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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 14, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it. - Mae West

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage seven team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Dylan Groenewegen's LottoNL-Jumbo team:

Dylan Groenewegen has won the seventh stage in the Tour de France in an impressive way. The 25-year-old sprinter of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was superior during the bunch sprint in Chartres.

For Groenewegen, it’s his second stage victory ever in the Tour de France. Last year, he won at the Champs-Élysées in Paris. It’s Groenewegen’s tenth victory of the season and it’s the twenty-first for Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

In the longest stage of the Tour de France, the wait was long for the final sprint. Groenewegen was perfectly positioned by Paul Martens, Amund Grondahl Jansen and Timo Roosen. He timed his sprint superbly and won it in a superior way. Robert Gesink and Antwan Tolhoek did a great job too by keeping control in the peloton.

Dylan Gorenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen is the day's fastest rider.

“Finally”, Groenewegen sighed. “In the first two stages, I didn’t have enough power in my legs. But I felt that it improved every day. In the fourth stage, my timing was wrong, but I felt good. Compared to last year, I feel more pressure now. The fact that I’m winning the stage here is beyond great. The team did a very good job today and I’m grateful for the confidence that I get from the team. I positioned myself in Kristoff’s wheel and with two hundred metres to go I thought: this is the moment. This really gives a lot of confidence for the coming stages.”

GC leader Greg van Avermaet's BMC team sent me this update:

13 July, 2018, Chartres (FRA): Tour de France stage 7 was the longest of the race with the peloton taking on a 231km course from Fougères to Chartres that eventually came down to a bunch sprint and saw Greg Van Avermaet extend his overall race lead at the end of the first week.

Unlike previous stages, the breakaway took a long time to form with a couple of early moves, including one involving Simon Gerrans, trying to go clear before eventually, Yoann Offredo (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) began a solo mission after 35km of racing. The lone leader steadily began to build up an advantage that was sitting at over nine minutes after 65km of racing but at the same time, the sprinters' teams began to organize themselves behind to regain control of the stage.

Heading over the top of the day's only categorized climb, the Côte du Buisson de Perseigne, and into the second half of the stage, the peloton had pulled Offredo back to a manageable four minutes.

Crosswinds once again caused nerves in the bunch with the peloton splitting just after the 100km to go mark. BMC Racing Team was well-positioned in the front group when the race heated up but in the end, the split was short lived and the peloton came back together around 5km later.

What the subsequent increase in pace did do however was seriously damage the advantage of Offredo and with the gap falling quickly, he was caught and the race hit the reset button with 90km still to race.

BMC Racing Team continued to sit up at the front of the main bunch as a second solo attack, this time from Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), went up the road 10km later. Pichon's advantage was kept in check and never allowed to reach far beyond two minutes before he was finally reeled in ahead of a bonus sprint with 31km to go that saw Van Avermaet led out by his teammates to add three seconds to his overall race lead.

The peloton was spread out across the width of the road heading into the final 15km of the stage however with a bunch sprint on the horizon, the pace started to intensify and the battle for position began inside the final 10km.

A technical section with a tight corner between 2km to go and the flamme rouge had the potential to cause upset but the whole bunch was able to get through safely and headed onto the final uphill drag to the line at full speed.

Ultimately, it was Dylan Groenewegen (Team Lotto-NLJumbo) who was the fastest to the line and he took the day's honors while behind, Van Avermaet finished safely alongside the rest of his teammates to secure a fifth day in the yellow jersey, six seconds ahead of the next-placed rider. After being protected all day, Porte remains 11th overall while van Garderen continues to sit third heading into stage 8 tomorrow.

Greg van Avermaet

Van Avermaet finished 16th, safely in the front group.

Quotes From the Finish Line:

Greg Van Avermaet:
"It was a pretty calm day but you still had to be focused as guys tried twice to force echelons and that made it kind of nervous but overall, it was a good day. It was a long day and it was a little bit more relaxed but with a really fast final. I am happy I could take those three extra seconds in the bonus sprint. It was an open sprint with nobody in front so it was good to give it a try and take some seconds to make sure I am safe for the next stage. Now, I can probably keep the jersey to Roubaix and overall it's been a nice week so far."

"Tomorrow is going to be flat but shorter than today and I think it is going to have the same outcome. I feel like I can focus on Sunday and try to be up there and we will see what happens."

