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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, October 6, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Scientists will eventually stop flailing around with solar power and focus their efforts on harnessing the only truly unlimited source of energy on the planet: stupidity. I predict that in the future, scientists will learn how to convert stupidity into clean fuel. - Scott Adams

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Milano-Torino team reports

Winner Rigoberto Uran's Cannondale-Drapac team sent me this:

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In the lead-up to the Italian classics week, Cannondale-Drapac made clear its intention. The American-registered squad was eager to close out the season with a win and brought a fit, motivated squad in pursuit of its objectives. Three races in, #GreenArgyle had already snagged a podium and a pair of fifth places. Those races proved a warm-up for Thursday’s showdown.

Rigoberto Uran was the first rider to pass the Basilica di Superga just meters before reaching the Milano-Torino finish line. The Colombian held off ORICA-SCOTT’s Adam Yates, who had jumped out of the bunch, passed all chasers and crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind Uran. Italian road champion Fabio Aru (Astana) rounded out the podium.

“It was a good day. I’m really happy,” said Uran. “This is a nice victory for me and for Cannondale-Drapac — for everybody.”

The main difficulty in the 186-kilometer race from Milan to Turin is located at the end of the race, with a double ascent of the Superga climb and a technical descent plus only 15 kilometres in between to recover.

The finale began on the first climb. A four-rider breakaway, that had formed quickly after the start, had only 20 seconds left at the foot of the climb, and the end of their reign was in sight.

With the leaders reeled back in, it quickly became a race of attrition with a selective group arriving at the top of the climb. Uran handily followed wheels up the climb, keeping a low profile in the wheels of his competitors.

On the second climb, Uran came to fore.

“I wanted to wait until the second climb, because this climb is short, but really hard,” said Uran. “I was in a group of four, five riders and I decided to attack on instinct. I went full gas to the finish line.”

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran wins Milano-Torino

“Rigo was super strong today and also tactically good,” sports director Fabrizio Guidi said. “If it had been a complete bunch when he attacked, it would maybe not have been the right moment. But Rigo took the opportunity and went for it. He managed to keep the gap until the finish line. It was a gamble, but it paid off.”

Uran admitted that he would have preferred to wait a little longer with his attack, but that it felt like the right moment to go. “In my career, sometimes I have been told that I’ve attacked too early or too late,” he said. “Today it was early, not exactly when I planned to do it. But I saw a gap and I went – on the hardest part of the climb.”

“I thought Fabio Aru or someone would come across, but nobody did,” Uran continued. “I had the situation under control, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure of winning until I looked behind me in the final curve. It’s important for me and the team to get a victory, especially as a confidence booster ahead of Il Lombardia, which is a race I like a lot.”

“The team rode well this week,” Guidi added. “It’s going to be good in Il Lombardia.”

Here's the report from second-place Adam Yates' Orica-Scott team:

The 98th edition of Milano Torino today saw Adam Yates fight all the way up the final part of the Suprega climb to claim second place for ORICA-SCOTT.

Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) launched a solo attack inside the last three kilometres, as Yates fought on relentlessly behind in an attempt to close the distance to the Colombian. As every metre ticked down, Yates drew closer and closer to Uran but the line came too soon and Yates had to settle for second place, crossing the finish line just ten seconds behind.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates finished a strong second.

Sport director Dave McPartland praised the young British rider's efforts on what was a close and exciting finale in Torino. “It wasn’t a win but Adam rode a really good race and the best thing about today is the indication of his form ahead of Saturday’s monument,” McPartland said. “In hindsight Adam should have gone with Uran’s attack but you can’t go with everyone and it becomes a tactical thing then, once somebody has gone up the road.”

“He was riding well all day and the guys set him up in a good position coming into the climb for the first time. He was a little bit isolated on the last lap but once (Julian) Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) got away, other team’s had more numbers and rode to bring it back so it worked out ok for us.

“Once Uran established the gap it was down to Adam to just give everything he could to try and get across. He gave it his all and we can be happy with the result, his effort and form.”

How it happened:

The oldest classic, Milano Torino, began with numerous attacks and multiple riders trying to get into the day’s breakaway.

After 25kilometres of racing a breakaway of four riders establishing and they opened up a gap of over five minutes. Karl Patrick Lauk (Astana), Guillaume Bonnafond (Cofidis), Gregory Rast (Trek-Segafredo) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani-CSF) found a steady tempo and worked well together to remain out front for the majority of the race.

As the peloton approached Torino and the first ascent of the Suprega climb, a 4.9kilometre climb with an average gradient of nine percent reaching a maximum steep gradient of 14percent, the peloton began to draw in on the four leaders as their advantage plummeted to just over two minutes with 35kilometres to go.

Once the riders started the first ascent of the Suprega the breakaway riders were swallowed up and the main peloton significantly reduced as the attacks began. With 19kilometres to go Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) launched a solo attack and led the final lap but was finally caught before the final ascent.

Attacks came immediately again on the climb, but it was Uran who produced a well-timed attack and led the final three kilometres solo. Yates was able to jump across to two chasers Fabio Aru (Astana) and Egan Arley Bernal (FDJ) and quickly drop them as he battled on solo towards Uran.

