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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 28, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It always seems impossible until it's done. - Nelson Mandela

Current Racing

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Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka to lead Bora–hansgrohe at the Tour de France

The team sent me this release:

Like last year, Bora–hansgrohe goes into the Tour with two leaders. UCI World Champion Peter Sagan is set to go on the haunt for stage wins, while Rafal Majka aims for a top spot in the final general classification. The team is well balanced, and both will be supported form a mix of young guns and well experienced riders. For Gregor Mühlberger and Lukas Pöstlberger it will be their first Tour de France experience, while German veteran Marcus Burghardt celebrates an anniversary with his 10thparticipation in France.

“Our goals are clear since the beginning of the season: we want to win a stage, the Green Jersey and aim for a top five in the GC. These goals are ambitious, and we saw last year how fast all the hard work, all the efforts over month, can be lost within a second. But we did our homework, again we worked very hard and we are well prepared, there is nothing more that could have been done. All our guys are in shape on time. Off course it’s not easy to find a balance in your line-up with two leaders in the team, but I think we did a good job. I am optimistic about the TTT, we improved a lot there. And we have a lot of specialists for the Roubaix stage, I think we can make a difference there. Gregor and Pawel will support Rafal in the mountains, Daniel, Bodi and Marcus are our guys for the flat. Lukas is an allrounder that is strong in hilly terrain, but also fast in lead-outs for Peter.”  – Ralph Denk, Team Manager

“The Tour is a complicated race. Everybody is extremely motivated; all eyes are on this race in July. My preparations went well and I feel I am ready. The stage to Roubaix will be special, for me as well, now that I have these good memories about this place and the sectors. However, the race will be different then in April, with all the GC guys fighting at the front as well. We need a little bit of luck to achieve our goals; without luck, everything can be lost in one moment. But we have a very strong team going into this Tour de France, and there will be some opportunities for us for sure.” – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan winning 2018 Paris-Roubaix

“My preparations went well over the last weeks and I was able to put in some decent work at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada. I crashed at the Tour of Slovenia, that was a little setback, but in the last stages a could feel my legs got better and better day by day. I think I am ready for the Tour now. Now we just need a little bit of luck to get through the first ten stages. The Roubaix stage will be special, but on that day I’ll have the strongest guys from the whole peloton next to me.” – Rafal Majka

“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 I was almost surprised how strong I was already at the Polish national championships. My shape looks to be timed perfectly this year.” – Maciej Bodnar

“There won’t be a lot to celebrate, even it’s an anniversary for me, my tenth Tour de France. But the Tour is always hard, it pushes you to your limits, even the atmosphere is very special, you will suffer a lot. This year, the TTT, the stage to Roubaix and the two short mountain stages will be crucial. You need to be at your best on these days.” – Marcus Burghardt

“This will be a huge experience for me. I am so happy to be part of this year’s Tour team, but I don’t feel any pressure. My shape is good, and I’ll take it day by day. We have some well experienced guys in the team like Burgi (Marcus Burghardt), he can give some advice if I struggle a bit one day. But I am optimistic, and I will give my best to support Rafal in the mountains.” – Gregor Mühlberger

“The Tour is full of emotions and I am looking forward to share some special moments with my new team mates and friends. It feels like a rollercoaster, always up and down, but any time you need to stay focused, positive, be ready. BORA – Hansgrohe is very strong team and we’ll fight every day to achieve our goals.” – Daniel Oss

“My race program and preparations for the Tour was quite similar to last year. Everything went well and we spent even more days at high altitude. Now it’s time, after all those weeks of hard work, we want to tackle the Tour. The first part will be kind of survival day by day, then in the mountains I want to be ready and support Rafal in his battle for the GC.” – Pawel Poljanksi

“I am curious and nervous at the same time. Off course I am super happy, it’s a dream come true like for any cyclist who started once as a little kid. I have also a lot of respect, there are so many stories about this race, true myths. But after a spring to forget, the last weeks were really promising. I think I’ll have to take on several roles in our team, I can cope well with crosswinds and cobbles, I am a strong Roleur, but I am also punchy as everybody could see in last year’s Giro. I’ll do my best every day, on all terrains, I am sure I will never forget my first Tour de France.” – Lukas Pöstlberger 

BMC to send strong team to support Richie Porte in pursuit of Tour de France podium

BMC sent me this:

27 June, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): Richie Porte will be backed by a strong and experienced team at the Tour de France where the Australian is targeting his first podium result following a career-best fifth place in 2016.

