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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 21, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath. - Aeschylus

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of the Alps final report from stage winner Mark Padun's Bahrain-Merida team:

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

Innsbruck (Austria) April 20th – The rainbow shines for BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team today in Innsbruck, finish of the final stage of the Tour of the Alps and city that will host the 2018 World Championships in September. The “Capital of the Alps” crowns our young rider Mark Padun, who took an amazing solo win going for it with about 4 km to go.

“I can’t believe it!” says the 21-year-old Ukranian neo-pro right after he crossed the finish line “I’m very happy with my first success as a pro. I’m thankful to my teammates. It was really impressive and everything was perfect today. After one hour of racing I understood that I was feeling well. I knew that I could do something good, but I can’t imagine to take a win. I was thinking how I could manage to go for it. I was dreaming about it and than my dream came true!”

A victory that has a special taste because today’s route – from Rattenberg to Innsbruck 164km – covered two laps of the next UCI Road World Championships’ circuit, with three times the climb up the Olympia Climb (7.8km at 5.5%).

“I can only smile, because yesterday I wished a present for myself here in my home roads” says the Austrian Sports Director Harald Morscher “Also the team showed again a very good performance and we have obtained the maximum that we can get from this race. We can be happy for Pozzovivo’s result here at the Tour of the Alps also thinking about the Giro d’Italia”.

Mark Padun

Mark Padun takes the stage.

In fact in Innsbruck Team BAHRAIN MERIDA not only can celebrate the stage win of the young Padun, but the overall podium of Domenico Pozzovivo too. Our captain finished second overall just 15” down Pinot, fighting for the final win until the end.

“I’m satisfied with this result. I tried again today. Then with the attack of Padun I controlled the race to retain the second place in the general classification. I did a good test here ahead of the Giro d’Italia. But before that, I’ll focus now on the next race, the Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday”.

And Fabio Aru's UAE-Team Emirates squad sent me this:

The UAE Team Emirates sports directors Mario Scirea, Marco Marzano and Paolo Tiralongo took advantage of the final stage of the Tour of the Alps to preview with the riders a large part of the 2018 Worlds circuit in Innsbruck, Australia.

Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) won the fifth stage and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) confirmed his overall victory. Afterwards, Fabio Aru, Simone Petilli and Valerio Conti extended the day by 30 minutes to ride the tough final climb of the Worlds called the ‘The Hell’.

“I have to say that that climb is truly demanding,” Aru said. “The gradients are high right from the start of the 2700 metres, but the last 500 metres are very hard. It will be important to evaluate carefully the gearing and with this in mind, it was very useful to come and see the climb. It will be a hard worlds, one for climbers, and obviously, I’m happy with this since the Italy can count on a competitive team.”

Aru had closed the five-day Tour of the Alps sixth overall earlier at 1-19 minutes from Pinot.

“I’m very satisfied with where my form’s at in this moment,” he added. “There’s just over a month until the end the end of the Giro d’Italia and it’ll be important to get there with much energy. These five days were very demanding and I came off a long period of attitude training so I paid a little sometimes like today. Besides that, I was always active in the race, and this is a good sign with an eye on the Giro.”

Liège-Bastogne-Liège team previews

BMC sent me this:

20 April, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Dylan Teuns will lead BMC Racing Team at the fourth Monument of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this Sunday eyeing his first top ten result at the race.

Sports Director Valerio Piva expects a good performance from the team in support of Teuns at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which remains largely unchanged from La Flèche Wallonne with the exception of Joey Rosskopf in the place of Kilian Frankiny.

"There are two new climbs in this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège but like La Flèche Wallonne, the finale is the same so I don't think the change in parcours will have a big difference on the result. The selection will be made from La Roche aux Faucons to the final climb of Saint Nicolas and the best riders will be in front there. Dylan Teuns is ready, he is strong, and he is motivated. I am sure that Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi will also be up there in support, and we have a former winner in Simon Gerrans so he will play an important role in supporting Dylan," Piva explained.

