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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, January 29, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half. - Gore Vidal

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Jay McCarthy wins the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

McCarthy's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The fourth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race saw some of the toughest racing of the season so far. With the mercury hitting 40 degrees, conditions were testing, particularly during the last third of the course, which featured several short yet steep climbs. The race came down to the wire, with a small group of riders escaping in the final kilometres, and Jay McCarthy emerging victorious from this reduced group.

The Course:
Of the 164 km long route, the first 105 km took the riders through a large coastal loop around Barwon Heads, Torquay and Bells Beach, before heading back in the direction of Geelong and ending with three 16.7 km long laps of the finishing circuit in Geelong. The course, which bears similarity to the one which was used during the 2010 UCI Road World Championships, started out fairly flat, yet became gradually more challenging and undulating. The hilly parcours also featured the famed Challambra Crescent climb, a 900-metre long ascent with a maximum gradient of 22%, which the riders had to face a total of four times.

The Team Tactics:
Given how the last three editions of the race panned out, it was widely expected that the winner would come from a reduced group or even be a rider who managed to escape from a select group towards the finish. In the earlier part of the course around the coast, there were no climbs that were expected to be of sufficient difficulty to cause a split in the field. However, it was anticipated that the wind could potentially come into play between Barwon Heads and Bells Beach. One crucial point in the race was also likely to be the Challambra Crescent climb, which is where Peter Kennaugh made a decisive move in the 2016 edition of the race that arguably won him the day. For riders and their teams still in the mix at this point, it would be important to keep a watch on this crucial part of the race to avoid seeing their chances of victory slip away on the climb.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy wins the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race

The Race:
It was a day of fast-paced racing straight from the start. Right from the get-go, the attacks came thick and fast, with a select group of 5 riders escaping from the peloton. They worked together well and quickly built up a significant advantage within the first few kilometres of racing, with their lead stretching to 6:40 minutes at one point. After the chase was put on in earnest by the peloton, the gap was reduced to approximately 2 minutes with 25 km remaining. As the breakaway came closer to being caught, several riders jumped off the front of the peloton during the last 20 km, yet to no avail. The break was ultimately caught with 15km remaining. A small group of riders subsequently escaped from the bunch in the final few kilometres, with Jay McCarthy ultimately surpassing E. Viviani and D. Impey in the final stretch to take the win for BORA-hansgrohe at the end of a very testing and hot day in the saddle.

01 J. McCarthy         4:04:00
02 E. Viviani                +0:00
03 D. Impey                +0:00
04 D. Devenyns          +0:00
05 S. Gerrans             +0:00

From the Finish Line:
“In this race, everything went well. I was a bit disappointed with my performance at the Tour Down Under, but I came with confidence to Geelong and wanted to achieve a good result. It was good that Daniel was with me in the last kilometre. We had Chaves and Viviani on our heels and it motivated me to have a teammate there in the final. I’m really happy to end my racing in Australia in this way.” – Jay McCarthy

“This was a fantastic victory for BORA-hansgrohe, and of course for Jay, who unfortunately wasn’t able to climb on the podium at the Tour Down Under. He and the team worked exceptionally hard and today they received the success we had really hoped for. We are happy to leave Australia's shores with this additional win to our name.” – Steffen Radochla

Here's what Team Quick-Step Floors had to say about the Cadel Evans race:

Elia Viviani leaves Australia having shown he is ready for a big season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, the most recent result he got serving as testimony of his determination and good condition; runner-up in the Race Melbourne criterium three days ago, the 28-year-old speedster repeated that result Sunday at the fourth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (164 kilometers), the second World Tour appointment of the season.

The fourth edition of the spectacular one-day race had everything: a strong break which went clear early and established a seven-minute advantage that Fabio Sabatini together with the Mitchelton-Scott team kept under control, sweltering temperatures, a plethora of attacks on the Challambra circuit (16.8 kilometers) long before it came down to crunch time and an important move which fragmented the bunch on the last ascent, leaving only nine riders at the front.

Quick-Step Floors' Dries Devenyns – who was coming here off the back of a solid display in the Tour Down Under, where he flew under the radar and finished fifth overall – was part of the group that enjoyed a 14-second gap over the top of the climb and covered several attacks launched on the descent and on the flat section leading to the finish line, as he got news that the peloton, containing teammate Elia Viviani, was closing in.

