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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 21, 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

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places. - Henny Youngman

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour Down Under stage five reports

We'll start with the report from Daryl Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team:

South African Daryl Impey has finished second on the penultimate and queen stage of the Tour Down Under to take the overall lead on count back with one-day remaining.

Crossing the line eight seconds behind Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team), Impey’s third second place of the week paid off as a count back of stage placing gave him the jersey despite being on equal time as Porte.

It was another schooling by Porte on the famous Willunga climb as he attacked with 1.5km to go taking just Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) with him. A second surge, a classic Porte move at one-kilometre to go, proved too much as he went solo and held on to celebrate as he crossed the finish line.

With defending champion, four-time Willunga stage winner and race favourite Porte up the road, Impey used his experience to play a waiting game and ultimately claim the leader’s jersey.

As others scrambled to chase, Impey surfed on their wheels being pulled closer and closer to Porte before sprinting with everything he had to the line, to minimise the damage and finish just eight seconds adrift.

In the opening kilometres seven riders, Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo), Nuno Bico (Movistar), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Dlamini (Dimension Data) , Mads Schmidt (Team Katusha Alpecin) Scott Bowden and Zak Dempster (UniSA) established the day’s breakaway.

As they approached Willunga climb for the first time only two riders had the legs to remain out front, hovering one minute ahead before quickly being swallowed by the peloton as the race heated up for the final showdown.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey drives for the line.

A game of seconds, or less: With one stage remaining Impey sits on equal time with BMC’s Richie Porte. There’s bonus seconds up for grabs that could decide the final podium tomorrow, but it’s a position Mitchelton-SCOTT have been in before with former teammate Simon Gerrans in 2012 (same time) and 2014 (one second). A strong sprint team should hold them in good stead, but it’s not over until you cross the line.

Daryl Impey - 2nd on the stage & Overall Leader
“I can’t believe it, to have the leader's jersey is just fantastic and to be in Australia and in an Australian team and deliver like this after all of their help is just really amazing.”

“I’ve gone pretty well up Willunga before, maybe not this well, but also I have come here as a bit of a protected rider this year so I think it pays dividends at the end of a race like this. That being said it is always a question mark so when you surprise yourself like today it is special.”

“When Richie attacked I just used everyone there and I knew the guys where still racing for the podium so I just rode my own race. I always knew in the back of my mind I had to do a big sprint to the top and I didn’t actually know where Richie was at the finish, so when I saw the time I knew maybe I could be in the jersey.”

“This is a race I really enjoy so I’m super proud to have the jersey and now we just have to cross the line with it tomorrow.”

Cameron Meyer - Former TDU winner
“It played in to our hands with the headwind and all week with the hot weather playing to Daryl’s advantage and the whole team’s advantage.”

“On the final climb Richie Porte attacked like he does every year and Daryl just needed to limit his losses. He’s been storming all week and he showed he could get up there today.”

“He was guided the whole first lap by Hayman then on the final climb I just had to stay as close as possible and close any gaps if any thing happened. Daryl was just super strong and the whole team has been great all week so this is just a great reward.”

Tour Down Under stage 5 results:
1. Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team)
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:08
3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) +0:10

Tour Down under general classification after stage 5:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 18:02
2. Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) +0:00
3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) +0:16

And here's the report I got from Richie Porte's BMC team:

20 January, 2017, Willunga Hill (AUS): Richie Porte stamped his authority on Willunga Hill with an incredible fifth consecutive win on stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under which put him into second overall on the same time as new race leader Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).

The pressure was on defending champion Porte and his BMC Racing Team teammates with Porte lining up as the favorite for the stage win after showing his dominance on the climb in previous years.

The ochre jersey was up for grabs with 32 riders within 14 seconds of then-race leader Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) at the start of the 151km stage.

Seven riders went clear in the first 10km and with none posing a threat to the race lead, the breakaway gained an advantage of more than five minutes as the peloton sat back in anticipation of the iconic Willunga Hill battle.

Patrick Bevin went to the front to control the breakaway's advantage after 30km and continued to set the pace, with the help of Danilo Wyss, in an impressive display of strength until the race reached the first ascent of Willunga Hill.

Porte reached the Willunga Hill summit for the first time at the front of the bunch which was closing in on the remaining breakaway riders before eventually catching solo leader Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) with 9km remaining as they approached foot of Willunga Hill.

