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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, September 5, 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

If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer. - Dag Hammarskjold

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage ten news

We posted the organizers report with the results.

Here's what stage winner Elia Viviani's Quick-Step team had to say about the day's racing:

The Wolfpack continued to howl, as the Vuelta a España resumed on Tuesday with a flat stage between Salamanca – a UNESCO World Heritage Site which returned as start city for the 21st time in history – and Bermillo de Sayago, the small town which made its debut in the race, at the end of 177 mostly flat kilometers, witnessing Elia Viviani's 17th victory of the year.

"Four stages in the Giro, two now in the Vuelta, I think it's safe to say this has been a truly incredible season. This win is for all the guys in the squad, who are always giving everything for me, making sure I get a chance to fight for the win", a beaming Elia said after nabbing our outfit's 60th UCI success of the season.

It was a flawless day indeed for Quick-Step Floors, in which the Michael Mørkøv – Fabio Sabatini – Elia Viviani trio shined in the finale, after the team had again controlled the breakaway and then set the tempo on the sole categorized climb of the stage – where some squads tried to put the sprinters into the red – with the restless Pieter Serry.

The sprint train amassed at the front of the bunch as they passed the five kilometers-to-go mark, sheltering Elia from the crosswinds, and didn't panic even when Lukas Postlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) tried to stir things up under the red kite with a late attack. Michael Mørkøv countered that move with 750 meters to go and kept pressing, before peeling off the front and leaving Sabatini take over lead-out duties. The experienced Italian launched his countryman with 150 meters left and the whirring legs of Elia generated a speed which couldn't be matched by any of his opponents – Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) – who were left fighting for the minor places on the podium.

Elia Viviani

The stage is Viviani's. Sirotti photo

Tuesday's victory in Bermillo de Sayago not only ensured that Quick-Step Floors' stellar season continued, but also found Viviani over the moon at the finish: "The guys did an astonishing job, proving we are the strongest and fastest here. I'm not talking only of Saba and Michael, but also about today's birthday boy Laurens, Dries, Kasper, Enric or Pieter, who rode superbly and were really faultless. With such a great lead-out, all I had to do was start my sprint with 150 meters to go, and when you have good legs and the timing, you can't lose from this situation. It's never easy to do a perfect lead-out, but we pulled it off and I'm very proud of the boys."

Vuelta GC leader Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this update:

Briton Simon Yates has retained the race lead at the Vuelta a Espana despite suffering from a double puncture in the closing stages of stage 10.

Safely paced back by his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates, Yates finished in the bunch as the day concluded in a sprint won by Elia Viviani (Quickstep Floors).
Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH) moved ahead of the bunch after 10km of racing and as his gap extended over a minute and a half, it looked like it was going to be a lonely day in the front.

Other attacks sprang from behind, but it was Movistar who immobilised most of them before Tiago Machado (Katusha Alpecin) was eventually allowed to bridge across to make two in the break.

As the sprint teams immediately took up the responsibilities in the bunch, the duo’s advantage sat at around four minutes before being reduced to under two minutes with 50km remaining. The race was all back together on the only climb of the day and despite a hard tempo set by Bora-Hansgrohe, it was Viviani who claimed stage honours in the bunch sprint.

After a relatively stress-free day, Yates suffered a late scare, double puncturing whilst riding near the side of the road in the final 20km. The puncture came at a time where a flurry of riders suffered the same fate, Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) also hampered by the same problem.

The 26-year-old quickly swapped his SCOTT bike with teammate Michael Albasini, before later switching back to his own bike, and was paced back into the bunch by his teammates without any harm done.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates after stage ten.

Simon Yates:
“It could have been much, much worse today, we were expecting a bit more of a crosswind, but it was more of a headwind so it was ok. I was just on the side of the road and I must have hit something or run over something and I had a double puncture which is not ideal but it could have been much worse.

“I’ve had some bad experience before having a puncture and waiting, then changing for my own bike or the wheel. Today we changed for Michael Albasini’s bike and it was a little too big, so we had to change again, but it was ok.

“It was quite a relaxed day and really nothing happened once the breakaway went away. The sprinters did all the work today, so full credit to those guys and for us it meant a relatively easy day.

“I wasn’t sure if there would be any attacks coming from Valverde, but in the end there wasn’t and that’s ok."

Points classification leader Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this:

After a day’s rest, the peloton was ready to get back to racing, with the flat finale one that would see the fast men taking control in the closing kilometres. With only two riders in the day’s break, the peloton hovered behind them most of the day, carefully timing the catch so that the sprinters could take centre stage. Although the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan was only able to take second in the sprint, the Slovak rider’s effort saw him take the lead in the points contest, being awarded the green jersey for his efforts. Finishing safely with the sprinters, Emanuel Buchmann stayed in fourth spot in the GC race.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan will start stage eleven in green.

The Stage
A flat day awaited to gently ease riders back into the race after the first rest day. The 177km parcours was level for almost the entire route, apart from a slight descent ahead of the day’s only climb – the third category Alto de Fermoselle. This 4.9km climb, with an average gradient of 5.3%, wouldn’t be long enough or steep enough to cause any problems for the refreshed legs of the peloton, but it’s proximity to the finish – 30km from the finale – meant there was a chance for some late attacks. The peloton would be aiming to keep control to the end – the flat finale suiting the sprinters – meaning that while much of the day would be straightforward, the finish would more than make up for this, with high speeds and excitement to close off the stage.

