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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, February 18, 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

There is nothing more uncommon than common sense. - Frank Lloyd Wright

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour of Oman race report from Team Astana

Astana had a great day in Oman. Here's their update:

Definitely, it was a day of Astana Pro Team at the Tour of Oman. The whole team did an incredible race during the queen stage 5, while later, Miguel Angel Lopez and Alexey Lutsenko provided a great show on the slopes of the famous climb Green Mountain.

Finally, after huge support of the team, both riders made a double attack with 1,5 km to go, which led to a double success: Miguel Angel Lopez won the stage, while Alexey Lutsenko finished second, taking the red jersey of the general classification leader.

- A very nice day for us! I am so happy to win today and see next to me this amazing team as Astana is! I felt very strong today, the legs worked perfectly on the climb. Actually, nobody could attack on the final climb, so we just followed our plan and after a great job of our teammates we went away together with Alexey. Of course, the climb was super hard, but we managed to pass it as we wanted and finally, we took the stage. That’s a nice feeling to win here and to start my season in this way! – explained Miguel Angel Lopez behind the podium.

- First of all I want to thank my team. The guys were incredible today! All the team stayed together, focused and motivated, from kilometer 0 to the finish line. What a great job during the stage did Nikita Stalnov! Also, Tanel Kangert and Omar Fraile provided a big support to us. Yesterday winner Magnus Cort also was there in front to help. On the final climb there was Jan Hirt, who did absolutely stunning work in front, providing us a place for attack. Inside the last 2 km of the race there were only three riders of Astana Team in front and that’s was something special. Miguel Angel was the strongest rider on this climb today and his win is more than well deserved. In the same time, I am enjoying now my red jersey. We still have a stage to do, so in this moment I don’t think about the possible overall victory and want to focus on this last day, - said Alexey Lutsenko.

Shortly after the start in Samoil a break of 6 riders went away to open a 5-minute gap. The break did a strong race and was caught somewhere at the first kilometers of the final climb. Astana Team did a perfect job in front of the peloton the whole day, taking the race under control. With 3 km to go it was Jan Hirt, who went in front to lead a small group of favorites and only Miguel Angel Lopez, Alexey Lutsenko and Gorka Izagirre were able to follow him. Later, two Astana riders did an attack to come together to the finish line and to share between them this team’s success. The Spaniard Jesus Herrada finished third.

Team Astana

The Astana duo ride away with the race.

With only one stage to go Alexey Lutsenko leads the general classification of the Tour of Oman, having 11 seconds of advantage to Miguel Angel Lopez and 28 seconds to Gorka Izagirre.

Miguel Angel Lopez holds the white jersey of the best young rider, while Astana leads the team’s classification.

Team reports on Volta ao Algave stage four:

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's Algarve update:

Dylan Groenewegen has won his third race of the season. In the fourth stage of the Volta ao Algarve, the resident of Amsterdam sovereignly sprinted to his second success in Portugal. It meant the fourth victory for Team LottoNL-Jumbo this season.

A perfect leadout by Amund Grondahl Jansen and Timo Roosen preceded the victory. By then, the hard work of Bram Tankink, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Sepp Kuss and Paul Martens was done. They had worked hard to control and chase down the breakaway in the final.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen gets stage four.

“This is a very beautiful day”, Groenewegen said. “The team did a great job today. Not only with the leadout but also with controlling the race all day. It was a fast stage with a few short climbs and a very hectic final, but we didn’t panic. Not even when Philippe Gilbert and Dylan Teuns attacked on the last hill. The boys led me out perfectly and I finished it off. Everything worked out as we had hoped”, concluded Groenewegen, who is looking forward to next week, when he hopes to be able to demonstrate his excellent shape in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report on the Algarve Tour:

Today’s stage was one for the sprinters, the last opportunity for the fast men to make their mark on the race. D. Groenewegen again dominated the bunch sprint, taking out the victory in Tavira. Matteo Pelucchi crossed the line in a close second position, while Felix Großschartner moved up one place in the general classification to now sit in 8th place overall.

The Stage
It was the third consecutive year that Tavira hosted a finish that was tailored to the sprinters. The 199 km long stage starting in Almodôvar was the longest of this year’s race, featuring two intermediate sprints and two fourth category climbs. It traversed over relatively flat terrain during the first half of racing, while the second more undulating part of the course took the riders along the Spanish border, with the last 15 km taking in the coastline on the way to Tavira. Although the terrain became slightly hillier halfway through the stage, this was by no means expected to present any great challenges.