Cross winds and a fast injection of pace caused a split in the bunch with Porte joined by Rohan Dennis and Wyss in the front selection. Wyss led the reduced group to the base of the climb before Dennis took over to set the pace and prevent any attacks before powering on to set the stage for Porte to attack with 1.8km to go.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte attacks.

Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) was the only rider who could match Porte's speed but 500m later, Porte attacked again to go solo as he has every year. Porte pushed on through the pain in the final kilometer to reach the finish line and raise his arms in his signature victory salute while behind, the battle was on for minor places and to determine the General Classification.

Impey crossed the line in second place, eight seconds behind, which was enough to equal Porte's overall time but move into the race lead on a count back of previous stage results.

With just one stage remaining, Porte is all but guaranteed to stand on the Santos Tour Down Under podium in Adelaide for the fourth time in his career.

Interview with Richie Porte:

Richie, congratulations! How does is feel to win Willunga Hill for the fifth year?

"I tell you what that was the hardest one to win so far. I think it was such a hard lead in there at the bottom when Education First put it into the gutter. I felt great and the guys looked after me all day but it hurt so much. We talked about it this morning with guys like Simon Gerrans. He has been a fantastic addition to our team. I couldn't look back, I just had to go. Of course, you look back a bit and I could see that Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) was strong to start with. I think this stage is much better for me than it is for him so I just stuck in. I must admit with 300 meters to go, I almost stopped. Maybe I went a bit too hard. Last year winning with the ochre jersey was special but this is up there as one of the most special too."

How did you feel on the climb?

"It's probably the hardest time that I have done this climb. It really hurt today. There were guys in the gravel and it was absolute carnage. You can't say it was unexpected, it's what happens every year. My team were fantastic today as per always. Rohan Dennis really laid it all on the line there."

You now sit second overall. What are your thoughts going into the last stage?

"Realistically, I don't really have a chance to move up. I'm happy with where I am all things considered. I had a tough second half of last year so to be up here and win Willunga for a fifth time in a row, I have to say I'm happy. But of course, I would have loved to have won the overall. If I was good enough to win, I would have done it here today on Willunga. Hats off to Daryl. He's a good mate and a fantastic bike rider. It was up to me today to put more time into him and I wasn't good enough to quite finish the day off. I'm happy with another stage win. I have to be happy with second."

This is your first win since your Tour de France crash. How important is that?

"It has been a tough time. It was a nasty crash and it knocked me around but I think I can have the best season and I'm motivated for that. I worked hard back in Tasmania and did some fantastic training so I am super motivated for this season. I just hope come July I can be on top form. I have a fantastic bunch of people around me from my team, my wife, and my family."

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

When the pivotal attack came on today’s Tour Down Under Queen Stage, BORA-hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy put his cards on the table and went for glory. As his teammate, UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, summed up after the race, “It's always better to try than do nothing”, and the Australian rider knew that stage 5 was where the race for the overall victory was going to come to life, and he turned himself inside out to stay in contention. While Jay was unable to stay with the eventual stage winner, he showed bravery, grit and determination in his efforts, while the team showed its strength in pulling together to bring both Jay and Peter to the foot of the day’s climbs in a position to contest the win.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan at the start of stage 5

The Stage:
The Queen Stage would be the most important day of the Tour Down Under so far, and with the sprinters likely to take centre stage for tomorrow’s grand finale, if the GC riders wanted to take the win, they had to make their move today. Willunga Hill was where the decisive move would come, with the major climb of the day being ridden twice on this 151.5km stage, and with the finale taking place on the second ascent, to be in with a chance, riders would have to stay in touch on both occasions. After days of scorching heat, the weather was finally cooling – if only slightly – but this would give riders just that little bit extra, and that could make all the difference.

The Team Tactics:
Starting the day third in the GC, BORA-hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy knew that there were only a few opportunities left for him to show his cards in the overall standings, and while Peter Sagan was wearing the ochre jersey of race leader, the UCI World Champion wanted the Australian rider to have a chance at bettering his position. The team would work to keep the ochre jersey and Jay safe and deliver them at the bottom of the day’s pivotal second ascent of Willunga Hill, where all of the stage’s action would take place.

