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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 6, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan

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2018 Tour de France teams presentation ceremony

We posted lots of photos of the Thursday event

Team Sky's Pre-Tour news

Since the Tour and the UCI have moved on regarding the Froome salbutamol case, so will we.

Here's Team Sky's pre-Tour Froome news:

Chris Froome is prepared for the ‘biggest challenge of his career’ as he targets his fifth Tour de France title and fourth consecutive Grand Tour victory.

Froome, the reigning Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia champion, is aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as a five-time Tour France winner, while also attempting to complete the Giro-Tour double.

Speaking at the team’s pre-Tour de France press conference, Froome admitted that he was moving into unchartered territories with the ambitious race programme, but was confident that the support of an ‘amazing’ team around him would.

He said: “This year’s race will be the biggest challenge of my career.

“It’s a huge goal for me to go for a fourth consecutive Grand Tour victory, and try to win a fifth Tour de France off the back of a Giro-Tour [schedule] that I’ve never done before.”

Team Sky’s lineup for this race features a blend of youth and experience, with seven of the riders involved having been part of a Grand Tour-winning team, combined with the less experienced, yet talented duo of Gianni Moscon and Egan Bernal, who will be making their Tour de France debuts.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome is attempting the Giro-Tour double, last accomplished by Marco Pantani in 1998.

Froome continued: “This is a complete unknown for me, I’ve got the support of an amazing team around me and obviously I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. There’s a balance of talent and a balance of experience with the guys around me.”

And despite the challenges of such a demanding 12 months leading into this race, the 33-year old believes his run of consecutive Grand Tour appearances, specifically last season’s success at the Tour de France followed immediately by the Vuelta, will be crucial this time round, adding: “Naturally, last year doing the Tour and the Vuelta back to back I learned a lot in terms of periodisation [with my training].

“I learned when to be recovering, when to be training hard and I’d like to think that’s put me in really good shape to be able to attempt the Giro-Tour double this year.”

Froome revealed that the planning for this race had been as meticulous as always, but conceded that the different blocks of racing will require varying skillsets that will test the mettle of the different ways.  

He concluded: “I think the first block [of the Tour] is very much a Classics-style block of racing and then we’ve got two very tough mountain blocks. One in the Alps, one in the Pyrenees and at any one of those points the race could change so I think we’re in for an exciting month ahead.”

Lotto-Soudal continues pre-Tour rider review

The team sent me this:

Yesterday André Greipel and the members of his sprint train looked ahead to the Tour de France, which starts in two days. Today it are Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczyński and Jelle Vanendert who talk about their ambitions and expectations.

Tiesj Benoot: “This will be my second Tour and I do feel differently than ahead of my Tour début last year. I now better know what to expect during those three weeks. That’s why I am now a bit more relaxed than I was a year ago.”

“I had a good preparation. I wasn’t at my best level yet at the Dauphiné and of course I hope to reach my peak condition at the Tour. I am aiming for stage wins. Last year I was twentieth overall, but I am not targeting a good GC this year. For me a stage win at the Tour is worth more than let’s say a fifteenth place overall. I have marked two stages ahead of the first rest day: the sixth stage with finish on Mûr de Bretagne and the ninth stage to Roubaix. And in the first week it’s of course our ambition to win with André Greipel in the sprint. After the second rest day, when we head into the mountains, I will take it day by day to see what’s possible for me on the following stages.”

Thomas De Gendt: “Last month I went to Italy, close to the Stelvio, for a few days of training at altitude. The day after I returned home, I took part in the Belgian Time Trial Championship and that went better than expected, with the second place as a result. During the road race three days later I felt good too. Although I did notice that I missed some race rhythm. In the first week of the Tour I’ll work for the team, because there are many sprint opportunities for André Greipel. During those stages I will get the race rhythm I lack. As of the second week I will try to join breakaways.”

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt having a good day at the 2018 Tour de Romandie

“There are more riders in our team who want to aim for a stage win by going in a breakaway. And that’s a good thing, we can help each other out. Last year there was a few times a large front group of about fifty riders. Once I was the only Lotto Soudal rider in it and another time I had three teammates with me. The difference was huge. When you are alone, you need to respond to all attacks for example. Winning a stage is my first goal, but when I’m part of a break I will definitely try to grab as many KOM points as possible. At the moment it’s not yet a goal to win the mountains classification, but that could become a goal. I’ll see in the third week where I stand in that classification and if I still have a chance of winning the polka dot jersey or of finishing on top three of that classification, I will be more strategic in choosing which day I’ll go in the break, depending on the number of KOM points that are up for grabs. The past years I got third and second in the KOM classification, so I definitely have a chance of winning, but then everything needs to fall into place.”

Tomasz Marczyński: “It’s an amazing feeling to be riding my first Tour de France. I had to wait twenty years, from when I started cycling till this season, to be taking part in the Tour. This is a really special moment for me. I’ really appreciate this opportunity the team gives me and the fact that they believe enough in me to let me take part in the biggest race of the year. I will try to pay them back for this during the Tour. I have spent a lot of days at altitude to prepare myself. Before the Dauphiné I already went two weeks on an altitude training camp and afterwards another fortnight. It all went well and I have done everything I could to be in the best shape.”

“As always I’ll work for the team. I’m a complete rider and I can do my job on all kinds of terrains and in all types of stages. In the finales of the sprint stages I will try to keep the sprint train together. In other stages I could help Tiesj Benoot for example who is about to ride his second Tour. If there’s an opportunity I’m definitely going to try and fight for a stage win myself, like I did in last year’s Vuelta where I won two stages. If I could win one Tour stage I would be more than happy. I will definitely race attractively, as I always do. I have not yet looked at the stages, I always wait till I receive the road book. Then I check which stages would suit me. Still, I take the race day by day and wait how I feel, but I’ll do my best as I’m used to do.”

Jelle Vanendert: “There are several reasons why I am back at the Tour after six years. First of all because I had such a good spring season. Then there’s the fact that the sprint train has been adapted throughout the years. In the past, the team often chose to select six to seven riders for that sprint train. In the meantime positioning has become more and more important in the Tour sprints. Finally, because there have been more and more riders with a free role in the team’s line-up the past years.”

“I really want to win a stage myself. If I can help a teammate to a stage victory I will do that too of course. I can take my chance in all stages that aren’t flat. Certain finishes are of course best suited for me.”

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