The Team Tactics
The team had impressed with some strong rides over the first nine days of the Vuelta, whether with top ten results on stages or in the GC, or with the BORA-hansgrohe squad pulling together to support each other when it mattered. The second week of the race would see some more opportunities to make an impact. Today, the aim would be to either go for the stage win or a strong finish for the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, and to ride in support of Emanuel Buchmann in order not to lose time and keep him out of trouble ahead of some tough stages later in the week.

The Race
With fresh legs, there was a lot of scrambling to make it into the break from the start of today’s stage, with several attempts to break away shut down by the peloton. One rider managed to escape alone, followed by an attack that included Michael Schwarzmann, but this one was quickly brought back in, before another solo rider joined the existing escapee to make two. This was the day’s break, but in spite of being allowed to extend their lead to four minutes, was never allowed any further than this, spending much of the day with just two minutes separating them from the front, with the peloton looking confident that they could pull them back in any time they wanted. The whole BORA-hansgrohe team pushed the pace hard on the day’s third category climb, with Lukas, Rafał and Davide working on the front to try and drop the sprinters – or at least to tire them out for the finale. With Marcus Burghardt and Lukas Pöstlberger taking over on the front to drive the pace high, this helped to bring the break in ahead of the finale.

This extra effort saw one of the break cracking and dropping back to the peloton before the one remaining rider was caught a few kilometres later. From the flamme rouge, Lukas attacked, the Austrian National Champion stretching out the already ragged and tired peloton and forcing the sprinters into action early, but Peter, in spite of fighting hard for space, was boxed in and unable to make his way around the eventual winner, Viviani, and took second on the line. Emanuel Buchmann finished with the sprinters to maintain his hold on fourth in the GC, but with Peter’s powerful sprint for second, the UCI World Champion claimed the race’s green jersey of points leader. 

From the Finish Line
"We tried to make the race hard in the climb with 30km to go. We put our climbers in the front, hoping to drop other sprinters but this didn't work. After the climb there was no wind, so we couldn't try either there to cause echelons and as a result, we focused on the sprint. In the final kilometre, Lukas tried a late attack but it wasn't easy to bring Quickstep under pressure. Peter stayed on the wheel of Viviani and did a good sprint. He's now wearing the green jersey, we're happy with that and we look forward to the coming stages." – André Schulze, Sports Director

"It was a relatively calm stage and, as expected, it all came down to a very fast sprint finish. The guys worked again very well and in the last climb, with 30km to go, they pulled hard in the front, trying to break the peloton. I gave my best in the finale and although I finished second, I am now in the green jersey. I'm happy for that and I'll try to keep it for as long as I can." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion 

Tour of Britain stage three news

We posted the report from organizer with the results.

New GC leader Patrick Bevin's BMC team sent this report:

4 September, 2018, Bristol (GBR): Patrick Bevin, who started the day third overall on the General Classification, sprinted to second and into the leader's green jersey on stage 3 of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.

A relentless start to the third day in Britain meant that it took almost 60 kilometers, and two of the day's categorized climbs, for the racing to settle down slightly with seven riders starting to open up an advantage over the rest of the field.

It looked like this would be the day's breakaway, however, the leaders were never given too much room to maneuver and in the end, they were pulled back only for another four riders to jump clear in an attempt to put some distance between themselves and the peloton.

With 30 kilometers to go, the gap between the two groups was hovering around 40 seconds but as they approached the bottom of the third and final categorized climb, the category one Providence Lane, the peloton was hot on their heels.

The BMC Racing Team train, led by Miles Scotson, continued to sit well-placed at the front of the peloton heading into the closing kilometers of the day before the attacks began once more with the race coming back together for the 900-meter long ascent. As a result, splits began to form with a reduced bunch, which still included Bevin, Tejay van Garderen, Jürgen Roelandts, and Jempy Drucker, strung out along the road due to the intense pace being set with four kilometers remaining.

It wasn't an easy run into the line with the road continuing to roll towards the finish as van Garderen led Bevin into the final kilometer before the New Zealander, who was able to take bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint of the stage, began to battle for position.

After being initially blocked when the sprint was launched, Bevin was able to show his speed and strength, making his way up to the front of the group to take a close second place behind Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) which ultimately saw him move up into first overall on the General Classification.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe was the stage winner.

Patrick Bevin:
"We knew it was another stage that had a really tough finish. These kinds of stages really drain the legs and for us, the idea was to try and get over the last KOM in a good position and try to fight for the win in the sprint. It was a really hard sprint and when we came up into the final kilometer, everyone was a little bit legless and everything happened in slow motion really. Unfortunately, I didn't quite have the legs to get over Julian but I am happy that I can now wear the leader's jersey."

"The conditions were pretty good today. The breakaway didn't really go until kilometer 70 and I managed to pick up a few bonus seconds at the first sprint so that helped me take the jersey. It was a really tough day and it's hard to explain how different the roads are compared to races in Europe. These roads really sap the legs and you are definitely on the limit a lot of the time."

Sports Director, Valerio Piva:
"The objective was to try and win the stage today and while we ended up taking second, we did move into the leader's jersey. The team did a great job riding around Bevin all day. The plan was to bring him up to the front going over the top of the steep final climb with around 7km to go and then position him for the sprint as we knew he had the legs to fight for the win."

"It was a select group that went to the line and we had Tejay van Garderen leading Bevin into the sprint. Alaphilippe started his sprint early and Bevin was a little bit blocked at first but in the end, he was just two meters too short. I think this shows his strength. Tomorrow is a longer stage than today and we have seen that this is not an easy race to control but we will definitely try our best to defend the jersey."

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