With one kilometer to go, the chasers were still trailing the nine riders at the front, but eventually managed to make the catch, unfortunately for Elia, a few seconds too late, as the Italian – by far the fastest rider in that group – missed out on a second victory for Quick-Step Floors for less than a wheel, with Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe), one of the attackers, prevailing at the finish, on the Geelong Waterfront. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) rounded out the podium, while Dries Devenyns finished fourth, wrapping up the team's Australian season and moving to third place in the World Tour individual classification.

"The plan was for Dries to be our leader, and in case Elia would have survived the climb, to control the race for him. That's what we did and that's why Sabatini was pulling from the first kilometers. In the final, Dries was part of the group that surged clear over the top of Challambra, but we decided to play the card of Elia, which meant to try and bring back the group", sports director Rik Van Slycke explained. "Dries proved once again that he's in great form, closing down the attacks. With 700 meters left, it was all back together, but not without a big team effort. Unfortunately, the finish line came five meters too early for us. We are sad, but also motivated for the next races; it's only the start of the season and I'm confident that soon we'll smile again."

GP d'Ouverture - La Marseillaise report from Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert

Our Norwegian Odd Eiking did not miss his debut for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. In Grand Prix La Marseillaise (1.1) he gained a second spot. Together with Guillaume Martin the 23-year-old Eiking was part of the nine man break that fought for the victory. In the finals, with some difficult climbs, a lot of attacks occured. But the win in the South of France was decided in a sprint. In the sprint Eiking finished 2nd, closely behind Frenchman Alexandre Geniez. Guillaume Martin finished 5th. With Xandro Meurisse (12th), Tom Devriendt (16th) and Yoann Offredo (20th) five WGG riders finished top-20.

Alecandre Geniez

The race belongs to Alexandre Geniez

Odd Eiking: "With eight other riders, including Bardet, Gallopin and teammate Guillaume Martin, we made the decisive break. Riders were attacking the whole time. Guillaume and I understood each other well and took turns in reacting and attacking. "

"In the end, a sprint did decide for the victory, in which I was one wheel length behind winner Genize. This podium spot is in any case an excellent start of the season, although I would have preferred to give Wanty-Groupe Gobert a victory to start. "

"I have never started the season this strong. I feel very good and hope to improve that feeling in the coming weeks. The strong team performance (five riders in top-20) also gives confidence for the upcoming races. The Tour of Oman is my next race, Iin which I want to achieve a good general classification."

Challenge Illes Balears stage four team report

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

The last day of the Mallorca Challenge ended with another podium result for BORA – hansgrohe. After today´s breakaway was caught, the sprinter teams started their lead-out. BORA – hansgrohe worked very well together and brought Erik Baska in a good position. The young Slovakian sprinter showed again a great performance and finished second, some seconds behind of J. Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).  

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb gets his second win in Mallorca

The Stage:
The last day of the Mallorca Challenge was another stage for the sprinters, a flat route with two final circuits in front of Palma´s port. 160km awaited the peloton at today´s Trofeo Palma. One categorized climb (3rd category) and two intermediate sprints as well as two special sprint prizes were on the menu.

The Team Tactics:
The team wanted to go for their sprinters Michael Schwarzmann and Erik Baska. The goal was to concentrate on the final lead-out, especially to hit the front early enough to secure a good position on the last lap for one of the two sprinters.

The Race:
Right after the start, a group of 6 riders went up the road as the break of the day, their gap increased to over 5 minutes. After 100km of racing the peloton took over control and 40km before the finish, the breakaway was caught. On the final laps, the sprinter teams started to form their lead-out trains. Trek -Segafredo wanted to win another stage at the Mallorca Challenge, therefore they increased the pace on the last lap. BORA – hansgrohe was able to go with them and stayed on their wheels. J. Degenkolb sprinted to his second win at the Mallorca Challenge, just some seconds ahead of the young BORA – hansgrohe sprinter Erik Baska. 

01       J. Degenkolb          3:47:29
02       E. Baska                  + 0:00
03       C. Vermeltfoort        + 0:00
29       L. Pöstlberger          +0:04

From the Finish Line:
“Erik showed once again that he is in good shape. The team worked together, brought him in a good position for the final sprint. You can see, the team is on a good level in that early part of the season. We are satisfied with our performance here in Mallorca.” André Schulze, sports director 

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