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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. - William Butler Yeats

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Presidential Tour of Turkey stage one team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Maximiliano Richeze's Quick-Step team with the results

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

The first stage of the Tour of Turkey took the riders over 150km with start and finish in the city of Konya. The BORA – hansgrohe riders showed from kilometre zero a strong performance and set the pace in the peloton, while five riders went up the road as today’s breakaway of the day. As the group was caught the race went on fire, especially in the final kilometres many riders slipped away. BORA – hansgrohe brought their sprinter Sam Bennett in a good position, but it was Quick-Step Floors rider M. Richeze, who took the win ahead of Bennett in a tricky finale.

Max Richeze

Max Richeze wins the Tour of Turkey's first stage. Photo: Getty Sport

From the Finish Line
“I was in a good position but I knew we have still five more stages, therefore I didn’t want to take any more risks in this tricky finale. The last corner was tough, some riders slipped away, therefore we kept attention, especially in the final kilometres. The guys did a great job the whole day and, in the finale, I did the best I could but Quick-Step Floors had the faster legs today but there are still five stages left and I will try my best.” – Sam Bennett

“The finale was dangerous, especially the last corners. Sam was in a promising position, he stayed on the wheels of some Quick-Step Floor riders. But on the last corner, some slipped away, therefore Sam lost some positions as well. A second place is a great result, but of course we wanted to go for the victory. Nevertheless, the guys showed a strong performance, Juraj, Maciej and Lukas rode a strong race, all boys took control over the race. Tomorrow will be another stage and we will try our best again.” – Enrico Poitschke, sports director

And here's the report from third-place Jempy Drucker's BMC team:

9 October, 2018, Konya (TUR): BMC Racing Team's Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey campaign got off to a good start with Jempy Drucker sprinting to third on stage one after a hectic finale.

A fast start to the 148.4-kilometer course saw five riders go clear early but, the peloton, led by the sprinters' teams, was keen to keep control of the race and, as a result, the breakaway's advantage was never allowed to extend beyond two minutes.

At the summit of the day's second categorized climb, with just over 40 kilometers to go, the main bunch had pulled the leaders back to within 1'30" and the catch was eventually made 27 kilometers later after the gentle downhill run back into Konya.

BMC Racing Team, working for Drucker, started to move up to the front of the peloton with around 20 kilometers to go and held their place when the battle for position began after the leaders were swept up. The pace continued to intensify in the final kilometers of the day and Drucker was able to maintain his strong position in the bunch before making his way up into the first ten positions with ease approaching the flamme rouge.

Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors) launched his sprint early, just after the final sweeping corner that led onto the finishing straight, but an impressive burst of acceleration from Drucker saw him start to pull away slightly from the rest of the contenders behind the eventual stage winner.

Drucker looked strong as he continued to power towards the finish on the opening day of racing before stepping onto the podium in third place after being narrowly beaten on the line by Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe).

Jempy Drucker:
"I wanted to be in a good position pretty early going into the final of the stage because the race itself wasn't too hard so a lot of guys were fresh and trying to do the sprint. I was able to do that, which was good, and on the last turn, I knew I had to be in front. I was there but I probably took the wrong line as I went on the outside."

"When I saw that Quick-Step Floors had made a gap for Richeze, I came from behind and decided to put all my cards on the table and try to catch him. I knew that it was either do that or wait to sprint for second place so, I decided to try to win and if that didn't happen then I would see what I could do but at least I wouldn't regret not trying."

"This is a good start to the race for me. I'm here to go for the sprints and I showed today that I can be up there. Of course, this technical final suited me but we will continue to take the race day by day and take the opportunities that become available to us and play our cards well."

Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck:
"We started the race without any stress and we were able to take it relatively easy in the main bunch with the big sprinters' teams controlling the peloton. Then, as we started to get closer to the finish, the guys did an excellent job to help Jempy get into position before he finished in third place."

"There were a couple of wide corners in the closing kilometers and even though it was dry, the roads are pretty slippery, so we knew that the first corner with two kilometers to go was already important and Jempy was able to survive the first selection after that and that helped put him in a good position. We knew it would be a hectic finish so, the guys were ready for that and they did a good job."

