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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 14, 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

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. - R. Buckminster Fuller

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:

Tour de Suisse Stage five team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the update from GC leader Richie Porte's BMC team:

Sticky Buns Across America

13 June, 2018, Leukerbad (SUI): The Tour de Suisse leader's jersey changed from the shoulders of one BMC Racing Team rider to another when Richie Porte inherited the overall lead from Stefan Küng after the summit finish on stage 5.

Starting the day in third place, three seconds behind Küng, Porte crossed the line in the main group that managed to catch the late attack from Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) just before the line.

With three categorized climbs, two category one and one hors categorie climb, over 155km, the battle for the breakaway was on from kilometer zero and lasted more than 60km until finally, a six-rider group went clear. The peloton allowed the group to go three minutes down the road on the long flat stretch between the first two climbs, but at the foot of the penultimate climb Küng suffered an untimely puncture and was forced to time trial his way back to close the one-minute gap.

Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) attacked from the breakaway approaching the final 40km and at the summit of the hors categorie climb, Warbasse had a 2'10" advantage over the peloton, led by Greg Van Avermaet at the front of the BMC Racing Team train.

At the foot of the final climb to Leukerbad, Alessandro De Marchi led the chase and brought Warbasse to within 45 seconds and just a handful of riders remained in between Warbasse and the bunch including Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) who attacked and overtook Warbasse with 12km remaining.

Van Avermaet resumed his duties at the front of the reduced peloton and with 10km to go, Calmejane's advantage was down to 24 seconds. Landa attacked 6km before the finish line at which point Küng pulled off and Tejay van Garderen put in a big effort in the strong headwind, with Porte in his wheel, to close in on Landa approaching the final few kilometers of racing.

Van Garderen kept Landa, who started the day 33 seconds behind Porte, within reach and under the flamme rouge, Landa was just 15 seconds ahead of the select General Classification group.

Attacks from Porte's group saw Landa caught just meters before the line which allowed Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) to take the stage win, while Porte crossed the line in eighth place to move into the race lead.

Porte has a 20-second advantage over Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) with four stages remaining.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte is the new GC leader. Sirotti photo

Richie Porte:
"The team was absolutely superb. They were fantastic all day. It was a hectic start and we covered the first 100km super quick and I don't think it was an easy day for anyone. It may not have looked really hard in the final there but we went hard. All of the guys did their part today and I am so happy to have the jersey and keep it in the team. I think when you have such a hard start it's not easy to get going and it wasn't an easy day. So, let's see what the peloton has in store for us tomorrow."

"I didn't expect it to be as hard at the start. We knew it would be difficult but we got to the top and guys were still attacking. Then, we were then going absolutely full gas down into the valley. I think full credit to our team. They controlled it well."

"I think I have pretty good form and I think the proper mountain stages will suit me better than today and maybe even tomorrow but I am just happy to be back racing and to have good form. It wasn't a simple day but this jersey is all credit to my team today. It's our DS Fabio Baldato's 50th birthday today so delivering another jersey was the big plan today."

Stefan Küng:
"We expected a fast start and it was quite ok for us because in the end, a lot of riders kind of killed themselves and it was a good breakaway for us with no riders who were really dangerous in there. We started to pick up the pace and a rider hit my back wheel at the beginning of the Montana climb so I had to wait for the car to get a wheel so I had to close that one minute gap, which for sure cost me a lot of energy which maybe I was missing in the end. So, that was a bit unfortunate."

"I didn't know the final climb and after I dropped off it started to flatten out a little bit. I didn't expect to be wearing the yellow jersey coming into this stage so I wasn't as prepared as you are when you are going for the GC and things like punctures you can't afford if you are not a pure climber. I have to be happy with four days in the yellow jersey. Now, Richie is in yellow so we will try to do our best to help him win this race."

Stage winner Diego Ulissi's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

Within minutes of each other, UAE Team Emirates celebrates twice.

Diego Ulissi took control of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse, winning on the uphill in Leukerbad ahead of a small group of 15 riders. From 300 metres out, he charged and won for the 30th time in his career – his first in 2018.

Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) placed second and Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) third. Ulissi moved up the overall, sitting now in eighth at 40 seconds from the new race leader Richie Porte (BMC Racing).

“Today’s win carries much weight, the Tour de Suisse is a prestigious race and it makes me proud to win here” Ulissi said. “I was able to come out of the Giro d’Italia with good condition, I remained concentrated knowing that in Switzerland I’d have stages suited to my characteristics. The stage today was one of those, and I pulled it off.

The race was hard, in the end, I was worried about not catching Mikel Landa, who shot out quite early, but luckily, I closed in on him and kept my speed.
I’m going to try to keep fighting all the way through the end of the Tour de Suisse given that on the climbs I feel good and in the time trial I can defend myself”.

Diego Ulissi

Diego Ulissi looks back as the leaders approach the line. Sirotti photo

Simone Consonni sprinted perfectly to earn his first professional win.

The 23-year-old Italian sprinter took charge of the first stage of the Tour of Slovenia, from Lendava to Murska Sabota, 159 km. He avoided two crashes in the last kilometre and topped Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) on the line.

