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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 9, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It's all make believe, isn't it? - Marilyn Monroe

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage two team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the stage results.

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

After being so narrowly beaten to the top spot on yesterday’s opening stage of the Tour de France, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, wasn’t going to be denied today. In a final 2km that saw a crash split the peloton, taking out some of the Tour’s big name sprinters, Peter was ably supported by his BORA-hansgrohe teammates to take the victory in a reduced bunch sprint. Taking his first stage win of the 2018 edition of the race, the Slovak rider was propelled not only into the lead in the points race, but he became the first BORA-hansgrohe rider to wear the prestigious Maillot Jaune of race leader

The Stage:
For stage 2 of the Tour de France, riders were taken on a tour of the Vendée department. While the start in Mouilleron-Saint-Germain and the finish in La Roche-sur-Yon were separated by only 50km of road, the race would head north before looping back around for the finale, making a total of 182.5km. The King of the Mountains points would be settled early on in the day, with an easy fourth category climb in the first 30km, but with the remainder of the day being flat, it was to be a second day where the faster riders would look to control the race and take the finale.

The Team Tactics:
While further inland than yesterday’s stage, today would still see the possibility of the peloton being affected by winds from the Atlantic – especially towards the later parts of the day. For those looking to take the win, this would mean keeping safe in the bunch and not allowing the day’s excitement to affect them. Having taken second on yesterday’s opener, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would be aiming to take advantage of a slightly more undulating final kilometre, but with a challenging final few kilometres and high speeds expected, the BORA-hansgrohe riders would be working hard to keep the Slovak rider safe in the finale. Having finished strongly with the bunch yesterday, Rafał Majka would again aim to keep out of the mayhem of the sprint and arrive safely today.

The Race:
The day started with a group of three going on the attack and leaving the peloton in their wake, taking 1:30 in less than 10km of racing, but after the categorised climb had been conquered, two of the trio dropped off, leaving just one rider in the escape. Unperturbed, this solo rider pushed on, building the lead to 4:30 before the peloton started their efforts to draw him back in. With 50km remaining, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was first in the bunch to take the points in the intermediate sprint, and this surge in pace reduced the break’s lead even more. With the peloton approaching the final 10km the catch was made and the sprint teams took their place on the front of the peloton. The red and white stripes of Austrian National Champion, Lukas Pöstlberger, headed up the bunch, with the BORA-hansgrohe riders massing to protect Peter Sagan through the twists and turns of the last 5km, Marcus Burghardt and Daniel Oss riding close behind. A huge crash with 2km to go split the bunch, taking out some of the big names and leaving just 14 riders to contest the sprint. Staying out of trouble, there were three BORA-hansgrohe riders in this group, including Peter, who kicked hard, found space and once he had clean air in front of him, the stage was his. The Slovak rider took his first stage victory of the 2018 Tour de France, BORA-hansgrohe’s third Tour de France stage win and the Maillot Jaune for the second time in his career and was the first rider in the team’s history to wear the coveted Yellow Jersey.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan just wins stage two. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"I’m really happy for today and I have to say a really big thank you to my BORA-hansgrohe teammates because they rode on the front for the last 30km and kept me safe in the finale. I expected the last few kilometres to be a bit easier, but it was really tough – up and down, left and right, before climbing again. I think starting the sprint later was better for me today Démare started with Degenkolb and I overtook them but I was really lucky Colbrelli didn’t get the jump on me. I’m very happy to take the Yellow Jersey today – both for me and for my team – it’s the first Yellow Jersey for the BORA-hansgrohe team and I wouldn’t be wearing it if it weren’t for them. I’m very happy to have so many fans, friends and family here. My father is here, as well as my friends from Žilina – my home town – and I want to dedicate my victory to my son, Marlon." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

"The team worked brilliantly today, from 50km out we pulled at the front, we pushed hard and we regrouped in the last km. We did a good leadout and that crazy guy Peter finished the hard sprint with a victory. It's so good taking the first ever yellow jersey for BORA-hansgrohe, today – it’s a historic day. We are going to celebrate this victory a little bit tonight. It's a special day for the team. We are then going to take this race day by day. We achieved our first goal – a stage win – and we now go forward.” – Marcus Burghardt

"Today presented another chance to us and the team did, once again, a great job. We expected some crashes in this tricky final and moved up early. This proved to be important as we were able to avoid the last crash. Peter started his sprint early and it was really close in the end, but he proved to be the champion we know him for and in the end, everything turned out perfect." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

"I watched the final kilometre in the team bus. It was a thrilling finale but we took the win and our first yellow jersey in the team's history. This is a very special moment for everybody at BORA-hansgrohe, but we‘ll stay focused as this stage win was just our first goal. We also aim at the green jersey and a top 5 overall finish for Rafał." – Ralph Denk, Team Manager 

Fernando Gaviria started stage two in yellow. Here's the report from his Quick-Step team:

Stage 2 of the Tour de France was again an eventful one, as the peloton left behind Mouilleron-Saint-Germain for a flat 182.5km-long trek to La Roche-sur-Yon, a town located in the heart of the Vendée department and last visited in the '30s, when it was the start venue of the first ever individual time trial in the Grand Boucle.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria heads to the start line with lots of yellow.

