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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The universe is not complicated, there's just a lot of it – Richard Feynman

Today's racing:

Latest completed racing:


Tour of Poland stage 5 news

GC leader Peter Sagan extended his lead a bit. Here's the report from his Bora-hansgrohe team:

With the days becoming progressively harder at the Tour de Pologne, BORA-hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan continued to look strong in the yellow jersey of race leader. Ably helped over the day’s climbs by his BORA-hansgrohe teammates, the UCI World Champion reached the finish in Rzeszów in a perfect position to contest a reduced bunch sprint, following a crash in the final kilometre. While blocked in the finale, Peter finished the day in third and extended his lead in the GC contest and maintained his hold on the top of the points competition.

Tied with stage 1 for the shortest day, it would be a mistake for any rider to think this 130km route would be easy. The parcours featured four categorised climbs, with three of these being second category. Even before the race reached the categorised climbs, the first half of the stage also saw some steep ramps, making the going tough from the outset. Undulating for the entire distance, with the last ascent cresting 10km from the finish, this final climb had the potential to be the perfect springboard for a late attack.

While the profile looked menacing, the hardest days were still to come, and so from the outset came the attacks, trying to gain some time and some points on the categorised climbs. With the harder ascents coming later in the day, it was important to build an advantage over the peloton before the road really turned upwards. A small group of four managed to escape, but with BORA-hansgrohe controlling the pace for race leader, Peter Sagan, these riders were unable to reach the three-minute mark over the bunch. The peloton made the most of a short lull in climbing between the third and fourth categorised climbs to reduce this gap to under two minutes.

Back in the peloton, the black jerseys and teal green helmets of BORA-hansgrohe were a familiar sight, including Rafał Majka, who was sitting third on the GC, as well as the yellow jersey of race leader, Peter Sagan, the UCI World Champion having been paced over the climbs by his teammates. A sudden rain shower drenched riders and saw one of the break slide out on the now slippery corners, but aware of this hazard, the team came through here safely. In spite of an attack, it was the break’s last gasp, and it was all back together with 3km to go, but the wet roads would make a sprint hazardous. Surfing Sky’s lead-out train, Peter was sitting a few riders back, avoiding a crash that split the bunch in the final kilometre, leaving a much-reduced bunch to contest the finale. While Peter had a strong position in the sprint, he was closed in as the final metres passed by and was unable to safely push to the line past Sky’s Danny Van Poppel, who took the stage, leaving Peter to take third.

Danny van Poppel

Danny van Poppel wins Tour of Poland stage five

In spite of being unable to take the stage win, Peter extended his lead in the GC contest to fourteen seconds. "Although it was short, today's stage was very hard and very tricky as the rain and dirt on the roads made the course slippery. The team worked very hard to close the gap, first to the breakaway and then to Tejay Van Garderen when he attacked. Unfortunately, I was boxed in for the sprint but still, I finished third and took the bonus seconds. We are holding on to the yellow jersey with an advantage of 14 seconds now and I feel in good form but have two more stages ahead of us."

BORA- hansgrohe Sports Director, Steffen Radochla, saw how the conditions made it hard for the riders today. "It was a short and very fast stage, with a lot of short climbs. We worked to keep the breakaway under control and close the gap. As expected, the escapees were caught and the stage finished with a sprint. We tried to place Peter in a good position, but the rain and slippery roads made it hard. Still, he showed his form and took third place, staying clear of the crash in the finale. We will now try to defend the yellow jersey."

Another race of two halves awaits riders tomorrow. For the first half of the 189km stage, it’s a gentle uphill drag, but after this there are five first category climbs between here and the finish. There’s a short downhill on the back of this last climb, but a final kick up to the finish in Zakopane will break up the field – that is, those who manage to stay in touch this far.

Here's Orica-Scott's telling of the day's racing in Poland:

Slovenian champion Luka Mezgec blasted to second place today on a chaotic finish on stage five at the Tour of Poland.

A breakaway of five riders animated most of the hilly stage with the day eventually concluding with a reduced bunch sprint on wet roads. Mezgec positioned himself well in the final to stay out of trouble and in a position to sprint for the victory, finishing in a close second place as Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) clinched the win.

