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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, May 19, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories. - Steven Wright

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tim Wellens abandons Giro

Wellens' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this sad news:

Tim Wellens won’t be standing at the start of the fourteenth Giro d’Italia stage today. The Belgian – who won the fourth stage in an impressive manner – has been suffering from a sore throat and the first signs of a bronchitis the past days, and he had a fever after yesterday’s stage.

Doctor Steven Bex: “Tim had a fever, which means it’s no option to let him continue racing. The past days his body was already fighting against laryngitis and bronchitis, which is a logical consequence of the tiredness. The Giro has been exhausting for all riders, because of the travelling, the long transports and stages, which ask the maximum of the riders every day. Also the in theory easier stages turned out to be tough. Tim is someone who wants to seize opportunities every day and he isn’t cut out to hide in the bunch. He now has to recover and then he can focus on new goals.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens winning stage four of this year's Giro

Tim Wellens: “It’s never fun to abandon a Grand Tour. Thanks to my stage win I can say my Giro has been a success, but I would have loved to aim for a second victory. The past days I had a go, but I could not take enough advantage. Already after the move from Israel to Sicily I felt as if I couldn’t catch up on sleep and that didn’t improve with the move to the mainland. You notice the tiredness in the peloton, and the battle among the GC riders still has to really begin. I will take some days of rest and hope to resume training afterwards.”

Giro d'Italia stage thirteen news

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Elia Viviani's Quick-Step team's reports with the stage thirteen results.

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

Cycling's World Championships

Two-time stage winner Simon Yates has finished safely in the bunch sprint on stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia to maintain his race lead. The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider has a 47second advantage from Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) ahead of a much-awaited weekend of racing, including the famous Zoncolan finish tomorrow.

‘Easy day’:
For the first time this Giro d'Italia, the day’s stage played out as expected – a straight forward sprint stage. Five riders went off the front, none within an hour of the general classification battle, and the sprint teams controlled them between three and four minutes.

The catch was made with six kilometres as the sprint trains formed, Quickstep the victor courtesy of Elia Viviani.

Big weekend ahead:
The stage is now set for an important weekend of racing – with back-to-back mountain stages. Tomorrow features what many describe as the toughest climb in Europe, whilst Sunday is easily crucial following such a brutal day prior.

Simon Yates – Race Leader:
“The guys did a really good job keeping me in the front, and then once the sprinters came to the front I was safely in the peloton so it was OK.

“It was the easiest day we've had so far, but no race is easy. I'm looking forward to tomorrow now. I was in the front all day. I didn't actually see or speak to too many people. I was just relaxing with the guys up there.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates will climb the Zoncolan in pink.

"I don’t know the Zoncolan, I’ve never reconned it – I've only seen it on TV. I hope to have good legs and, if so, I’ll try something.

"It’s been a hard race every day, except today. Everyone is tired and everyone is talking about the Zoncolan but if someone goes too deep tomorrow, they might pay the price the day after, which is another very difficult stage."

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

Like in the previous days, a group of five riders went up the road but the peloton closed the gap 6km before the finish and the expected bunch sprint was set up. The BORA – hansgrohe equipe took control over the pace in the peloton and wanted to achieve another good result with their sprinter Sam Bennett, who sprinted to another podium result for BORA – hansgrohe as he crossed the line in 2nd place behind stage winner E. Viviani.

The Stage
The13th day at the Giro d’Italia was again a day destined for the fastest wheels in the peloton. At 13:00 the riders left Ferrara and went on a completely flat course over 180km to the city of Nervesa della Battaglia. Two intermediate sprints, one at the 70km mark and the second one after 127km of racing were taken today. Over the last kilometres the route ran totally flat, therefore another bunch sprint was expected.

The Team Tactics
The team started into today´s stage with two victories and five podium results, therefore the team was confident to go for another top result today. This meant that the team’s priority would be to deliver Sam Bennett to the finish in a position to go maybe for his third stage win.

The Race
Like in the previous stages a five-man breakaway escaped relatively early into the 180km long stage and built a gap of three minutes. The peloton, with BORA – hansgrohe ridding in, held the front group on a short leash. The breakaway was gone for most of the stage, BORA – hansgrohe pulled hard in front of the peloton to control the gap. With 13km to go the race had to face a short climb, where BORA – hansgrohe stayed again in the front of the main bunch and set the pace together with Quick-Step Floors. 6km before the finish the five escapees were caught and the race came alive. As approaching the finale, the sprinters teams started to form their lead-out, BORA – hansgrohe sprinter Sam Bennett stayed on the wheel of E. Viviani. A battle between the BORA – hansgrohe rider and Quick-Step Floors rider saw Viviani crossing the line first ahead of yesterday´s stage winner Bennett.

Elia viviani

Elia Viviani dives for the line ahead of everyne else.

