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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 8, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again. - Vincent Van Gogh

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage 18 team reports

Stage winner Sander Armée's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this:

Bicycle History

Sander Armée gave Lotto Soudal a third stage victory at La Vuelta! The 31-year-old Belgian was part of a 20-man breakaway that got a considerable advantage from the GC teams. Armée took control on the climbs to reduce the front group and on the last climb he first got rid of Alaphilippe and in the steep final kilometre he also distanced Lutsenko and so he arrived solo at Santo Toribio de Liébana. For Armée, now 21st on GC, it’s the first pro victory in his career.

Many riders wanted to join the break today, so it took sixty kilometres and dozens of attacks before a break was established. Lotto Soudal was represented by Sander Armée, who was accompanied by among other Alaphilippe, Trentin, Lutsenko, De Marchi, Visconti and Mohoric. Soon it became clear that Team Sky didn’t feel the need to control the gap because the best placed rider on GC, Sergio Pardilla, was more than 24 minutes behind on GC. Without too much effort the leaders took more than thirteen minutes advantage. In the last 65 kilometres the riders had to cover two climbs of third category and two climbs of second category, with a steep last climb to the finish.

On the penultimate climb Gougeard and Armée accelerated a first time, but a bit later Soler, Alaphilippe and Lutsenko returned to the front. With fifteen kilometres to go De Marchi, Visconti and Rojas joined the leaders, but a bit later Armée attacked again, this time with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko. The Belgian, who had already used a lot of energy along the way, raised the pace which made Alaphilippe got distanced. In the exciting end also Lutsenko was losing metre by metre due to the pace set by Armée. The last 500 metres Armée could ride solo towards the finish and that way he claimed a wonderful victory in his eighth season as a pro.

Sander Armée

Sander Armée wins the Vuelta's eighteenth stage

Sander Armée: “This is a fantastic moment for me. I have been pro for eight years now and this is my first official victory. I came close a few times, but this feeling is incredible. Most of the time, I work for the team, but this Vuelta I was given a free role. I was already part of the right breakaway two or three times, but could never finish it off. I actually feel pretty fresh in this last week.”

“The big fight was to get in the breakaway. When the large group took off, I closed the gap together with Lutsenko. The cooperation with the other leaders didn’t run smoothly; the group was just too big. I actually wanted to force a selection on the second climb, but I waited until the penultimate one. Gougeard turned out to be a good companion and when the other thee joined us, I tried to stay on the wheel in the descent. I knew that with Alaphilippe and Lutsenko I had two very strong riders by my side, who had already won a stage here.”

“That I could still distance them, proves that I am in very good form. Alaphilippe had already told that he was tired and in the last kilometres I raised the pace as high as I could, hoping Lutsenko would crack. 500 metres before the finish sports director Marc Wauters told that Lutsenko was getting distanced and from then on I just hoped nothing would go wrong anymore. I have never won a race of this level, but I felt very strong and kept riding.”

Maxime Monfort got ill last night and didn’t start this morning.

Alexey Lutsenko was second, here's the report from his Team Astana:

The 18th stage of La Vuelta offered a great show that saw our riders at the centre of the scene. The talented Kazakh, Alexey Lutsenko, who already won a stage in this Vuelta, entered in the breakaway of the day and played for the stage victory until 500 meters to go.

From behind, Fabio Aru, together with Luis Leon Sanchez in the first km and then all alone, attacked at 35 km to go and did a superb action that gave him not so many seconds on the finish line but it was so good for the his moral and for the one of the team mates.

The only, not positive note, Miguel Angel Lopez suffered the high speed in the final and lost few seconds from some GC contenders.

The new general classification sees Lopez still 6th with the new gap of 5:16 and Aru 8th (he earned one position) at 6:33, with the same time of the 7th.

The stage has been won by the Belgian Sander Armee and the Red Jersey is still on the British, Christopher Froome, shoulders.