In the end, Yates crossed the line in second place with Uran holding on for the victory in the one-day Italian race.

BMC looking for opportunities at Paris-Tours

BMC sent me this release:

05 October 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will be looking for opportunities in France on Sunday (8 October) when a talented line-up heads to the start line at Paris-Tours.

Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said rather than going in with a specific leader, BMC Racing Team will be looking to take opportunities at the one-day race. "This is one of the final races of the season, and we are heading to the start line motivated to produce a good result. We will need to race aggressively, but we have a strong team with a wealth of experience and enthusiasm. I trust in the abilities of every rider, and we will line up ready to give our best for the team," Ledanois said.

Jempy Drucker is looking forward to lining up at his final race of 2017. "Paris-Tours will be my final race of the season, and I am going in with a lot of motivation to end the year on a high note. I was feeling good at Tour de l'Eurométropole, so I hope this form continues here. The race should suit me well as it usually ends in a bunch sprint and I know that I can be competitive in a fast finish," Drucker explained.

Jempy Drucker

Paris-Tours will be Drucker's final race of the 2017 season.

Paris-Tours (8 October)

Rider Roster: Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Bram Welten (NED)

Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

Lotto-Soudal to race Il Lombardia

Here's the update the team sent me:

There are two historical races on the menu in the upcoming weekend: the Tour of Lombardy and Paris-Tours.

The Tour of Lombardy [Il Lombardia], or "Race of the Falling Leaves" takes place on Saturday in northern Italy. This year, the last of the five cycling monuments is back on the course that was also done during the 2015 edition. This 111th edition is 247 kilometres long and features six steep climbs.

The peloton will start in Bergamo and will tackle the Colle Gallo after 48 kilometers of racing. This climb is 7.4 kilometers long with an average percentage of 6%. Fifty kilometers further looms the Colle Brianza (5.7km at 3.8%). On the 174th kilometre, the riders will face the famous Madonna del Ghisallo (8.5km to 6.2%), which will be immediately followed by the Muro di Sormano. This climb is 1.9 kilometers long and averages 15.8% with some passages between 25 and 27%! The last two difficulties of the day are the Civiglio and the San Fermo della Battaglia. These climbs may not be not the longest of the race, but they feature slopes up to 10%, which will definitely make for an animated finale. The finish line will be situated in Como, less than six kilometers after crossing the top of the last climb. In total, the riders will face about 4,000 metres of vertical elevation.

Due to this challenging profile, the Tour of Lombardy has always been a race for the strong climbers. Vincenzo Nibali took an impressive solo victory on the same course in 2015. The Sicilian is once again on the start list this year and will definitely be the man to beat. Dan Martin won here in 2014 and will also be at the start. Last year's winner, Esteban Chaves, hit the deck in the Giro dell'Emilia and won’t be able to defend his title. Lotto Soudal goes to Italy with riders in fine form: Tim Wellens showed in Wallonia and in the World Championships that he has good legs. Tony Gallopin, who took seventh place in Lombardy in 2015, has also ridden strongly in the past few weeks.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin will be on the line for Il Lombardia

Bart Leysen, sports director for Lotto Soudal: "The course is just as difficult as the previous years. The most difficult part lies between the Ghisallo and the Sormano. The latter comes fifty kilometers from the finish but it is a real wall that you have to survive if you want to go for the victory. We have a very strong team, including Gallopin, Wellens and Benoot. Gallopin and Wellens should be our two leaders, but it also depends on the situation and on the moment in the race. There are of course many factors that can influence the outcome. The finale suits riders like Gallopin and Wellens very well. The recon of the course is also very important, especially as we don’t live in the area. The motivation and the condition of our riders is really great. They know it's the last big race of the season and everyone will want to do their maximum to help our leaders."

Line-up Lotto Soudal for the Tour of Lombardy: Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Bart Leysen

UAE Team Emirates also to race Il Lombardia

Here's the team's press release:

On October 7th, UAE Team Emirates will bring an attacking squad to the starting line for the Giro di Lombardia: 247 km from Bergamo to Como.

“We aren’t race favourites, but we have several guys we can count on,” says Sports Director Mario Scirea. “As we know, the Giro di Lombardia is really very hard and the climbers will make a difference. This is why we’ll have to come up with something, knowing that we can count on some excellent athletes among our ranks, like Ulissi, Rui Costa and Conti”.

Diego Ulissi is coming to this event highly motivated: “The Lombardia is one of the hardest one-day Classics in the world; it might even be the hardest, if you consider the altitude changes. The strategic point will be the wall at Sormano, which will definitely be selective if the climbers are strong. As for me, I’m in good physical form and I’m going to try to give it my all to get the best result possible.”

Roster: Durasek Kristijan (Croatia), Atapuma Darwin (Colombia), Conti Valerio (Italy), Costa Rui (Portugal), Petilli Simone (Italy), Polanc Janc (Slovenia), Ravasi Edward (Italy), Ulissi Diego (Italy).

Sports Director: Scirea Mario (Italy).

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