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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 20, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words, like 'What about lunch?' - A. A. Milne

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Cycling legend Patrick Sercu dies

Without a doubt, Sercu is the greatest track racer of all time. For starters, he won 88 6-Day races and three World Sprint titles. Plus, he won the Tour de France's green sprinter's jersey in 1974.

Here's the short report from The Brussels Times:

Former cycling champion Patrick Sercu has died at the age of 74 years, his son, Christophe, announced on Friday.

A professional cyclist from 1965 to 1983, Sercu held the world record for the number of six-day track races, winning 88 events. He won gold in the 1-km time trial at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 and was world sprint champion in 1963, 1967 and 1969. 

On the road, Patrick Sercu won 13 stages at the Tour of Italy and six at the Tour de France. He also took the green jersey at the 1974 Tour de France.

Patrick Sercu and Eddy MErckx

Partick Sercu (left) and his regular 6-Day partner Eddy Merckx start the 2015 Gent 6-Day.

Tour of Turkey stage four report from GC leader Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team

After yesterday’s shortest stage, the peloton had to face the longest stage of this year’s edition of the Tour of Turkey today. 194km on a demanding course with an uphill finish at a maximum gradient of 6% in the city of Bursa awaited the riders. Like yesterday, the wind played its part in the race and echelons formed from time to time.

As in the previous days, a small group of Continental riders broke clear from the bunch and built the day’s break with a gap of around seven minutes, while BORA – hansgrohe led the peloton for their overall race leader Sam Bennett. Especially Lukas Pöstlberger pulled a lot in the bunch to catch the leaders with 15km remaining. Michael Schwarzmann and Shane Archbold brought their two teammates into a good position before the final ascent up to the finish. 

On the last two kilometres several riders tried to attack, but the bunch didn’t allow anybody to escape before coming on to the home straight. J. Lobato tried to surprise the favorites with 300 meters to go. Sam was positioned well but couldn’t close the gap on the last metres. He had to settle for third today behind Caleb Ewan and Lobato, but extended his lead in the General and the Points Classification. Still in second sits Felix Großschartner, who seems to be one of the favorites for tomorrow’s queen stage.

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan wins Tour of Turkey stage four.

From the Finish Line:
“I really didn’t know what to expect today, a lot of guys were ready for a sprint and it was a tough finale at the end. I knew Caleb was sitting on my wheel, but I was already on the limit. I wanted him to go first but when he moved, I was on a big gear and struggled to follow him. Anyway, I think Caleb was the fastest today and I say congrats. It was pretty cold today, maybe that affected me a little, but I will try again to win another stage here in Turkey.” – Sam Bennett

“The race was always under control from all the sprinter teams. We knew, that many riders will arrive, not like the days before but still, therefore we protected Sam for the finale. At the end he was in a good position, maybe he just waited some seconds too long but in a sprint like that many things happen at the same time, it’s hard to keep the overview. Therefore, I think we don’t have to be disappointed with a third place. In the GC we were able to extend our lead and with Felix in second position, we are in a comfortable position for tomorrow. Sam also wears the sprint jersey, and now we are looking forward to tomorrow’s queen stage.” – André Schulze, Sports Director

Lotto-Soudal's Tim Wellens previews Amstel Gold Race

Lotto-Soudal sent me this:

On Sunday 21 April, the Amstel Gold Race is scheduled. The course, which counts no less than 265.7 kilometres, is almost completely situated in Dutch Limburg. After the start in Maastricht, 35 hills are to be covered, including three times the Cauberg. Michael Valgren Andersen won this race last year. Tim Wellens was sixth in that edition, while Jelle Vanendert finished tenth. Wellens, who took third place in the Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, previews the Amstel Gold Race.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren wins the 2018 Amstel Gold Race. Sirotti photo

Tim Wellens: “Classics of 250 kilometres and more, are elimination races anyway. Last year's edition, when the real finale began on the Keutenberg, actually went the way I like it. I was ahead with seven other strong riders. During the final local lap, it was a cat-and-mouse game of attacks, while we also caught the escapees very late. Valgren and Kreuziger were eventually granted just enough freedom to fight for the win. I am not against a similar turnout on Sunday, because I need to poker a bit to get rid of the faster riders. It will come down to choosing the right moment to attack. That did not work in 2018, resulting in a sixth place. Of course, we hope to do better this year. ”

“The Brabantse Pijl was a successful test, which showed that my shape is good. That does not automatically mean I will be great in the Amstel Gold Race, but I am going to the start without any doubts. The team was very strong on Wednesday, as the nice fifth place of Bjorg Lambrecht proved. The question for him is whether he can also play a significant role in a long and tough Classic. That is of course part of his development, but I am curious."

“The actual finale starts from the Kruisberg and the Eyserbosweg. That is already very close to the finish, but at that moment it is important to have a few teammates nearby who can guide you to that duo in a good position. With the Fromberg and Keutenberg just after those two climbs, the race will be decided within a distance of ten kilometres. Especially the run-up towards the Kruisberg is crucial, because all the favourites want to sit at the front of the bunch. Then you need riders who can still put you in a perfect position after 220 kilometres. This has worked out well in the previous years. ”

“The weather will be nice on Sunday, but certainly not as hot as 30 degrees, so the temperature should not be an issue for me. Van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Matthews are of course again among the favourites, but that list will be extended with Sagan, Van Avermaet, Valverde and the strong team of Astana. I think the Amstel Gold Race is a nice race, a bit like the Tour of Flanders, but without the cobblestones. Knowing the region much better than the Flemish Ardennes is to my advantage though. The difference with the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège is that positioning is less important there than in the Amstel, which is in my favour because I am good at it. As a team, however, we should never be chasing. When outsiders or helpers of the main favourites attack, there must be a Lotto Soudal rider there as well. "

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

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