Armee and Lutsenko

The moment when Armée attacks Lutsenko

“Today is my birthday and I felt good since the start – commented Lutsenko after the finish – so I payed much attention to the breakaway and I entered in it… then there has been many attacks from the front and I remained calm thinking to the final climb to the finish line.”

“Unfortunately I’ve found on my way this Belgian guy who was stronger than me on the climb and he distanced me at 500 meters to go…. That’s a pity but I gave my best!” concluded the Kazakh.

Fabio Aru, at the attack far away from the finish line, commented after the stage: “I had good sensations today so, after the forcing of the Katusha guys, together with my team mate Sanchez, we tried to attack: unfortunately, I didn’t earned many seconds but I think today’s action is very important for the moral and I’m fully focus on the last three days of race” concluded the Italian Champion.

Tomorrow, 19th stage of La Vuelta 2017, Caso (Parque Natural de Redes) – Gijón (149.7 km), it is a quite short stage but in it there are several climbs, the last one of which will end at 15 km to the finish line: first option should be the breakaway but if the GC guys wish to fight, there is terrain very suitable to do it.

Lars Boom wins stage and takes over GC lead Tour of Britain

Boom's LottoNL-Jumbo team sent me this report:

Lars Boom had two reasons to rejoice after the fifth stage of the Tour of Britain. Not only did he win the 16 kilometre long time trial but he also took over the lead in the general classification. Team mate and European Champion Time Trial Victor Campenaerts was in the hot seat for a long time, but then there was Boom.

It meant the 22nd win of the season and the seventh this year for the LottoNL-Jumbo team on the Bianchi Aquila CV time trial.

Lars Boom

Lars Boom has a good day at the Tour of Britain.

The 31-year-old was very happy. "This time trial confirms my good form of recent weeks", the Dutch rider alluded to his victory in the BinckBank Tour. "Tonight we can have a beer. I've been discussing that with Dylan Groenewegen for a few days now."

There are still a number of difficult stages to come. For Boom, winning the GC is the goal. "The focus is on defending the leadership jersey until Cardiff, coming Sunday. But I'm not afraid to keep working for Dylan."

Greg Van Avermaet aiming to repeat success in Québec and Montréal

BMC sent me this:

05 September, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Greg Van Avermaet returns to Canada this week for the one-day classics GP Cycliste de Québec and GP Cycliste de Montréal, looking to repeat his podium results of 2016.

Van Avermaet, who placed second in Québec and went on to win in Montréal in 2016, is excited to return to Canada for the races. "GP Cycliste de Québec and Montréal are two of my favorite races in the whole calendar so it's always nice to go back. Both courses suit me well and the crowds are always great so there is a nice atmosphere. I'm feeing good and I'm motivated to return and hopefully repeat my results from last year. A good result at both races would be a great way to end the season," Van Avermaet explained.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet wins the 2016 GP de Montreal

A strong team will line up in support of Van Avermaet, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said. "We are lining up at the GP Cycliste de Québec and GP Cycliste de Montréal with an exceptional leader in Greg van Avermaet. Greg was second in Quebec last year and won Montreal so we know these are two of the one-day classics most-suited to him throughout the season," Baldato said.

"Greg is motivated to repeat his success this year and as a team we are 100% behind him. We have a strong group of riders ready to race for Greg, including Dylan Teuns who is in the form of his career. Of course, in one-day races anything can happen but I believe we can put Greg on the podium again at both races."

GP Cycliste de Québec / GP Cycliste de Montreal (8 & 10 September)

Rider Roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Fabio Baldato

Lotto-Soudal is also headed to Canada. Here's their news release:

The WorldTour peloton will meet in Canada on September 8th and 10th for the Grands Prix Cyclistes of Québec and Montreal. The two races have become major events in the calendar and their challenging courses constitute an ideal preparation for the upcoming World Championships. Both the Grands Prix of Québec and Montreal consist of several laps through the streets of the Canadian cities.

