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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, January 18, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour Down Under stage two reports

We'll start with Mitchelton-Scott:

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan has added to his stage tally at the Tour Down Under, with an impressive win on stage two into Stirling today whilst teammate Daryl Impey capped off the perfect day for Mitchelton-SCOTT finishing in second.

The full Mitchelton-SCOTT train could be seen near the front of the peloton in the final five kilometres with Ewan taking the victory with a clear back wheel on a stage that wasn’t expected to suit him.

There was little resistance from the peloton as a breakaway of four went away in the opening kilometres of stage two. Yesterday’s three escapees of Will Clarke (EF Education First – Drapac), Nickolas Dlamini (Dimension Data) and Scott Bowden (UniSA) were once again out in front, this time joined by Jaime Castrillo (Movistar Team).

Castrillo showed the freshness in his legs, spending the second half of the race solo before being caught in the final 15km.

Not in the favourites for the day, Mitchelton-SCOTT were spared of the workload for much of the day as other teams took responsibility. With five kilometres remaining the full team was in the perfect position towards the head of the peloton and they maintained it right to the finish.

Unsure of his ability to finish off on an uphill sprint, Ewan left his call for the final couple of hundred metres before calling Impey to launch. As Ewan came through on the far side for the victory, Impey also sprinted hard for the line – mistaking Caleb’s best young rider white jersey for that of Peter Sagan’s world championship jersey - to complete the one, two for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Today’s victory takes Ewan’s stage tally to seven following four wins in 2017 and two in 2016. The 23-year-old has also worn the leader’s ochre jersey in both editions following victories in the opening stages, but is yet to retain the jersey for more than day.

Caleb Ewan wins stage 2

Caleb Ewan wins stage two.

With tomorrow’s stage into Victor Harbor predicted to be a bunch sprint, and a stage Ewan has won before (2017), it could be the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana stage winner’s first chance to hold the lead for consecutive days.

Caleb Ewan – Stage Winner & Overall Leader: “I am very thrilled, it is probably more exciting winning on a stage that you’re a little bit unsure about going into. It was a tricky finish because I didn’t know if I would get up there or not and I didn’t want to make the call from the bottom."

"I just sat in there and tried to conserve as much energy as possible and I saw Daryl sitting up there nicely so I told him to go with about 300metres to go and then he got us out and then I had a clear run at the line.”

“I think this is probably my best Tour Down Under win because it was on a finish that didn’t suit me and probably suited Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) more, so to get one up on him here, on this finish, is a bonus.”

“The last few Tour Down Under’s I have had the Ochre jersey but then gone straight into a mountain stage so I haven’t had the chance to hold it for more than one-day, so this is great to try and keep it tomorrow.”

Daryl Impey – 2nd place: “I didn't know it Caleb was next to me, I just saw a white jersey so I thought it was Sagan, then finally once we got a bit closer I saw it was him and that we were in that position so it was really good.”

“It just shows how fresh we were at the end to go one, two. The team did a great job so we didn’t have to do too much all day and we could conserve quite a bit of energy.”

“It was nice to run second, it was unexpected and I think from that point everybody is certainly very happy, we couldn’t do much better than that.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director: “We knew before we came here it would be a very competitive sprint field and the sprint today doesn’t particularly suit a normal sprinter and Caleb showed his condition is as good as we’ve ever seen it.”

“We saw on Sunday he was sprinting well but to do that today is a very impressive effort by him and the lead out he got by those guys, that was standard Impey and a standard team effort.”

Tour Down Under – Stage 2 Results:

1. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:03:55
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Jay McCarthy (Bora Hansgrohe) ST

Tour Down Under – General Classification after stage 2:

1. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 7:54:00
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:10
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:12

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

Temperatures were rising and the terrain at the Tour Down Under was getting tougher. Seeing how hard the day’s breakaway was suffering in the heat, the peloton let the sun do the work for them, taking it easier to conserve energy for the uphill finish as the escape fell apart. While the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, looked strong in the push for the line, the effort was hard to sustain and was unable to take the hard uphill sprint finale. Peter’s BORA-hansgrohe teammate, Jay McCarthy, took valuable seconds on the line to climb up the GC.

The Stage:

Heading east from Unley, the stage today took on a more undulating profile. While there was only one categorised climb today on the 148.6km parcours, the 6.3% Tea Tree Gully, the route saw more climbing than on yesterday’s stage, while the finale saw riders on an upward drag after three laps of a tough finishing circuit. With temperatures rising into the mid 30s, this was bound to have an impact on the day’s outcome with the race becoming progressively tougher. The finale would be slower than yesterday’s stage, but not by much.