Richie Porte:
"It's been a good start to the race so far. Today was the longest stage at 231km and not a lot happened but it was pretty frantic there in the final. I think as a whole, it's nice to get to where we are, in the position that we have with Greg going into a fifth day in the yellow jersey tomorrow."

Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"The Tour has been going well for us so far. We're at the end of the first week and having the yellow jersey keeps our motivation. Up until now, we haven't spent too much energy and even better, we haven't had to spend too much energy to keep Richie up at the front. The stage into Roubaix on Sunday is the last technical point in the first part of the race."

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

Riding 231km in a day is a superhuman effort, but to ride that distance after six hard days of racing and more than 1,000km of riding in your legs before sprinting hard at the end of the day is something else. Today, on the Tour de France’s longest day, the sprinters did exactly that. After controlling the pace for the final 30km, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were working hard to bring the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, into position to contest the sprint, but some twists, turns and an uphill kick meant the Slovak rider was just unable to take his third win of the Tour, finishing the day in 3rd and retaining his Maillot Vert once again, as the race neared the end of its first week of racing. In the GC standings, Rafał Majka finished safely in the bunch to keep hold of his 9th position in the GC.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan will start stage eight in green.

The Stage
The longest stage of this year’s edition of the Tour de France, at 231km, was really going to put the hurt into the riders. After a week of hard riding on increasingly difficult roads, the efforts had really begun to show, with crashes and retirements reducing the field, as well as riders finding out who was on form and who wasn’t. This long and undulating route, which headed east from Fougères to Chartres, included only one fourth category climb, followed nearly 50km later by the intermediate sprint and then the day’s bonifications. A flat finale suggested the sprinters would be going for the win, but would anyone have the legs after such a long day both to up the pace in the finale and still kick hard to take the stage win?

The Team Tactics
On such a long stage, it would be hard to predict the day’s outcome, and as a result, much of the team’s tactics would be to keep a close eye on how the day unfolded and respond accordingly. The flat finale meant a sprint finish was highly likely, and so in addition to delivering the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, to the intermediate sprint, in the final 30km it would be up to the BORA-hansgrohe riders to force the pace and make sure the Slovak rider reached the finish safely and with the legs to contest the win. Having moved up to 9th in the GC and with the overall race about to hot up, Rafał Majka would need the team’s support to protect him in the chaos of the sprint.

The Race
It took some time for the break to form today, and with good reason, since whoever went on the attack would more than likely be staying out on the front much of the day – if not the whole distance. Two solo attacks quickly gave up, clearly not relishing the idea of a day on their own, only for the first of the two to go off alone again, this time with a little more than 190km remaining. In spite of being on his own, this brave rider built up an advantage of nine minutes, but the peloton wasn’t overly concerned with so much of the day remaining. For the second day, winds saw the peloton break into echelons, but this didn’t stop the bunch making the catch with 90km remaining. Another attack came to nothing, however, as the sprint teams had decided to stake their claim on the stage and once again, with 40km remaining, it was back together for what would be the last time – the sprint teams making certain of that.

On the front, BORA-hansgrohe were keeping order, with Daniel Oss, Maciej Bodnar, Marcus Burghardt and Pawel Poljanski keeping the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, safe. Pulling hard on the front, the familiar teal, black and white jerseys swamped the head of the peloton as the final kilometres raced by, with the red and white strips of Austrian National Champion, Lukas Pöstlberger leading Peter’s sprint train. Some final twists and turns saw the bunch thrown left and right as the fast men began to kick, but while Peter pushed hard, he was just unable to get in the front, crossing the line in third spot after almost six hours in the saddle.

From the Finish Line
"As expected, we had a fast finishing sprint today. The guys had done an excellent job all day and they were perfect in the final kilometres to put me in position for the finale. I took third and I'm pleased with my performance and my form. I said it before, it's a long Tour de France and we will fight for our chances every day." –Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

"I think that yesterday’s effort took its toll on Peter and he had to pay the price a bit in the final kilometre. Groenewegen looked fresher and deserved the win. Once again, our team did a great job. They put Peter in a perfect spot, while at the same time they impeccably protected Rafa in the final 10km. We took again important points for the green jersey, so I think we can be quite happy with stage 7. Tomorrow will be another opportunity for the sprinters and afterwards, the race will change." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

And here's the stage seven report from Team Sky:

Geraint Thomas was happy to come through the longest stage of the Tour de France unscathed as both he and Chris Froome finished in the peloton on stage seven with Dylan Groenewegen winning a bunch sprint.