From the Finish Line
"The team worked again perfectly together and protected me the whole day. In the finale I couldn´t overtake Viviani I was a little too far behind and couldn't make back the ground but I am happy with my second place. Tomorrow will be a really tough stage, where I want to support our GC contenders as best as possible." - Sam Bennett

“Even today: Big compliment to the whole team. After Sam’s two stage victories, of course, we were motivated to go for another good result, which meant again a lot of work for us. We aren´t here with just a sprinter team, we also have two riders in the overall ranking. But we followed the plan and the boys worked good together. Sam took second after 5km sprint without a lead-out. I think that shows his great shape. Tomorrow will be a day for the GC contenders but with this spirit at the moment we are confident, we will see what the outcome will be.” – Christian Pömer, sports director 

Tour of Norway Team reports

We posted the report from stage three winner Dylan Groenewegen's LottoNL-Jumbo team with the race results.

Here's the race news from Edvald Boasson Hagen's Dimension Data team:

Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) won stage three ahead of Team Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen. Sondre Holst Enger (Israel Cycling Academy) finished third.

Dylan Gorenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen wins stage three,

Stage three at the Tour of Norway was a 175km stage stretching from Moss to Sarpsborg and included two category three climbs. A break of four riders made it away relatively early during the race. Together with Team LottoNL-Jumbo and Israel Cycling Academy, our riders worked hard to bring the break back in the final km of racing.

Heading into the final sprint, Edvald Boasson Hagen was positioned near the front. He was just behind Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) heading into the final 100 meters. With a burst of speed, Groenewegen out-sprinted Boasson Hagen to the finish line. Groenewegen now holds the leader’s jersey, with Boasson Hagen just one second behind him.

Gino van Oudenhove – Sports Director
It was pretty controlled by the leader’s team. The break in front were pretty strong. Towards the end, the team did a tremendous job,making sure that the break were caught with 500 meters to go. Groenewegen was too fast, but Eddy was 2nd and he is now only one second from the yellow jersey.

Tour of California team reports

We posted the report from stage six winner Egan Bernal's Team Sky with the race results.

Here's the Tour of California report Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

The Queen Stage is always a race’s hardest stage, and this was the case on the penultimate day of the Tour of California. Seven categorised climbs dotted the profile, and a late first category ascent looked like the perfect spot to launch a late attack. This was the case today, as a late escape took the win. Still suffering from the effects of the crash he was involved in on yesterday’s stage, while his GC rivals wasted energy trying to respond to attacks Rafał Majka calmly rode at his own pace and protected his position in the GC race by taking eighth at the finish.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal wins the Tour of California's Queen Stage.

The Stage
At 196.5km, the stage was the second longest of the race, but more important was the sheer difficulty of it – it was clear why today was the Tour of California’s Queen Stage. The stage profile looked like it was simply one huge climb, peppered with no fewer than seven categorised ascents. A first category climb came shortly before the third category finale, which could be used as the perfect springboard for a late attack, whether on the closing stages of this 12.7km, 6.1% ascent, or on the descent ahead of the Lake Tahoe finish. One thing was for certain – the GC race for the yellow jersey could be decided on today’s stage, and so there were guaranteed fireworks at the finish.

The Team Tactics
There were a little more than two and a half minutes separating the GC top ten, and in sixth position, the team would be working to give Rafał Majka every opportunity to push for a podium spot. This climbers’ stage would suit a rider like Rafał, but much of the team’s tactics would depend on how the day unfolded, both in ensuring that the Polish rider’s close rivals in the GC race weren’t presented with a chance to attack or escape and steal valuable seconds on this pivotal stage, and to capitalise on those riders who were feeling the strain of a hard stage and take some time from them. Rafał would be surrounded with BORA-hansgrohe jerseys throughout the day, with his teammates ready to respond to any eventuality and any opportunity that might arise.

The Race
The climbing started from the moment the flag dropped, and riders would have to make their way up three categorised ascents before the midway point. This, of course, took place in some blazing Californian sunshine, but the day’s break wasn’t put off by the terrain nor the hot weather, with nine men escaping as soon as the chance presented itself. With no GC contenders in their midst, the peloton was happy to let them go, their advantage increasing steadily, reaching more than five minutes at its peak, but this wasn’t for long, with the peloton driving the pace to keep them in touch. By the 30km to go point, this gap was down to just 1:15, by 20km the peloton was picking off the break’s stragglers, and by 15km it was all back together – only for the fireworks to start. Rafał had been riding well in the bunch as it was clear the other GC riders were feeling the pressure, but as the predicted attacks came, he didn’t respond and chose instead to ride at his own pace, knowing that his rivals would be burning themselves out by trying to chase, while also protecting his fitness, having been involved in a crash on yesterday’s stage. While a lone attacker took the win, Rafał had worked his way back through the field to take eighth on the stage and to keep hold of his sixth spot in the GC.

From the Finish Line
"It wasn't an easy day for me. I gave it all to stay in the group together with the main contenders but my injuries in my crash yesterday didn't allow me to do any better. It really is a pity, I was in good shape, my form was improving every day. My teammates did an excellent job to place me in a strong position for the climb but again, the injuries pulled me back. Tomorrow, we will all help Peter win the final stage in Sacramento." – Rafal Majka

"We had a hard mountain stage today and we all tried our best but Rafał was still feeling the repercussions from yesterday's crash, so he wasn't racing at his top condition. Everybody gave all they had, we tried to make the best out of the situation and take the 14 seconds needed to reach fifth in the GC, but it wasn't possible. We would have wished for more, but that's racing." – Patxi Vila, Sports Director 

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