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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 25, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. - Shirley Chisholm

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Giro d'Italia stage 18 reports

We posted the organizer's and GC leader Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team's reports with the stage results.

Here's the race report from stage winner Max Schachmann's Quick-Step team:

Maximilian Schachmann put on a dazzling performance on the first summit finish of the third week and rode to a magnificent solo win on Pratonevoso – a 12.9km-long climb averaging 7.2% which featured in the race for just the third time in history – landing the 35th German success in the Corsa Rosa, one that came after a day that belonged to the breakaway, where Quick-Step Floors was represented by the second-year pro and Michael Mørkøv, one of the most experienced riders in the peloton.

"This is a really hard Giro, which makes it even nicer to be on top on such a stage. Michael played a big part in this victory, he's my roommate at this race and a great rider from whom I learned a lot, and what he did for me today underlines again our fantastic team spirit", said Max, only the third German rider to win a summit finish at the Giro d'Italia, after Rudi Altig (1966) and Udo Bolts (1992).

Many riders had the goal of making it into the break on the first stage of this week's brutal Alpine triptych, and for that reason attacks came in quick succession soon after the start in Abbiategrasso, a move taking shape only after 30 kilometers. At the feed zone, the twelve men – which included Mørkøv and Grand Tour debutant Schachmann – were 15 minutes ahead and it became clear there were going to make it, especially as Pratonevoso, despite being a long ascent, wasn't excessively steep.

On the first ramps of the climb, the front group was halved, but both Max and Michael made the cut before a double-pronged attack of Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec) left only the two and Schachmann on the front. Inside the last three kilometers, the 24-year-old German put in a searing attack which dispatched Plaza and continued to do most of the work. His opponent tested Max with a brace of attacks, but the Quick-Step Floors rider responded with remarkable ease, before powering clear some 500 meters from the finish, where he raised his arms in celebration, as he became the first rider to win a Grand Tour mountain stage on disc brakes.

Max Schachmann

Max Schachmann gets a clear win.

After helping Quick-Step Floors write history as the first team in the modern era to score at least five stage victories in four consecutive Grand Tours, Max explained how much this win meant for him: "I was aware that my opponents were experienced, so I kept an eye on them and their moves, but knowing that my legs were strong gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to play it cool in the final, and that's why I opened my sprint so early. This race already was a great experience that I'll never forget, helping Elia in the sprints and enjoying so many fantastic moments with my teammates, but winning a stage at my first Grand Tour presence is something special that serves as confirmation of all the hard work and progress I made since turning pro."

The 196km-long stage, which concluded with 80th Grand Tour stage victory of Quick-Step Floors since the squad's inception, saw Elia Viviani retain the lead in the points classification, three days from Rome, where the Giro d'Italia will draw the curtain on the 101st edition.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this Giro report:

Today was a day, where the breakaway made it to the finish, and BORA – hansgrohe rider Christoph Pfingsten was one of the ten riders in front, who opened up a massive gap over the peloton right from the start. On the last kilometres M. Schachmann increased the pace and was able to take the stage win after nearly 200 km in front of the race. Like in the past two weeks BORA – hansgrohe’s Christoph Pfingsten showed an incredibly strong performance up to the tough finish and finished in fourth position.

The Stage
The 18thstage of the Giro d’Italia ran over 196 km across the Po Plain from Abbiategrasso to the summit finish Prato Nevoso. The route passed two intermediate sprints and one short climb (cat. 4). The stage was fairly flat until the final 15 km, the steep climb at a gradient averaging almost 7%.

The Team Tactics
Today’s stage profile offered several options: either a big breakaway group or an attack launched by the team’s climbers shortly before the finish. The team’s double strategy had one main goal, to get Patrick Konrad safely through this tough stage and secure his position in the overall ranking.

The Race
From drop of the flag ten riders went up the road, one of them was BORA – hansgrohe rider Christoph Pfingsten. The breakaway of the day opened up a massive gap over the peloton.

With 85 km remaining the gap was more than 13 minutes and the German rider showed a very strong performance, just like in the previous stages. The group worked perfectly together and had a 14 minutes gap with 35 km to go. Therefore, it was clear that this group would make to the finish line without getting caught by the peloton. As the break headed into the final climb of the day, Christoph Pfingsten was in a good position at the front and rode his rhythm, but on the last kilometres two riders increased the pace and built a little gap. One rider was able to join the two in the front of the race and the trio faced the final metres up to Prato Nevoso, where M. Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) took the win. BORA – hansgrohe rider Christoph Pfingsten finished fourth after another very strong and consistent performance.

