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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 5, 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

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't there more happy people in the world? - Stephen Fry

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Taylor Phinney disqualified from Tour of Britain

Here's the Facebook post from Phinney's Cannondale-Drapac team:

Taylor Phinney recently released a series of four tweets on Twitter with this statement:

"I've been disqualified from the Tour of Britain for crossing a railway while the gates were coming down. I was alone in the caravan of team cars coming back from a mechanical with 40km to go. The peloton had already passed through moments before.

"I'd like to apologize to the race organization, the police and my team. It was a split second decision not to get left behind by the race. I'm bummed but have to respect the rules and the law. Thank you to all the fans for cheering for me the last 2 days! Sorry I can't continue."

We'll miss Taylor here at Tour of Britain; however, we understand, respect and accept the decision made by UCI officials.

Taylor Phinney

Taylor Phinney at this year's Tour of Switezerland

Rohan Dennis and Kilian Frankiny forced to withdraw from Vuelta a España

BMC sent me this unhappy news:

04 September, 2017, Haro (ESP)

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside StoryRohan Dennis and Kilian Frankiny have been forced to withdraw from the Vuelta a España on the second rest day due to illness and injuries respectively.

Dennis has developed an upper respiratory tract infection, BMC Racing Team doctor, Dr. Daniele Zaccaria confirmed. "Yesterday after a very hard stage we had a long transfer from Sierra Nevada to the north of Spain. Overnight Rohan Dennis developed an upper respiratory tract infection and is not fit to continue racing tomorrow. Taking Rohan's upcoming goal of the UCI World Championships into consideration, it is in Rohan's best interests to stop now and recover fully before he goes to Norway," Dr. Zaccaria said.

Dennis, the Australian time trial champion, is disappointed to withdraw from racing before the stage 16 individual time trial. "I had a bit of a dry throat during the travel after stage 15 and then I woke up in the middle of the night in a full sweat and with a bad throat and it only got worse by this morning. It's difficult to pull out now knowing that I'm one of the favorites for the time trial tomorrow. But my priority is getting my health right before the UCI World Championships so I know it's the right thing to do," Dennis said.

Frankiny crashed on stage 15 and although he managed to finish the stage, was taken to hospital for observation.

"Following his crash on stage 15, we took Kilian Frankiny to hospital for X-rays this morning to determine the nature of his injuries. X-rays revealed two subtrochanteric fractures on the neck of the femur. Kilian will return to Switzerland tonight and undergo further evaluation to determine whether surgery will be necessary. The nature of Kilian's injuries at this point late in the season means he will not be able to race again this year and will now focus on his recovery in the off season," Dr. Zaccaria explained.

In his debut Grand Tour participation, Frankiny is disappointed not to make it to the finish line in Madrid. "There was a small downhill and right turn after about 60km of racing and on the right turn my front wheel slipped out. Despite the pain I managed to chase back to the grupetto and make it to the finish line. Sitting and lying down is okay but walking is basically impossible right now. It's really disappointing to have to stop racing here and for the rest of the season. I was really looking forward to finishing my first Grand Tour in Madrid but now I will allow my fractures to recover and get back on the bike as soon as I can to start my off season," Frankiny said.

Chris Froome looking forward to Vuelta's final week

Here's the Team Sky press release:

4TH SEPTEMBER 2017: Chris Froome has highlighted Tuesday’s 40km individual time trial as a crucial stage in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, but has also looked ahead to further challenges in the mountains later in the race’s final week.

Froome goes into the final week leading Vincenzo Nibali by 1 minute and 1 second after 15 stages of racing. He is aiming to become only the third rider ever to complete a Tour de France / Vuelta a Espana ‘double’.

Chris Froome

Froome has a week to go...

Chris Froome said: “To be a minute ahead of my closest rival is a good position to be in after two weeks of racing and going into the final week. The team has been a big, big part of how my race has gone so far. I think Sunday’s stage was a great show of the team I have around me and just the fact that we were put under so much pressure by our opposition and the way the team handled it and didn’t panic at all.

“We just focused on what our tactic of the day was - which was to really control things and look after the leader’s jersey. And it’s thanks to the team that we handled that situation.

“I’ve been looking forward to the TT, it’s certainly going to be one of the more crucial stages that will decide this year’s Vuelta GC. I’m not expecting to take huge amounts of time, but if I can extend my lead at all that would be fantastic.

“I take it one day at a time at the moment. Obviously Angliru is at the end of the week and that’s looming in the back of my mind as well. The day after the TT we’ve got Los Machucos to think about which is tough as in a TT you can’t really save much for the next day. Having said that, I’m certainly going to ride the TT with Machucos in mind and know that I’ll need quite a lot to get up the steep summit finish.”