Dylan Teuns

Dylan Teuns wins stage one of the 2017 Arctic Tour of Norway.

"We don't have the top favorite but we have a team that is ready and can do a good result. I know that every one of our riders is motivated to do a good race in honour of Andy Rihs and no matter what the result is, I hope we can arrive at the finish line knowing we gave it everything we have."

Teuns is looking to use his disappointment from La Flèche Wallonne as extra motivation when lining up this Sunday. "I didn't have the legs at La Flèche Wallonne but I can still be confident in my form as I was right up there until the last few hundred meters. My best result at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was 17th in 2016 and last year I did some good work for Greg Van Avermaet. Like La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is also a race that suits me well. I've prepared as much as possible for this week so I will try to get the maximum out of the last race this Sunday, especially as I would like to do a good race for Andy Rihs," Teuns said.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège (22 April)

Rider roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA) , Simon Gerrans (AUS), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA)

Here's Lotto-Soudal's L-B-L update:

This Sunday it’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the last Ardennes Classic. There are eleven climbs on the 258.5 kilometres long course and there’s an uphill finish in Ans. Lotto Soudal riders Jelle Vanendert, Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot look ahead to La Doyenne.

Jelle Vanendert: “I have surprised myself a little last Wednesday. I had already claimed a top ten place at Flèche Wallonne three times, so I knew the finish suited me but I was also amazed by how I climbed up Mur de Huy. I rode at the front from the bottom and that’s special. I am only a few per cents better than previous years. Last year Tim Wellens and I got eighteenth and seventeenth, now we were seventh and third.”

Jelle Vanendert

Jelle Vanendert climbs in the 2017 Dauphine

Tim Wellens: “I was indeed disappointed after Flèche Wallonne, but when I had calmed down I had a clearer look on the race. I knew I had good legs, but in the run-up to the last climb I had lost the wheel of Jelle Vanendert for a moment which cost me an extra effort to get back to the front. An effort that might have cost me a better result. I had hoped to do better than that seventh place. But as a team we can’t complain with a rider on the seventh and third place.”

“Liège-Bastogne-Liège is one of my dream races: a monument in my country and a course that should suit me. In the past I didn’t set a top result yet in the race though. I have already won the Brabantse Pijl, but that’s no WorldTour race.”

Tiesj Benoot: “I certainly didn’t have bad legs on Wednesday, but Jelle and Tim both said they were good and so I decided to sacrifice my chances and to try to make the gap to the leaders as small as possible. I was able to deliver a strong effort at that moment.”

“It’s the first time I will ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The distance and type of climbs should suit me. I am looking forward to the race and I’m curious to see how it goes. As a team we should make sure to ride the finale with three riders. In tomorrow’s meeting the sports directors will decide which role we’ll get. We shouldn’t wait all three till the finish in Ans. We benefit from a hard race, as the Flèche Wallone proved. The race can explode early for me.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: “Tiesj Benoot, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Mario Aerts.

And EF Education First-Drapac sent me this piece on L-B-L:

Our cobbles squad will tell you that Paris-Roubaix is the hardest one-day race on the WorldTour calendar. The Ardennes crew? They insist Liège is the single day standard. Sunday’s race will likely not settle this argument, but the fourth Monument of the season will inevitably produce an exhilarating race with a worthy winner. What Liège lacks in narrow roads and brutal cobbles, it more than makes up for in climbs. While none are terribly lengthy or fearsome, the sheer volume of climbs produces a relentless route. By the time the race reaches its conclusion in Liège, the peloton will have covered nearly 5000 vertical meters.

We asked the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale riders racing Liège on Sunday to tell us what they love about the oldest race on the calendar. They obliged us with their varied responses below.

“You don’t have the pounding of the cobbles that something like Roubaix or Flanders would have, but just sheer numbers, it’s up there. Every year it blows my mind what the human body can do. Liège is one of then most extreme demonstrations of what the human body is capable of.”

“For me, Liège is the best one-day race. It’s my dream to win this race one time. I’m always excited to ride it. It’s a really different race for me than all the others.”