The Team Tactics
Today was a day for the sprinters, and given that the final stage is earmarked for the climbers, the fast men of the peloton were unlikely to lightly give up today’s opportunity to fight for victory at day’s end. Despite the slight uphill section in the last 400m of the finishing straight, with a gradient upwards of 4 percent, the past few editions of this race which featured similar finishes into Tavira have shown that we could expect a bunch sprint between the fast men of the peloton. For BORA – hansgrohe, the focus was therefore on Matteo Pelucchi to deliver a solid result. Looking to build upon his 8th place on Stage 1, the team put their efforts into fine tuning their lead-out and delivering the Italian sprinter into a good position in the finishing straight.

The Race
All 7 BORA – hansgrohe riders spent the day tucked into the main field, focussing their energies on placing Matteo Pelucchi well for the final sprint. After 7 km of racing, a 6-man group managed to establish themselves at the head of the race, forming the breakaway of the day. They managed to stretch out their advantage to 4:15 after 43 km. With 16 km remaining, a group of four riders attacked from the peloton and bridged to the breakaway. Yet ultimately with 3km to the finish line, the riders out front were caught by the chasing peloton. Following the catch, the sprinters’ teams began to get into formation, and, as expected, the day ended in a mass sprint, with D. Groenewegen surging out of the bunch in the final metres to take victory on the line. BORA – hansgrohe worked hard to bring Matteo Pelucchi into an optimal position leading into the finishing straight, with the Italian eventually finishing in second place.

Team Movistar reports on the Ruta del Sol/Andalucia:

The Movistar Team completed another great overall performance on stage four of the 2018 Vuelta a Andalucía, held on Saturday over 194km from Sevilla to Alcalá de los Gazules with a hard course, including the ‘puertos’ of Las Palomas (Cat-1), the Boyar (Cat-3) and a grueling, cobbled ascent inside the final 1.5 kilometers.

Mikel Landa took 2nd in the day, behind Belgian Tim Wellens (LTS) -new race leader-, after showing once again his courageous attitude, jumping from the bottom of the final climb and only allowing the day’s winner to follow his wheel and overtake him into the last 200m, the bunch shattered behind the Basque climber.

The Murgia native’s attitude was the continuation of a series of valiant attempts from the Blues. Imanol Erviti was part of the early 13-man break, leading the race until the Palomas climb. Later on, a counter attack from Héctor Carretero and Andrey Amador into the ascents allowed the ‘tico’ keeping his team at the front, a superb move alongside Vanmarcke (EFD) taking him into the very Alcalá uphill finish in the lead of the race.

The new overall classification -the race will be decided on Sunday with a 14km TT in and around Barbate- sees Landa sitting in 2nd place, 7″ behind Wellens and ahead of Wout Poels (SKY, +11″) and Astana duo Jakob Fuglsang (+14″) and Luis León Sánchez (+20″). In turn, Marc Soler continues to perform strong and finished 6th today, maintaining his GC place at 32″ -twenty-one seconds behind the provisional podium-.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens wins the stage with Mikel Landa (blue jersey, mostly hidden behind Wellens) 5 seconds behind him.

REACTION / Mikel Landa:
“It was a really tough climb, and after realising that I was one of the strongest uphill in Allanadas on Thursday, I didn’t want to wait until the sprint and decided to jump from the foot of the ascent. The ‘problem’ for me is that I was joined by such a strong rider on cobblestones as Wellens. As soon as we hit the ‘rocks’, I got stuck and he just flew over. I tried to increase my pace quickly, but I wasn’t able to up my speed on the cobblestones and he was just sitting on his saddle and staying clear. I lacked experience on such terrain and also a bit of energy to match his pace. Still, I’m very satisfied with the result. It was a very demanding day and the team was brilliant, especially with that move by Andrey in the finale. We wanted to take this win today, but it wasn’t to be. The GC remains really close and it should be a tight battle in the time trial tomorrow. Everyone around me in the standings should be more of a specialist for tomorrow’s TT, but I’ll keep on fighting until the end.”

Shimano bike business up 4.1% in 2017

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this:

OSAKA, Japan (BRAIN) — Shimano saw a 4 percent increase in net sales in its bicycle division last year, while operating income in the segment was nearly flat, down 0.8 percent, the company announced Tuesday. The component giant said sales of its Dura-Ace Di2 group and STEPS E8000 e-bike drive unit were "robust" and that its Ultegra Di2 and the disc brakes it introduced in August were also well received. Bike-related sales were 270,206 million yen ($2.5 billion).

Shimano indicated that in North America, retail sales of complete bikes "lacked vigor" in 2017 and were about flat with 2016. However, the company said North American distributor inventory levels were lower than in the prior year, which presumably helped Shimano's sell-in to the distributor channel. The company does not release specific figures for its regional sales.

European sales started out the year sluggish but improved in the second half, eventually hitting the same level as in 2016, Shimano said.

In China, bike sales were below 2016, although Shimano said distributor inventory levels were appropriate. The company had similar things to say about its performance in Japan, Southeast Asia and South America, with no particular region turning in exceptional results.

You can read the entire story here.

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