Cannondale-Drapac takes second straight stage win at Tour of Alberta

The report from the team about September 3's stage arrived too late to make yesterday's news.

Alex Howes and Wouter Wippert delivered a one-two punch for Cannondale-Drapac on the third stage of Tour of Alberta. Sunday’s result follows Wippert’s stage two victory on Saturday and propels Howes up to third overall with one stage left to race.

The American is now tied on time with teammate Tom-Jelte Slagter in fourth, 31-seconds down on race leader Evan Huffman (Rally). Wippert moved into the sprint classification points jersey.

Alex Howes

Alex Howes wins Alberta stage three.

“The win is yet another confirmation that when we ride together as a team, great things happen,” said Howes. “Here in Alberta, we are riding really well as a team. Yesterday every single rider on the team made a massive contribution to the final result. With everyone pitching in and the wins following, the morale is quite high.”

Sunday’s stage three consisted of 11 loops around a flat 10.6-kilometer circuit in downtown Edmonton. Two riders slipped away early on the 116-kilometer stage, but the move was shut down within a lap. A five-rider escape formed on lap five and gained a maximum advantage of 1:15.

“We wanted to make it a difficult race and look for opportunities but mid-way through we shifted gears and were all in for Wouter,” noted Howes.

“Compared to yesterday, today was a bit more organized,” added Wippert. “The loops made it easier to control. It was a good stage for us, and we went into the race knowing we had a good chance in the sprint.”

Cannondale-Drapac allowed first Rally, riding for Huffman, and then Holowesko-Citadel, looking to set-up John Murphy, assume responsibility for the chase until the final two laps. The peloton reeled in the breakaway just before it heard the last lap bell. With 500 meters left to race, Howes moved to the front with Wippert on his wheel.

“In the final, Wippert had a look around and told me to go,” said Howes. “His awareness in the final is what really made my victory possible.”

“I let a gap open, and he took an even bigger gap,” Wippert added. “After I knew he was safe, I could do the sprint for second place.”

Tour of Alberta concludes tomorrow with another circuit race in Edmonton. Cannondale-Drapac have a sprint jersey to defend and another stage to target. “We’re hoping for a sprint again,” said Wippert. “A third stage win is for sure the goal. That would make a good week even better.”

Orica-Scott re-signs Jack Haig

Here's the press release the team sent me:

The Victorian rider joined ORICA-SCOTT in 2016 and has since progressed at a rapid rate, becoming one of the team’s important climbers.

“I am super happy to re-sign with the team,” Haig said. “I am really happy to be here and the environment the team has created to help with my development is a really enjoyable. I am hoping that as I keep developing and progressing I will start to get more responsibility in races and move up a little bit to the second leadership role in some of the smaller tours.”

This year Haig achieved his first professional WorldTour victory at the Tour of Poland after strong and consistent performances throughout the race. At the current Vuelta a Espana, Haig is playing a crucial role as the last man for general classification leader Esteban Chaves, and in the first two weeks has shown his ability to be there in support in the closing moments of tough and mountainous stages.

Jack Haig

Jack Haig leads in a group to finish stage ten of this year's Vuelta

He believes that he has been able to step up a level thanks to the Australian outfit’s careful approach. “The team puts no pressure on the younger riders and we get to take our time to grow as naturally as we can,” Haig continued. “Nothing is rushed and that seems to be working really well for me.”

“I want to really keep pushing to get better and this team seems to be the perfect place to do that.”

Sport director Matt White has been impressed with the young Australian’s performances under the guidance of the team and is looking forward to helping Haig progress further over the next two seasons.

“It has been extremely pleasing to see the rapid development of Jack over the last year and a half on our team,” said White. “He arrived as one of the best under-23 climbers in the world and now has turned into a very reliable part of our WorldTour team. It's great to see Jack will be continuing his development with us and we are looking forward to see how far his talent and commitment will take him.”

Jack Haig

Date of Birth 6th September 1993 (age 23)
Place of birth: Bendigo, Victoria
Turned Pro: 2016

Key results

1st 2017 Tour of Poland - Stage 6
2nd 2016 Tour de Slovénie - General Classification
2nd 2016 Tour de Slovénie - Stage 2
3rd 2017 Tour of Slovenia - General Classification
3rd 2017 Tour of Slovenia - Stage 3
2nd 2015 Tour de l’Avenir – Overall (under 23)
1st 2014 Tour Down Under – Young Rider Classification

Team Sunweb's upcoming races

The team sent me this update:


The route of Grand Prix Cyclist de Québec sees riders complete 16 laps of a 12.6 kilometre circuit. The parcours are littered with punchy climbs which reach gradients of up to ten percent, with a final uphill drag to the line to finish the day. The race traditionally ends with either a select group sprinting to the line in Québec's city centre or late prevailing attack.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "Québec offers a challenging course straight through the city centre, with a decimated bunch traditionally sprinting to the victory. Our goal is to sprint with Michael and have 3-4 riders with him inside the finishing laps of the race. We have Simon and Tom who have previously taken some strong results here and we expect them to play an important support role in the finale."

