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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, November 18, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If it's the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number? - Robin Williams

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Peter Sagan wins Shanghai Criterium

Here's the race organizer's summary:

Peter Sagan claimed the second edition of the Tour de France Škoda Shanghai Criterium after prevailing in a three-way sprint against 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas and European champion Matteo Trentin, who took the second and third steps on the podium. Just for once, the former world champion left the green jersey to Marcel Kittel, who showed his strength in the intermediate sprints, while Pierre Latour, the best young rider in July, was the only one who managed to defend his jersey. Finally, his leader, Romain Bardet, won the combativity prize.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan beat Geraint Thomas (yellow jersey) and Matteo Trentin in Shanghai. ASO photo

Romain Bardet in the same team as Geraint Thomas, with the Tour de France champion facing off against lieutenant Jonathan Castroviejo. Someone had to come up with this, and it was the Chinese fans that did so, choosing the composition of the two squads in the team time trial through the Weibo social network. Over a million fans went for this awkward mix. Even though it took the teams a lap to get used to riding together, both trains surged on the second lap to finish the 6 km time trial at an average speed of 44.4 km/h. As it turns out, the five-man team of Sagan, Kittel, Trentin, Castroviejo and Zhang Chunlong beat the quintet of Thomas, Bardet, Latour, Fuglsang and Wang Meiyin by just two seconds.

The Shanghai roller coaster is no place for distractions! This is the golden rule of races on dynamic circuits, particularly when points are up for grabs every four laps. A brave group of six riders, including Romain Bardet, Wang Meiyin, Nils Politt and Daniel Oss, rolled the dice from the start. However, the peloton never conceded more than 20″ and reeled them in on the fifth lap, leaving a five-man group to launch a counter-attack. Marcel Kittel ruled the roost and nabbed the points on offer at the second intermediate sprint, capitalising on the absence of green jersey Peter Sagan, usually voracious in these sprints. The German sprinter, who went home empty-handed from the Grande Boucle, was eager to make amends in China by taking the points classification, despite Luka Mezgec sticking to his wheel at the third intermediate sprint.

Bardet, almost as lively as on the Alpine slopes, surged again from the leading group with a counter-attack that caught the eye of the jury of the combativity prize. It all came back together on lap 16 of 20. A magic square broke away from the peloton with ten kilometres to go, featuring Geraint Thomas, Peter Sagan, Pierre Latour and Matteo Trentin. The yellow jersey kicked it up a notch with just over two laps to go, dropping the white jersey, who found himself in an awkward position between the front of the race and the fast-chasing peloton. A three-way sprint started to take shape on the final lap. The European champion had an ace up his sleeve, but Peter Sagan pre-empted him to accelerate with over 300 metres to go and let his sheer power do the talking. They should not have tickled the dragon's tail!

He may not be as lean as he once was, but the Luxembourger's smile and bright eyes have not changed a bit since he won the 2010 Tour de France. Andy Schleck hung up his bicycle a while ago, but he still visits the peloton regularly as an ambassador for Škoda, which asked him to be its public face at the event in China: "I know the country well, I come here quite often and you can see how fast cycling is growing here. I went for a ride with over 2,000 amateurs this morning. This place has loads of potential". Watching the Criterium from the sidelines, Schleck also took the opportunity to take in the scent of competition without the usual pressure: "These boys were my colleagues not so long ago, and many of them are still good friends. It's always a pleasure to be here, I feel at home."

Lucinda Brand wins World Cup cross race in Tabor

Brand's Team Sunweb sent me this report:

Racing in Tabor today, Team Sunweb's Lucinda Brand (NED) has taken her first world cup victory in an impressive style. The 29-year-old overtook her competition on the home straight, sprinting to the win on the icey course.

Lucinda Brand

Lucinda Brand wins in Tabor

Speaking after the win, Brand said: "I didn't have the quickest start, but it was one long line and I could take advantage of being in the wheels to try to move closer to the front. I was feeling strong but on every lap there was a really icey section where it was difficult to even walk normally, I knew I felt good so I just had to stay calm and I managed to come back every time. I'm super happy with my first world cup win."

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "Lucinda showed last year that these are parcours that suit her really well. After finishing 2nd at the European championships it's great to see her take her first world cup win here." 

Julian Alaphilippe to start 2019 season at Argentina's Vuelta a San Juan

Here's the update from Alaphilippe's Team Quick-Step:

One of the standout riders of 2018 – a year that saw him grow in stature and capture no less than 12 victories, including Flèche Wallonne, Clasica San Sebastian, two stages and the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France – Julian Alaphilippe is already making plans for next year, despite being more than two months away from the start of a new campaign, his sixth since turning pro with Quick-Step Floors.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe riding in stage 16 of the 2018 Tour de France. Sirotti photo

After the team presentation which will take place at the beginning of January, Julian will fly to Argentina for Vuelta a San Juan, a happy hunting ground for Quick-Step Floors in the past two years. The race, where we notched up a total of seven stage wins with three different riders since its revival, is scheduled to start on January 20 and conclude seven days later.

Next up for the Frenchman will be Tour Colombia (February 12-17), an event that will see him test the legs on several stinging climbs of the Antioquia region, which should play a big part in the final outcome. Formerly known as Colombia Oro y Paz, the race which will run just its second edition was where Julian kicked off his 2018 season in style, by becoming the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault, in 1986, to win a stage on Colombian soil.

"Last season was truly memorable, but that's history now and the only thing that matters is what next year will bring in terms of results. I'm very motivated to keep the ball rolling, add to the results I have enjoyed together with this fantastic team and show what I'm capable of, as I'm confident I haven't reached my limits yet."

"Starting early, in Argentina – a country of which I've heard only great things from Max Richeze – and then in Colombia, where I took my first win in 2018, will give me the chance to find my legs right away after the off-season and lay the foundation for what I hope to be another beautiful and memorable year", said Julian, who next month will attend Quick-Step Floors' first training camp in Calpe.

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