Tim "El Tractor" Declercq slotted again into his role of breakaway killer minutes after Sylvain Chavanel (Direct-Energie), Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) slipped away into a move which gained only three minutes by the time they arrived at the top of the day's sole classified climb. Smith took the only point on offer, and soon after, both he and Gogl slowed down, leaving Chavanel in the lead, whose four-minute advantage was steadily pegged back by Declercq and Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Niki Terpstra, who pulled back the Frenchman after passing through the second intermediate sprint, where Philippe Gilbert bagged two bonus seconds.

Once again, Quick-Step Floors did a perfect job in bringing Gaviria to the front of the bunch and thinning out the pack with their brutal pace, but bad luck prevented the 23-year-old from fighting for another win, after being held behind a crash which took place in a tight right-hander. In the hectic finale that unfolded and was won by Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), it became impossible for the team to regroup, so all we could take out of this stage was Gilbert's tenth place on the uphill stretch to the finish.

The incident resulted in Fernando losing the lead in both the overall and points classification, but he still found reasons to smile, as he retained the prestigious white jersey, awarded to the best young rider in the race, while Quick-Step Floors continue to top the team standings, a result which means our squad will be among the last to start Monday's 35km TTT in Cholet.

"Getting to spend even one day in the beautiful yellow was a fantastic and overwhelming experience which made me very happy. We would have liked to keep the jersey, but things are as they are and fortunately we escaped that crash-marred finale without any injuries. I am disappointed for not having the chance to sprint, but I still have the white jersey and will now go to the hotel together with my teammates and get a good rest before the team time trial. We know it will be a difficult test, the TTT always is, but we are really confident and hope to produce a good result", explained Fernando after Sunday's stage.

Richie Porte's BMC team sent me this:

8 July, 2018, La Roche-sur-Yon (FRA): A strong day of teamwork from BMC Racing Team helped guide Richie Porte through what ended up being another hectic day of racing at the Tour de France with the team's leader crossing the line safely behind stage 2 winner, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).

It was a similar story to stage 1 at the start of today's race with three riders attacking almost immediately and opening up an advantage that was edging towards the three-minute mark after just 20km of racing.

Fernando Gaviria, the race leader at the start of the day, and his Quick-Step Floors teammates quickly took control of the pace behind and going over the top of the only categorized climb, the Côte de Pouzauges, after 28km of racing, the time gap had been brought under control.

However, the breakaway split shortly after the KOM with Sylvan Chavanel (Team Direct Énergie) going solo at the front of the race and extending his lead out to almost four minutes while the rest of the early breakaway was swept up by the main bunch.

A mechanical for Porte with 129km to go didn't faze the Australian rider or his teammates, who reacted quickly to bring him back into the peloton as Chavanel continued to push his lead out to 4'25" over the rest of the field.

The BMC Racing Team train led by Michael Schär and Patrick Bevin was sitting up at the front of the main bunch going past the 100km to go mark and was well-positioned as the chase started to pick up.

Porte's teammates continued to sit around him heading into the final 60km of the day as a momentary lull in pace at the front of the peloton saw Chavanel's advantage, which had previously started to fall, go back out to over 4'30".

Chavanel's advantage eventually fell to less than two minutes with 42km to go and with a hectic and nervous chase reignited behind, he was finally caught with 13.5km to go.

From there, the intense pace being set neutralized the opportunity for any late attacks and in the end, the bunch was all together as it flew past the crucial 3km to go mark.

A crash on a tight corner with less than 2km to go forced a split in the bunch with a small group going on to fight for the stage win which was eventually claimed by Sagan who also moved into the yellow jersey.

After a strong display of teamwork throughout the day, Porte and the rest of his BMC Racing Team teammates crossed the line safely in the peloton just behind the front group, finishing on the same time as Sagan.