Porte, who took confidence from his overall victory at the Tour de Suisse in his debut at the race, will be supported in the mountains by the likes of Tejay van Garderen, twice fifth overall in 2012 and 2014, and 2017 Tour de Suisse runner up Damiano Caruso who narrowly missed the top ten at the 2017 Tour de France.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte will be heading to the Tour with the 2018 Swiss Tour win under his belt.

For the flat and medium mountain stages, Tour de France stage winners and former yellow jersey wearers Greg Van Avermaet and Simon Gerrans will provide invaluable experience, as will the Swiss duo of Michael Schär and Stefan Küng, and Patrick Bevin, who alongside Gerrans will make his Grand Tour debut with BMC Racing Team.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the versatile team will give Porte support on all terrain, particularly the first nine days of racing when the team time trial, possible crosswinds, and cobbled stage can play just as much of a role in the General Classification as the high mountains.

"We are confident in our team. The Tour de France team selection is never easy but I think we have chosen seven strong and motivated riders to support Richie Porte. We saw at the Tour de Suisse what Richie and five riders from the team were able to do by working every day to defend the jersey. Damiano Caruso, who was really strong at the Criterium du Dauphine, and Paddy Bevin, who will be very important for the team time trial, complete the team so I think we have chosen eight well-rounded riders for the three weeks of racing," Baldato explained.

"All of the riders have been preparing well at training camps since their last races and we have seen many of the crucial stages in the lead up to the race. The condition of all eight riders is really good and they are all motivated, so we are as ready as we can be."

Porte is confident in his form, which he has been building on since his Tour de Suisse victory. "I'm ready for the Tour de France. Winning the Tour de Suisse was a big boost to my confidence, not only on a personal level knowing I wasn't yet in my best shape but also for the team. The guys were fantastic there and the fact that our Tour de France team is comprised more or less of the same riders, with the addition of Damiano Caruso and Paddy Bevin, is really motivating. After a solid training camp at altitude, I will arrive in the Vendée region knowing I have done everything I can to prepare for the Tour de France," Porte said.

"I would love to stand on the podium in Paris. As we saw last year, anything can happen so as cliché as it sounds, I really will be taking things day by day, week by week. As controlled as the Tour de France is compared to other races, it's a bike race and with that comes a lot of unpredictability. I think we have a great team, it's generally a good course for me, and I'm excited to start racing."

Van Avermaet, who claimed stage wins in 2015 and 2016, has his eye on multiple stages suited to his strengths. "I am motivated, as always, to do my best at the Tour de France and my personal ambition is to win another stage, as well as working for the team and achieving the team objective of putting Richie on the podium. We always want to do well in a team time trial so stage 3 will definitely be a big goal for us, and of course it will be special to ride the cobbles on stage 9. The Tour de France is unlike any other race and I think we have a great team, so I am looking forward to getting started next week."

General Manager Jim Ochowicz paid tribute to the late BMC Racing Team owner, Andy Rihs, whose memory will serve as extra motivation at the Tour de France. "This is a group effort with a clear focus. My confidence in our staff and riders has never been at such an elevated level since 2011. We will be racing this Tour de France in the memory of Andy Rihs to thank him for his 12 years of faith and support," Ochowicz added.

Tour de France (7-29 July)

Rider roster: Patrick Bevin (NZ), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Stefan Küng (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS).

Ellen van Dijk is Dutch time trial champion

Team Sunweb sent me this news:

Team Sunweb's Ellen van Dijk (NED) is the new Dutch time trial champion, finishing the 25.8 kilometre course with the fastest time of 33 minutes and 15 seconds. Lucinda Brand (NED) and Floortje Mackaij (NED) also put in strong rides, finishing 3rd and 6th respectively.

Ellen van Dijk

Ellen van Dijk riding in the 2014 World Championships.

Van Dijk said: “I’m super happy to finally take the Dutch title again. I was very close for the last couple of years, but it’s been five years since I last took it. The competition in the Netherlands is super high and a podium at the Nationals can be the same as a podium at the Worlds as well. That’s why this title means a lot to me. The course suited me well with long straights and I had great coaching from the car and in the last 3 kilometres my boyfriend shouted me to the line which made it really special. It was great to stand on the podium together with Lucinda, and also Floortje had a very good time trial. It shows how advanced this discipline is within the team and how high our level is at the moment.”

Team Sunweb coach Adriaan Helmantel (NED) said: “This was our first big time trial goal for this year and it’s always hard to be a competition here with a strong field, such as the world- and Olympic champion. She delivered and she won after her mind and body were completely in sync and focused on the plan. We started really fast and then brought it back on the last part which worked out really well. She was really tight on the corners and of course her strength is on the long straights. She was like a machine and it’s great to see this effort rewarded with the win.”

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