The Grand Prix Cycliste of Québec features sixteen 12.6 kilometres laps and covers a total distance of 201.6 kilometres. There are no less than four steep climbs on the course. The riders will first come across the Côte de la Montagne nine kilometres into the lap. This climb is 375 metres long and averages 10%, with some parts up to 13%. The riders will then face three other climbs in the two last kilometres of the circuit: the Côte de la Potasse (420 metres at 9%), the Montée de la Fabrique (190 metres at 7%) and the Montée du Fort. This last one is also the longest of them all, with one kilometre at 4%. The finish line is located at the top of the last climb.

The Grand Prix Cycliste of Montreal will take place two days later. The 205.7 kilometres race is very similar to the GP of Québec, with seventeen laps on a hilly 12.1 kilometres circuit. The riders will first ride up the Côte Camillien-Houde, which is the longest climb of the course. It is 1.8 kilometres long and averages 8%. The 780 metres-long Côte de Polytechnique is situated two kilometres further and is next on the menu. This climb may not be the longest, but it includes a 200 metres section at 11%. The Avenue du Parc is the last difficulty before the final technical U-turn, and its 4% average over 560 metres might be crucial for the outcome of the race.

This Canadian weekend will bring back some good memories for Lotto Soudal. Tony Gallopin finished third in Montreal in 2014 and Tim Wellens won this very same race one year later. Both Gallopin and Wellens will once again take part in the two events.

Herman Frison, sports director: "These are really exciting races, with good organization and strong riders at the start. The course in Québec can be compared to a World Championship. It’s too often underestimated, but it’s usually down to a reduced group of riders in the finale, where a straight two kilometres long sprint in a false flat takes place. Only the strongest riders can claim the victory in Québec, the sprinters usually don’t make the final cut. The race in Montreal is even more challenging, and there are only thirty or forty riders left who can compete for the victory."

"The riders left Belgium for France on Monday evening, and they then took a plane to Québec on Tuesday. There is a time difference of six hours, and they will have their first training ride on Wednesday. It will be an easy hundred kilometres spin in the beautiful region of Québec. It shouldn’t be too hard, as the first race is already on Friday. On Saturday morning, the riders will have a 350 kilometres bus transfer to Montreal, where the second race takes place. Our objective is to get good results in both of these events, and we’ll hopefully get the win in one of them. We’re here with riders such as Benoot and Gallopin who are currently in peak condition. The race in Québec may suit Gallopin better, as he is our fastest man in a sprint, and he can position himself very well. Our team might be even stronger in Montreal with Gallopin of course, but Benoot and Wellens can also perform very well on this challenging course."

Tim Wellens: "These are two of the most exciting races on the calendar, together with the Ardennes Classics. Good hotel, good organization and beautiful courses. If you’ve won here in the past, you always come with some kind of confidence: you know you can do well in these races. The course in Québec is probably a bit more « Flemish-like », while Montreal can be compared to the Ardennes, where the climbs are a little longer. The two races are both enjoyable and challenging, and the decisive move often happens in the final lap, and in Québec it’s even in the last two kilometres.  Montreal is a sort of 'drop-out' race, where only the strongest riders make it to the last lap. You think that any attack can be decisive, but it always comes down to the last kilometres of the race. Rain is expected in Québec on Friday, and it can certainly reshuffle the cards. I’m really looking forward to these two races, and there are, like every year, a lot of strong riders at the start. It certainly won’t be easy, but some riders of our team are in really good form, and we should be able to claim some good results."

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Tony Gallopin, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Herman Frison

Team Sunweb & Zico Waeytens part ways

Team Sunweb sent me this release:

Team Sunweb and Zico Waeytens (BEL) have made the decision to part ways. The 25-year-old Belgian has a contract with the team for 2018, but both sides have mutually agreed to part ways from October, as Waeytens gets the freedom to search for a new team. For the team it opens the opportunity to fill the spot in a different way to further develop its roster for 2018 and beyond. 

Waeytens said: "I've had a good time with the team and learned a lot. It's time to part ways and to look for a new challenge."

Grand Prix de Québec and Grand Prix de Montréal will be Waeytens' last races for the team. 

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