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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 16, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

BMC reports on the Tour of Oman's third stage:

Paris–Roubaix: The Inside Story

15 February, 2018, Wadi Dayqah Dam (OMN): Greg Van Avermaet secured a previously elusive stage win at the Tour of Oman today after powering away from the rest of the field to take the honors on stage 3 and move into the leader's jersey.

Once again, it was a group of four riders that went clear early into stage 3 and, as the race approached the first of three categorized climbs, after 50km, of the 179.5km course, the gap between the breakaway and the main bunch was sitting at over four minutes.

Heading into the second half of the day, an increase in pace at the front of the peloton saw the advantage of the leaders begin to fall and, as the road began to rise once again, towards the summit of the Quriyat climb, just two minutes stood between the two groups.

The last riders from the early breakaway were caught with 20km to go as Nathan Haas, race leader at the start of the day, and his Team Katusha-Alpecin teammates set the pace in an attempt to neutralize any late attacks on the approach to the testing final climb and the 8.5km run into the finish on the Wadi Dayqah Dam.

With 5km remaining, a select group of just 50 riders remained in the main bunch as BMC Racing Team hit the front to control the final three kilometers of the race and help set the stage for Van Avermaet on the uphill drag to the line.

An impressive turn of speed from Van Avermaet in the closing meters of the race saw him jump off the front of the bunch and power away from the rest of the field to take an emphatic stage win and move into the red leader's jersey.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet wins stage three.

Interview with Greg Van Avermaet:

Congratulations, Greg. Talk us through the final meters of today's race.

"I am always happy to win and especially in Oman after so many years. I think the team did a perfect job. We came at the right moment on the descent with 3km to go, and they put me in a perfect position so I could wait for the perfect moment. It was at the hardest point of the climb that I went full gas, and I just hoped that no one could follow and that's what happened so I was really happy that I could cross the line first."

Did you feel any pressure in the closing stages of the race?

"I was expecting Astana Pro Team to make the race hard for Alexey Lutsenko on a finish like this, but for me, that was good as it got rid of some of the sprinters. I was able to stay there, and I think the team was patient enough today to take the lead at the right moment and I think that was really important for the final climb."

"It was a hard finish, but I knew it from 2013 when I was second here. I had better legs this time though as I was able to go at the moment that I wanted to and then it was about getting to the finish as fast as possible and hoping that nobody could follow. It was a good finish for me and a really nice win. It was also nice for me to finish off the good work of the team."

And looking ahead to the rest of week.

"It's a nice extra to take the leader's jersey, and we will see what happens, but for the moment, I am really happy with this stage win. That was the most important thing for me."

"I am not expecting to win the Tour of Oman, but I am in the red jersey now so tomorrow I will try to defend it. I am pretty happy with my condition for the Classics, but overall, for the General Classification, I think Green Mountain is too hard for me. It will be one for the climbers, and I think they can maybe take two minutes on me on a climb like this."

Volta ao Algarve stage two team reports

Here's what Team Sky had to say about the stage:

Michal Kwiatkowski climbed to victory on stage two of the Volta ao Algarve with Geraint Thomas finishing third to move into the overall lead.

Kwiatkowski was able to escape from a small lead group in the final metres of the Alto de Foia climb to seal his first win of the season after good work from Vasil Kiryienka with 9km to go that had stretched the race forcing Team Sky’s rivals to work hard to catch him in the early part of the last climb.

Once Kiryienka was caught with 2km remaining, Kenny Elissonde then paced the lead group allowing Kwiatkowski and Thomas well-placed to sprint for the uphill finish, a battle won by the Polish rider.

Kwiatkowski revealed that he was a little surprised by his form and credited his teammates for their fantastic efforts in placing him and Thomas in an excellent position. 

Michal kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski cruises in a few seconds ahead of the rest of the best.

He said: “It’s one of my favourite races so I’m really happy today. The 14km climb was difficult - that’s pretty much the first solid summit finish for me [this season] and I’m really happy that we cooperated so well as a team. Geraint, Kenny, Kiry, Owain, Michal, Lukasz, they were all there and we played it perfectly.

