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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The things that we love tell us what we are. - Thomas Aquinas

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CCC Team taking a mix of youth and experience to target stage wins at Giro d'Italia

The squad sent me this:

07 May 2019: CCC Team will head to the start line of the Giro d'Italia, the first Grand Tour for the team in its new colors, this Saturday (11 May) with a strong and motivated mix of youth and experience that will be targeting stage wins.

Sports Director Gabriele Missaglia said that CCC Team will be looking to race aggressively with all eight riders having the freedom to race for their own results while keeping an eye on the General Classification.

"For us, the first goal of this year's Giro d'Italia will be to race aggressively and try to win a stage. I think we have a well-rounded rider roster that can look to make the most out of every stage and try to go in the important breakaways. While we don't have any of the favorites on our line-up, I am confident in the team and its ability to fight for stage wins. As well as fighting for stage wins, Víctor de la Parte and Laurens ten Dam will have the chance to see what they can do on the General Classification and I think both riders have prepared well for the next three weeks of racing," Missaglia explained.

Laurens ten Dam

Laurens ten Dam at the 2018 Giro. Sirotti photo

"Francisco Ventoso, whose condition is looking good after his crash at Paris-Nice, has tasted success at the Giro d'Italia and he will bring that knowledge with him to our roster. As well as taking their own chances where possible, Ventoso and Łukasz Owsian will play an important role in helping Jakub Mareczko on the predicted bunch sprint stages."

CCC Team will have three riders making their Grand Tour debut in Italy.

"As well as bringing a wealth of experience to the start line, we will also have some youthful energy on our rider roster with three riders making their Grand Tour debut. Kamil Gradek has had a strong Classics season and he will come to Italy with a solid block of racing behind him. Josef Černý has also had the chance to show his strength over the first part of the season while Amaro Antunes is finding his legs in the UCI WorldTour and I think we will see his form build over the course of the race with an eye on the tough mountain stages in the third week," Missaglia added.

Giro d'Italia (11 May - 2 June), Rider Roster:

Amaro Antunes (POR): First time racing
"I am very happy about lining up at my first Grand Tour this week. I have mixed feelings about the Giro d'Italia because while I am, of course, excited and motivated to start, I am not 100 percent sure about my condition. However, saying that, my goal is to get better throughout the race and to give my best for the team on what is a difficult parcours."

Josef Černý (CZE): First time racing
"I am really looking forward to my first Grand Tour. I am feeling motivated and I am happy with how my preparation has been going. My goal for the race is to try to jump in a good breakaway group and make it to the finish with the best result possible. All three weeks will be hard and long, the first week especially, but I know that as a team we can fight for results at this race."

Víctor de la Parte (ESP): 2017, 2018
"I am looking forward to racing my third Giro d'Italia because it is a race that I love and I also think that I am coming into it in good shape after some nice performances at my last races. The parcours is a little different this year with no mountain stages in the first part of the race and a really hard final week. I think we have a strong team that can show off the CCC Team jersey in all the different types of stages and we will try to fight for victory every day."

Kamil Gradek (POL): First time racing
"After the Classics, I had a break and started to prepare for the Giro d'Italia. This will be my first Grand Tour and my first Giro so, I only know the race through the stories people have told me but I'm feeling good now and I'm excited for the start of the race. It's going to be a heavy three weeks of racing but, I will take the race day by day and look to give 100 percent for the team at all times. We do not have the biggest names but names do not win races and I think we have a well-balanced team, with a good combination of freshness and experience, and we will be able to fight on any terrain."

Jakub Mareczko (ITA): 2016 - 2018
"The Giro d'Italia is one of my favorite races. It's my home Grand Tour and it is a race that I am always motivated for, this year is no exception. As always, there are some good opportunities for sprinters and having finished second on three occasions in the past, I want to be fighting for stage wins again this year. I am not 100 percent sure about the form I am coming into the race with but, I have confidence in myself and in our team."

Łukasz Owsian (POL): 2015, 2017
"This will be my third Giro d'Italia and I am happy with my preparation for the race and my condition coming into it. Firstly, I would like to have the opportunity to be in a good breakaway one day and try to fight for a stage win and secondly, I want to do a good job for my teammates and work hard for them when needed. This year's race will be very hard, the parcours is demanding but, we have got a good group of CCC Team riders lining up. It will be difficult, of course, but I think we have a team that has the strength and the motivation to try to fight for results every day."

Laurens ten Dam (NED): 2009, 2017, 2018
"I am feeling good about my condition heading to Bologna for the start of my first Grand Tour with CCC Team. This will be my fourth Giro d'Italia, the first two I won and the third, I finished second with my team leader but this year, to be honest, I am happy to have the chance to go for my own results. It is nice to have a different goal and I am feeling pretty confident. My build-up to the race has been going well, it was like it was in my best years, and I am thankful for the team giving me the freedom to do that. We will see what happens but my head is full of fighting spirit and we have a good team so I would really like to see us all make some good results."

