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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 22, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. - Charles Spurgeon

Today's racing:

Latest completed racing:

Volta a Catalunya stage three team reports

Here's the update from winner Thomas De Gendt's Lotto-Soudal team:

Thomas De Gendt has claimed another memorable victory. The Belgian rider successfully finished off a day in the breakaway on the third stage of Volta a Catalunya. He managed to hold off an elite group and finished solo in Camprodon. During the stage De Gendt had already conquered the KOM jersey and at the finish he had enough advantage left to take over the overall lead too! It’s the third stage win ever at Volta a Catalunya for De Gendt.

The third stage was shortened due to snow on Vallter 2000, the original finish location. The stage started in Sant Cugat del Vallès and finished after 153 kilometres in Camprodon. There were two official climbs on the route: one of the first category and one of the second category. Perfect for Thomas De Gendt. The Lotto Soudal rider established an early breakaway together with Bizkarra, Chevrier, Mas and Torres. De Gendt was the first to cross the top of Coll de Bracons (1st category), already securing the KOM jersey. He had gone solo on the climb, but Bizkarra and Mas could join him again.

A few kilometres before the second and last climb, with top thirteen kilometres from the finish, De Gendt attacked again. His advantage over the bunch increased up to 2’20” until Mitchelton-Scott raised the pace. Mathias Frank, Thibaut Pinot, Nairo Quintana and Simon Yates attacked from the peloton, reducing the lead of De Gendt to half a minute in the uphill final kilometres. A very strong De Gendt managed to hold them off. At the finish he had twenty seconds advantage left over Simon Yates who finished second and Silvio Herklotz who got third. De Gendt takes over the leader’s jersey from Alejandro Valverde over which he now has 23 seconds lead. Daryl Impey is third overall at 29 seconds.

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt wins stage three.

Thomas De Gendt: “The headwind at the end of the stage was lethal, but I survived. The tactics of the GC riders were an advantage for me. Quintana for example stopped pulling in the chasing group. I only had to pedal hard. The closer I got to the finish, the more I wanted to win. The last twenty kilometres were very hard nonetheless. It was only in the last three kilometres that I started to believe that I could win. The road went uphill until one kilometre from the finish and there was that strong headwind. I knew that if someone would attack from the bunch it would soon be over for me, because I had nothing left in the tank. The way I win, is one of the greatest performances of my career.

“This morning I was twelve seconds behind on GC, just like most of the peloton. At first I kept riding at the front to conquer a place on top ten, even if I would get caught. That’s why I also grabbed bonus seconds along the way. I thought it would be good that our team car would move up in the caravan for tomorrow’s mountain stage. At the end I did start thinking about becoming GC leader.

“I had no plan for today, but I just felt like joining the breakaway. With the headwind it was actually pretty dumb to be in the break as I had told before the stage. We kept a steady pace, because we knew the bunch wouldn’t let us get further away than three minutes. On the first climb I wanted to take some lead for the descent and that’s why I distanced the others. By crossing the top first I was almost certain of conquering the KOM jersey. It’s always nice to wear a KOM jersey on a race, but it will be a different jersey after all. It’s the third time that I can wear the leader’s jersey in a WorldTour race and that’s something to be proud of.

“It will be difficult to maintain the leader’s jersey tomorrow, with a summit finish on La Molina. I only have a small lead. As a team we have achieved our goal of winning a stage and we have a nice bonus. I will try to hang on as long as possible tomorrow, but I assume I will lose the jersey. Which wouldn’t be a disgrace considering the riders in this peloton. It will also be difficult to win the KOM jersey here, because there are a lot of points to win tomorrow but as a leader I won’t be allowed to join the breakaway. I’ll see the day after tomorrow what’s still possible in the KOM classification.”

And Bora-hansgrohe sent me this report:

Today's shortened queen stage saw Thomas de Gendt as winner of the stage after a late attack 20km before the finish. BORA – hansgrohe was in the reduced main bunch and tried to close the gap but de Gendt was the fastest man today. Davide Formolo and Jay McCarthy finished safely in the reduced bunch some seconds behind the winner.

The Stage
Today's queen stage was shortened due to the weather conditions, therefore the stage ended at Camprodon, a small city in the Pyrenees. The new stage covered 154km with two intermediate sprints and two tough climbs, the Coll de Bracons (Cat.1) and the Port de Collabos (Cat.2), which was shortly before the finish.

The Team Tactics
The third stage at the Volta Cicilista a Catalunya was the first stage earmarked for the climbers in the peloton. BORA – hansgrohe brought their two young climbers Davide Formolo and the Austrian Champion Gregor Mühlberger to Spain. Both were the riders for today´s stage.

