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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 9, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment. - James Madison

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Lotto-Soudal signs Caleb Ewan

Lotto-Soudal sent me this release, which everyone was expecting:

Lotto Soudal is thrilled to announce the signing of Caleb Ewan. The 24-year-young Australian makes the move from Mitchelton-Scott and signed a two-year contract.

Caleb Ewan: “The opportunity to join Lotto Soudal was for me an important and incredibly exciting one. They are a team that has a great history concerning sprinters and classics, I spent many hours as a youngster marveling at Robbie McEwen’s victories. More recently I can only say I have nothing but enormous respect for Andre Greipel, what he achieved as a rider and what he stood for as a person. But now together with Lotto Soudal I hope to write an exciting, new chapter.”

“I think for me the decision to take this path with Lotto Soudal has been a logical one if you take the emotion out of it, but we have much hard work ahead to make sure it becomes the perfect match. I do feel the path Mitchelton Scott are now on is one not suited to me but I have nothing but appreciation and respect for the riders and entire organisation. I have learnt and experienced so much during the past four years, I have many life-long friends there and I am sincerely grateful to them.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan at the 2018 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

“How do I describe myself? As a pure but versatile sprinter who is well suited to slightly uphill finishes. The past few years I have worked a lot on becoming stronger which allows me to remain a contender during a tough finale. I will continue to work hard on my preparation together with Lotto Soudal and we will aim to be up there in Classics such as Milan-Sanremo, amongst others.”

“Although we have many legends still racing very well, we’re in a transition to a next generation of sprinters at the moment. There are a lot of good young sprinters that I obviously want to be a key part of and to do that I will need to continue to make further progress - with my new teammates. There’s not one team that currently dominates the sprints, but Lotto Soudal possesses both the experience and the desire to again build a very strong team for sprints.”

“This is a multi-year plan of natural progress: building a sprint train with guys who have the capabilities to ride the finale of the most important bike races, forming a team with the riders on and off the bike and creating important routines by racing together consistently. However this doesn’t mean that we aren’t eager to get some nice results in the first year.”

Sports manager Marc Sergeant is of course delighted that Lotto Soudal managed to sign Caleb Ewan.

Marc Sergeant: “Internally, we have spoken extensively about the era after André Greipel. That moment is now. Once again, we opted for a sprinter with potential, just like we did with André in 2011. The choice for a sprinter over a GC rider, for example, is twofold. With a sprinter, you have chances for success all year long and the budget to attract and surround a GC rider is significantly higher.”

“During the conversations Caleb and I had, I noticed how smart and likeable he is; but he is also someone who clearly knows what he wants. At a very young age, he showed to be capable of winning stages in Grand Tours, with his unique style. Within both the peloton and the team, we can speak of a generation shift in the sprint.”

“With Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot and Caleb Ewan, we have now three clear leaders for three different types of races.  Now it’s a matter of building a team around these riders in order to assist them as best as possible. That’s something we are currently working on. Guys like Jasper De Buyst and Jens Keukeleire could become very important to Caleb. He rode together with Jens for three years, and Jasper has the skills and the guts to deliver a top sprinter into a perfect position in the finishing straight.”

“I think that the ambitions of Caleb are similar to those of the team. In fact, we are starting from scratch whereby the mix of our experience and his potential should allow us to achieve those goals. He is an extremely talented sprinter, so that will become the main focus. Over the years, we will see what he can achieve in certain Classics, but if you finish second in Milan – Sanremo 2018, you definitely have the capacity and technical skills.”

Facts and figures

Caleb Ewan

Major Results:

2015: stage 5 Vuelta

2016: two stages Tour Down Under, stage Tour of Britain, Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg

2017: four stages Tour Down Under, stage Abu Dhabi Tour, stage 7 Giro, stage Tour de Pologne, three stages Tour of Britain

2018: stage Tour Down Under, Classica Almeria, second place Milan-Sanremo

Tour of Poland stage five team reports

We posted the report from winner Michal Kwiatkowski with the stage results.

Dylan Teuns' BMC team sent me this:

8 August, 2018, Bielsko-Biala (POL): Dylan Teuns came agonisingly close to victory on stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne, in an uphill battle against race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) which saw the Belgian just fall short of the win.

It was a fight to make the breakaway with multiple attempts brought back before seven riders managed to go clear after 15km of the 152km stage. The peloton kept the breakaway to within 2'30" for the whole stage and slowly began to bring them back over the two category two climbs.

A fast pace set on the only category one climb of the day saw the remaining four breakaway riders' advantage reduced to one minute and as the race entered the finish circuit, three laps of a 7.2km course, the breakaway was just 20 seconds in front.

Teuns was well-positioned at the front of the bunch as the peloton navigated the fast circuit and made the catch with two laps remaining. Teuns was glued to Kwiatkowski's wheel in the top ten positions on the final lap and was in the perfect position to launch his sprint in the final 300 meters.

Although he was forced to brake momentarily when almost touching wheels with Kwiatkowski, Teuns was able to regain momentum and launch his sprint. Teuns battled to the line but was unable to overtake Kwiatkowski and was forced to settle for second place for the second consecutive day, which strengthens Teuns' second place on the General Classification, 12 seconds behind Kwiatkowski, with two stages remaining.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski is the fastest man of the day in Poland.

Quotes from the Finish Line

Dylan Teuns:
"It was not the hardest stage of the four climbing stages but it was still tough in the final. It was Mitchelton-SCOTT who increased the pace in the last 50km so it started to get a little nervous. We knew that the sprint could be dangerous for splits and the potential to lose time. I was in a perfect position. I was very well-placed in the last 3 to 4km and I could stay there. I came into the sprint and did my own race but with 300m to go, I was almost touching the wheel in front of me. I didn't expect that and I lost some speed as I had to change position but in the end, I think I did a really good sprint. I didn't lose time and that was the main thing for today."

