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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 1, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Change is inevitable. Progress is not. - Max McKeown

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

André Greipel wins Omloop Eurometropool

Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

The first edition of the Omloop Eurometropool van de Westhoek started in Nieuwpoort. The 177 kilometres course ended with three local laps in the region of Poperinge, where the finish line was situated. The race profile was relatively flat and suited the sprinters. The peloton left Nieuwpoort at twelve o’clock and then headed towards Poperinge. There were a lot of attacks in the peloton after the start, but a very high pace made it difficult to go clear. Thirteen riders, including Tosh Van der Sande, finally established a first breakaway, but their advantage never exceeded 30’’ and therefore this breakaway was reeled in with 90 kilometres to go. Gougeard and Van Goethem accelerated 25 kilometres further and the duo quickly opened a 1’ gap but Lotto Soudal led the chase in the peloton and the two attackers were reeled in thirty kilometres from the finish. Seven riders tried to go clear in the finale but a bunch sprint was unavoidable today. Jasper De Buyst worked hard to bring André Greipel to the front in the last two kilometres and the German rider ultimately claimed Lotto Soudal’s 21st victory of the season.

André Greipel: "It was a really fast race, the average speed was around 48 kilometres per hour. It was also very uncontrolled, as we expected it to be and we sent Tosh Van der Sande up front in the main breakaway. We took the control of the peloton with thirty kilometres to go, and we made sure the race would end in a bunch sprint. Tosh, Moreno, Jens and Jasper led me out perfectly. We stayed calm and we rode strongly in the finale."

"This victory is a relief for me. Although I won my two previous sprints, these were not for the win. I always tried to keep calm, but that’s not easy when you don’t win. I felt that the confidence between the team and me was still intact and I was sure that I would eventually get back to winning. I’m really happy with our performance today. There is another opportunity tomorrow, and we have riders, like Jasper De Buyst, who can do well in races like this."

BMC reports on Giro dell'Emilia

Here's the team's race report:

Nicolas Roche showed his strength and form to battle to fourth place in the tough one-day Italian race, Giro dell’Emilia. Roche was part of a select chase group behind solo winner Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) and made his intentions clear with a late attack on the final climb to the finish.

Giovanni Visconti

Giovanni Visconti wins the Giro dell'Emilia

Earlier in the 223.3km race, a seven-rider breakaway formed and gained more than seven minutes on the peloton, and eventually swelled to nine riders when a chase group made the junction.

However, the peloton picked up the chase and brought the group’s advantage down to 3’50” after 90km of racing. The gap stabilized for the next 50km before coming down to two minutes with 40km to go, as the race entered the first of four laps of the finish circuit and five ascents of the San Luca climb.

The breakaway began to split and attacks were launched from the bunch to create a leading trip with 30km to go and a peloton rapidly closing in. Inside 20km to go, the race came back together and Roche was well-positioned along side Ben Hermans, and Alessandro De Marchi who hovered at the rear of the reduced peloton.

Visconti launched his winning move 16km before the finish line on the second-to-last lap and eventually gained 30 seconds on the chase group behind.

De Marchi led the chase on the descent and run into the final climb to the line with 3.5km to go and on the ascent, Roche held his ground, positioned in the front ten riders.

As the group began to split and Visconti looked set to take the win, Roche attacked in the final 600 meters but was overtaken by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) just before the line.

Roche settled for fourth place and Hermans crossed the line in tenth place.

Nicolas Roche:

“It was a good test after the UCI World Championships and before Il Lombardia. When Giovanni Visconti went, I thought he could maybe stay away. Bahrain Merida had a really strong team and they did a smart move by sending him up the road. It took a long time for teams to react and once he opened a gap, it was too late. He did well to keep it up as it was a long way out. Then Alessandro De Marchi took control of the chase in the last few kilometers when the crash happened. The team did a good job to position me well for the final climb. I hung in there when Vincenzo Nibali and Gianni Moscon went. I was happy with how today went. The climbs in Emilia are the climbs I enjoy, 2km and steep, just the way I like them. I was a bit worried doing it five times in a row. But the way the race went we did a steady pace and then flat out on the final climb, so the racing today suited me. I’m feeling good ahead of Il Lombardia.”

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:

“The race went well. We decided to stay calm and let the other teams control the race at the beginning and not let any of the big teams go in the breakaway. Seven guys and then two more went away but there weren’t really any dangerous riders. We worked well behind with Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team and ORICA-SCOTT. There were a lot of teams working. Unfortunately, we lost Dylan Teuns on the second circuit lap when he had a mechanical problem. He was feeling good and was planning on make a move. Visconti went on the next lap and Alessandro De Marchi tried to follow but came back. Teams eventually started to chase but then the crash of Esteban Chaves slowed the chase a bit. Alessandro, Ben Hermans and Nicolas Roche all looked good and it was good to see Nicolas up there in the end. He tried to anticipate the sprint and he did a good job. It is definitely a good sign for next week for Il Lombardia. I saw a focused, motivated team today which is important.”

Estaban Chaves’ season to conclude early after crash in Emilia

Orica-Scott sent me this bad news:

The 2017 season has come to a premature conclusion for Colombian climber Esteban Chaves after the ORICA-SCOTT rider suffered a heavy fall inside the final 10 kilometres of Giro dell’Emilia in Italy on Saturday.

Chaves was attempting to chase down eventual winner Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) in support of teammate Jack Haig when he lost control on a bend and crashed heavily on his right side.

Chaves was taken to hospital where X-rays revealed a fracture of the shoulder blade. Despite clear brain scans, the 27-year-old will spend the night in hospital under observation having also experienced a heavy hit to the head.

Estaban Chaves

Esteban Chaves wins the Tour of Lombardy in 2016

The 2016 Il Lombardia champion expressed his disappointment to end the season on this note but remained his distinctive positive self. “This is not how I wanted to finish my 2017 season, especially without the opportunity to return to Lombardia after such special memories last year, but this is the way it is and we now focus on the recovery and next season,” Chaves said from hospital.

“It’s just a bone and there are much bigger challenges in life, we are lucky. We will return from this and I’m looking forward to a new year in 2018. I want to thank the team and the hospital staff for looking after me so well and to the fans for all of their kind messages and thoughts. It means a lot, thank you. I am good.”

ORICA-SCOTT race doctor Matteo Beltemacchi explained the injury and recovery process. “Esteban has a fracture of the right shoulder blade (distal portion),” Dr Beltemacchi explained.

“It’s not necessary for an operation on this type of fracture, but he will require approximately 15 days’ rest with his right arm immobilised before some therapy to re-strengthen the region. It will finish his 2017 early, but will not have an effect on his 2018 preparations.”

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