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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 25, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It's always too early to quit. - Norman Vincent Peale

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Annelies Dom is Belgian road champ

Lotto-Soudal sent me this race report:

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Annelies Dom has conquered the Belgian road title this morning in Binche. She beat her teammate Valerie Demey and Sanne Cant in the sprint.

First, Alana Castrique had been part of a front group of four riders. When that group was caught, Lotte Kopecky attacked. Kopecky didn’t get much freedom, but a new front group was established with two other Lotto Soudal Ladies: Annelies Dom and Kelly Van den Steen. Sanne Cant and Sofie De Vuyst were the other two riders. Just before the last lap of 17.2 kilometres Lotto Soudal rider Valerie Demey joined the front group, together with Ann-Sophie Duyck and Kaat Hannes. After an acceleration by Annelies Dom and Sofie De Vuyst, the front group was reduced to four as only Valerie Demey and Sanne Cant could close the gap on the duo. The four leaders would sprint for the Belgian title. It was Annelies Dom who claimed the victory.

Annelies Dom: “We rode a very strong race as a team. It was our plan to not only play the card of Lotte Kopecky because we knew everybody would be looking at her. We were constantly represented at the front. First, Alana Castrique attacked and afterwards Kelly Van den Steen and I were in a breakaway of four. Just before the last lap Valerie Demey joined us at the front. At that moment I feared the others would look at us and that’s why I attacked with Sofie De Vuyst. That way the front group was reduced to four, because only Sanne Cant and Valerie Demey joined us.”

“I knew that Sofie De Vuyst would try to get away on the last uphill section before the finish. She didn’t get a sufficient gap and I knew I was the fastest of the leading group. Sanne started sprinting early and that was perfect for me. I passed Sanne and won the sprint.”

“It’s an honour and a wonderful feeling to become Belgian champion. It has been a very busy time for me, as I started studying again and I am in the middle of my exams. Last Thursday I felt bad at the Belgian Time Trial Championship because I hadn’t slept much. I didn’t know if I would be good enough today. The past days I rested and slept to get in the best possible condition at the start. This is the result.”

Yves Lampaert won the men’s race at the Belgian Championships in Binche. With 3.5 kilometres to go, he left his teammate Philippe Gilbert and Jasper Stuyven behind. They would finish second and third respectively. Lotto Soudal was represented at the front all day long, by among other Victor Campenaerts and Jasper De Buyst who were part of a front group of seventeen riders. In the finale Tiesj Benoot jumped to the front, but he had to pass on the decisive moment. Jens Keukeleire was Lotto Soudal’s top finisher, on the eighth place.

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “When you start with sixteen WorldTour riders, you know you will need to carry the weight of the race. We tried to ride an offensive race and to be represented in every breakaway. Also with riders who were capable of winning. That went well, but at a certain point, Philippe Gilbert made the decisive move. Gilbert closed the gap on the leaders and Tiesj Benoot followed his move. Tiesj, who only returned from altitude training camp the day before yesterday, got distanced. His peak period comes during the Tour de France.”

“We rode well all race long, but in the last lap we were beaten by some very strong riders. Unfortunately we are left behind empty-handed. The race was what it was and we didn’t achieve a top result. I can’t blame the riders, they did what we had asked and our team was always represented at the front, but we were beaten by the strongest riders in the race.”

Coryn Rivera wins USA road championships

Rivera's Team Sunweb sent me this update:

Team Sunweb's Coryn Rivera (USA) is the new USA road race champion, after a fantastic team effort with team mate Ruth Winder (USA) saw the sprint contested by a reduced group in Knoxville.

Rivera said: "This was a race of attrition and patience and the win means the world to me. I had a team mate here which made the biggest difference. At the end of the day this is a team sport and I couldn't have done this on my own. I'm absolutely ecstatic; it's been a long time coming and I'm really happy to take the win now. After all of the hard work that me and Ruth put in through the race it's great that I could finish it off."

Coryn Rovera

Coryn Rivera

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermas (NED) said: "Yesterday we had a meeting with myself, Coryn and Ruth to create the plan and we also had contact during the race. We had planned to stay calm, not to interfere too much during the race, and to wait until the final until we made the race. Ruth did a great job - she rode fantastically, was always in control and made sure Coryn didn't have to do anything. In the final Coryn followed an attack and then counter attacked to take the win. It was a brilliant job with two girls in the race, we worked perfectly as a team together and we really have to compliment Ruth who sacrificed her own chances for Coryn and the team goal."

Yves Lampaert is Belgian road champion

Here's the report from Lampaert's Quick-Step team:

Yves Lampaert will wear the beautiful and famous Belgian tricolor for the next 12 months, after soloing to one of the biggest victories of his career on Sunday afternoon. The Dwars door Vlaanderen champion was one of the most active riders from the start of the 223.6km race which took place in Binche, on an undulating 17.6km circuit which contained four pavé sectors and a 500m cobbled climb inside the last kilometer, making for one of the most memorable editions in recent history.

Yves Lampaert

Yves Lampaert earlier this year.

"I feel so amazingly happy, it's such an incredible feeling, but I'll need some time to let things sink in. I am so proud of this team! We showed again how strong we are as a Wolfpack. We ride together, always for each other, and it's unbelievable to be part of this unique team", an ecstatic Yves said before collecting his jersey and gold medal for his majestic triumph.

