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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 27, 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

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing. - Edmund Burke

Today's racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne report from Lotto-Soudal

This came too late to make yesterday's news:

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Lotto Soudal rode an aggressive race at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne today [Sunday]. Unfortunately the team wasn’t rewarded at the end. Jens Debusschere took the fifteenth place in the sprint.

Not long after the start in Kuurne seven riders set up a breakaway. The peloton didn’t give them much freedom. Halfway the race they only had half a minute lead. During the ascent of the Oude Kwaremont the head of the bunch closed the gap. After the battle on the Kwaremont a front group of 21 riders was established, including Tiesj Benoot, Nikolas Maes and Jelle Wallays. The three Lotto Soudal riders were accompanied by among other Colbrelli, Démare, Lampaert, Stuyven, Trentin, Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke. A nice front group, but Lotto NL and Astana were not happy with the situation. The advantage of the riders never rose above one minute.

After Nokereberg, with fifty kilometres to go, Oss and Stuyven escaped from the front group. Ten kilometres further the other breakaway members were reeled in by the bunch. Daniel Oss got dropped at the front because of a puncture. That way Stuyven entered solo the first of two laps of 15.3 kilometres, followed by the bunch at 50 seconds.

Lotto Soudal took control of the peloton and Stuyven was caught with 19 kilometres to go. In the last lap there were several attacks. Duval, Vermote and Vliegen had a small lead at the beginning of the last kilometre. Vermote survived the longest, but in the end a sprint would decide about victory. Dylan Groenewegen won the race, ahead of French champion Arnaud Démare and Sonny Colbrelli.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen wins in Kuurne

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “Our riders have shown themselves today and we took initiative as a team, just like yesterday. Before the race it was our plan to sprint with Jens Debusschere, but to also join the battle as we also have the riders for that kind of work. In the break that was established after the Oude Kwaremont we were represented by three riders, so that was a good situation. Like yesterday, Astana was very strong and because they had nobody at the front, they chased down the break. Nothing was lost at that point, because that way also De Buyst and Debusschere returned to the front. Lotto NL and FDJ had already lost a few riders due to the chase. Then we chose to rise the pace and the peloton split. That was a good move, but unfortunately we didn’t get any support. Again due to the chasing of Astana the peloton caught the group. The sprint preparation didn’t run as it should have. Jens Debusschere wasn’t positioned well and couldn’t sprint for a good result.”

“We have taken a lot of initiative as a team in this opening weekend. Today even more than yesterday. But in both races that didn’t give us a good result at the end and that’s a disappointment. I have seen that many riders are in a good shape and that is promising for the next races though.”

At Abu Dhabi Tour neo-pro Bjorg Lambrecht finished on a beautiful thirteenth place in the last stage with summit finish at Jebel Hafeet. He reached the finish 1’01” after stage winner Alejandro Valverde. Frederik Frison and André Greipel had animated the stage, by joining the early breakaway.

Ellen van Dijk wins Omloop Van Het Hageland

Team Sunweb sent me this news:

After a phenomenal team effort throughout the day [Sunday, the 25th], Team Sunweb's Ellen van Dijk (NED) rewarded the team's hard work with a victory, as she soloed to the finishing line after a perfect lead-out by her team mates into the final climb from eight kilometres to go.

Ellen van Dijk

Ellen van Dijk racing the worlds in 2013

Speaking of the win, Van Dijk said: "The team was really incredible today, everyone did their job perfectly. We were constantly attacking all race and it was my job to just stay calm. The girls did a super strong lead-out onto the last climb and nobody could follow us. From then it was all or nothing and I knew I just had to keep riding to the finish and not look back. There was a really hard crosswind section on the open fields and I realised it would be really hard to stay away by myself, but I just carried on and it paid off. I'm really happy to finish off the team's hard work today with the win."

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) added: "The team really stuck to their plan like clockwork today. They launched attack after attack and made the race really hard, just like we'd planned. The whole team were there to position Ellen on the bottom of the climb and the plan worked out perfectly. The whole team did a great job today and their commitment was super high. Each rider gave it their all until the tank was empty, which makes us even more proud of the win today."  

Team Quick-Step Floors headed to Le Samyn

Here's the team's update:

Created in 1968, Le Samyn is a race with a lot of history and with a hard route which always makes up for some spectacular and thrilling racing. After producing many memorable editions in the past, the Belgian event has again all the ingredients to be a hit and go down as one of the best races of the year, one that in the first part of the course will see the riders take on four short but difficult climbs: Côte de Mainvault, Côte de la Folie, Côte des Papins and Côte de Semenil.

Then, with 100 kilometers left of the race, the peloton will enter on a leg-sapping circuit which they will cover four times, each lap having four cobbled sectors – Rue du Vert Pignon (1400m), Côte de la Roquete (500m), Chemin de Wiheries (400m) and Rue de Belle Vue (700m) – which will split the bunch and leave only a handful of riders in contention.

