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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. - George Orwell

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Dubai Tour stage 4 team reports

Here's the post from stage winner Sonny Colbrelli's Bahrain-Merida team:

Hatta Dam, February 9th, 2018 – “It’s a big win for me and the Team. We did a great job in the final part of the race. I have to thank my team for today’s win.” – Sonny Colbrelli was excited after the victory of the queen stage of the Dubai Tour. It was an exciting race, riders were peeling off during the stage specially when the climbs started. 4 riders were in the breakaway, but the two left had 2:25 minutes advantage only 15km before the finish line, but after a slight incline only Rally rider McNutty was left and he held off the peloton all the way to the Dam. When everyone thought he’ll win the stage, the peloton pushed and 60 meters before the finish line, where the climb is at 15%, Sonny emerged and passed the American rider and without looking back, took the win.

“The final 2kms were really challenging. Vincenzo did really a great job with the team. I had a mechanical problem, but in the end I took the win. The breakaway rider was very strong. We caught up with him just 20/30meters to go. It went fine for me.” – Sonny said in the midst of all the interviews.

Alberto Volpi was excited and short on words: “Fantastic job from the whole team during the race, especially the last 10km, and of course fantastic legs by Sonny”.

With this win and the bonus seconds, Sonny Colbrelli climbed up to the overall 3rd position, just 4 seconds behind Elia Vivivani (Quick-Step Floors) before the tomorrow’s last stage. Everything is still possible…

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli wins Dubai Tour stage four.

GC leader Elia Viviani's Quick-Step team had this to say about the day's racing:

Elia Viviani battled the stiff gradients to Hatta Dam, the high temperatures and the crazy fast tempo of stage 4, successfully defending his overall lead at the Middle East race ahead of the final day, in addition to retaining the blue jersey taking also the red one, which rewards the most consistent rider in the points classification.

Everybody was expecting a super nervous stage, but nobody thought it will go down to the wire, with Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) – the last survivor of the original six-man escape – caught only 150 meters from the line, when the gradient ramped up to 17%. Quick-Step Floors rode incredibly once again and spared no effort, as Tim Declercq, Fabio Jakobsen and Maximilian Schachmann constantly exchanged turns at the front and drilled the pace for Elia Viviani, who was tucked in the wheel of Fabio Sabatini.

Over the top of the penultimate climb, as McNulty was dropping his breakaway companions, Niki Terpstra was picking up the pace behind, erasing a good chunk of the deficit just as the brutal Hatta Dam was getting closer and closer. With two kilometers to go, the Dutchman peeled off the front, leaving Yves Lampaert to set up Viviani, which the Belgian ITT Champion dutifully did, his effort being instrumental in the final result of our sprinter.

Victorious on stage 2, Elia dug deep on the leg-sapping finish once the gradient kicked up, getting out of the saddle and leaving everything on the road in an attempt to not lose any time. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) was the day's winner, but Viviani managed to keep in touch, finishing in sixth place and retaining the blue jersey.

"The team was very strong, I couldn't have done it today without them. The goal was to defend the jersey and the boys pulled like crazy behind the break. When the gap was hovering at a minute, I asked Niki and Yves to pull hard, as I felt there was a chance of coming within 20 seconds of McNulty at the foot of the climb. I felt pretty good on the hill and I'm happy with my result", explained Elia, who was a two-second margin over Magnus Cort (Astana) ahead of the fifth and final stage.

"Tomorrow it will be an interesting day. I'm finding myself in a good position of winning the overall, so we will control the stage once again and hopefully I'll put in the best sprint I am capable of", concluded Viviani, the new leader of the points standings, who can become the third Quick-Step Floors rider to take the honors at the Dubai Tour.

And UAE-Team Emirates sent me this report:

UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff showed why the team secured his services for this season, as the rider once again featured in the top five during stage four on the Dubai Tour. Kristoff battled against the attacking peloton as they frantically tried to reign in the sole break away rider in the final kilometres. Coming into the final 300 metres, the drawn out, blue-jersey bunch, tackled a steep ascent with Kristoff driving forward to cross the line narrowly missing out on a third place podium finish.

The race had seen an early attack test the resilience of the peloton for over 100km and it looked like one of the breakaway riders, McNulty, could secure a victory, in what would have been a first for the Dubai Tour. But with just 25 meters to go, the lone rider was caught by the sprinters and the race was eventually won in dramatic fashion by Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team).

Reflecting on the penultimate race and another top five finish, Alexander Kristoff commented; “I’m pretty satisfied with fourth place. Whilst a podium position would have been a great way to end a great race, I prefer to focus my attention on the fact that I’m producing consistent performances in the top 10. My team mates were fantastic leading me to the approach of Hatta Dam, especially Sven Erik Bystrøm and Matteo Bono who both did a really impressive job. My legs were fairly good, but maybe the final few meters were too heavy for me”.

Commenting on his team-mates performance, UAE National Champion Yousif Mirza said; “The team is really proud of Alexander, who fought so hard on a very steep hill against riders who were much lighter than him. He missed out on the podium but I feel he demonstrated that he’s a class rider and I’d love for him to get the result he deserves in the final stage tomorrow”.

With honours still to play for, the tour will go down to tomorrow’s final stage – a 129km sprint that will see riders depart from SkyDive Dubai heading for a finish at City Walk. Fans will be able to catch a glimpse of their favourite UAE Team Emirates’ riders as they go past Meydan Racecourse and Mushrif Park, before heading back towards the coast for a sprint along Jumeirah Road and a finish overlooking the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Greg Van Avermaet to lead BMC racing team at the Tour of Oman

BMC sent me this news:

9 February, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Greg Van Avermaet will return to the Tour of Oman next week where he is set to lead an ambitious BMC Racing Team line-up.