The Team Tactics:

Having narrowly missed out on the win on yesterday’s bunch sprint, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would still have his eye on the win, but while the Slovak rider was capable of winning on the hillier parcours, the events of the day would decide whether he would be in contention at the finish. The GC race would also be taking shape, and Jay McCarthy, who finished third in last year’s edition, would be looking to make his mark in the finale, the Australian rider having won in Stirling in the 2016 Tour Down Under.

The Race:

Another escape went ahead early today. With three of the four-man breakaway having been in the break on yesterday’s stage, they clearly hadn’t suffered enough in the south Australian heat, their gap growing as the day went on. Lacking the ambition of stage 1, the break shed riders in the more challenging terrain, the peloton not having to work hard to reel them in, making contact with the final escapee with 10km to go. The pace ramping up in the bunch, both Peter Sagan and Jay McCarthy were up there in the finish in strong positions, but in the finale some late twists and turns made it difficult to judge the best time to kick, and in the face of some early attacks the peloton was forced to react and up the pace. While the UCI World Champion led the peloton, he was unable to sustain the effort and eased off, making sure his teammate took the bonus seconds on the line that could prove pivotal in the overall standings in days to come.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan before the start of stage two.

01       C.Ewan           4h03’55”
02       D.Impey          + 0:00
03       J.McCarthy     + 0:00
04       P.Sagan           + 0:00
05       N.Haas            + 0:00

From the Finish Line:

"It was a very hot day and the race went as we had expected. We did our best but in the finale, Caleb Ewan was stronger. I'm happy that Jay got some valuable bonus seconds and we now have another four stages to try our best." – Peter Sagan

"Today there was probably a bigger group in the finale than the last time I did it. We went today with two goals, to look after Peter and for me to hopefully gain some seconds in the overall. The plan was that I was going to try to open early so that Peter could come over on top of me. With 300 meters to go, one of the FDJ riders came around me and closed my line. Caleb and Impey got past while Peter was behind them. I started opening but once I saw Peter couldn't go for the win, I went for the bonus seconds that will be important later on in the week.  I moved to fourth overall and I have to fight every day. Yesterday, I was fighting with Nathan Haas for the one second that was available in the sprint.  Last year, I was only on the podium because of the time I gained during the week, so we'll take any seconds available." – Jay McCarthy

"Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under was a hard one on a pretty warm day.  The team worked well, everything went as planned, except for the final result. We were hoping for the win and we could have probably gotten it but in the end, it wasn't possible.  Caleb Ewan was stronger while Jay and Peter got a good third and fourth position." – Patxi Vila  

Lotto-Soudal to ride Vuelta a San Juan

The team sent me this note:

This year Lotto Soudal will participate in the Vuelta a San Juan, an Argentinian stage race from Sunday 21 January to Sunday 28 January. The riders need to cover six stages and one time trial, there’s a rest day on Thursday.

The Vuelta a San Juan offers a lot of opportunities to sprinters. In the second stage the leading role will be played by the punchers, the time trial of 14.4 kilometres is scheduled on day three and the fifth stage is a mountain stage. That day the finish line lies at the top of a fifteen kilometres long climb with an average gradient of 4.5%.

Maximiliano Richeze

Maximiliano Richeze won the final stage of the 2017 Vuelta a San Juan

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Four out of the seven stages are sprint stages. Fernando Gaviria will be the man to beat on those occasions. Enzo Wouters is the sprinter in our team. As a neo-pro he pulled a lot at the head of the bunch last year, after his first race needed to be postponed due to knee surgery. When he could have a go of his own at the Tour of Britain in September, he claimed two top ten places. His teammates will try to get him to the finish in the best possible conditions. The sprints in Argentina are often chaotic, then the steering skills of Tosh Van der Sande can come in handy.”

“This is the first race of the year for the riders present and we start without any pressure. We want to set some good results with Enzo, but for the others this race is a preparation for the spring races. A good overall classification isn’t a goal. The fifth stage and the time trial will determine the GC. The final climb on stage five isn’t very tough, but at the beginning of the season such a climb can feel tougher than usual. In the sprint stages the riders will need to be attentive for echelons, as we often ride through plains.”

Line-up Vuelta a San Juan: Tiesj Benoot, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Wallays and Enzo Wouters.

Sports director: Mario Aerts.


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