Francisco Ventoso (ESP): 2005, 2011 (winner, stage 6), 2012 (winner, stage 8) - 2014, 2017, 2018
“I’m super happy to be back racing at the Giro d'Italia because it is one of my favorite races and, for me, it is the best Grand Tour. My feelings are good right now and I am getting better all the time after the crash at Paris-Nice which saw me injure my hand. I think this year will be another nice Giro for me and as always my goal is to help and support my teammates as much as possible but, this year, I will also look for my own opportunities. Our goal as a team is to win stages and I want to help try to do that. This year's race is different from others because there is no proper GC day in the first week however, I think we will still see a big fight. Overall, we have a really good team with a lot of morale and motivation so, I think we can do something nice over the three weeks."

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

Deceuninck-Quick Step headed to Giro d'Italia

Here's the team's latest update:

Winner of the famed maglia ciclamino last year, when he captured a whooping four stages, Elia Viviani will make his sixth Giro d’Italia appearance after a consistent first part of the season, which resulted in four victories, all at World Tour level. The 30-year-old comes at the start in Bologna with the beautiful and iconic Italian Champion jersey on his shoulders, an extra motivation for the best sprinter of 2018 to add to his growing palmares.

Twice winner of the best young rider classification (2016, 2017), Bob Jungels returns at the Corsa Rosa after two years hoping to be again a major player in the general classification, like he was at his previous outings, when he finished each time in the top 10. With two victories (Tour Colombia stage 3 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne) under his belt this year, Bob is confident that he can be a protagonist, aided also by the almost 70 kilometers of individual time trial at the 102nd edition (Bologna, San Marino and Verona).

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels won the best young rider's white jersey in 2017. Sirotti photo

The experienced Eros Capecchi, Fabio Sabatini, Florian Sénéchal and Pieter Serry – who between them have nearly 50 Grand Tour starts – will also be on Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s squad for the first three-week race of the year, which will be rounded by two Grand Tour debutants: neo-pro Mikkel Honoré, who has impressed as part of the team’s Ardennes Classics contingent, and James Knox, a top 10 finisher this season at the UAE Tour.

The race will kick off from the city that is home to the world’s oldest university for just the second time in its history, but unlike 1994, when the sprinters had their time in the sun, the time trialists will be the one in the spotlight now, on the tough uphill finish to Santuario della Madonna di San Luca. Between Bologna and Verona (where the Giro d’Italia will conclude for the first time since 2010), the sprinters will have their fair share of chances, but ultimately the climbers will be provided with more opportunities to shine and make the difference.

“We come here with two leaders: Elia Viviani – who backed by a very strong sprint train, will look to win again stages in front of his home crowd, this time in the Italian National Champion jersey – and Bob, who’s going to have another tilt at the GC favoured by the three stages against the clock. There’s a number of stages which should be important in the fight for the overall – from Ceresole Reale and Courmayeur to the one featuring both Gavia and Mortirolo – but the plan is to take it day by day and see what happens”, explained sports director Davide Bramati, who’ll lead the team from the car together with Klaas Lodewyck and Rik van Slycke.

Lotto-Soudal's Sport Director Bart Leyson discusses Giro d'Italia

The team sent me this:

On Saturday 11 May, the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia kicks off with an individual time trial in Bologna. Lotto Soudal will be at the start with Victor Campenaerts, Caleb Ewan, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Vanendert. Sports director Bart Leysen talks about the course and the Lotto Soudal line-up.

Bart Leysen: “The Giro d’Italia starts with an individual test against the clock in which the riders will immediately face a tough climb at the end, so the guys with GC ambitions already need to go full gas. There is a realistic chance that a candidate for the overall victory will grab the first pink jersey. The Giro can be broken down into two main parts. The first week and a half, some long days in the saddle are scheduled with a variety of both sprint and hilly stages.”

“From day thirteen onwards, the general classification riders will come to the fore. For example stage sixteen - with finish in Ponte di Legno - includes the mighty Passo Gavia as well as the feared Mortirolo and will play a crucial role in the battle for GC. The sprinters are granted one last opportunity in stage eighteen because the following two days, the overall standings will take a decisive shape with another two brutal mountain stages coming up. The 102nd Giro ends with an individual time trial in Verona but will, in my opinion, not cause any significant changes in the general classification anymore.”

“With Caleb Ewan (24) we have a world-class sprinter in our line-up. The first week and a half, I reckon there are six chances where it could be a bunch sprint. We have to seize every opportunity in which Caleb Ewan could sprint for victory. The first stage - which includes some hills along the way - will immediately be a difficult task. However, the Australian has already proven countless times to do well on hilly terrain so we will do everything possible to make it a sprint in Fucecchio.”

