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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 18, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? - T. S. Eliot

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Giro d'Italia stage twelve news

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team's reports with the stage twelve results.

GC leader Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this:

A day flagged as a simple sprint stage turned out to be anything but in the finale, but Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Simon Yates finished safely in a reduced bunch on stage 12 to retain the overall lead at the Giro d'Italia.

Despite late attacks and splits, sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the stage with Yates and his general classification rivals all finishing in the reduced 50-rider bunch.

It was the pro-continental teams who dominated the day’s breakaway with Marco Frapporti (Androni – Sidermac), Mirco Maestri and Manuel Senni (Bardiani – CSF) and Jacopo Mosca and Eugert Zhupa (Willier Triestina – Selle) making the move.

They left without too much of a battle, and it settled the bunch into a steady tempo.

All for the sprint:
With little on the profile to upset a bunch finish, sprinters sent their teammates to the front to control the stage, giving Mitchelton-SCOTT some respite for the day.

Quickstep Floors, Bora-Hansgrohe and EF Education First – Drapac all contributed riders and kept the gap around three-minutes before making the catch with 20km to go.

Surprise finish:
A surprisingly difficult finish was made even harder with rain and the result was anything but a simple sprint.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates remains in pink.

A number of attacks flew in the final 20km, including a solo move by Tim Wellens (Lotto FixAll) and then a duo of Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and Carlos Betancur (Team Movistar). But in the end, Bennett surprised the reduced bunch by starting his sprint early and carrying it to the line.

Simon Yates - Race leader:
"It was good conditions for an Irishman [Bennett]! It was a very difficult final. I think a few guys underestimated that, me included. I think we've come through without any time loss, so it's OK.

"I saw a few guys going, but in those conditions, it's really hard to see who's going, which is why I reacted, actually. I wasn't sure who was there. Better to close it than to be behind.

“When a split in the bunch occurred, I had my team close to the front just to be careful. I heard through the radio there was a split but I didn’t know how many guys were there and how big the gap was. Once I heard [Domenico] Pozzovivo was caught behind, he was already back with the front group. Nobody likes to race in the rain but I have confidence in my equipment. It was a more difficult circuit at the end than we expected."

Tour of California team reports

We posted the race report from stage winner Fernando Gaviria's Quick-Step team with the race results.

GC leader Tejay van Garderen's BMC team sent me this:

17 May, 2018, Elk Grove, California (USA): Tejay van Garderen successfully defended the AMGEN Tour of California leader's jersey today after an excellent display of teamwork from BMC Racing Team saw him finish safely in the bunch sprint for the line.

With just one category three climb, the ascent to Pardee Dam Road Summit, coming around a third of the way through the 176.5km route from Stockton to Elk Grove, stage 5 was expected to be one for the sprinters in the race.

It didn't take long for the breakaway to form with five riders going clear almost as soon as the flag dropped and opening up an advantage that settled at around the three-minute mark after 30km of racing.

With the yellow jersey on the shoulders of van Garderen, BMC Racing Team was initially patrolling the front of the peloton before the sprinters' teams took control and began to set the pace in anticipation of the bunch sprint to come.

The gap remained stable going into the second half of the stage with van Garderen surrounded by his teammates in the first half of the bunch as the chase started to heat up approaching the 50km to go mark.

However, despite the increase in pace, it took another 35km to bring the three remaining leaders back to within one minute and the catch was eventually made inside 2km to go.

From there, the speed of the peloton got faster with every pedal stroke and after a chaotic final battle for position going under the flamme rouge, the sprint was launched with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) taking the honors.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins the stage.

After being protected by his teammates perfectly, van Garderen crossed the line safely in the main bunch and continues to lead the General Classification by 23 seconds heading into a big day of climbing on stage 6 tomorrow.

Tejay van Garderen:
"Today was a pretty straightforward day. It was more about conserving energy and staying safe. It got a little hectic there in the final, and I just had to stay glued to my teammates' wheels. They did a good job protecting me, and now it's all systems go for the stage tomorrow."