From the Finish Line
“The plan was to go in the break, and it worked out well as I managed to jump in when a group of riders attacked. Very soon we had a big gap over the peloton. As we faced the final climb of the day, we were only a few riders left, but the legs made the decision. After two weeks of racing my legs weren’t strong enough to achieve a podium spot. Of course, I am a little bit disappointed, as I was so close to a podium spot, and it would have been absolutely amazing for me. But I think, a top-five result in this tough stage of a Grand Tour is also a good result.” – Christoph Pfingsten

“We planned today’s stage with two options. Either a bigger breakaway would get the chance to make it to the finish or a group of climbers with puncheur qualities would launch a late attack on the final climb to put some pressure on the Maglia Rosa. We were super happy as one of our great helpers Christoph Pfingsten made it in the break of the day. After all his great work for the team as lead-out and helper, he had his chance today, and he was so close to achieve a stage win. Respect to him, great result today! Also, I think we can be satisfied with Patrick’s performance today. His teammates supported him very well and he moved up to 10th place in the overall ranking again. We are looking confidently into the two upcoming tough stages.” – Christian Pömer, sports director 

UAE-Team Emerates sent me this Giro report:

UAE Team Emirates’ Marco Marcato took a well-earned fifth place in today’s race, staying with the breakaway for over 175kms and crossing the line just 1:26” behind the race winner Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors).

Stage 18 was a relatively easy day in the saddle for the peloton as they travelled from Abbieategrasso on the outskirts of Milan to Prato Nevoso in the southern Cuneo area. The first 130kms of the route were pan flat, before the riders were faced with a short categorized climb at Novello and a gradual ascent towards the foot of the final climb; a 15km paved road, entirely uphill, with gradients staying constant at 7%.

UAE Team Emirates’ Marco Marcato looked in great shape as he gambled early and went with the first break of the day after only 15 minutes of racing. His decision paid off as the break worked well together to stay away from the peloton for the remainder of the race, hitting the final climb 16 minutes ahead of the pink jersey group. With 10kms to go Marcato attacked the breakaway, dropping three riders. With 8kms to go he was at the front of the race with just six others; the pace was fast and the attacks were frequent, with UAE Team Emirates’ front runner matching each one. Eventually he lost the wheel of the final attack and came in fifth place – a respectable position for a rider who doesn’t specialise in climbing.

Commenting on his performance, Marcato said: “The arrival, with the summit climb, was not completely suitable for me, however I was in a good position when the breakaway went clear and I decided to go with them. The attack’s advantage became larger and larger and we had the chance to battle for the stage victory. On the climb to Prato Nevoso I tried to give my best, but my opponents were stronger climbers”.

Tomorrow’s stage takes the riders into the mountains once again as they face the penultimate summit finish of the Giro. The 184km route from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia boasts no less than four categorized climbs; the second of which, Colle Del Finestre, features a 9.2% average gradient and 45 hairpin bends over an 18km stretch – with the top 9kms being ridden entirely on gravel roads. After a manageable third climb up the Sestriere, the route descends into the Oulx valley before making its way towards the Jafferau- a short, sharp ascent with 9-10% gradients that top out at 14%, making this a tough finish to a punishing stage.

Tour des Fjords final reports

We posted the report from GC winner Michael Albasini's Mitchelton-Scott team with the race results.

Here's the report from stage three winner Bjorg Lambrecht's Lotto-Soudal squad:

Today, the final stage of the Tour des Fjords was scheduled. With over 4,000 metres of elevation between Farsund and Egersund, it promised to be a really tough stage. Attack after attack was launched, but eventually a select group of riders would sprint for the win. Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht proved to be the strongest in the sprint and took his first pro victory! He beat Michael Albasini and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Lambrecht also finished second in the general classification, only six seconds down on Albasini.

Bjorg Lambrecht

Bjorg Lambrecht wins the final stage.

After one hour of racing, six riders managed to escape the peloton. The six escapees were Bernard, Cardona, Earle, Mas, Mihaylov and Lotto Soudal rider Maxime Monfort. Mitchelton-Scott took the initiative at the front of the peloton and kept the advantage limited to three minutes. After several climbs on the way to Egersund, only Earle and Monfort remained at the front. In the meantime, Canty, Doull, Weening and Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht set up a counterattack. Eventually, everything got back together at a few kilometres from the line. Several riders still tried to avoid the sprint, but they failed in their attempt. In the sprint, it was Bjorg Lambrecht who was the strongest! He beat Albasini and Boasson Hagen and took his first professional victory!

Bjorg Lambrecht: “It was a really tough stage today. We rode the first climb of the day at full speed and only twenty riders were left in the peloton including myself and teammate Maxime Monfort. Everything got back together in the descent and on the second climb of the day, Monfort escaped the peloton. That was an ideal situation for our team, that protected me all day long. I attacked on the ultimate climb of the day and joined a small group of riders. We worked together really well, but eventually we got caught by the peloton.”

“Then, we decided that we would go for the sprint. The team did an awesome job today. They delivered me at the front with three kilometres to go and then I just had to sprint. Of course, I was not sure of beating riders like Albasini and Boasson Hagen. But when I saw them slowing down at 300 metres from the finish, I went all out and sprinted to the victory. I am so happy I could finish it off, it’s like a dream come true.” 

“I knew it would be difficult to take the overall victory. I had expected that Albasini would finish on top three. But I am super happy with my victory today and a second place in the general classification.”

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