RACE: Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec (WT)

DATE: 08/09/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED)

Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Georg Preidler (AUT)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)
Zico Waeytens (BEL) 


The 205.7 kilometre course at Montreal features 17 laps of a 12.1 kilometre circuit, a course used in various historic cycling events. The race starts and finishes on the Avenue du Parc with each lap featuring a challenging ascent of Mont Royal, a ruthless three-kilometre climb in the heart of the centre. The course is often suited to either the puncheur or late-attacker with the victory coming from a combination of scenarios over the previous years.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) said: "In Montreal Michael will be our designated sprinter. After some good preparations for this part of the season at altitude, he is in good shape and feeling prepared for a good race. It is typically an open race where a decisive break can go for the victory but also a bunch sprint is still an option. We have a strong team to support our goals with guys like Simon, Tom and Nikias who will play a crucial part in the final."

RACE: Grand Prix Cyclist de Montréal (WT)

DATE: 10/09/2017

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED)

Nikias Arndt (GER)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Georg Preidler (AUT)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)
Zico Waeytens (BEL) 


Both Team Sunweb's men's and women's programs will compete along the same route on September, 10th as the Madrid Challenge takes riders across the same circuit as the finishing stage of the Vuelta a España. At 87 kilometres in length, the short, sharp race is suited to the fast finisher and in it's previous two editions has ended in a bunch sprint.

Team Sunweb coach Dirk Reuling (NED) said: "Madrid Challenge is a circuit race that's typically for the sprinters, but with a climb up to the centre of Madrid it is quite challenging. The last race that we rode with similar parcours was at RideLondon, a race that we won with Coryn after a really strong team performance. Our goal is to line Coryn up for the sprint and compete for the win but to do that we need to bring our 'A game' and the cooperation needs to be flawless."

RACE: Madrid Challenge (WWT)

DATE: 10/09/2017

COACH:Dirk Reuling (NED)

Lucinda Brand (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED) 


Team Sunweb line-up at the Tour of Denmark with ambitions of developing it's German sprint talents, Phil Bauhaus (GER) and Max Walscheid (GER). The route features three opportunities for the sprinters, a time trial and an opportunity for the climbers.

Team Sunweb coach Morten Bennekou (DEN) said: "Our main goal in Denmark is to work on and strengthen our lead-out and sprint capacity with our young, fast talents Max and Phil. Phil has some good memories from racing last year in Denmark after his stage win in Copenhagen and will be keen to do something here this year. To support our goals we have a strong and experienced selection for the sprints with guys like Roy, Bert, Ramon and Zico so we will aim for the three stages where there is a good chance for a bunch sprint".

RACE: Tour of Denmark (2.HC)

DATE: 12-16/09/2017

COACH: Morten Bennekou (DEN)

Lotto-Soudal riders chosen for World Championships

Here's the update the team sent me:

The Belgian national team’s line-up for the upcoming World Championships in Bergen has been unveiled. Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens will be part of the men elite team which will be competing for the rainbow jersey on September 24th. Tony Gallopin will also take part in the event for the French national team. Lotte Kopecky and Senne Leysen will respectively compete in the women elite road race and the U23 time trial. Stan Dewulf, Bjorg Lambrecht and Emiel Planckaert are part of the Belgian U23 squad.

Tim Wellens: “Gilbert and Van Avermaet will be our leaders and the rest of the team will work for them, but you never know exactly how a race can unfold. It’s therefore always better to come to the World Championships with a strong team, and I think that’s the case with our selection. It’s prestigious to represent your country in the World Championships and I’m very happy to be a part of it. I’m already looking forward to being in action in Norway in a few weeks.”

Tiesj Benoot: “I’m looking forward to riding in the World Championships. Belgium is maybe the country where it’s the most difficult to be selected, especially when you see the list of riders who haven’t made it into the selection. As far as the race is concerned, Oliver Naesen, Jasper Stuyven, Tim Wellens and I will have to make the race as hard as possible. Our objective is to take Gilbert and Van Avermaet in an ideal position into the finale, preferably in a small group. There is no point for us to end up in a larger peloton with Boasson Hagen, Kristoff and Sagan. Some say the course is not hard enough, but I think it could well be the case depending on the weather. Last week I was training in altitude in Livigno, and there were riders like Colbrelli, Kwiatkowski and Matthews who all have an eye on the World Championships.”

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