"Looking ahead to tomorrow, first of all, I think the breakaway will not roll off the line like you've seen it do the past few days. I'll bet it will be a hard breakaway to get into, just attrition-wise, and then the final climb heading up into Tahoe I expect that [Egan] Bernal and a lot of the other climbers will try to attack and win the race there."

Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"The guys did a super job today. Five guys went clear and almost immediately the sprinters' teams started to ride. We were nervous that there would be some windy sections that would split up the group but it was never a really big issue until the final. However, overall it was a pretty straightforward stage for us. Our guys rode in the front all day and in the final, it got pretty hectic with all the fighting for position. There was one big crash and a few of the major sprinters got a flat tire so it was definitely chaotic."

"Teamwork will also be important for us tomorrow. It's a hard, long day and we know that it's a climbers' day so we will have to have guys there with Tejay to pace the race and control the attacks. It's really the last time that anyone can make up time and I think everyone will try to do something if they can. We know that going in though and our guys are strong. Luckily today was a day that we could stay safe in and I think we are ready for tomorrow."

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

After the more mountainous stages and the individual time trial taking the sprinters out of contention for the past few stages, it was finally a chance for the fast men to take centre stage again today. The flat terrain made for a frenetic finale, with some tight turns and street furniture ready to catch the peloton unawares. Delivered by his teammates in a strong position, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was just unable to find the space to push on for the win, taking third on the line. With both a mountain stage and a final sprint stage still to come, the team would take every chance to work for Peter and Rafał Majka as the race draws to a close.

The Stage
After the flat parcours of stage 1, the other two road stages of the Tour of California hadn’t given the sprinters much of an opportunity to show their class, with undulating profiles and difficult climbs making it hard for the fast men to contest the win. On today’s 176.5km stage, there was only one third category climb, and with this coming at the 68km point, it gave the riders plenty of time to regroup before the predicted sprint finale in Elk Grove. The closing 10km would be both flat and fast, however with a few 90 degree turns before the finish line, riders would have to stay alert not to be caught out so close to the end.

The Team Tactics
Unless the day’s breakaway managed to hold off the peloton to deny them the stage win, today was an almost guaranteed bunch sprint. This meant that the team’s priority would be to deliver Peter Sagan to the finish in a position to go for the win. The BORA-hansgrohe riders would be the driving force in the peloton to bring in any escapes and control the pace – especially in the closing 50km. With tomorrow’s penultimate stage featuring some mountainous terrain where some time could be taken, just as important would be for the Rafał Majka to finish safely to be in a position to contest the overall as the race neared its end.

The Race
On such a hot day, riders would be grateful for the comparatively flat terrain, but on days like these, what the profile lacked in altitude, the peloton so often makes up for with sheer pace, and as soon as the flag dropped to start the stage, the attempts to break away came thick and fast. Five riders managed to leave the peloton behind, quickly building an advantage, their lead topping out at 3:30. As soon as BORA-hansgrohe got on the front of the peloton though, the gap was brought down steadily, but it wasn’t until just under 2km were remaining that the catch was made, the bunch passing by like they were standing still. Five men back when the sprint started, Peter was unable to make the space, finding himself boxed in with Ewan alongside him and the eventual stage winner, Gaviria, ahead of him. In spite of this, the UCI World Champion took third on the stage and Rafał finished with the same time as the sprinters, both ready to fight another day.