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan racing in the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

“After a nasty crash in Paris-Nice, Jasper De Buyst (25) returned to competition in the Tour of Turkey. Jasper will act as the lead-out man in the sprint stages, not only during the Giro but also the rest of the season. Roger Kluge (33) will be the guide of Caleb Ewan. Contrary to the Tour de France, the finales of sprint stages in the Giro are with narrow roads and sharp turns often quite technical. Both Roger and Jasper know extremely well when it’s time to move to the front and they are able to deliver Caleb in a perfect position. Also Tosh Van der Sande (28) is a rider who - just like De Buyst and Kluge - can pick the right moment during the run-up to the sprint. Besides, a technical finale suits him very well and he can also more than handle himself uphill. Those qualities come in really handy when racing in Italy. Should Jasper De Buyst have a mechanical at the very end of the stage, Tosh is the right man to take over the role as lead-out.”

“Victor Campenaerts (27) will, first and foremost, be targeting the three individual time trials. The final test again the clock maybe suits him best but the European time trial champion will also do everything he can to finish as close as possible in the first two ones. Campenaerts will of course be given the freedom to focus on the time trials but with his abilities, he could also play an important role – mainly in the first week - in bringing the sprint train to the front.”

“For Thomas De Gendt (32), the Giro will be the first of three Grand Tours this season. Thomas will, if necessary, do his part in the service of Caleb Ewan, but he will of course be granted a free role in the transitional stages and maybe in the high mountains. Most points for the mountain classification are to be gained in the final week but most of all, Thomas is more than capable to go for a stage victory.”

“During the first week, Jelle Vanendert (34) could help to ease the workload of the sprint train. Later, he will get a free role in the tougher stages. Adam Hansen (who turns 38 on the 11th of May) will start his 28th Grand Tour. Adam is a versatile rider and could do his thing - together with Jelle Vanendert - before the real sprint battle commences. Seen his many years of experience, the Australian could provide the necessary calmness in the hectic sprint stages. He also perfectly knows how to keep the early break in check.”

“Our Giro line-up has already gained a lot of Grand Tour experience and is very strong in general. I would be a happy man if we’d manage to take one stage victory but we need to dare to aim higher.”

Team INEOS annouces Giro d'Italia squad

Here's the team's update:

Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov, two of Team INEOS’ next generation of young riders, will lead the team at this year’s Giro d’Italia – the team’s first Grand Tour under new ownership.

Tao Hart

Tao Geoghegan Hart wins stage four in this year's Tour of the Alps.

The duo will be supported by a largely youthful looking lineup including six riders aged 25 or under, as the team returns to the race won in memorable fashion by Chris Froome in 2018.

Geoghegan Hart (24) and Sivakov (21) will be joined on the start line in Bologna on May 11th by Eddie Dunbar, Sebastian Henao, Christian Knees, Jhonatan Narvaez, Salvatore Puccio and Ivan Sosa.

The average age of the eight-man team is 25 years – the team’s youngest-ever Grand Tour lineup.

Geoghegan Hart and Sivakov made their Grand Tour debuts last year at the Vuelta a España, and impressed at the Tour of the Alps last month, with three stage wins and a one-two on the final GC.

This year’s Giro will feature seven summit finishes and three time trials – and Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford is relishing the prospect of seeing his young team compete in the 102nd edition of the famous race. He said: “Over the last two seasons we have been bringing together a carefully selected group of young riders who we believe to be the future of our Team.

“Whilst very much in the learning and development phase of their careers, we have nevertheless already seen them taking great strides forwards this year with Egan, Pavel and Chris Lawless all winning stage races and Tao, Ivan, Jhonatan, Sebastian and Eddie all riding exceptionally well.

“With this developmental goal in mind, we have chosen to field our youngest-ever team for a Grand Tour and it’s fitting it should be our first one as Team INEOS. “Egan’s injury is a real shame as he was to lead the team in a Grand Tour for the first time. However, I’m sure he will be fighting fit come July.

“Eddie will now come into the Team for his first Giro and given his recent performances it is well deserved.” He added: “We will not dramatically change our approach to the race as we will still look to give each rider the greatest developmental opportunities and to learn and gain as much experience as possible.

“Both Salvatore and Christian have been selected to add in a wealth of Grand Tour experience and to support the riders who will be racing for three weeks for the first time.”

Brailsford has challenged his young team to embrace the next few weeks, adding: “Whilst we have set ourselves some clear targets and goals, the most important thing is to animate the race, embrace it and enjoy it too – as a young Team we really want them to feel an excitement and anticipation of taking on this adventure and to test themselves and see where they get to. We will all feel very proud to start our first Grand Tour as Team INEOS and start what I’m sure is going to be a great journey together.”

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