The Race:
There was a sense of urgency from the start today, and while the previous days’ racing had seen only a few riders try to escape at the start of the day, stage 5 saw seven riders attack as soon as the race left the neutralised zone. The peloton had to decide whether to work to bring the escapees back in, expending energy, or risk leaving them out ahead, only for the break to take the win and frustrate the peloton’s GC ambitions. With BORA-hansgrohe working to reduce the gap, on making the first ascent of Willunga Hill the gap fell massively, and it was all back together by the bottom of the second, pivotal climb. While Peter Sagan, in the ochre race leader’s jersey, couldn’t stay with the bunch, it was Jay McCarthy who was the only rider to be able to go when the inevitable attack from Richie Porte came. The BORA-hansgrohe GC contender bravely clung on but was unable to go again when a second attack came, dropping out of the GC top ten after a hard-fought effort on a difficult day in the saddle.

From the Finish Line:
"I'm, obviously, disappointed with the result but I know I gave it my all. Our plan today was to go for the overall lead and we knew I had to be with Richie Porte in the finale. I followed him when he attacked but his pace was stronger and I was unable to hold on. It isn't the result we would have liked and hoped for but at the same time, I know we fought hard, we put a strong effort and gave the best we could. You can't always win, so we now have to focus on the following races." – Jay McCarthy

"I feel well, especially now that this tough stage is over. We all worked hard for Jay today and his GC chances and I am proud of him and the way he fought with Richie Porte. It's always better to try than do nothing. Cycling is a difficult sport." – Peter Sagan

"We knew that today, on the queen stage of the Tour Down Under, everything was at stake. Jay had to follow Porte on the final climb while keeping an eye on Impey. The team worked hard throughout the stage, we executed our plan but this is sports and we have to accept the result. Porte was simply stronger. Jay gave his best but there wasn't much more we could do." – Patxi Vila 

Accell North America releases new omnichannel program for independent bike dealers

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this industry update:

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — Late Thursday, Accell North America (Raleigh, Diamondback, Haibike, Ghost, Redline) unveiled a new omnichannel distribution program designed to entice brick-and-mortar dealers to fulfill online bike orders, while requiring the stores to carry few — or no — ANA bikes on their sales floor. The company said the program is in line with current shopping habits and market realities and will help IBDs modernize.

Accell North America is still in a restructuring phase triggered by the collapse of its sporting goods sales channel late last year, and it's no secret that its sales through the IBD channel have declined as well.

But ANA was a bit ahead of other major U.S. brands in developing a robust online bike sales program and has learned a few things from those sales. One lesson has been that an online sales program without an IBD (or mobile service) element is far from ideal.

“We’ve learned that the IBD is an integral part,” said Larry Pizzi, the head of sales for ANA and president of its e-bike business.

While ANA offers “Ready Ride” assembly for consumers who opt to have bikes delivered directly to their house, a bike in a box isn’t the best option for all bike buyers, Pizzi said. Maybe not even for most.

“For some people, like some enthusiasts of higher end bikes who have mechanical aptitude, it’s fine. But for the most part, it doesn’t work very well. It turns into a mediocre-at-best customer experience,” Pizzi said. “It’s sort of like the Ikea experience: For some people it’s OK, but for most people that’s a dreadful experience. So yes, we need a qualified retailer in the middle, be it mobile or brick and mortar.”

That’s a problem because ANA has lost dealers in recent years as the top tier brands have locked up sales floor space. While some ANA stores have made money assembling online bikes, many have complained that online discounts have continually devalued the bikes in their inventory. Many also point to frequent restructuring chaos at the company in recent years.

So the solution had to make it worthwhile for IBDs to fulfill ANA online orders in their stores, without requiring them to carry a lot of ANA inventory.

The new program offers brick-and-mortar dealers three entry points:

Tier 1 dealers are non-stocking IBDs who agree to assemble ANA bikes sold online in exchange for an $80 assembly fee plus a small percentage of the retail sale (3 to 7 percent, depending on price, with bikes over $1,500 earning the highest percentage).

Tier 2 dealers need to stock a minimum amount of ANA bikes on their floor — about $5,000 worth — and earn 25 percent for fulfilling an online bike order. There is no need for the dealers to stock the models that are sold online, so shops could stock bread-and-butter Raleigh and Diamondback bikes while fulfilling orders for the brands’ pricier offerings.

The third program ANA is offering IBDs is the opportunity to buy a Beeline mobile service franchise. ANA owns a significant share of Beeline and the company said the combination of a mobile and brick-and-mortar business is stronger than either on its own. Beeline’s online scheduling and appointment platform can be used to efficiently schedule work in stores as well as in vans, Pizzi noted. And brick-and-mortar dealers who add a mobile component can gain new bike and P&A customers while offering a new service to their existing customers, Pizzi said.

You can read the entire story here.

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