"It was another fast stage at the Tour of California, quite hotter than the other days. The squad again worked hard to close the gap with the breakaway – they have been putting such an effort this week. In the final kilometres, my brother Juraj, Daniel Oss and Michael Kolar did a great job in keeping me safe and positioning me well in the front of the bunch. I had a good spot for the sprint and did my best but it wasn't possible to overtake Gaviria. Rafał had a minor crash during the race but we are all happy it wasn't anything serious." – Peter Sagan

"We started the day with the aim to get the best result possible and worked hard during the whole stage to reach that goal. The guys put in a strong effort in the front of the peloton, pulling to control the race and keep the breakaway close. As expected, it all came down to a fast bunch sprint at the finish and Peter got another podium place. We would have liked a victory but Gaviria was stronger. I think that Peter is on the right path to reach his peak form. This year, he started his preparation for the second half of the season a bit later, so he isn't exactly where he was at this period last year." – Patxi Vila

Tour of Norway report from LottoNL-Jumbo, noting Lars Boom was kicked out of the race:

Dylan Groenewegen hasn’t been able to repeat yesterday’s success in the Tour of Norway. The sprinter of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was positioned well in the front of the peloton, but the ascent to the finish line took a little too long.

According to sports director Nico Verhoeven, the sprint was a lot harder than yesterday's. “The finish was at the top of an ascent of 1,800 metres. We had hoped that Dylan was good enough to sprint. At first, it indeed looked like he could sprint. But four hundred metres from the finish he was done.”

Timo Roosen noticed that his leader had a hard time. “I tried to reduce my speed a little, so that I could take Dylan with me in my wheel. In the end, my speed just wasn’t high enough to be able to compete for the win.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen

Edvald Boassson Hagen wins the stage in Norway.

Tomorrow’s stage is the stage where Groenewegen was successful last year. “The arrival is uphill again, but the slope is a lot shorter. Yet it remains a difficult arrival”, Nico Verhoeven said.

Lars Boom will not start in the stage. The Dutchman almost fell because, just in front of him, Preben van Hecke braked unnecessarily hard. Boom reacted disproportionately and was disqualified.

Despite new dates Eurobike 2018 is sold out

Bike Europe sent me this cycle industry update:

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – Despite, or maybe thanks, to its new dates, this year’s Eurobike, is completely booked. Not at the end of August, but on Sunday July 8 this year’s Eurobike will start and run for three days including Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Over 1,400 exhibitors will take up the complete floor space of the Messe Friedrichshafen exhibition complex.

The 2018 Eurobike show welcomes some 100 new exhibitors who are either making their premiere appearance at this year’s edition of the leading bike industry trade show, or who are returning to the Eurobike stage after an absence. According to a Eurobike press release they are “Reaffirming the new concept for the trade show and are proof of the vigorous dynamism currently characterizing the bike market.”

Kona is one of the names returning to the show that takes place in the south of Germany at the border of Lakes Constance. The company from the American Northwest is bringing its new e-MTB line Remote, equipped with Bosch drives as well as with sturdy luggage racks. With that Kona is building an electric bridge between the MTB and traveler bikes.

Kona will certainly not be the only one presenting such cross-over e-bikes. In particular as it is expected that e-bikes will dominate the 2018 Eurobike show. Among the many e-bike and e-bike component exhibitors there will also be an bunch of newcomers. And among them not the least of companies. Like he newly founded E-bike provider TechniBike. The name of the brand may sound new, but the company behind it is well known to many consumers: TechniBike, is a subsidiary of the entertainment electronics manufacturer TechniSat Digital GmbH. Now the new bike range is now being presented to the industry community for the first time at the Eurobike.

Another example of an Eurobike newcomer which is backed by a prominent parent company is Streetscooter. This Aachen, Germany based company was taken over by Deutsche Post AG in 2014 and since then has been developing electric vehicles for logistic services in city centers. E-bikes targeting bike-sharing systems and cargo are also part of Streetscooter’s range.

Exhibitors that celebrate their Eurobike debut not only include manufacturers of bicycles and e-bikes; many produce P&A. One example is the young company Rubber Kinetics, which was recently able to secure a licensing agreement with one of the most renewed brands in the bike segment. The American startup is going to produce and sell Goodyear branded bike tyres.

You can read the entire story here.

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