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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 3, 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

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. - Dave Barry

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage nine team reports

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

Here's the report from stage winner Ben King's Dimension Data team:

Ben King won his second stage of La Vuelta for Team Dimension Data and rode incredibly to cross the line ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Third spot was filled by Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team).

Today’s stage was a big day in the mountains and the 200km stage included four category climbs, including the special category climb, to the summit finish of La Covatilla. A break was established very early into racing and Ben King was part of the select group of 11, for Team Dimension Data.

Our American rider was in the mix through all the climbs today, picking up valuable King of the Mountain point, which saw him moving up to 2nd spot in the KOM standings with 36 points.

Through the day, the lead for the break stretched to over 9 minutes, and that put Ben King in the virtual leader’s jersey. Groupama – FDJ worked at the front of the peloton to protect the jersey, but only when Team Sky joined the chase did the lead start to drop.

Ben King attacked and went off the front of the race with Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros) on the steep section at Candelario. King dropped him and started the ascent up to La Covatilla. Mollema put in a strong ride to try and bridge across to King on the taxing climb, bringing the gap down to 18 seconds. Ben King dug deep to make sure that he was first to cross the line, taking his second win in this year’s La Vuelta.

Ben King

Ben King wins the ninth stage. Sirotti photo

With his win, King moved up in the general classification and is now 18th overall. Louis Meintjes finished 21st on the stage and showed positive signs to stick with the GC group until deep into the final kilometers of the stage. It was a performance that bodes well for our South Africa climber with the tough two weeks still to come.

Ben King- Rider
I think the second win hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t think I have suffered that much in my career. Being chased by a guy like Mollema is a lot of pressure and it took a lot to keep believing and keep suffering that much. But I know what it means to me, what it means to the team and to the people who support and believe in me. I think it was a mental battle between us in the last bit and 20 seconds is not a big gap. We were just separated by meters on the climb and it just stayed the same and we completely fired, dying a thousand deaths. I’m really proud and happy to be out front again and fly the flag for the team and Qhubeka. It was a special day, and a special La Vuelta so far and it’s not even over.

New GC leader Simon Yate's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this update:

After leading the Giro d’Italia for 13 days earlier in the season, Briton Simon Yates has added the red jersey to his palmares following the first ‘real’ general classification test on stage nine of the Vuelta a Espana.

The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider started the day in fourth position overall, 51seconds down on Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), and planned to follow the moves of his rivals on the final climb La Covatilla rather than be the instigator.

As the breakaway won the stage ahead, Yates followed the script to finish ninth on the stage, but with enough gap on those who were ahead of him at the start of the day to take the overall race lead by one second to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

Eleven riders formed the day’s breakaway and having been controlled at around five-minutes for the first half of racing, the advantage blew out to 10minutes in the valley towards the final climb.

Whilst their advantage had decreased by the start of the ascent, it was clear they would contest for the stage win and, for the second time this race, it was Benjamin King (Team Dimension Data) who prevailed.

Behind, the general classification battle was starting to heat up. Astana Pro Team and Team Sky pushed the pace on the lead up to the final climb, before Bora-Hansgrohe once again took ownership on the front as the road drifted upwards, whittling the group down in size.

With 20 riders remaining in the first group, LottoNL-Jumbo again went on the aggressive, but it wasn’t until the final two kilometres where any big attacks launched.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) initiative a small move, and took Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) with them. Yates also reacted in pursuit, finishing nine seconds down on the trio for ninth place on the stage. With Valverde a further 15seconds adrift and Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky) and Molard off the pace, the 26-year-old moves in the red jersey ahead of the first rest day with a one-second advantage.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates will start stage ten in red.

Simon Yates:
“It wasn’t expected for me to be in the leader’s jersey at the end of the stage today. I was just trying to follow the best guys in the race and I was a little bit behind by a few seconds, so it is a bit of a surprise, but I am happy. A good surprise.”

“Being in the leader’s jersey is becoming a little but familiar now and of course I am very happy, but like I said it wasn’t expected so as far as a game plan I will have to sit down with the team and discuss how we approach being in the jersey over the next few days.

“On the final climb, it was exposed, and I would say the wind was a factor today, but not as much as we anticipated. I had watched a video from 2011 and that looked like the wind caused more damage than anything else, but it wasn’t as strong as that today.

“It’s difficult to say what I learned from the Giro d’Italia because I still don’t know why I cracked and if I did I would have learned a very valuable lesson, but we don’t know yet and that’s ok because every race is different.”

Third-place Dylan Teuns' BMC team sent me this:

2 September, 2018, La Covatilla (ESP): Dylan Teuns secured the best Grand Tour stage result of his career so far today, pushing himself all the way to the line to take third place on the summit finish of Vuelta a España stage 9.

After testing himself during yesterday's brutal uphill sprint, Teuns led the way for BMC Racing Team on stage 9 by riding himself into the early 11-rider breakaway which had opened up an advantage of more than three minutes after 20km, of the 200.8km course.

On the early slopes of the first in a series of three back-to-back categorized climbs, the category one Puerto del Pico which had a gradient that reached 15% at the summit, the leaders continued to extend their advantage out to more than five minutes with race leader at the start of the day, Rudy Molard's Groupama-FDJ teammates working at the front of the peloton.

Teuns continued to help drive the pace over the next two climbs, the category three Alto de Gredos and the category two Puero de Pena Negra, and despite the peloton trying to keep the race under control, the breakaway began the descent of the third climb, and headed into the second half of the day, with a lead of around 6'40".

Dylan Theuns

Dylan Teuns headed up the final climb.

Ben King (Team Dimension Data), who started the day 6'34" behind Molard, posed the most danger to the General Classification contenders at the front of the race and subsequently a more determined effort began behind the breakaway on the long undulating run into the base of the final climb, the categoría especial Alto de la Covatilla.