“What joy, finally! I was waiting for this moment for some time” Consonni said. “I was talking with my girlfriend before leaving to this race, that I miss the feeling that you get only when you cross the line first. I knew that I could do it, it was only a question of time. I want to thank the UAE Team Emirates staff and teammates to have helped me and gave me the possibility to play my hand.

"Today was hard and I was lucky. There are high-level sprinters here, from the WorldTour, even if this is not a top race. This morning, looking at the sprinters on the line, I was impressed and I knew that I felt good. I was smart in the sprint, I preferred not to hold my spot at all costs in the last curve. Everyone was there, but I was able to keep my speed through the curve that served to launch myself in the final metres. I was using Bonifazio and Pelucchi as my reference point, and I passed them. Now I just want to live in this moment, and enjoy all I can the victory“.

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

As the Tour de Suisse moved into the big mountains, the GC race was starting to take shape and a big shake-up of the overall standings was expected at the end of the stage. With three big climbs on this difficult day at high altitude, including the first Hors Catégorie of the race, it was going to be a dramatic change in terrain. Gregor Mühlberger was the first BORA-hansgrohe rider to cross the finish line and although he didn’t have the legs to follow when the GC riders went on the attack, there are still two more days in the mountains to fight for. In the points race, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, retained his black jersey.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan remains in black. Sirotti photo.

The Stage
Stage 5 was classed as a mountain stage, and the race organisers had made sure the riders knew it from the very first kilometre. The first 15km of the stage’s 156km parcours were made up of the first category Col du Pillon, putting the riders into the red instantly. There would be some respite with a fast downhill followed by 60km of relative flatness, but in a race like the Tour de Suisse, even the flat sections are full-on, and riders would also be well aware that further up the road, the race’s first Hors Catégorie climb was waiting for them – the Montana – 13km long and with a maximum gradient of 9%. As if that wasn’t enough, the final climb of the day would see riders taken on almost 20km of first category climbing into the finish in Leukerbad.

The Team Tactics
The flat finales of the first three road stages had meant the time gaps in the yellow jersey race were small, but today the difficult climbs and summit finish meant the GC contenders would be looking to make an impact today. As the first big mountain stage, it remained to be seen who was going to be strong, so the plan today was to keep an eye on the favourites and to respond as the day unfolded. Even if riders looked fresh on the first two climbs, there was no telling who would have the strength to go on the attack on the long final ascent, and there would be two more days on which to make up any time lost today. While Gregor Mülhberger and Patrick Konrad would be keeping an eye on their GC rivals, Konrad had raced hard at the Giro d’Italia, and would be tired from his efforts there.

The Race
In a marked difference from the previous road stages, the breakaway was slow to form. While on the previous three days, the escape was made almost at the drop of the flag, it took some 60km for riders to make their escape last. With the BORA-hansgrohe riders working to make the move, it was clear the peloton didn’t want to risk having such strong riders going up the road, with the German National Champion, Marcus Burghardt, the first to make the move, only to be brought back, before Daniel Oss finally made things stick, joined by five others. This group worked together well to build a lead of three minutes, and this was when the race came to life, with riders making the jump from the peloton as other riders attacked off the front of the breakaway group. After the first 120km of the race passed by in a flash – the result of relentless attacking and counter-attacking – the pace slowed drastically for the day’s final climb. The peloton first mopped up the bulk of the break, including Daniel, leaving just one rider ahead, but it was clear from the size of the bunch that there was a lot of ambition and this rider was caught with 7km remaining, followed instantly by attacks from the bunch. When the dust settled, one rider was left up the road, but the peloton knew what they were doing, making the catch with 200m remaining. Gregor Mühlberger was the first BORA-hansgrohe rider to cross the line, and would look to try his chances on the remaining two hard mountain stages to come.

"Our plan for today's stage was to work for Patrick Konrad and Gregor Mühlberger so that they tried their chances on the final climb to Leukerbad. They gave their best and fought to stay with the leading group but, unfortunately, it wasn't to be their day. They weren't able to follow the pace set by the riders at the front. Gregor was about a minute down from the winner of the stage and Patrick further back. That's racing, we now focus on the coming stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Dutch Government invests additional 100 million Euros in cycling

Bike Europe sent me this wonderful news.  If only it were about the U.S.

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands – To promote cycling and to avoid congestion in and around cities, the Dutch Government will invest substantially in more cycling infrastructure. “Our aim is to get 200,000 people who are now commuting by car on their bike,” said Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Stientje van Veldhoven yesterday.

“It is my ambition to ensure that people can easily go to work, school, family or friends. The bicycle makes an important contribution to accessibility, quality of life and health. It reduces traffic jams and gives room to people who do not have a choice,” said Van Velthoven.

“More than half of the employees live within 15 km of work. Thanks to the e-bike, that is a distance that can done easily. So get out of the car, on the bike, especially when the weather is nice. To promote cycling among commuters we will discuss what we offer on fiscal incentives. Today people can get a tax free allowance when they travel by car of 19 cents per kilometre. We want to offer this incentive to cyclists who commute as well.”

You can read the entire story here.

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