Van Avermaet will line up alongside a strong team that can look to take different opportunities as they arise, BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

Greg van aVermaet

Greg van Avermaet winning stage two of the 2017 Tour of Luxembourg

"We are heading to Oman with some of our Classics team, and traditionally this race is the final preparation for Van Avermaet ahead of the first Classic. We saw that he was looking strong in Valencia and there are some finishes that should be good for him here, so he will be our leader.  However, we will also have Jempy Drucker on the start line as our sprinter, and then, when we look to the General Classification and the stage finish on Green Mountain, I think we will look to protect Nicolas Roche. He will be coming out of the Dubai Tour and I think he can do something there. Overall, we will have to take the race day by day, but we are taking a strong group of riders, and collectively we can look for opportunities to go for stage wins," Piva explained.

Van Avermaet will continue to test his form in Oman ahead of the start of the Classics season. "The season started with a solid week of racing in Spain, and now, I'm looking forward to heading back to the start line at the Tour of Oman. It's a good race with some nice stages that should suit me so, not only will I be looking to improve my shape before the start of my Classics campaign in Belgium but I also want to take the opportunity to go for stage wins where possible," Van Avermaet said.

Tour of Oman (13 - 18 February)

Rider Roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)

Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)

Julian Alaphilippe wins stage and GC lead at Colombia Oro Y Paz

Here's the report from Alaphilippe's Quick-Step team:

A devastatingly powerful acceleration netted both the stage victory and the leader's jersey for Quick-Step Floors' French rider Julian Alaphilippe on the first uphill finish of Colombia Oro y Paz.

The Quick-Step Floors fiesta continued at the first edition of the South American race, where Julian Alaphilippe landed the team's fourth consecutive victory on Mirador Tambo, a 4.7km-long climb averaging 5.6% which came at the end of the fourth stage, one that saw Fernando Gaviria, Alvaro Hodeg and Iljo Keisse join a huge breakaway.

Helped by his two teammates, Gaviria took all three intermediate sprints on the course, further extending his lead in the points classification, on which he already had a firm grip after blasting to victory on the previous three stages. With the climbers eager to grab with both hands their first opportunity of the week and to make inroads in the general classification, the lead of the twenty men up the road was always kept in check and didn't go north of three minutes at any point.

On the penultimate climb on the route, a third-category one, Fernando Gaviria attacked and opened a gap, crossing the summit first, but eventually his day at the front came to an end, and with it, his tenure in the pink jersey. Then, a furious pace of the GC favourites' teams in the peloton made a big selection, leaving only 25 riders in the elite group, which included also Quick-Step Floors' Julian Alaphilippe and Jhonatan Narvaez.

The champion of Ecuador – racing only his second event since turning pro with our team at Vuelta a San Juan – showed maturity and tactical acumen well beyond his age, responding to several attacks and closing the gaps into the business end of the race. That allowed Alaphilippe to stay fresh and monitor his rivals, who after their previous attempts came to an abrupt end, tried to move decisively with 500 meters to go.

Both Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) surged off the front, but Julian comfortably responded before blasting past them inside the final 300 meters and opening his 2018 account with a spectacular win, his first in South America. The two Colombians rounded out the podium, while Narvaez still had enough in him to finish fifth and jump into the top 10 overall, 13 seconds behind Alaphilippe, the new race leader.

"I can't tell you how happy I am with this win. When I arrived here last week, I didn't expect to take a stage victory, so having won one gives me big satisfaction, especially as it came against some of the best climbers in the world. This makes the victory even sweeter. It wouldn't have been possible without this great team and the help of our sports director Davide Bramati, who told me before the start to anticipate on a short downhill section right before the final bend, which I did", said Julian, the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault, in 1986, victorious in a Colombian race.

"Right after the finish, I thanked Jhonatan Narvaez for his work, because he played a big part in my success. This is the spirit of the Wolfpack that we're always talking about. We never give up and always stay together, helping each other", the 25-year-old Frenchman, who sits also at the top of the mountain classification, explained. "To keep the pink jersey in the team is fantastic, but at the same time I know that the next two stages will be more difficult. The plan is to take it day by day and see where we'll stand on Sunday afternoon."

Bollé still on the block at Vista Outdoor

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Vista Outdoor, owner of the Bell, Giro, Blackburn, CamelBak and Bollé brands, continues to see a sales decline in its core ammunition and firearms segments. The company reported Thursday that sales were down 11 percent in its third quarter, which ended Dec. 31.

In its 10-Q filing, its related news release and an earnings call, the bike-related brands were only briefly mentioned. The company did say its Outdoor Products division, which includes the bike, ski, and eyewear brands, saw a slight uptick in the quarter. Sales were up just 0.7 percent in the segment, to $295 million, but earnings in the segment were up 4.2 percent to $74 million. However, it's difficult to assess the performance of the bike brands because the Outdoor Products division also includes CampChef, Bushnell, and JimmyStyks. Vista said increased sales in its sports protection business were offset by decreases in the hunting and shooting accessories business that is included in the Outdoor Products division.

Vista Outdoor's more troubled segment is Shooting Sports, which comprises its firearms and ammunition brands and where third quarter sales were down 21 percent, to $286 million. Gross profits there were down 47 percent, to $52 million.

Vista Outdoor announced last year that it planned to sell off the Bollé brand, which is primarily an eyewear brand but which also offers bike helmets. In the conference call Thursday, CEO Chris Metz said the company had received "no shortage of interest" from potential Bolle buyers, but was still putting together a complete financial package so that it could start serious sales negotiations.

You can read the entire story here.

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