The race got off to a fast and nervous start, which prevented any breakaway from forming in the first 60 kilometers. When a move managed to take shape, Quick-Step Floors made sure it was represented there by Dries Devenyns, who made his return to competition less than two weeks ago. That group was joined by a handful of riders who pushed strong from behind, including Yves Lampaert, third just a few days ago in the individual time trial.

With many dangerous riders in that move, the peloton kept a close eye on the gap, which didn't swell over two minutes at any point, and helped also by some frictions between the escapees, they clawed them back with around 20 kilometers to go, when a new race was preparing to start. On the final lap, Quick-Step Floors took again the initiative, attacking with the amazing duo of Philippe Gilbert and Yves Lampaert, who saw two men latch onto their wheel, as they carved out a nice advantage.

A counterattack group joined the quartet with 12 kilometers to go, just as Gilbert put in a probing attack to which only Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) could initially respond. The chasers, among who was also Pieter Serry, linked up with the duo, but a searing acceleration of the two-time Belgian Champion sparked a new move, which included Yves Lampaert and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo). The three used the Binche cobbles and tight corners to expand their slim margin, before Yves took off inside the last kilometers.

The 27-year-old didn't waste any time in forging a 20-second advantage, which he carried all the way to the finish line, where he prompted loud applause from the thousands of fans who witnessed a victory which makes Lampaert only the third rider in history to have won both the road race and ITT national titles.

Philippe Gilbert ended runner-up after dropping Stuyven with one kilometer to go, for his seventh top-3 finish here, while Pieter Serry, who put in a ton of work during the race together with Laurens De Plus and Tim Declercq, concluded in fourth place, his best result in eight outings at the National Championships.

"The people, the atmosphere, the parcours, all these made for a beautiful race. It felt like a classic today. The final was easy and difficult at the same time. Having two riders in a group of three we knew it all depended on us, and knowing Stuyven was dangerous, I attacked with 3500 meters left and just rode full gas. At one point, I looked over my shoulder and when I saw he couldn't close the gap was the moment I began to believe I will be Belgian Champion. This victory wouldn't have been possible without this superb team and Philippe's help, so I want to thank everybody for helping me turn this dream into reality."

Five medals for Bora–hansgrohe on the first weekend of national championships as Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar take two titles

Here's the team's report:

On Friday Maciej Bodnar took a 5th Polish time trial title after 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016. While on Sunday, after two consecutive wins from his brother Juraj, Peter Sagan crowned himself for a 6th time as the Slovak national road champion, with Juraj this year taking silver ahead of Michael Kolar who closed the podium. Peter now also is the first rider to take six national titles in Slovakia, overtaking his BORA – hansgrohe sports director Jan Valach, who won the nationals five times. Bodnar struck for a second time and took silver in the Polish road race.

Maciej Bodnar

Maciej Bodnar

“From California onwards, my form improved constantly. After an intense training period, the Tour de Suisse last week was a perfect opportunity to get in necessary race kilometers. After the race I recovered well and from Friday on I felt really strong. I am very happy to be able to wear the jersey in the time trials to come, especially at the Tour de France. But to be on the podium for a second time today is a truely special moment. My shape looks to be timed perfectly this season.”  – Maciej Bodnar

“I am happy to win my sixth Slovak championships, it’s always a proud moment for any athlete. Congratulations to Juraj for his second place overall in the combined Czech-Slovak classification and to Michael Kolar who closed the Slovak podium. Thanks to my team BORA – hansgrohe for the support and to the thousands of fans from both countries that cheered us here in Pilsen.” – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

“The combined Czech-Slovak national championships is always a very nice competition with a high level of racing and great atmosphere. On the one hand, it’s never easy to give away the Slovak jersey that I wore for two consecutive years but on the other, I’m happy to see Peter score such an emphatic victory and become the new Slovak champion.” – Juraj Sagan

Team Movistar reports on Spanish road championships:

Basque all-rounder Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) became the new Spanish road race champion with a dominant display over the closing stages of the 211km event in the Castellón province. The former Movistar Team rider took to the finish in Benicàssim solo after jumping away from the main favourites’ group with just over 10km remaining.

Gorka zagirre

Gorka Izagirre winning the 2017 Klasica Primavera

Despite the efforts from Rubén Fernández, Marc Soler and Carlos Barbero to close the gap from the pursuit group to the front, the junction was impossible for them. The Movistar Team had to stay content with a 2nd place and silver medal for Alejandro Valverde, the fastest into the main group over Astana’s Omar Fraile and Luis León Sánchez and a great Barbero, who took 5th.

The Spanish road race was long led by a thirteen-man breakaway starting after 30km, which contained Imanol Erviti and Barbero himself. The move built a massive 15-minute advantage, yet in the final climb of three to the summit of the Desierto de las Palmas, the attacks by favourites like Fraile, the Izagirre brothers and Valverde ended up catching the remnants of that group and helped Gorka launch his attack towards glory in Castellón.

Gediminas Bagdonas wins Lithuanian road championships

Bagdonas' Ag2r team sent me this post-race quote:

“I ‘m really happy. To take both the road and time trial titles for Lithuania, it’s amazing. I just knew how to make the most of my opportunity in the end. I am doubly pleased that this is my first national road race title because I am wearing the colors for the AG2R LA MONDIALE team, who have trusted me since 2013. I prepared very well for these national championships, and I worked very hard. I will be proud to wear my national colors for the coming year.” - Gediminas Bagdonas

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