"Today was a good start to the race for us and if we can deliver something like this, or better, every day then that would be perfect."

Lotto-Soudal gets new general manager, previews upcoming races

Yesterday we reported that Lotto-Soudal's manager Paul de Guyter had left the team. Here's the team's release naming its new General Manager:

The Lotto Soudal WorldTour team is pleased to introduce John Lelangue as General Manager.

He has lots of experience in cycling as team manager of BMC Racing Team, as organizer of the World Championships in Doha Qatar 2016, as assistant competition director at ASO Tour de France and as Senior and Technical Advisor at the UCI.

In 2019 his team will be reinforced by Performance Manager Kevin De Weert and the Australian rider Caleb Ewan with whom we hope to write a beautiful new chapter. Other plans of the Lotto Soudal WorldTour team, U23 team and Ladies team will be announced during a press briefing in the presence of John Lelangue in the second half of October.

And here's Lotto-Soudal's preview up upcoming racing:

This week three Italian races are scheduled for Lotto Soudal: Milan-Turin (10/10, 1.HC), GranPiemonte (11/10, 1.HC) and the last Classic of the season ‘Il Lombardia’ (13/10, WorldTour).

Milan-Turin, of which the 99th edition will be held this week, was contested a first time in 1876. This race of 200 kilometres leads the peloton through the Po Valley. The last 25 kilometres are the tough part, with two ascents of the Colle di Superga where the finish line is drawn. GranPiemonte, a race that’s on the calendar for the 102nd time, is only 191 kilometres long and therefore the shortest of the week. The course, with a home straight of one kilometre, is perfect for a bunch sprint. It’s the 112th edition of Il Lombardia this year. The riders start in Bergamo and will finish in Como after 241 kilometres and 4000 elevation metres. In the last seventy kilometres the Madonna del Ghisallo and Muro di Sormano await the riders, before hitting the Civiglio. At the end of the race the riders need to climb one last hill of 1700 metres, with an average gradient of 5%. Afterwards three kilometres are left till the finish.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Milan-Turin has a mainly flat course, until the riders get to Turin. There the peloton needs to cover the Colle di Superga twice. It’s not a long climb, but it’s a tough one (9.1% average gradient, with peaks up to 14%, LTS). This will be a last test for the riders who want to set a good result at Il Lombardia. GranPiemonte is a flat race where the peloton could sprint for victory. Although there are no pure sprinters at the start and that’s why no team will want to control the race. So there is a chance that a large breakaway, in which many teams are represented, stays ahead till the finish. We need to make sure we have a guy in a break that has potential. There’s a change of course in the finale of Il Lombardia due to a road closure, but that finale is mainly the same as previous years and this small adaptation won’t influence the race. At Milan-Turin we’ll already see who we can expect to battle for the win on Saturday.”

Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens are the leaders at Lotto Soudal for Il Lombardia. They would have had Jelle Vanendert at their side, but unfortunately the flu prevents him from racing this week. He is replaced by James Shaw.

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot (shown at this year's Vuelta) will be a team leader at Il Lombardia. Sirotti photo

Bart Leysen: “Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens will definitely want to test their legs on the final climb of Milan-Turin. I hope they have a very good day on Saturday. The ascent of the Civiglio will be crucial; you need to cross that with the first riders to be able to battle for victory in Como. It’s important to save as much energy as possible before reaching the Civiglio. There is a slight chance of rain on Saturday and that could be an advantage for us. Tim already got fourth once in Lombardia (in 2014, LTS) and is now a few years older and more experienced, so he is definitely capable of setting a top result. The same goes for Tiesj. He had a bad day at the Worlds, but rode a strong Eurométropole Tour the week before and that condition can’t have vanished. He proved that at Paris-Tours last Sunday.”

“We got the chance this season to participate in Milan-Turin and GranPiemonte and we grabbed that chance with both hands. In the past, a run-up along these two races seemed to be helping to perform well at Il Lombardia. A race is often better than a training as a preparation. But we don’t see this races as mere preparation though. Lombardia is the main goal, but of course we also want to animate the other two races.”