However, this increase in pace only spurred the leaders on further with their advantage rising once again and, after some of the impetus was lost at the front of the main bunch, the gap grew to almost ten minutes approaching the 50km to go mark.

It was soon clear that Teuns and his fellow early attackers would go on to race for the stage win which came down to a battle of wills on the 9.8km long ascent to the finish line, which had an average gradient of 7.1% and pitches of up to 12% in places.

The first attacks from the breakaway began inside 30km to go and Teuns was able to follow the initial bursts of acceleration before King went solo before the official start of the climb, a move which would ultimately see him take the stage win.

As the first chasing group began to split on the early slopes of the Alto de la Covatilla, Teuns continued to set his own tempo and dug deep to remain in third position on the road, with just King and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) ahead of him, inside 5km to go.

Despite the General Classification race, which ultimately saw Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) move into the red jersey, heating up behind him, Teuns was able to hold on with gritted teeth to secure third on the line, 2'38 behind King.

The peloton had fractured into various pieces in the closing kilometers of the day with Alessandro De Marchi and Richie Porte the next two BMC Racing Team riders across the line, finishing over nine minutes and 11 minutes back respectively.

Dylan Teuns:
"This is a good result for me. When you do an effort like this, you try to finish it off but in the end, there were only two guys stronger than me. It's a pity but there's no shame in being third."

"The last climb was really tough. In the last 3km, I really felt the pressure and I had to go all out for in the final 1.5km to make sure I held of the chasers behind."

"At the beginning of the stage, there was a little bit of a plan to try and go in the breakaway but I wasn't going to spend a lot of energy to get into it and actually, I didn't have to do that so I was happy to be there and overall, I am happy with how my day went."

Tour of Britain stage one reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner André Greipel's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this update:

André Greipel sprinted to victory this afternoon, on the first stage of the Tour of Britain. The German rider beat Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria in Newport. He’s also the first leader of the GC and the points classification.

An early break of six was caught before entering the last ten kilometres of the stage, where a steep hill awaited the riders. Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels and Geraint Thomas were some of the riders who attacked on that climb with top at seven kilometres from the finish. Jungels remained solo ahead until the last kilometre, when he was caught thanks to the work of Lotto Soudal. Greipel successfully finished off the teamwork.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel wins the first stage.

André Greipel: “After some difficult months it’s nice to take the win today in the opening stage of Tour of Britain. We have a good team over here for the sprints, as we demonstrated today. There was a steep climb at seven kilometres from the finish, where Alaphilippe and Jungels opened up a gap. Eventually it was Jungels who was solo ahead and our team did a great job pulling him back. We caught him with one kilometre to go. Then Jasper De Buyst did a really strong lead-out. Fernando Gaviria surprised us a little bit, but I stayed focussed on my own sprint. And I managed to finish it off.”

“We knew there would be attacks on the last climb, so we gambled and didn’t pull behind the early breakaway. We left that to other teams, because we knew we needed to be with as many teammates as possible after the top. That turned out to be the right decision and after a perfect sprint we took the win. It’s great to win a bunch sprint again. I’ll keep on giving my all in these last races for Lotto Soudal. There are two or three more chances for sprinters at this Tour of Britain, we’ll try our best on those occasions too.”

Annemiek van Vleuten wins Boels Ladies Tour

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this final report:

Unstoppable Annemiek van Vleuten has shown pure dominance once again at the Boels Ladies Tour, winning today's final individual time trial to make it a hat-trick of stage wins whilst securing the overall classification for a second year running.

In her final individual time trial event of the 2018 season as the world champion, Van Vleuten proved her class, blasting around the 18.6km course to stop the clock 22seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Veluten (shown in the 2017 Giro Rosa) has won the Boels Ladies Tour.

Mieke Kroger (Canyon-SRAM) set the standard early on around the pan-flat course, stopping the clock with a time of 24minutes and 49seconds to move into the hot seat.

Van Vleuten started the day with an 18second advantage over the second place rider on the GC, Lucinda Brand (Sunweb), who unfortunately suffered a fall during her effort and lost valuable seconds causing her to slip off the final race podium.

On her way to the stage victory, van Vleuten passed through the intermediate time check with the fastest time of 12minutes and 14seconds.

Third placed rider overall on the GC, Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb), completed the distance and set the fastest time of 24minutes 22seconds, with only van Vleuten left to finish.

In the end, van Vleuten produced the fastest time to secure another convincing general classification victory and take the points classification in the Dutch race, a repeat of her 2017 success, where she held onto the race lead from the opening prologue until the final stage, whilst also winning the invidiual time trial stage along the way.

Teammate Amanda Spratt also had a strong time trial ride today to finish in fifth place on the stage, having been a valuable contributor to defending the leader's jersey along with the rest of the Mitchelton-SCOTT team throughout the six-day tour.

Annemiek van Vleuten
"It is awesome to win, you are always a bit nervous for a time trial but I knew my shape was good and it is really nice to end this tour like this. For me it is also the last preparation for the world championships and I wanted to do everything the same going into the world championships, so it is really nice to win this tour and with a time trial.

"It was a little bit technical today, I saw an ambulance on one of the corners on the course, that scared me a bit so I took it very easy also with the general classification in mind.

"Lucinda Brand crashed on a corner so I took it a bit more easy on the corner but on the straight parts I was really full gas and had good legs just like the prologue and the first stage. I think on the straight parts I had a lot of power."

Boels Ladies Tour stage 6 TT result:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 24:00
2. Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +0:22
3. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +0:32

Final general classification:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 14:34
2. Ellen van Dijk (Sunweb) +0:52
3. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) +1:05

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