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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 21, 2019

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Team Bora-hansgrohe reports on Danilith Nokere Koerse

We posted the report from winner Cees Bol's Team Sunweb with the results.

Today BORA – hansgrohe continued its racing campaign in Belgium when the team took to the Flemish one-day race Nokere Koerse. On the program stood a 195.6km-long course from Deinze to Nokere, with several cobbled sectors and seven ascents of the daunting 350m-long Nokereberg, shaking things up in the race. Over the first 100km or so, the peloton let the elastic stretch, giving the breakaway a gap of up to 8 minutes.

However in the second half of the race, under the pace setting meted out by BORA – hansgrohe and UAE Team Emirates, the gap to the breakaway began to be reduced. The final 30km saw a series of attacks, however, BORA – hansgrohe was always present at the head of the field to neutralise these attempts. Jay McCarthy and Lukas Pöstlberger were particularly active during this time.

The race ended with a sprint from a relatively large group, but on the uphill finishing straight, several riders went down in a crash, which brought chaos to the final bunch gallop. After a strong lead-out from Rudi Selig, Pascal Ackermann opened up his sprint, but the German champion took off slightly too early, which allowed Cees Bol to pass him at the last minute. In the end, Pascal took out second place after a very exhausting day in the saddle in Belgium.

Cees Bol

Cees Bol wins in Nokere.

From the Finish Line:
“It was a super hard race. I opened up my sprint too early and therefore didn’t have enough power in the end. However, I’m satisfied with my performance. Congratulations to Cees Bol, he was simply the fastest today. We had a really strong team today, and we rode on the front for almost the whole race. I actually didn’t know about several of the crashes that occurred, and I think that we had a bit of luck today that helped us to avoid these.” – Pascal Ackermann

“We rode the race like we had planned. The team worked together very well and was able to exercise control over the race for a long period of time. At first, we controlled the race well with Juraj Sagan, and then worked with Deceunick Quick-Step and UAE Team Emirates to set the tempo. Then in the finale, we worked to prepare the sprint for Pascal. It worked out well, however he launched his sprint somewhat too early and ended up only just missing out on the victory. Of course we would have liked to win today, but we’ll head into the next races with this goal and will try again.” – André Schulze, Sports Director

Milano-San Remo team updates:

Mitchelton-Scott sent me this:

This Saturday’s Milan-San Remo will determine the first Monument winner of 2019, with Mitchelton-SCOTT keen to repeat the performance that put the team on the map in its inaugural season in 2012.

European champion Matteo Trentin will captain the Australian team’s chances with a mix of experience, including a return to racing for Daryl Impey, joining the youth of two neo-pros in Edoardo Affini and Robert Stannard who will debut at the race.

Mitchelton-SCOTT Team:
- Edoardo Affini (ITA, 22)
- Michael Hepburn (AUS, 27)
- Daryl Impey (RSA, 34)
- Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 29)
- Luka Mezgec (SLO, 30)
- Robert Stannard (AUS, 20)
- Matteo Trentin (ITA, 29)

The Course:
As the longest one-day race of the calendar, Milan-San Remo taps out at 291km in distance.

Despite taking over seven hours to complete the last two editions, the race traditionally comes down to the final two climbs when the Cipressa (5.6km, 4.1% average) is shortly followed by the Poggio (3.7km, 3.7% average) in the run in to the line.

The Past:
The season’s first and longest monument has been a happy hunting ground for Mitchelton-SCOTT from its inaugural year, when Simon Gerrans claimed a classy victory that put the team on the world map.

Since then, the team has podiumed twice more, once with Michael Matthews (third) in 2015 and again with Caleb Ewan (second) last year.

Simon Gerrans

Simon Gerrans won the 2012 edition of Milano-San Remo. Sirotti photo

Matteo Trentin:
“I think I am coming into Milan - San Remo with better form than last year and also with a smoother approach. I have done my homework, let’s see on Saturday.

“We have a really strong team. We can see from our team’s performances at Paris-Nice and in Tirreno. San Remo is not a short race, it’s a long race. There are a lot of options, so many things can happen in all of those kilometres, but I think we are ready for that.”

Matt White:
“This race certainly put us on the map in Europe way back in 2012 and it’s a race we’ve have continued to have success in, podiuming twice since with Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan. We’ve always been competitive and this year I am sure will not be any different.

“The big thing that can affect Milan - San Remo is the weather. You can have such a variety of conditions. From a beautiful day with no wind, or as we’ve also seen, snow. Because it is a race of almost 300km and the boys are out there for a long, long time, the weather does have a big effect on the final result.

“It’s always that mix between the world’s best Classics riders and the pure sprinters. It’s the easiest Classic to ride, but it’s one of the hardest to win.

“Matteo is our man. He’s got great form and has had a couple of victories already this season. He’s a very proud Italian and it’s a Classic he knows he has the ability to win.”

CCC Team sent me this Milano-San Remo news:

Greg Van Avermaet is set to headline CCC Team’s roster for the first Monument of the season, Milan-San Remo, and will be backed by the core Classics team.

Greg Van Avermaet

Greg Van Avermaet (shown at the 2019 Tour of Valenciana) will ride Milano-San Remo.

