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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 7, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it. - W. C. Fields

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Giro d'Italia stage three team reports

We posted stage three winner Elia Viviani's Team Quick-Step report on the Giro results page.

This came from Maglia Rosa Rohan Dennis' BMC squad:

06 May, 2018, Eilat (ISR): Rohan Dennis survived a long and chaotic stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia to secure the Maglia Rosa for another day and carry the pink jersey onto Italian soil.

Dennis' BMC Racing Team teammates took control of the race as soon as the flag dropped on the 229km stage from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, allowing three riders to go clear and assuming their position at the front of the bunch.

After letting the leading trio gain an advantage of more than seven minutes, Loïc Vliegen and Kilian Frankiny led the train and set a strong pace at the front which saw the breakaway's lead quickly decrease. Vliegen and Frankiny's work saw the gap go down to 3'30" but with more than 100km still remaining, BMC Racing Team eased up on the chase and the gap came back to a manageable five minutes.

With an expected sprint in Eilat and strong winds forecast, the sprinters' teams came to the front to assist Dennis' teammates in the chase and with 60km remaining, the breakaway was less than one minute ahead of the bunch.

Dennis was well protected by his teammates going into the nervous finale, especially when the strong winds picked up in the final 20km, and as the catch was made with 6km to go, Dennis battled to stay safe as the sprint trains formed.

In a repeat of stage 2, Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors) took the win, while Dennis crossed the line towards the front of the bunch to secure the leader's jersey for another day, the first time in his career that he has held a Grand Tour leader's jersey for more than one stage.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis gets to take his pink jersey to Italy.

Rohan Dennis:
"It was very stressful today but I'm glad it's done. It was a hard day., it was long, and we were somewhat lucky that it was a tailwind. The wind was very strong. The last 40 or 50km, when we were chasing the breakaway and especially the last 20km, we were sitting on 70km an hour so we couldn't go any faster. It was super fast and we were lucky that it wasn't a crosswind. Once again, the team did a great job and kept me up the front."

"I was hoping for a stage victory on stage 1 but I would love to get a stage victory at some stage during this Giro d'Italia. It would be amazing to top off this Grand Tour. The time trial in Trento is a given but if I get an opportunity with the climbers, then I'm probably one of the quicker guys in the bunch. I'm never going to beat guys like Viviani but I think if the main sprinters aren't there then I have a chance."

"Tomorrow, I will rest as much as possible and go for a ride. The plan for the Italian stages will be to hold the jersey for as long as possible and then the battle after that will be getting to Rome."

Third-place Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

The last day in Israel was dominated by a breakaway, which was gone for most of the stage, as the group was caught, with 5km remaining, the expected bunch sprint was set up. BORA – hansgrohe started to organize their lead-out train to bring Sam Bennett in a good position, but it was again E. Viviani who took the stage win. BORA – hansgrohe sprinter Sam finished, like yesterday, in third place.

The Stage
The third and last stage in Israel was another chance for the sprinters in the peloton. The race travelled to the city of Be´er Sheva, which is one of the biggest cities in Israel, and started into the 229km long flat stage with the finish in the city of Eilat. The route took a long way across a rocky landscape with two intermediate sprints and one categorised climb (fourth category). The final part of the stage descended slightly towards the Red Sea and entered the city, where 11 roundabouts awaited the peloton, before the sprinters could fight for the stage win.

The Team Tactics
After yesterday´s great result, the Irish sprinter Sam was hungry to achieve again a podium result. Therefore, the team focused again to supported him as best as possible. Like yesterday, the final lead-out train consisted of Andreas Schillinger, Christoph Pfingsten and last lead-out man Rudi Selig. In today´s stage it needed a strong sprint train, wind in the final km´s made the race difficult.

The Race
A three-man breakaway escaped relatively early into the 229km stage and built up an ample gap of more than 6 minutes. The breakaway of the day was gone for most of the stage, with 80km to go, the group enjoyed still a gap of more than three minutes. With the gap dropping steadily, the three escapes were caught with 5km remaining and the expected bunch sprint was set up. Like yesterday, BORA – hansgrohe took the lead of the peloton and did a stellar job to protect their leader Sam Bennett. As approaching the finale corner, the BORA – hansgrohe sprinter started his sprint a little bit too early, it was again E. Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) who took the win. S. Modolo (UAE) took second place and Sam crossed the line, like yesterday, in third place.