“I have to say it was a little bit unexpected. A week ago I was racing in Valencia with Wout Poels and we had solid form, but we didn’t step up with the results. Then today I heard on the radio that Wout had won at Ruta del Sol - that was good news and gave us a little bit of extra motivation. That’s why we went so hard today.

“The climb was long but everyone knew it wasn’t so steep. The gradient was around 5% which is difficult to drop riders on and make a big gap. But in the end we’re happy. It’s a win, it’s my first win, and I’m happy with my condition. We will ride strong tomorrow in the time trial and try to do our best."

Thomas also revealed that his early season form was a pleasant surprise, but was well aware that Friday’s time trial would prove to be a pivotal stage. “We’ve got a strong team here and we tried to race a bit differently,” the Welshman said.

“Everyone had their chance. Kenny, Kiry, myself and Kwiato, we all just got stuck in and did what we could do. It’s great that Kwiato won the stage and we’re right up there. It’s a good day.

“When you’re leading the race there’s always an added incentive and you feel a little stronger. I’m looking forward to tomorrow but there’s a lot of strong guys here. It will be a solid test to see where I’m at.”

He concluded: “Tomorrow is a big day for the GC. We’ll see how we go. With myself and Kwiato, hopefully we’ll still be right up there. It’s a super strong field this year so who knows. It’s just nice to be wearing the jersey."

And UAE-Team Emirates sent me this:

Daniel Martin’s determination and desire to win are already at the top in Algarve.

In the Volta ao Algarve’s second stage today in Portugal, 187.9km from Sagres to Fòia (Monchique), UAE Team Emirates’s new hire battled at the head of the race for the 15km uphill finish at 9.5%. It was Martin, in his second day of racing in 2018, who tried to attack at eight kilometres remaining with Spilak, Gilbert and Kiryienka. Then Kwiatkowski, with the line on the horizon, found the winning kick from the small group sprint. Martin was 4th.

“I always like to race to win, unfortunately the victory just slipped away,” Daniel Martin said “The important thing, though is that the team raced well, with authority, with everyone moving with precision and with the right timing. We knew that we had an opportunity to play for the win and we created the right conditions to try to hit the big target.

"In the final, I waited for the sprint. It was important to go into the final curve first and I was beside Kwiatkowski, but I wasn’t able to move to the right and in that moment, I knew that I would not be able to pass him.“.

Ruta del Sol/Andalucia stage two report from Movistar:

Dutchman Wout Poels (SKY) leads the 64th Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucía after outsprinting a group of favourites at the end of the brutal Alto de Las Allanadas climb, end of a short (140km), intense stage two, with lots of ups and downs from Otura to La Guardia de Jaén.

Poels detached himself from a selected GC group at the final slope of the ascent, with no less than twelve riders staying together through the 1km-to-go banners including two from the Movistar Team: Mikel Landa and Marc Soler. The Basque star -4th across the line- tried to pick up the pace with just over 2km remaining, looking to follow prior attacker Jakob Fuglsang (AST). In turn, Soler (6th) bravely sticked until the end to a group where Mikel always showed a good pedal stroke.

The Blue squad -which also got Andrey Amador (13th) inside a minute from the winner’s team- thus sits in good position overall before the two decisive stages in the weekend, with the steep finish of Alcalá de los Gazules (Saturday) followed by a 14km ITT in Barbate (Sunday). Friday, though, will bring sprinters back to the fore, with a mainly flat course (166km) from Mancha Real to Herrera.

Wout Poels

Wout Poels wins stage two.

REACTION / Mikel Landa: “The climb ended up being really demanding. The top guys were pretty much balanced when it comes to strength, plus we were looking at each other, controlling the moves, which made for a stressful one, too. You always want to win, but I think this result is something we must be happy about, staying with the top contenders in my first stagerace of the season, with people that have already won races this season. There’s another mountain-top finish on Saturday, but I think it should suit more explosive riders. I’ll of course try to stay near the front and not lose much time before the time trial.”

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