Quotes From the Finish Line:

Richie Porte:
"It was a super fast stage today. It was on pretty much all day and the pace being set was blistering. But, my teammates did a great job. They kept me in a good position right from the start and we were able to stay out of trouble and avoid the crash in the final so it was all good. The focus now turns to tomorrow's team time trial and I think we have one of the strongest teams here so hopefully we can take back some time."

Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"The guys did a good job today. Everyone was working well. On these two stages before the team time trial, we also wanted to save some energy to be good for tomorrow but this morning we discussed that we couldn't lose anymore time and it was better to spend some extra energy to make sure that Richie was safe. That's exactly what we did today."

Team time trials are one of our specialties. We like racing them and we perform well so tomorrow we are going to go all in."

Chris Froome's & Geraint Thomas' Team Sky had this to say about the stage:

The Team Sky riders narrowly avoided a pile-up in the final kilometre in La Roche-sur-Yon, and despite having to check up in avoidance they finished without time loss thanks to the three-kilometre rule.

Thomas had bagged himself a one-second time bonus at the late intermediate sprint in Saint-Florent-des-Bois, elevating the Welshman into the top 10 overall, 15 seconds back on the new race leader.

That honour belonged to Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who claimed victory from a select bunch sprint, with a number of fast men side-lined by the late crash.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome had some bandages covering his wounds from his stage one crash.

Team Sky had taken up the pace on the run-in, with Jonathan Castroviejo, Luke Rowe, Gianni Moscon and Michal Kwiatkowski combining to drill it into the final kilometres. Froome finished on the wheel of his team-mates and sits 1:07 back on Sagan heading into Monday’s key team time trial.

After the stage Thomas stressed the importance of getting through safely. He said: "That was the main thing, trying to stay out of trouble. It was even more nervous than yesterday and after what happened everyone was thinking about that. Everyone wanted to be even more far forward and it was pretty dodgy out there. Fortunately we rode well as a team and stayed out of trouble.

"With that bonus second we were there and nobody seemed to be going for it. So I said 'oh I'll have it then'. Gilbert went and nobody else seemed to follow. It didn't take any effort and you're not going to turn down a second."

Jolien D'Hoore delivers the perfect sprint in Giro-Rosa stage three

D'Hoore's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this race report:

The 'Belgian bullet' Jolien D'Hoore took a convincing sprint victory today on a hot, flat third stage at the Giro-Rosa.

Before the race, the 28-year-old had picked out today's stage as a potential opportunity to take an early stage win and went on to deliver the goods, crossing the line in Corbetta with almost a bike length between herself and the rest. With eight completely flat laps of 16kilometres around the city, today's stage was made for the sprinters.

A technical final three kilometres run in to the finish made for a nervous day, but Mitchelton-SCOTT remained calm and prepared themselves for the final, checking the course each time they passed the finish line.

After three and a half laps of racing, three riders jumped away ahead of the bunch and opened up a steady advantage. The teams kept the trio within striking distance, never allowing them to get more than a two minute advantage.

As the trio entered the final lap, the tension in the peloton caused the pace to lift and the leaders' gap drop down under one minute. The catch was finally made in the last three kilometres, Sarah Roy then made a big effort for one kilometre to keep D'hoore up towards the front and in a good position.

After missing out yesterday in the sprint, the D'hoore was motiveded to get things right today and surfed the wheels through the final kilometre before launching to a convincing victory, ahead of second place Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High5).

Jolien D'Hoore

D'Hoore takes stage three of the Giro Rosa.

Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) now moves into the overall race leader after three stages.

Jolien D'Hoore - Stage 3 winner:
"It was a flat stage so we decided within the team that today was for me and I was really happy it was a sprint in the end.

"In the Giro-Rosa it is always nervous in the bunch, today everybody was expecting a bunch sprint so it was fairly easy, but on the last lap it was pretty hectic again.

"Everybody knew how the finish was but it was still crazy, everybody was taking many risks. There were a lot of crashes but I was able to stay safe and I just found my way through the bunch, I guess that is thanks to being a track rider.

"I came into the last corner in around fifth position, so I actually had to go from that position otherwise it was too late. It was a really long sprint but I managed to hold it until the finish line.

"It was great today that we could also keep our GC riders safe and up there and then of course I am happy to win and it is good for the morale for the team. I just had to believe in myself and just had to say myself that I could do it and that is what I did. Sometimes it is that simple, it is all in the head.

"Now we are all in for the GC again and hopefully we can make it until the end."

Giro-Rosa stage 3 results:
1. Jolien D'Hoore (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:15
2. Kirsten Wild (Wiggle-High5) ST
3. Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) ST

General classification after stage 3:
1. Leah Kirchmann (Team Sunweb) 6:56
2. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) +0:05
3. Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) +0:09

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