Sa Bennett

Sam Bennet (left, front) gets third.

From the Finish Line
“First, I want to thank my teammates for another great job today. They worked very hard in this long stage. As we headed into the finale, I started my sprint way too early and Viviani was able to overtake me and took another stage win. I finished third, another podium but of course the victory would have been great.”- Sam Bennett

“We went into the stage with a good plan and all boys worked hard during the stage, unfortunately it didn’t pay off. But I think the stages for Sam will come pretty soon, after a long period of training he is in a good mood and shape. Nevertheless, I think it isn’t a shame to lose against Viviani, he was the fastest and maybe the smartest today.” - Christian Pömer, sport director 

Tour de Yorkshire final reports

We posted organizer ASO's stage four report with the results

Here's report from the Welcome to Yorkshire group that partners with ASO to produce the race:

The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire was officially the biggest and best one yet with 2.6 million fans lining the route over the four days.

No less than 900,000 roadside spectators witnessed a gripping conclusion on Sunday with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) wrapping up the overall victory after Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) had secured a sensational stage win.

Rossetto’s ride will go down in Yorkshire folklore after the Frenchman launched an audacious solo attack with 120km of the brutally tough ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ remaining, and the 31 year old evaded a vastly reduced peloton to seal the biggest stage win of his career and top the best climber classification sponsored by Virgin Trains in the process. Not surprisingly, Rossetto was also awarded the grey most active rider jersey sponsored by Dimension Data.

Stepahne Rosetto

Stephane Rossetto wins stage four in style.

Van Avermaet sprinted home 37 seconds behind Rossetto in second place to tie up the race leader’s blue jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, nine seconds ahead of Spaniard Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias). Last year’s race winner Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data) rounded out the podium, five seconds further adrift.

The bonus points Van Avermaet accrued on the line also saw him win the best sprinter classification sponsored by Asda.

2018 Tour de Yorkshire champion Greg Van Avermaet said: “I’m happy I could achieve the race win because it was certainly not easy today. The fans were amazing, and for the whole four days actually. I remember from the Tour de France, and when I last raced here in 2015, what it was like, and with this sunny weather even more fans came out. It was really special.

“The parcours was fantastic as well with a lot of variation over the four stages and this race definitely deserves its place on the calendar. I hope to come back and defend my title next year.”

Stage four winner Stéphane Rossetto said: “This is my third professional win and certainly my most beautiful. I did it on a race that is growing in stature all the time, has more history now, and an amazing crowd. It’s been like riding the Tour de France over the last four days.”

Overall winner Greg van Avermaet's BMC squad sent me this:

6 May, 2018, Leeds (GBR): Greg Van Avermaet claimed overall victory at the Tour de Yorkshire today after a strong and aggressive display of racing from BMC Racing Team throughout the day.

The Tour de Yorkshire saved the toughest stage for last with the 189.5km route littered from start to finish with short, steep, punchy climbs of which six were categorized and many had gradients that tipped over into double digits.

At the start of the day, less than 30 seconds separated the top ten on the General Classification while there was just over one minute between the first 35 riders overall and as a result, the battle began the moment the flag dropped. 

Three riders tried to go clear early but BMC Racing Team wanted to keep the pressure on the rest of the field and their hard tempo at the front of the bunch saw riders both trying to attack off the front and beginning to drop back on the Côte de Hebden after just 16km of racing.

The race eventually settled down with two riders leading over the top of the Côte de Goose Eye as Bookwalter found himself riding as part of a large chase group one minute behind while the peloton, led by race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen's Astana Pro Team sat another two minutes back.

On the Côte de Park Rash, one of the day's toughest categorized climbs, Stephan Rossetto (Team Cofidis) went solo at the front of the race before approaching the 100km to go mark with a 4'30" advantage over the Bookwalter-led group with the reduced bunch another four minutes back.