The longest stage of this year’s race, a 231km test from Fougeres to Chartres meant nearly six hours in the saddle, but Thomas was pleased he came through a tough finish, which featured a twisty, technical final.

He remains second overall, with Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) leading the race by six seconds having picked up a time bonus at the final intermediate sprint, but the Welshman is relaxed heading into a pivotal weekend in the race. 

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas (shown finishing stage six) is only six seconds behind van Avermaet in the GC.

He said: “It was a bit nervous [early on] as a few teams tried [to attack] in the crosswinds, but there was no real wind and the final was super fast and super stressful, but it’s another day done. This week, It would have been nice to wear the yellow jersey, but another day tomorrow and then the cobbles and a nice rest day.”

Saturday’s stage looks to be another for the sprinters, and Thomas alluded to the cobbles that will be the main feature of stage nine’s finale in Roubaix, which may be crucial.

He added: “When you ride Roubaix, everyone wants to be there, where there’s all shapes and sizes here [there will be] a lot of nervous people, but we’ve got a good team so I think we’ll be alright.

“I think it will be full gas from the start and obviously there will be mishaps and bad luck and hopefully we can stay out of trouble at the front like we’ve been doing.”

Annemiek van Vleuten remains Giro Rosa leader

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Yesterday's Giro-Rosa stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten finished safely in the chasing group on today's eighth stage to remain in the Maglia Rosa with two stages remaining.

A group of three riders escaped in the final kilometres of the 126kilometre day, with Marianna Vos (WaowDeals) taking the stage win, whilst van Vleuten and stage six winner Amanda Spratt crossed the line in the chase group, 23seconds behind to remain in a good position overall, heading into tomorrow's Queen stage.

The stage was aggressive from the beginning with multiple attacks in the first half as riders tried to breakaway, hoping to take an opportunistic stage win. The first climb came after approximately 20kilometres, and with a hard pace, the main peloton split into two groups leaving 70riders in the front of the race.

Starting the day in first and second place overall, the two Mitchelton-SCOTT leaders worked to stay out of trouble throughout the day with teammate Gracie Elvin by their side, working to keep things under control.

It was on the final descent with eight kilometres to go when a trio of riders, Vos, Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5) and Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) jumped away and held a big enough gap to contest the stage victory.

Van Vleuten heads into tomorrow's penultimate stage with a two minute 29second advantage over her closest rival on GC with Spratt slipping down to fourth just two seconds off the podium.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten (shown in the 2017 Giro Rosa) remains the GC leader.

Tomorrow the riders face the monstrous Monte Zoncolan, a 10.1kilometre climb in the Carnic Alps with an elevation of 1,750 metres, an average gradient of 11.9% and a maximum gradient of 22%.

The climb was used men's Giro d'Italia earlier this year and five times previously and the women's race returns to the climb for the second time in history after a first appearance back in 1997.

Annemiek van Vleuten - Race leader
"There's never an easy day in the Giro-Rosa but we were in control again today and we had Gracie Elvin with us in the front, so I felt pretty comfortable and it was a good day for our team.

"After yesterday, I feel confident for the Zoncolan. I think it is less stressful than a day like today so I really look forward to the climb. I take the race day by day so we will have a talk about our tactics for the next days and I know the Zoncolan very well."

Amanda Spratt - 4th overall
"We were actually quite happy to let a group go today with people further down on GC, but we didn't want a really big group going. Gracie did an awesome job of monitoring that and I also did quite a lot of work to be in any groups with people higher up on GC, so Annemiek didn't really have to do anything today.

"We just aimed to be there up the final climb and save ourselves to the finish so I think it was a good day in the end. The three riders got away on the descent, we got to the bottom and I was swapping off with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla), then we heard Gracie was coming back so we waited for her and she just got on the front and conrtolled the gap for as long as she could. The group wasn't really a threat for us so it was ok today."

Giro-Rosa stage 8 results:

1. Marianna Vos (WaowDeals) 3:06
2. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5) ST
3. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) ST

General classification after stage 8:

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 19:32
2. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) +2:29
3. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) +2:51

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