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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 1, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Vuelta a España stage seven team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the stage results.

Here's what stage winner Tony Gallopin had to say:

“Unbelievable! It’s a bit like when I won the stage at the Tour de France! Often, when I wait for the sprint, I am fast, but I finish only in 4th, 6th, 8th place… And then there is a little regret. Today I waited for the right moment to attack. I knew I had to find something to not regret, exactly. And that’s what happened. For me the solo victories are the most beautiful. I do try and grab mine in this way.

This morning, the plan was to go in the breakaway, which we did with Alexis (Gougeard). My teammates then placed me very well 20 kilometers from the finish, especially on the small roads. I stayed in contact with the best, in the top 10. When we arrived on that straight road, I had hatched my plan and my directeur sportif supported me.

This is a nice revenge after my complicated summer. When I joined the AG2R La Mondiale team, everything went well at first. But then I had a lot of bad luck: crashes, illness, my abandoning the Tour … Nevertheless, the team has always supported me. I’m happy to thank them today. It feels good!” - Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin wins Vuelta stage seven. Sirotti photo.

Field sprint winner Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report

An undulating stage awaited riders today, with 185.7km of ups and downs to drain the energy reserves of the already tired peloton. The arid landscapes of the previous stages giving way to greenery, the roads were still dry and dusty, which saw plenty of mechanicals and crashes, while temperatures remained high. A late attack took the stage win, but in the reduced bunch sprint for second, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, took second place with ease, showing just how much the Slovak rider has recovered in these seven stages. While involved in a crash in the final 10km, Emanuel Buchmann worked hard to finish in the lead group, protecting his GC third spot.

The Stage
Never dropping less than 500m above sea level, stage 7 was undulating all day. While there were just two third category climbs over the course profile, this didn’t give a full picture of how much climbing and descending would take place over this 185.7km stage. On a parcours like this, the outcome would be difficult to predict – the racing wouldn’t be especially difficult by Grand Tour standards and would be unlikely to challenge any of the riders, but the breakaways in this race have been aggressive and committed, while the final third category climb, the Alto de Ceal, had the potential to act as a launchpad for a late attack, summiting 12km from the finish. If it was all together at the end of the day, the punchier climbers and all-rounders were the ones who would be in contention here.

The Team Tactics
Today’s stage being less clear-cut than others, it would be important to prepare for how the day might unfold, as well as being able to react to the less predictable events. If there was a big break to start the day, Rafał Majka and Davide Formolo would work to jump in this. Otherwise, the whole team would work hard to keep the pace high in order to keep the break in check and make sure they weren’t able to stay out until the end. The finale would suit the punchier all-rounders, and it was here the team would be working both to bring the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, into position, while also protecting Emanuel Buchmann. There were plenty of opportunities for late attacks, and with just a few seconds separating some of the top places in the GC, it would be important to keep a watchful eye on the overall contenders.

The Race
Wasting no time in attacking at the start of the stage, the day’s break consisted of seven riders, who worked hard to build up a gap on the hills in the opening kilometres. Pushing their lead out to 3:40, this was as much as the peloton would allow, with plenty of riders in the main group who would have their eye on taking the stage win today. As the race neared its final 50km, it was BORA-hansgrohe on the front pushing the pace and decreasing the size of the gap. With 40km to go, the gap had dropped to less than half its size, and with 30km remaining, their lead was a little more than a minute. The narrow and winding roads made hard racing challenging, with some steep drops off to the side, as well as some rougher road surfaces.

While the two remaining breakaway riders tried their best, it was all back together with 13km to go, only for a solo rider to go off the front. While this attack was quickly caught, this did set the tone for some aggressive riding as the finale loomed. Long, strung out groups dotted the road, but Peter and Rafał were in the lead group, which hovered behind the solo rider, Tony Gallopin, on the front, but in the final metres the sprinters weren’t able to make the catch and the win went to the Frenchman. In the reduced bunch sprint behind, Peter took second place with ease, holding off his rivals with a strong performance that showed how much he has recovered during the Vuelta. While Emanuel Buchmann was held up in a crash in the closing stages, the German rider, with the support of Davide Formolo and Jay McCarthy, pushed on hard to close the gap, staying in contention to keep hold of his third in the GC. As a precautionary measure, Emanuel will undergo medical evaluation after his crash to gauge the extent of any injuries.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins the field sprint. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line
"I must say that the guys did a really nice job today. We had the race under control from the start and then tried to also win with Peter. Marcus Burghardt was brilliant, he kept a leash on the breakaway and on the last climbs, everybody worked hard. Unfortunately, Emu crashed in the final kilometres, where road conditions were too bad in my view for a bike race, so Davide Formolo and Jay McCarthy had to wait and help him get back to the leading group. They put in a great performance and managed to bridge the gap but that meant we only had one rider left to pull in the front. So, we were unable to bring in Gallopin but still, Peter sprinted to second place, just 5 seconds behind. Overall, I think we had a good day and we can't complain about second place. " – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

"It wasn't an easy stage at all and the heat made it even more challenging. The last climbs were tricky and difficult but I managed to stay with the leading group of climbers. Rafał was pulling to close the gap to Gallopin but with Davide and Jay being at the back to help Emu, he was alone. Still, I felt better today and I managed to win the group sprint." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

"It was a very hot and hard stage but the team did a fantastic job. We had everything in place so that we don't lose time in the GC and allow Peter to go for the win but in a critical moment, I crashed. It was painful but thanks to the tremendous help of Jay and Davide, I was able to finish with the main GC group. I keep my 3rd place in the overall and we now have to see how this crash affects me. Hopefully, it will not be serious but we first need to run some medical tests before we know the extent of my injuries." – Emanuel Buchmann

UAE Team Emirates to race Brussels Cycling Classic and the GP de Fourmies

The team sent me this:

It’s not only the Vuelta a España in the first weekend of September, but UAE Team Emirates will be competing in two HC races in Belgium and France.

On Saturday, September 1, the team is in Belgium for the Brussels Cycling Classic, formerly Paris-Brussels. It runs 201.4km with the start and finish in Belgium’s capital city.

The next day in France, the team races the GP de Fourmies / La Voix du Nord. The 205km race covers a circuit in the city of Fourmies.

Both races are ideal for fast men. UAE Team Emirates will rally around Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff. It will also bring in young stagiaire, 22-year-old Argentine Nicolás Tivani.

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff (shown after the last stage of the 2018 Tour de France) will be very busy this weekend. Sirotti photo

“This weekend we will take on the two races with a team that’s a mix of experience and future talent,” said Sports Director Daniele Righi. “We are aiming for a result with Kristoff, but also it’s a chance to test young riders like Tivani. The Argentine has the qualities to be the last lead-out man for sprinters, but also one who can win from escapes.”

The roster for the two races: Matteo Bono (Italy), Rui Costa (Portugal), Filippo Ganna (Italy), Alexander Kristoff (Norway), Marco Marcato (Italy), Nicolás Tivani (Argentina), Oliviero Troia (Italy).

Sports Director: Daniele Righi (Italy).

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