The Race
A three-man breakaway escaped relatively early into the shortened stage and built up a maximum gap of some minutes. After some kilometres two riders were able to bridge the gap to the trio in front of the race. The German squad BORA – hansgrohe stayed in the peloton and focused on the final climbs. As the race climbed up to the Coll de Bracons, the peloton fell apart and three riders were able to distance themselves from the main bunch and opened a gap of 1:30.  

With 22km remaining Thomas de Gendt launched an attack from the breakaway and went up the road. A chasing group with four strong riders tried to close the gap to the soloist at the front.  BORA – hansgrohe was in the third group some seconds behind. Nevertheless, T. de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) had enough gap to took the win solo in Camprodon.

BORA – hansgrohe finished safely in the reduced bunch some seconds behind the winner.

From the Finish Line
“We thought, that the race will be back together after the last climb, but suddenly the four top-climbers built the chasing group, which catered for some excitement in the peloton. We had Gregor, Davide and Jay in the reduced bunch. They were able to close the gap to the chaser but it was too late. Tomorrow will be another day and therefore another chance.” – Jens Zemke, sports director

Bora-hansgrohe reports on Driedaagse De Panne

The team sent me this update:

While an early break was caught on the final lap on a finishing circuit around De Panne, BORA – hansgrohe took control of the peloton, trying to force a split in the last crosswind section. The team did well to do some damage, and it was Pascal Ackermann who opened the sprint from a reduced bunch. But the young German had to settle for second, as E. Viviani bettered him to the line.

The Stage
Formally known as a stage race, the “Driedaags De Panne” becomes a single day race in 2018 for the first time. The 204.2-kilometer-long parkour from Brugge to De Panne was mainly flat. Even though 5 climbs awaited the peloton half way through the race, with a flat run into De Panne and two 25k flat finishing loops, a bunch sprint was expected. Only the wind close to the coast on the last kilometers, was the dark horse that potentially could allow some escapees to take their chances.

The Team Tactics
Already in the last Belgium races Pascal Ackermann presented himself in good shape. Being also one of the fastest riders in the peloton, Ackermann was BORA – hansgrohes’ man for today. The goal was to keep the race under control until the final, where also Pascal had to be aware of possible crosswind sections, to don’t miss any splits. With Schwarzmann, Kolar and Baska, Ackermann had a strong lead-out train to rely on. While Matteo Pelucchi, the other sprinter in BORA – hansgrohes’ rows, was also free to take any chance in a sprint finish.

Elia viviani

Elia Viviani wins in De Panne.

The Race
After the first half hour of racing, a 6-men break went up the road. Little later they already enjoyed a 7-minute lead over the bunch, when entering the first cobble stone section. In the peloton Quickstep took control for their sprinter E. Viviani. Even though some riders attacked in the hilly part of the parkour, the peloton was always in control of the race and the gap dropped to about five minutes. After that part, the wind played a bigger role than expected in the morning. Several times the peloton did split up, but BORA – hansgrohe was always on top of the game, with several riders protecting Pascal Ackermann.

Crossing the finish for the first time, the bunch was back together and just 1:20 behind the break anymore. On the final lap BORA – hansgrohe pulled hard to force another split in the bunch, and the break was caught just under 10k to go. While BORA – hansgrohe was riding the last 7 kilometers from the front, Quickstep positioned themselves well under the flame rouge. It was Pascal Ackermann who opened the sprint, but E. Viviani was able to beat him just to the line. Still another promising ride from the team and Pascal.

From the Finish Line
"Big thanks to the whole team for their efforts today. They really supported me with everything they had, and in the end, it was my turn to finish this off. I am happy with my result, even my timing was maybe not 100%. We can be proud how we presented us as a team on the final lap I think. Of course, it’s about winning, but Viviani is one of the top guys. I had already plenty of good results this season, and if I am able to hold my level, also the first victory will come.” – Pascal Ackermann

"It was a little more wind than we expected this morning, which made the race nervous already with 80k to go. But our guys did a really good job to always be up front when there was some action. We agreed this morning in our meeting that we want to act in the final, and therefore, on the last lap we tried something in the crosswinds, which did some damage, but maybe not enough. From there on the boys stayed in control, but maybe we missed one guy on the final kilometer. Still, I am proud how we presented our colors today and I am happy with the performance of every single guy. Even if there was a chance to beat Viviani today." – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

Greg Van Avermaet returns to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem as defending champion

Team BMC sent me this report:

21 March, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After claiming an impressive double victory at Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in 2017, Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line this week eyeing back to back victories on home soil.