On the back of solid racing at Tirreno-Adriatico, Van Avermaet will be joined by Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Łukasz Wiśniowski, and Alessandro De Marchi, who showed strong form at Paris-Nice.

At 291 kilometers long, Milan-San Remo, known as ‘La Primavera’, is one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

“The decisive points of Milan-San Remo are the same as usual. The Cipressa climb and descent and the Poggio climb and descent are the points where the difference can be made and as we saw last year, Nibali did a great move and avoided a bunch sprint. Most of the time it is a sprint with 30 or 40 riders, but that is the nice thing about the race, it is open for everyone to try something,” Baldato explained.

“Greg Van Avermaet is our clear leader, he is our caption and is looking really good, but we also need to be ready to react to different situations. Alessandro De Marchi is coming in from Paris-Nice with strong form and the guys from Tirreno-Adriatico are also in good shape so we need to be smart and be ready to take every opportunity we get in the race.”

Van Avermaet, who will line up for his 12th consecutive edition and has previously finished in fifth place, is looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.

“We all know that despite the length of Milan-San Remo, it can be an easy race to finish but one of the hardest races to win. It is also one of the most open races in that anyone has a chance if they are still there on the Poggio. I’ve been in the top ten on two occasions and I know I can do a good performance, particularly if we race hard as I can do a good sprint after a long, hard race. Anything can happen at a race like Milan-San Remo so I will give everything I have on Saturday,” Van Avermaet said.

“I felt really good at Tirreno-Adriatico and I take a lot of confidence from the legs I had at the end of those long stages we did there. It was the perfect preparation race for the upcoming Classics so I think the whole team benefited from the long stages and difficult parcours.”

Milan-San Remo:

Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Gabriele Missaglia (ITA)

Here's Team Sunweb's news:

Luke Roberts - Team Sunweb coach:
"On Saturday we have the epic classic, Milano-Sanremo which totals over 291 kilometres. It retains its traditional parcours that always create a bit of an unpredictable outcome. Last year we saw an attack on the Poggio that survived to the finish, but we have also seen the race favour the sprinters that can pass the climbs and come to a reduced bunch sprint. After Michael's tough crash in Paris-Nice last week we're pleased to see him back in action this weekend. After a recovery period off the bike we will have to see what's possible in the race. He has a good basis and is cleared to race by our medical team and hopefully he can get to the final if we have a reduced bunch. We also have Tom coming from Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished 4th, he will of course look to cover the attacks on the Poggio alongside Søren, who's condition is looking good coming into the classics."

Soren Andersen

Soren Andersen will be riding Milano-San Remo. Here he is winning Paris-Tours in 2018.

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Marc Hirschi (SWI)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Nicholas Roche (IRL)

Lotto-Soudal updates Victor Campenaerts' World Hour Record attempt prep

Part 3: 27 days to go – Successful rehearsal

Victor Campenaerts: “Confidence boost’
“Winning the closing time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico is of course a performance that makes me very proud. Even though I raced with the Hour Record attempt in mind this week, a WorldTour victory against the world’s best time triallists means a new step in my career. Two years ago, my goal was to finish inside the top three in a time trial on the highest level and last year, I wanted to win a WorldTour time trial, which didn’t succeed. The fact that I beat Dennis and Dumoulin for the first time, gives my victory that extra touch.”

Victor Campenaert

Victor Campenaerts winning the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial. Sirotti photo

“I had to wait in suspense for over two hours and I saw how all the riders, one after another, were not able to beat my time. In addition, I had to deliver three doping samples because the urine was not dense enough due to the big amount of water I drank. I almost missed my flight to Belgium but luckily, I could return with the rest of the staff and Tiesj Benoot. The day before the time trial, I promised to buy champagne if I would win and I am a man of my word… My girlfriend Fanny would normally pick me up at the airport, but we cancelled those plans due to a sore throat. Luckily, she’s an athlete herself so she understands that it is not a good time to get sick now.”

“The word ‘Hour Record’ has been running through my mind for several months and that obviously won’t change during the coming weeks. During the past Tirreno-Adriatico, it has often been the talking point. The coming days will mainly be about recovery after which I will complete the preparations on Belgian soil. I will start my ‘jet lag training’ as of Friday. Then, I adapt my life rhythm day after day to the hour difference with Mexico to reduce the shock once I get there. Meanwhile, the team’s staff members are finalizing the preparations what concerns logistics, planning, equipment,... It is obvious that I got a confidence boost and that I am looking forward to what is about to come…”

The support of Victor:
A sizeable team is involved in the preparation of the Hour Record attempt. The staff members of Lotto Soudal are preparing everything to leave for Mexico without any worries. The following people will assist Victor in Mexico.

- Trainer Kurt Lobbestael
- Doctor/ altitude specialist Ruud Van Thienen
- Osteopath /physical therapist Toon Hens
- Mechanic Simon De Wolf
- Performance manager Kevin De Weert

Furthermore, Lotto Soudal could rely on the experience of its own partner Energy Lab, complemented by several specialists. The British Matthew Bottril for the time trial positioning, Bert Blocken as professor aerodynamics and Stefan Deckx for strength, stabilization and supplementation in cooperation with Lotto Soudal partner Sanas.

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