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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, January 12, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. - Kurt Vonnegut

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

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Amanda Spratt dominates on Mengler Hill to take overall lead at Women's Tour Down Under

Spratt's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Reigning champion Amanda Spratt has put in a dominating display on Mengler Hill to convincingly claim the stage win and move into the overall lead after stage two of the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.

Amanda Spratt

Spratt takes the second stage in style.

After another perfectly executed team performance, Spratt finished 39seconds ahead of Mitchelton-SCOTT teammate Lucy Kennedy with Krista Doebel-Hickoc (Rally UHC Cycling) another six seconds adrift in third.

After the hesitance of the peloton in yesterday’s stage, Rebecca Wiasak (UniSA Australia) and Deborah Paine (New Zealand) formed the first breakaway of the Tour.

As they baked under the hot sun in temperatures nearing 40degrees, the duo rode out to a two and half minute advantage before Mitchelton-SCOTT responded with numbers on the front.

With a plan to set their climbers up for the final climb to the line, Mitchelton-SCOTT forced a fierce pace in the final 25km as they ended the hopes of the two leaders with seven kilometres to go and launched into the bottom corner.

Turning onto Menglers Hill, Kennedy was the first to launch and as she immediately gained a gap it forced rivals to set off in pursuit.

Sitting patiently on their wheels, Spratt picked her moment, under the direction of team director Martin Vestby, to bridge across alone before passing her teammate and riding on to a convincing victory.

The performance puts the team in a commanding position for the overall title, with Spratt leading teammate Kennedy by 43seconds and Doebel-Kickok by 51seconds with two days left to race

Amanda Spratt – Stage winner and overall leader:
“What can I say, my teammates were so so amazing and whenever they ride so hard for you like that, you want to finish it off. We had a plan and when you can ride it to perfection as a team, it just feels amazing.

“We had Grace (Brown) do a fantastic job in the three or four kilometres before the climb and then Lucy hit it.  I had instructions to attack and bring no one with me so that’s what I did.

“Obviously today was a great day for us and puts us in the good position but we know tomorrow is still a tough day so we have to rest a little bit, celebrate a tiny bit and get ready for tomorrow."

Lucy Kennedy – Second place:
“We had a really laid out plan, it was very specific and it just went perfectly really. The early break that got away, we let them go because it was only two of them, and really just that last lap, the last 30km, we really took control of the race.

“Grace (Brown) did a monster turn coming into the base of the hill and then it was my turn to just unleash. I knew Spratty was going to be better than me on the day so I was just waiting for her, but I am happy to hold on for second as well.”

Santos Women’s Tour Down Under – Stage 2:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:13:20
2. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:39
3. Krista Doebel-Kickok (Rally UHC Cycling) +0:45

Santos Women’s Tour Down Under – General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 6:23:38
2. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:43
3. Krista Doebel-Kickok (Rally UHC Cycling) +0:51

Tao Geoghegan Hart eyeing the Giro for 2019

Here's the Team Sky post:

Tao Geoghegan Hart hopes to take the next step in his career by racing the Giro d'Italia for the first time in 2019. The Hackney-born Brit enjoyed another eye-catching campaign in 2018, starring at the Criterium du Dauphine in support of Geraint Thomas and finishing fifth overall at the Tour of California, having helped teammate and close friend Egan Bernal to the title.

Geoghegan Hart went on to race his maiden Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España in August and believes the lessons he learned there will help him push on again as he enters his third year as a professional. He said: "I’ve definitely got my eyes set on the Giro for 2019. I think it’s a good natural progression after the Vuelta last season. That will be the target and it’s been nice to bring that to the team and see eye-to-eye straight away. They were thinking along the same lines so that always makes life a little bit easier.

"The second year with the team was definitely progression from the first which was my aim coming into the year - that was an umbrella goal for the season. I’ve always looked to do that year upon year and I think it's natural for a young rider - even though I’m starting to edge away from that category!

"The first part of the season was a little more positive than the second part but I’d say if anything there are far more lessons to be learnt from that second part. It encompassed my first Grand Tour. It’s a year to look back on very positively and fondly, which is important, and there’s lots to carry forward into this year - which I intend to do."

Geoghegan Hart is honest his assessment of the Vuelta and is pleased to have the experience of a Grand Tour behind him. "It was a very positive experience on the whole," he continues. "From a results and performance perspective I was pretty disappointed with the race and that’s something I can be comfortable about being open with because I think it’s important to not just always be too positive about everything, and highlight when stuff hasn’t gone right.

"It definitely took a few weeks or even a little bit longer to try and process that and boil down why that had happened. I still piece little bits together or change my mind on why I guess, but I think getting that first Grand Tour done - and I didn’t want to approach it with the mentality of getting it out of the way - but definitely from that day-by-day, really long-term view, that was really new and something I’ll take forward with me. I’m really glad to have had it in my second year with the team."

Geoghegan Hart formed a strong bond with Bernal across 2018, starting at Colombia Oro y Paz and epitomised at the Tour of California, where the pair dovetailed to brilliant effect, helping Bernal to a dominant victory Stateside.

And Tao believes he learnt a lot from the Colombian last season: "Racing alongside him, seeing how successful he was, and the way he approached the race. I guess the irony in that is there was occasions when I was the one guiding him in races but it doesn’t mean that you’re not always learning from those around you in races, younger or older."

Those early-season races alongside Bernal paved the way for Geoghegan Hart's Dauphine selection and he was able to take a lot from that experience too: "For me it was really special racing the Dauphine, especially with what G went on to do the month after that. I was pretty nervous through the first three or four days of the race, even on the bike, feeling stiffer and less fluid than I normally would just from the sense of occasion and being with the ‘A team’ a few weeks out from their big, big goal of the season.

"There was some pressure going into that environment and not wanting to mess up or derail all their hard work, so that was a really good experience to have got under my belt. To be around those guys, not only in a huge race, but also in anticipation of an even bigger goal, was a great experience."

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