Van Avermaet will be supported by an experienced team, including Jürgen Roelandts who has finished in the top ten at both races on numerous occasions, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

Greg van AVermaet

Greg van Avermaet winning Gent Wevelgem in 2017

"Greg Van Avermaet is, of course, our outright leader and he is ready to go. Now with only seven riders per team it is harder to control the race and we have to be ready for different scenarios. We will race for Greg but we also have strong riders like Jurgen Roelandts and Stefan Küng who can take opportunities," Baldato explained.

"The parcours for both Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem are more or less the same as previous years so the key moments will be the same. We have a strong team around Greg and we are confident that we can make a nice result this weekend and start the next phase of the classics well. We know he can win these races so we will do everything we can to put him on the podium again."

After testing his legs in Italy, Van Avermaet is looking forward to racing on his home roads. "There is always pressure because these are some of the most important races of the year for me. I always want to perform well and of course last year was amazing winning Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. This was unexpected and now I'm lining up as defending champion at both of them," Van Avermaet said.

"I hope to do the same again this weekend but it would be nice to have a result in at least one of the races. It will also be important to have a good feeling coming out of the races and to be well prepared before Ronde van Vlaanderen."

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (23 March)

Rider roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)


Gent-Wevelgem (25 March)

Rider roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jurgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)

Teams announced for 2018 Tour de Yorkshire and ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women's Race

The race organizer sent me this update:

With just over six weeks to go until the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire, organisers Welcome to Yorkshire and Amaury Sport Organisation have announced a record 40 teams will compete.

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen winning stage one of the 2017 Yorkshire Tour.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity shared the news at Y18 - the UK’s largest tourism event - in Bradford on Wednesday and revealed 20 men’s and women’s teams will be in action, up from 36 in 2017. Of those, 10 teams will be taking part for the very first time.

The men’s race – which takes place between 3-6 May – will include six UCI WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental outfits and six British squads, plus the new Yorkshire-based (although Irish registered) Holdsworth Pro Racing making their debut alongside Astana, Euskadi Basque Country – Murias, Rally Cycling and Vital Concept.

The ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race on 3-4 May also boasts an expanded field. Seven of the 12 top-ranked teams in the world will be in action along with five further European and eight British squads. Of those, Boompods EDCo, Experza-Footlogix, Movistar Team, Parkhotel Valkenburg and Team OnForm are new additions for 2018.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “The demand from teams looking to compete in the Tour de Yorkshire is always high and that reflects the esteem in which our race is regarded. Reducing the number of riders per team from eight to seven in the men’s event meant we could invite more squads than ever before, and we also upped the number of women’s teams from 18 to 20 to ensure parity.  

“Having the best teams in the business coming to Yorkshire is a massive coup and we’re delighted to have a record number of British-based teams pitting themselves against the world’s finest riders.    

“Teams want to compete at the Tour de Yorkshire as they know they will be guaranteed massive crowds, exciting racing and an electric atmosphere. Last year 2.2 million spectators lined the route and the fourth edition promises to be the biggest and best one yet.”

The men’s and women’s team line-ups will be finalised in the fortnight before the race with a number of big-name attendees set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The full list of teams for the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire is as follows:

Six UCI WorldTour teams: Astana Pro Team (KAZ), BMC Racing Team (USA), Team Dimension Data (RSA), Team Katusha Alpecin (SUI), Team Sky (GBR) and Team Sunweb (GER).

Seven UCI Pro Continental teams: Aqua Blue Sport (IRE), Cofidis, Solutions Credits (FRA), Direct Energie (FRA), Euskadi Basque Country – Murias (ESP), Rally Cycling (USA), Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij (NED) and Vital Concept (FRA).

Six UCI Continental teams: Canyon Eisberg (GBR), Holdsworth Pro Racing (IRE), JLT Condor (GBR), Madison Genesis (GBR), One Pro Cycling (GBR) and Vitus Pro Cycling (GBR).

One national team: Team GB (GBR).

The full list of teams for the 2018 ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race is as follows:

Ale Cipollini (ITA), Bepink Cogeas (ITA), Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (NED), Boompods EDCo (GBR), Canyon Sram Racing (GER), Drops Cycling Team (GBR), Experza-Footlogix (BEL), FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope (FRA), Hitec Products (NOR), Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport (BEL), Movistar Team (ESP), NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli (GBR), Parkhotel Valkenburg (NED), Storey Racing (GBR), Team GB (GBR), Team OnForm (GBR), Team Jadan Weldtite (GBR), Team Sunweb (NED), Team WNT (GBR) and Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling (GBR).

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