Niki Terpstra

Niki Terpsta wins in 2016

World Tour leader Quick-Step Floors will line out at the start two former winners of the event, Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra, for the 200km-race which starts in Quaregnon and travels to Dour, where the race concludes since 2006. Joining them will be two other riders who raced in the Opening Weekend – Tim Declercq and Zdenek Stybar – but also talented neo-pro Fabio Jakobsen, Davide Martinelli and Florian Sénéchal, the latter making his return after being forced to miss Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last Sunday due to gastroenteritis.

"We come here with a very strong team, built around three riders who have ambitions for this race, and I'm talking here of Philippe, Zdenek and Niki. Florian, who despite being new on the squad, already proved this year what a talented rider he is, together with Tim, Davide and Fabio, will support our guys in this race which on top of having a demanding course, will be made hard also by the weather. With temperatures below zero degrees and a strong wind coming from the north it will be very tough out there, but we will try to leave our mark on this beautiful race", said sports director Tom Steels.

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

Here's the preview the team sent me:


Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED) said: "Our Development Program line-up at Umag Trophy this week, marking their first race of the season. After a good period of training the team are super motivated to make their mark in Croatia. Sergio, Niklas and Jens make their racing debut with the team here, so it will be good to see them racing together with the guys from last year with a few good training camps in their legs. With a flat finish our goal here is to sprint with Max and we have a strong lead-out team led by our road captain Jarno, alongside Niklas and Jens. During the race Felix and Sergio will play a supportive role, covering breakaways and attacks." 

RACE: Umag Trophy (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 28/02/2018

COACH:Tom Veelers (NED) 

Felix Gall (AUT)
Max Kanter (GER)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Sergio Tu (TAI)
Jens Vanoverberghe (BEL) 

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) said: "This Saturday we have Strade Bianche, one of the most beautiful and unique races through Tuscany, which includes a total of 63 kilometres on sterrrato-roads. Depending on weather, we expect that soon after the feeding zone the race will really start with two long and challenging sections where most of the time the first shift will be made. From here the race is on and will be for sure decided on the last three sectors which come 25 kilometres from the finish. We have a few riders that are suited to this final with Michael, Søren, Simon and Tom. They need to work together to cover the right moves and will be supported by Nikias, Laurens and Lennard. Our goal is to create a move with one of our guys in it and aim for a good result." 

RACE: Strade Bianche (WT)

DATE: 03/03/2018

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Laurens ten Dam (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Michael Matthews (AUS) 

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "With relatively few changes to the parcours we can expect the same style race as traditionally plays out at Strade Bianche. The final 25 kilometres are really hard with climb after climb, and gravel section after gravel section. Here the climbers will really come to the forefront and we expect to have Coryn, Ellen and Lucinda in the mix as the race gets much harder. This is also the first experience for our younger riders Juliette, Liane and Ruth riding a race like this, so it will be good for their development to experience these parcours. They will play a supportive role in the earlier stages of he race, riding aggressively and covering attacks. With Lucinda who finished 4th here last year, Coryn who took 5th at Omloop het Nieuwsblad last Saturday and Ellen who took our women's program's first win of the season at Omloop van het Hageland, we have a variety of cards to play and we're motivated for a good race." 

RACE: Strade Bianche (WWT)

DATE: 03/03/2018

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

Lucinda Brand (NED)
Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Ruth Winder (USA) 

Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED) said: "The second of the trio of Croatian races, our goal at the Porec Trophy is to go for Nils. This is a more open race and harder to control so we will take a good look at the breaks and have guys up there when we need to. We have Jarno as our road captain for this race, and he alongside Niklas will be the final guys in the lead-out for Nils. Felix and Jens will be the guys to look at the breaks and attacks and support the guys into the final." 

RACE: Porec Trophy (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 03/03/2018

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Felix Gall (AUT)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Sergio Tu (TAI)
Jens Vanoverberghe (BEL) 

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS) said: "Paris-Nice can be broken down into two parts with the early stages giving some opportunities to the faster riders, a time trial in the middle of the race and then the harder mountain stages coming in the last days where the GC will be decided. The early stages all contain some level of difficulty with uphill sprints and climbs in the finals, Phil and Edward are both showing great form and they will fly the flag for the team in the early stages, with Roy and Mike providing a high level of support to guide them. When the race heads towards the mountains our youngster, Sam, will aim to be at the pointy end of the bike race, with Chris and debutant Louis backing him up. The GC will take shape during the stage 4 time trial and stage 7 mountain top finish but won’t be decided until the riders cross the line in Nice." 

RACE: Paris-Nice (WT)

DATE: 04-11/03/2018

COACH: Luke Roberts (AUS) 

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