"I only lost by one wheel so it feels like a missed chance because I was still really fast and I had a chance to beat him [Kwiatkowski] but it didn't work out so congrats to Kwiato. The main objective is still the General Classification. Both of the next two stages are important and tough but I am in a good place. I am a former winner so I want to give everything to be on the podium on Friday."

Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The fifth stage at the Tour de Pologne saw a seven rider breakaway which lasted until the last climb of the day. As the race headed into the final laps, BORA – hansgrohe focused their final to ride for their sprinter, Pascal Ackermann, who went on the attack sprinting to fourth place surrounded by the GC contenders.

The Stage
Today’s 152km long route from the famous salt mine “Wieliczka”, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Bielsko – Biala consisted of three climbs (2 Cat.2 and 1 Cat.1) and two intermediate sprints, all happened it the second part of the route. It was another day anticipated to be a relatively decisive day in the race for the GC. 

The Team Tactics
After studying the course profile, the BORA – hansgrohe team decided to focus on delivering Pascal Ackermann in the finale to try for another stage win. However, the teams main focus was to regain sprint jersey on Pascal’s shoulders so minor placings were an equal target.

The Race
After one hour of constant attacking by the peloton, a group of seven riders formed ahead of the first climb of the day. Team Sky took control over the pace in the main field, and with the gap dropping steadily, it was nearly all back together with 30km to go. The last three riders were caught as the peloton came into the final laps in the city of Bielsko – Biala. The BORA – hansgrohe train showed once again a strong team effort and started to form their lead- out for the German Champion Pascal Ackermann. As approaching the finale, all favourites were at the front of the race, as well as BORA – hansgrohe sprinter Pascal Ackermann.
Surrounded by some GC contenders, the German Champion sprints to fourth place to regain the sprint jersey. It was again M. Kwiatkowski who celebrated his second consecutive victory, while Emanuel Buchmann sits ninth in the overall. 

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann winning Tour of Poland stage two

From the Finish Line
“We took a look on the stage profile and thought it could be a stage for me, so we gave it a try. I felt good but on the last metres I hadn’t the legs to go for the win. But I am wearing again the sprint jersey, which makes me really happy.” – Pascal Ackermann

“The race saw many attacks right from the start, while the climbs weren’t overly difficult, the team tried to go for another top result with Pascal. The stage was similar to some classic races and especially the finale favoured our sprinter. The team did everything right, and fortunately Pascal had a good day today, only losing his winning edge in the last metres It’s not a shame, that can happen, that’s cycling. Nevertheless we won back the sprint jersey and of course we will try to defend it until the last day of the Tour de Pologne.” - Steffen Radochla, sports director 

Ellen van Dijk wins third consecutive European time trial title

Van Dijk's Team Sunweb sent me this report:

Team Sunweb's Ellen van Dijk (NED) has won the European time trial championships in Glasgow today, securing her third title in as many years. The 31-year-old specialist completed the course in a time of 41 minutes and 39 seconds, taking the victory by a margin of two seconds.

Van Dijk said: "I’m really happy to prolong my title for another year. It was a nice rolling course, always going up or down a bit and I felt good, but I wasn’t very confident on the wet corners which cost me some time in the final part of the race. At the end it was a very close finish with Anna van der Breggen. I’m happy with my performance and proud to be able to wear the Euro colours for another year."

Ellen van Dijk

Ellen van Dijk. Sirotti photo

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "Ellen shows again today that she is one of the best TT riders in the world. After her wins earlier this season at the Thüringen TT and Dutch championships, she now successfully defends her European title. After this great performance she can look forward to the world championships with confidence."

Victor Campenaerts retains European time trial title

Campenaerts' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this update:

Lotto Soudal rider Victor Campenaerts was determined to prolong his European time trial title. The Belgian and national time trial champion kept things interesting till the very last moment, and eventually proved to be the fastest European for the second time in a row.

With a time of 53’38”78 on a course of 45.7 kilometres, Campenaerts kept the Spaniard Castroviejo from winning with just 63 hundredths of a second. The defending European champion clocked a tenth best time at the first checkpoint, which was 19 seconds slower than compatriot and fastest man at the first intermediate time split, Yves Lampaert. Campenaerts accelerated and left - despite the heavy rainfall in the final kilometres - all of the other competitors behind him.

Victor Campanaerts

Victor Campenaerts racing in the Giro earlier this year. Sirotti photo.

Victor Campenaerts: “I’m really happy that I managed to prolong this title! We could tell from the times at the intermediate checkpoints, that it would be a close call. I’ve never won a time trial with big time differences, but 63 hundredths of a second is the smallest difference I’ve ever had.”

“I went full gas whenever possible, but our team coach always reminded me to be careful in taking corners. I couldn’t afford to fall, since the chance of winning was real. In the final kilometres, rain began pouring down and I had to find the right balance in taking risks and staying upright. The heavy rainfall wasn’t in my favour, but my biggest rival, Castroviejo, also had to ride a part of the race in the rain. This way, we were competing on equal terms. I also did at least six times a recon of the course and knew it by heart.”

“I was a few seconds behind at the intermediate time splits, but I always start a time trial relatively slow. My strategy is to be the fastest at the finish line, not at the checkpoints. I tried to maintain speed and produce power consistently. Many riders start their race at a much higher pace and then slow down towards the end. Eventually, my strategy turned out to be the right one.”

“Next week, I’ll ride the Binck Bank Tour, in which I aim for a good general classification. I’m hoping to ride a good time trial there as well, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this European victory!”

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