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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 2, 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

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretzky

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage 13 team reports

Here's the report from stage winner Matteo Trentin's Quick-Step Floors team:

Quick-Step Floors have won 15 Grand Tour stages this season, a performance only five other teams have attained throughout history.

Matteo Trentin and Quick-Step Floors continued their incredible dominance at the Vuelta a España, nabbing a fifth victory in 13 days and thus matching the fantastic achievements set earlier this year at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. After winning in Tarragona and Alhama de Murcia, now Matteo left his mark also on Tomares, a small municipality located just a few kilometers from Sevilla, one of Spain's biggest cities.

Quick-Step Floors were again at the head of proceedings in the long and hot stage 13, which took the peloton from Coin to Tomares (198.4 kilometers). Five men slipped away, but Belgian powerhouse Tim Declercq did once again a tremendous job at the front, keeping the quintet on a leash and making sure the gap didn't go north of 3:30. Declercq – a Grand Tour debutant – rode a relentless tempo at the front, and helped at times by Eros Capecchi and neo-pro Enric Mas, successfully nullified the breakaway inside the final ten kilometers.

Former red jersey Yves Lampaert then moved to the front and softened the peloton, paving the way for Niki Terpstra, who stretched out the pack before the final three kilometers, which included a small but leg-sapping uphill drag. The penultimate Quick-Step Floors rider in the lead-out train was Bob Jungels, and the Giro d'Italia maglia bianca really did some huge damage in the pack, which split under his impetus, leaving around 20 riders in the main group.

Then, stage 8 winner Julian Alaphilippe took over the same role he had on stage ten, shutting down a late attack and positioning Matteo Trentin in the technical run-in, before expertly launching the Italian, who unleashed a ferocious sprint with 200 meters to go, beating Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) and adorning his palmares with another Grand Tour stage victory.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin wins Vuelta stage thirteen. Sirotti photo

"To be completely honest, it wasn't a finish which suited me; what was on the road was different and harder than what we had in the roadbook. The guys were again incredible today and rode an amazing race, controlling the escapees, pushing a really hard tempo in the closing kilometers and guiding me in the final; when you have such a marvelous team by your side, a team which always gives 100%, you have to win and I'm happy for having finished off the job today", said a thrilled Matteo, who extended his cushion at the top of the points classification after his success in the Andalusian town.

Trentin – the first Italian in ten years to take at least three stage victories at a single Vuelta a España edition – also referred to Quick-Step Floors historical run this year in the Grand Tours: "I came to this race with confidence, but I wasn't expecting such an incredible string of victories. You don't see every day a team win 15 Grand Tour stages in a season and what we have done so far this year is something which will stand forever. What is even sweeter is that the race is far from being over and we'll have more opportunities to notch up other strong results."

David De La Cruz continues to be the highest-place Spaniard in the general classification of the season's final Grand Tour. The 28-year-old, who posted a podium and two-10 finishes so far since the start in Nimes, is fifth overall and will go into Saturday's tough stage to Sierra de la Pandera ready for what promises to be another spectacular and exciting fight in the mountains.

Team Sky's Gianni Moscon was second and Chris Froome remains the GC leader. Here's Sky's Vuelta update:

Gianni Moscon sprinted to an impressive second place on stage 13 at the Vuelta a Espana while Chris Froome retained his overall lead.

The young Italian helped shepherd Froome across a tricky narrow uphill finish in Tomares, and after receiving the nod from his team leader, had enough left in the tank to sprint to second.

Froome looked alert in the closing stages and finished seventh at the head of a stretched peloton. With his GC rivals scrabbling to stay in touch behind, Froome and a select band of favourites were able to take seven seconds from the likes of David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin).

After a pair of crashes on Thursday Froome was able to bounce back, retaining his advantage of 59 seconds heading into a key pair of weekend stages.

The chance of a sprint meant other teams were happy to set the pace, with representation from Quick-Step Floors, Cannondale-Drapac and LottoNL-Jumbo helping Sky out front. Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) was the final man to be caught from the day’s break, but in the end the stage belonged to Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), who claimed his third win of the race.

After the stage Froome sung the praises of teammate Moscon, and looked ahead to a tough and mountainous weekend. He said: “I think it was pretty clear today that there were going to be time splits in the final. Coming into that last kilometre Gianni moved me into a perfect position and I could see he still looked keen and fresh and strong. So I just said to him ‘go Gianni go’ and try to get the stage win. He came close – and if he’s able to do that after doing so much work for me I’d say that’s pretty impressive.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome remains in red.

“Tomorrow we head up into the mountains again. It’s a really tough summit finish and the team is looking good. It was nice for the guys today to not have to work all day with the sprinters interested in the stage win. It was a good day for us.

“I don’t think I fear either of the stages. On the climbs it certainly feels like we’re a lot more in control of the race. There are only a handful of guys who can really put us under pressure. So for us that’s what we train for and that’s what we’re looking forward to. We have two seriously really hard back to back days coming up. I think with Sierra Nevada with the altitude, being over two and a half thousand metres, that’s going to be massive on Sunday.”

Moscon was also content at the finish, confirming: “The sprint was pretty hard, I was trying to keep Froomey at the front and then in the last kilometre we were in a good position, and why not try the sprint? “It was a shame to come second, but Matteo [Trentin] is a strong rider so it’s not bad. We believe in Froomey 100% and today there was more of a chance for me [to win].

“There aren’t any sprints like this in the coming days but now we are really focused on the climbs.”