“And we have a strong team for it. Thomas De Gendt can definitely join breakaways this week, also in Lombardia. Thomas hasn’t raced anymore since the Vuelta, so maybe he needs the first two races to get back in the race rhythm, on the other hand he might immediately set a great performance on Wednesday. You never know with Thomas. Jens Keukeleire had to skip Paris-Tours last weekend, but he’s sufficiently recovered to race this week. After his crash at the Tour, he was out of competition for several weeks and therefore he still feels fresh. Jens will support his teammates and on Thursday he’s our man for the possible bunch sprint. James Shaw was strong at the Worlds (He got 10th at the U23 road race, LTS), which proves he’s still in a good condition at the end of the season. That made him the perfect replacement for Jelle Vanendert. Bjorg Lambrecht knows a large part of the course of Il Lombardia from the U23 edition (He got 3rd in 2016, LTS). He can gain experience this week and support the team where possible. Maxime Monfort on the other hand has lots of experience. He will be our team captain this week.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Keukeleire, Bjorg Lambrecht, Maxime Monfort, James Shaw and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Bart Leysen.

Mitchelton-Scott add Tsgabu Grmay to roster

The team sent me this update:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has added Ethiopian climber Tsgabu Grmay to its 2019 roster as it continues to build momentum following an inaugural Grand Tour victory at this year’s Vuelta a Espana.

27-year-old Grmay joins the Australian outfit for the next two seasons after riding for Trek-Segafredo in 2018 and will be an important part of the climbing group that targets general classification results throughout the season with the team’s leaders Simon and Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves.

Grmay, a six-time national champion, comes to the team with the experience of five Grand Tours, including two full Tour de France races.

Tsgabu Grmay

Tsgabu Grmay at the 2016 Dauphiné

Matt White – Head Sports Director:
“Tsgabu is an interesting story. He hasn’t had the normal development through cycling as most of our guys have had, but he is quite an experienced campaigner. He started his career on what was MTN Qubeka then, and he has had a couple of different teams these last years.

“He is a little fighter and he is a solid little climber. He is only 27, but he is a very versatile guy. He time trials well, he climbs well and he is another guy that we are going to use to back up our leaders in a lot of the climber races throughout the season.

Tsgabu Grmay:
“I’m so happy and really excited for next year. When we got the get the call from the team it was an easy decision because I have been following the team for many years. What the team do in terms of having fun off the bike but keeping it serious business on the bike fighting for the win, I want to be part of that. I always try to push myself and smile as much as I can, so it will be perfect with the team.

“I will come in with a role to the support the GC guys in the climbs and that will be my main job. I will of course be wherever the team want me to be, especially on the hard mountain days, and I will work hard for that and I’m ready.

“When I said back in 2010 and 2011 my dream was to ride the Tour de France one day people laughed at me and said it was impossible but after six years I made it. Now I believe it’s possible I can win one stage in the Tour de France, that’s my dream and every morning I wake up and that is my goal and my life and one day I will do it for sure. It will be hard, but it was hard to be the first Ethiopian to make the WorldTour and race the Tour de France so why not?”

Taco van der Hoorn joins LottoNL-Jumbo

The team sent me this:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo confirms the arrival of Taco van der Hoorn. The 24-year-old rider from Wageningen has signed a two-year contract with the Dutch World Tour team of manager Richard Plugge. “We consider Taco a good classic rider and we’ll develop him into an even better classic specialist”, sportive director Merijn Zeeman of Team LottoNL-Jumbo said.

Van der Hoorn has been part of Team Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij for two years. He has high expectations of his transfer. “Young riders really get better at Team LottoNL-Jumbo. I’m proud to become part of the team. In their early years, many riders were not considered very talented, but they have developed into good pros anyway. I never was a big talent as a youngster, but I still make progress every year”, Van der Hoorn explains.

Van der Hoorn wishes to play a significant role in the final of the main spring classics. “It’s cool that I can pursue that goal at Team LottoNL-Jumbo”, he says. Due to a concussion, he wasn’t able to race for six months this season. Straight after his comeback, he won a stage in the BinckBankTour. He also won the Primus Classic. “The way he returned in the peloton after that concussion proves his exceptional capabilities”, Zeeman concludes.

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