

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A multitude of attacks opened the day, with a group of 14 going clear almost as soon as the flag dropped. Whilst the group were busy increasing their lead to the four minute mark, attacks came from the general classification group which saw the Maglia Rosa distanced from his closest rivals. As the gap peaked at 2 minutes, a relentless chase from the group saw Tom Dumoulin rejoin the other favourites and in amongst the chaos and injection of pace from behind, the early breakaway was brought back with 93 kilometres to go. Almost as soon as the race regrouped another group rode away from the peloton. The bunch gave the group 11 minutes of freedom, with the eventual winner coming from the break.

The fireworks were lit on the Piancavallo as Tom lost contact with the first GC group. Simon Geschke was still up there with the pink jersey, pacing him up the climb. With 8 kilometres to go Simon pulled off after a job well done and Tom continued to chase. In a race to limit losses Tom crossed the line 1 minute and 9 seconds down on his closest GC rival, and with 31 seconds separating them before the start of the stage Tom loses his race lead. He now sits in second place, with 38 seconds separating him from pink.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin finishes stage 19

After the stage Tom said: “I had bad legs from the start today. I made a rookie mistake earlier on in the stage and was sat at the back of the bunch. Other GC teams started to pull and the bunch split and caught me out. I needed to put in a lot of energy to get back across to the group which wasn’t ideal when my legs already weren’t great. In the final I tried to limit my losses which I think I did pretty well. The team were so strong and saved me a couple of times, I really have to thank them because without them it would have been a much worse day. I hope the legs are better tomorrow.”

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek added: “Today was a hard and tricky day. Tom wasn’t feeling good and at the wrong moment he was at the back just as other teams started to ride and the field split. He used a lot of energy to get back up to them which wasn’t the best situation. On the final climb Tom couldn’t follow with the other favourites but did a really good job at limiting his losses. The team were also super strong today, everyone gave all they had which is all we can ask for.”

Stage winner Mikel Landa's Team Sky posted this stage 19 report:

Mikel Landa pulled off a richly deserved victory on stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia with a long-range attack on the final climb. The Basque star bounced back from the disappointment of an early race crash, as well as two second place finishes, to vanquish his rivals on the Piancavallo climb.

Solidifying his mountain's jersey lead in the process, Landa benefited from the huge effort of team-mate Sebastian Henao, who joined him in a group of 18 riders towards the end of an enthralling stage.

The Colombian shut down dangerous attacks on the final first-category climb, giving Landa the springboard he needed to attack, and eventually win the stage by one minute and 49 seconds. Henao dug deep to finish fifth on the day in his own right, 3:06 back on his team-mate.

With just two stages to go Landa extended his lead in the Maglia Azzurra standings to 106 points, all but confirming success if he can make it to Milan on Sunday.

Mikel Landa

Mikel Landa wins stage 19

After the stage Landa said: "I’ve been fighting the last three or four days along with my team-mates who have been doing really nice work. Finally today we got the win. It’s been difficult moments for the last month at the Giro. We started well, then we had the crash. We had to regroup. I feel very happy and emotional, especially as my family were here today.

"I saw everyone was looking at me. Fortunately I had my team-mate Sebastian with me. He did some nice work in the first five kilometres to control the contenders."

Sport Director Dario Cioni was full of praise for Landa, and the character the team has shown following early disappointment. He told "Today was really nice. Obviously Mikel in the mountain stages has been among the strongest riders overall, but for the Blockhaus time loss. It’s great if you consider where we were after that stage, for him to bounce back and to be one of the people we will remember in this Giro. Today we managed to close it out with a win, consolidate his KOM jersey and finish off a really impressive performance from the team. Once again he had a team-mate with him. Today it was Sebastian who also finished fifth on the stage and did a great job.

"We really wanted to make a point that we could bounce back. It shows the talent of the team. Often when something hits you it is easier to just stay on the floor. We wanted to bounce back. That started with G, and then we had to bounce back again when he left the race. We went for stage wins and every day we raced it like a one-day race."

The stage also saw a thrilling battle among the GC contenders, with huge plot twists across the 191km test. The fight for the maglia rosa saw the lead change hands heading into the final weekend. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) dug deep on the final climb to unseat Tom Dumoulin at the head of the race by 38 seconds.

Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) was placed under intense pressure, and after battling back across a split in the peloton early in the day, the Dutchman began to slip back on the final climb, ultimately losing the race lead.

Here's what Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team had to say about stage 19:

“We have reopened the race – said Vincenzo Nibali – and in the next two stages I will do my best. Certainly the strength left is not so much, but the spirits is high and I have to try to take the pink jersey”.

“I’m not thinking yet about the final ITT in Milan – added – but I’m focused on tomorrow’s stage. I’m sure there is still space to attack both uphill to Mount Grappa and downhill. The ranking is very short: it will be a super combative stage. ”

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali leads Jan Hirt across the stage 19 finish line.

The new GC sees the leadership of the Colombian Nairo Quintana with 38 “ advantage over Dumoulin and 43″ on our Vincenzo Nibali.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage from Pordenone to Asiago for 190 kilometers. The first 100 are on relatively flat roads. After Feltre, the route climbs up Mount Grappa (24 km) on a narrow and steep road. The next downhill is very technical with several hairpins. The route finally takes the last climb to Foza (7% slope) before arriving at the finish line in Asiago.

Van Avermaet Returns to Racing at Skoda Tour de Luxembourg

BMC sent me this:

26 May, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After a month of recovery following the most-successful Classics campaign of his career, Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line at the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg from May 31 to June 4.

Van Avermaet will be joined by Luxembourger Jempy Drucker, who won the prologue in 2016 and wore the leader's jersey for two stages, Sports Director Steve Bauer said.

"The up and down hilly terrain of Luxembourg suits an all round rider who can race in front and be ready to fight and win seconds at intermediate sprints and the finish. Jempy Drucker will certainly be motivated on home soil and given the race suits him, he will be our main leader. Of course, the race is also very well-suited to Greg Van Avermaet and although he is looking more long term towards the Tour de France, I expect he will also be motivated for a good result," Bauer explained.

"It would be great if we can win the prologue again and inspire the team for the next four days. Given the prologue is the same as in 2016, Drucker will surely be a favorite. We have a well-balanced roster and half of our team is coming from California so they should be in great form."

Van Avermaet will use the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg as the start of a slow build up for the next block of racing. "After one month off racing, I'm looking forward to lining up at the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg. The plan was to have an easy month of training in May following such a busy Classics season and now I will start to slowly build up towards the Tour de France. When you don't race for a while it's hard to know how the form is, but the five stages will give me a chance to get back into the racing rhythm and I'll take things day by day," Van Avermaet said.

Drucker will make the most of his only chance to race on home soil this season. "It was really special to win the prologue last year and wear the leader's jersey for the first two stages. Of course, there is always extra motivation to do well when you race in front of family and friends and I would love to win the prologue again. I think we have a really strong team for the race and hopefully we can come away with some nice results," Drucker added.

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg (31 May - 4 June)

Rider Roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Directors: Steve Bauer (CAN), Allan Peiper (AUS)

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