Team Sky signs British Under-23 Road Champion Chris Lawless

Here's the press release Sky sent me:

British Under 23 Road Race Champion Chris Lawless has become Team Sky’s latest new addition for the 2018 season. The 21 year old is another of cycling’s top under-23 talents and joins Team Sky hot on the heels of fellow Tour de L’Avenir stage winners Egan Bernal, Pavel Sivakov and Kristoffer Halvorsen.

Lawless’ victory on stage four of the most prestigious race in the U23 calendar was another high point in an already impressive season that has seen him win the ZLM Tour, in addition to podium finishes at both Velothon Wales and a highly selective British national championship road race.

Coming ahead of this year’s Tour of Britain, the signing of Lawless further represents Team Sky’s commitment to home grown talent. Lawless will join the likes of Jon Dibben, Owain Doull and Tao Geoghegan Hart on a talented roster of young British riders. Doull and Geoghegan Hart, both former Under 23 National Road Race Champions (in 2015 and 2016), will both line up for Team Sky in Edinburgh for this year’s Tour of Britain alongside Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Elia Viviani and Vasil Kiryienka.

Chris Lawless said: “One of my main reasons for joining Team Sky is that I feel it’s going to be the best place for me to develop as a rider. I’ve had a good 2017 so far. The overall win at the ZLM Tour and the stage win at Tour de L’Avenir were both really big wins for me. I was happy with the way I won them. It’s not how I usually win races. I attacked instead of waiting for the sprint which I think showed I can do more than just finish quickly.

“The other highlight was obviously the British Nationals and winning the under 23 jersey. I was happy to be able to compete with the other WorldTour guys there and I was still able to attack and show my pace at the end.

“I want to improve in every area. I’m hoping to become a more all-round bike rider and Team Sky is going to be the best place for me to do that. I’m really looking forward to getting started with Team Sky”.

Team Sky’s Rod Ellingworth pointed to Lawless’ potential as a key reason for his signing. “We first saw Chris a couple of years back and he is someone we’ve been keeping an eye on. He’s had some good results this year and obviously he just won a stage at the Tour de L’Avenir so he’s in good company there.

“He put in a really good ride at the nationals earlier in the year, not just in terms of the result but also in the way he rode. He’s strong and fast, and he attacked it from the gun which was impressive. He’s a British talent with lots of potential, and he has the capability and capacity to learn and develop with us”

Ben Hermans makes return to racing at Tour of Britain

BMC sent me this good news:

1 September 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Ben Hermans will make his return to racing this week as he joins BMC Racing Team's ambitious lineup for the OVO Energy Tour of Britain (3 - 10 September).

Sports Director Valerio Piva said that BMC Racing Team will be looking for opportunities over the course of the eight-day race.

"With a team of six riders, it's hard to control the race and go in with a particular leader so, instead, we will take the race day by day and give everyone the chance to take opportunities as they arise. Our first objective will be to try and jump in the right moves and go for stage wins, and I think riders like Silvan Dillier and Stefan Küng will be able to perform well over this type of parcours. They are in top shape, and so we will keep them protected. We also have Ben Hermans returning to racing in Britain. He has been working hard to recover so we will see how he goes after his crash. As a whole, we have a good group of time trialists for this race and we will see how we arrive at that point. It's a 16km time trial, and you can definitely make a difference overall there," Piva said.

Ben hermans

Ben Hermans wins a stage at this year's Tour of Oman

Hermans is looking forward to heading back to the start line after the crash which forced him to abandon the Tour of Poland.

"I am really happy to be racing again. It was a hard crash in Poland, and I suffered multiple fractures but thankfully all the fractures healed together and as fast as if there was only one. There is a lot of mental strength needed during the first three weeks after a crash like that but once I could hit the road again after 20 days, it all fell into place, and my recovery went pretty well. I have worked hard to come back strong enough to try to get some good results in the last few weeks of the season. During training, I have been feeling good, and we will see how it goes at the race, but I expect to be at a good level for the rest of the season. The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is also a new for race me. I have never raced here before, so I am looking forward to getting started," Hermans explained.

OVO Energy Tour of Britain (3 - 10 September)

Rider Roster: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Ben Hermans (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Joey Rosskopf (USA)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Marco Pinotti (ITA)

Taiwan's complete bike exports down more than 18 percent in 2017

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this update:

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — Export figures supplied by Taiwan's Ministry of Finance shared at a press conference organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) on day two of Eurobike paint a rather bleak picture. The country's complete bike exports, including e-bikes, are down 18.5 percent for the first half of 2017. Total complete bike exports excluding e-bikes fell nearly 25 percent for the same period in 2016.

But it wasn't all bad news. The country's focus on producing higher-end product and electronic lighting continues to have a positive effect on average unit prices, which rose 8.5 percent from $448.71 to $486.41. And e-bike exports are up 27 percent overall — a surge the Ministry attributes to the European Union's increasing demand for electric models over traditional bicycles, particularly in Germany.

Taiwan has so far shipped 26,360 e-bike units to Germany this year compared with the same period in 2016, an increase of 40 percent, while the country's demand for traditional bikes has dropped 26.3 percent in Q1 and Q2 of 2017. The EU accounts for about 76 percent of Taiwan's total e-bike exports.

Japan remains Taiwan's largest Asian export market so far in 2017, but complete bicycle exports there have fallen 39 percent. And the Chinese market continues to soften, with Taiwanese exports falling 59 percent in the first half of 2017, from 39,833 units to 16,292.

Component exports have fallen slightly, dipping 1.8 percent in units, but dollar value is up nearly 3 percent in Q1 and Q2. Lighting systems exports have also increased, with a total volume of 91,000 units — a 27 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

You can read the entire story here.

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