Rossetto was still over eight minutes ahead of the peloton with 60km to go but as he sat more than nine minutes back overall, it was the 3'40" gap between the peloton and the chasing group, where Bookwalter sat as the virtual race leader, that was forcing a more determined chase from Astana Pro Team.

Just 10km later, the peloton exploded with riders attacking off the front, cutting into the lead of the group with Bookwalter and drawing out a select group of riders, including Van Avermaet, Patrick Bevin, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Danilo Wyss, that was attempting to isolate the race leader.

On the top of the Côte de Otley Chevin, with 25km to go, the lone leader's advantage had fallen to three minutes as what was left of the main bunch was able to claw back to the Bookwalter group.

Van Avermaet, Bookwalter, Wyss, and Bevin were pulling hard at the front of the main bunch as Cort Nielsen lost contact heading into the bumpy final 10km of the day and the gap to Rossetto started to fall quickly.

With 5km to go, the gap to Rossetto was 1'20," and eventually he was able to hold on to take the win as Van Avermaet and his teammates continued to capitalize on their advantage heading into the final kilometer of the race.

After being positioned perfectly onto the home straight by his teammates, Van Avermaet surged towards the line to take second on the final stage and secure an impressive overall victory. Patrick Bevin also finished inside the top ten overall, 37 seconds behind Van Avermaet in ninth place.

As well as his overall title, Van Avermaet claimed the Points Classification while BMC Racing Team took home the prize in the Best Team Classification after a great four days of racing.

Interview with Greg Van Avermaet

Congratulations, Greg! What does this win mean for you?

"First of all, I want to say that this is a victory for Andy Rihs. I'm really happy with the win. It's the first win for BMC Racing Team since Andy died so it was a goal to win the race in honor of him."

"We all had it in mind to win the race for him and tomorrow is his funeral. He supported our team for many years and I think that the work that the team did was really amazing. We had him in our minds and it was really great that we could finish it off. So thank you to Andy, thank you to the team, and I'm so happy that I can win this race. It was a great atmosphere and I'm happy to have the Tour de Yorkshire on my palmares. It's always nice to win a GC as it's not that easy for me."

We saw another aggressive race from BMC Racing Team today. Was that the plan coming into the stage?

"We had a pretty good plan. We wanted to put Brent in the front as he was still a GC contender and that worked well. Magnus Cort Nielsen could not follow so it was up to us to take a bonus second and then at the end of the stage, it was good enough for the overall."

"It was really hard with more than 2000m of elevation. Everybody is in good shape, everybody did what they had to do, and I'm super happy that I can finish it off. When the race opened up, we still had three or four guys there and we really tried to control the situation. We were only five guys but everyone did their best so it's nice to finish it off."

What did you think of the atmosphere and the crowds at the Tour de Yorkshire this week?

"It was amazing here. There are not so many races with so much support. I remember from the Tour de France and the previous edition I did, it was already amazing but I think this year tops it off with the nice weather and the good parcours so congratulations to the organization. The whole week was incredible. This race really has a place on the calendar."

"The Tour de Yorkshire overall is a race that really suits me. It has a punchy parcours and one that I'm really good at. First of all, I was coming here to try and win stages but in the end, I think it was good that I came second on day two as we didn't have to control the race really and this was the main thing that helped us win. We still had four guys when the race opened up and we could control from there. I just had to finish it off. This week was really a team effort and I'm happy I could take the win for the guys."

Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck:
"The plan coming into today's stage was to make the race really hard especially after 10km as that was when we had the first long climb. As Astana Pro Team only had five riders at that point, we knew that we needed to isolate the leader and I think the move that Brent made was really good for us. It put the whole race under pressure and we had both a chance to win the GC with Brent and also with Greg."

"For a moment, we let the race do its own thing and we saw teams starting to pick up the pace again and Greg said he felt really good. So, when everything came back together behind Rossetto, we decided to set the pace for Greg. The team did an amazing job. They all rode above and beyond. We really made the race exciting and this win feels amazing. I'm really happy for Greg and for the whole team."

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