Pierre Rolland

Pierre Rolland winning stage 17 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia

“It’s a very emotional race for me. It’s a classic and a Monument, and I consider it the most important race in Belgium.”

“It’s my first Liège. I don’t really know what to expect, but this is a race I always followed growing up. It means something to me to have a chance to race it.”

“Liège is a slow burn. I love how it progressively gets harder and harder until it’s a group of hard men. I’m also fascinated by the sense of history.”

“I like Liège because it’s the hardest one-day race on the calendar. At the end of the race, the strongest guy wins. It’s an honest race, and races like that are special.”

“Any monument is important. This one is special because it’s a classic for the climbers. There are more than 4000 meters of climbing on Sunday. For riders like me, there are not many chances to win a classic. I only have the options in Lombardy and Liège.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Liège-Bastogne-Liège:

Sport Directors: Andreas Klier (DEU), Tom Southam (GBR)

Lawson Craddock (USA)
Alex Howes (USA)
Kim Magnusson (SWE)
Daniel Martinez (COL)
Pierre Rolland (FRA)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)
Mike Woods (CAN)

Alessandro Tonelli wins Tour of Croatia stage four

Tonelli's Bardiani-CSF squad sent me this report:

With a long breakaway and a gutsy solo ride Alessandro Tonelli has won today the fourth stage of Tour of Croatia (171 km, from Starigrad  to Crikvenica), his first one as professional. The Italian rider of Bardiani-CSF has played in the best way his chances in a hectic finale, keeping 12” on the peloton, regulated by teammate Enrico Barbin after a massive crash at 300 mt to the line.

“I’m so happy for this win, it’s the most beautiful joy of my career so far” has said Tonelli. “Since the first day as professional I always put myself at disposal of the team, but I’ve always dreamed to take a win like this. Today it was a can’t-miss chance and so that was”.

“I knew today’s stage was the one with the highest rate of success for a breakaway. Everyone has been very cooperative in the break, a key factor to create enough gap with the peloton. The finale was a continuous up & down. I was having great feeling but the others no, so I decided to go alone”.

“I hope this win could be a turning point for my career. I prepared for this season in the best way possible. Race after race, from February, my condition has grown as well as the level of my performances: this win is the result of my effort and I hope could be only the first”.

Thanks to the success achieved by Tonelli, Bardiani-CSF reached its fifth win in the season after the ones took by Maestri at Tour of Rhodes (stage and final classification) and Guardini at Tour of Langkawi (two stages).

Greg van Avermaet to ride Tour de Yorkshire

The race organizer sent me this update:

Reigning Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet is the latest star cyclist confirmed to ride the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire.

Van Avermaet is one of the biggest names in the sport who has also won two Tour de France stages, the 2017 Paris-Roubaix title, and numerous other accolades alongside his Rio 2016 success.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet winning the 2017 Paris-Roubaix

It will be the first time the 32-year-old BMC Racing rider has competed in Yorkshire since 2015 when he finished seventh overall and secured second place behind his then team-mate Ben Hermans on the final stage into Leeds.

The news that Van Avermaet will be competing in Yorkshire follows hot on the heels of Mark Cavendish announcing that, he too, will be present for the fourth edition taking place between 3-6 May.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity is thrilled to have another world-class rider on the start list and believes this year’s Tour de Yorkshire is shaping up to be the biggest and best one yet.   

He said: “It’s fantastic news that Greg will be competing and he is sure to receive a very warm welcome. He is one of the most exciting, classy and respected riders in the sport and will no-doubt animate the four days of racing. The final stage should certainly suit him and I look forward to seeing him in action. 

“The word has definitely got around the peloton that the Tour de Yorkshire offers huge crowds and exciting racing, and having riders of Greg’s calibre in attendance will be a huge draw to the millions of spectators we’re expecting to line the race route.”

Van Avermaet’s Belgian compatriot – and defending Tour de Yorkshire champion – Serge Pauwels is another big-name rider to have confirmed his attendance, with more top professionals expected to be unveiled in the next two weeks.

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