“It was another really good result for us today, Luka came really close to winning the stage,” said sport director Dave McPartland. “The initial plan for the day was to sprint with Caleb Ewan. At first it was a bit of a disappointment not to have him there coming into the final but we had a really good option with Luka.”

“Despite the hard profile we thought that it may come down to a sprint today. Luka doesn’t get that many opportunities to sprint for himself, but he’s shown what great form his is in over the past month or so and he was really close to the victory today so we are really pleased.”

With another bunch sprint, the general classification remains very much the same with the team's GC hopeful, Adam Yates, now in eighth place overall at 33seconds with some hard stages still to come.

“All our GC guys had a good day and got through the stage well,” McPartland continued. “It can be dangerous having wet roads in the finish so we are happy that everyone finished safety and now we can look to the GC with hard stages still to come.”

How it happened:

Stage five of the tour provided another tough stage with a variety of climbs to contend with. The short 130kilometre race featured three second category climbs, a third category climb and other non classified climbs along the way.

Like previous stages, a breakaway group escaped within the opening 20kilometres. The five leaders opened up a maximum advantage of three minutes, but with the peloton attentive and controlling the speed in the bunch, they were unable to gain a threatening lead.

In the closing stages the rain began to fall which saw one of the breakaway riders crash and leave just four riders out front hovering around one minute ahead with 15kilometres to go.

ORICA-SCOTT remained safety in the peloton as three of the leaders were finally swallowed up with eight kilometres to go and only one rider remained ahead.

Inside the final four kilometres the race was all back together again, but with wet roads and a twisty finale, a crash with one kilometre to go created large splits within the group.

Mezgec, already in good position towards the front of the bunch, avoided the danger and was able to contest the sprint, coming very close to victory but having to settle for second place.

Yates is now up to eighth place overall with two hard stages remaining.

UAE Team Emirates sent me this Tour of Poland update:

Roberto Ferrari made it to the finish line with the best of them in the challenging 5th stage, picking up fourth place in the final sprint where Danny Van Poppel (Sky) prevailed ahead of Luka Mezgec (Sunweb), as well as the current World Champion and leader of the general classification, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). It was a tense stage along narrow roads with continuous ups and downs on steep slopes; one which selected thirty or so riders who made it to the wet finish line after a sudden shower rendered the roads very slippery, causing a crash in the final 500 metres.

“It was a very difficult stage,” says Roberto Ferrari. “In the final I had good legs, but I hesitated a little too long to take off and I didn’t manage to pull off the sprint I wanted. I probably would have been able to make it to the podium had the conditions been perfect.” 

Tomorrow we’re headed back uphill, with the sixth stage from Kopalnia Soli to Zakopane for 189 km. The fraction will feature 5 Mountain Grand Prix primes in the last 80 km, and the arrival will be located slightly uphill.

Team Astana's Vuelta a Burgos stage two report:

Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos has been held today between Oña and Belorado. The distance of the stage was of 153 km. A hilly stage ended with the bunch sprint, where Kazakhstan Champion Artyom Zakharov finished 11th.

Italian rider Matteo Trentin became the stage winner ahead of Adam Blythe and Tim Ariesen. Astana Team leader Miguel Angel Lopez as well as yesterday stage hero Sergei Chernetckii both finished in the main group without big troubles.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin wins stage two

There is no any serious change in the general classification of the race with Mikel Landa still holding the lead and Sergei Chernetckii second, +0.02 behind the leader. Miguel Angel Lopez is 18th.

Tomorrow will be held one of two decisive mountain stages of the Vuelta a Burgos: 173 km from Ojo Guareña to the top of the special category climb Picón Blanco.

Tony Gallopin signs with Ag2r for two years

The team sent me this news:

Wednesday, 02 August 2017 16:05: Tony Gallopin signs for two years with AG2R LA MONDIALE Pro Cycling Team

Gallopin: "I am leaving Lotto Soudal having spent four years there. I was able to live through some very beautiful emotions, and I can only thank the team for this experience. I am delighted to be joining AG2R LA MONDIALE. We saw again recently at the Tour de France that this is a team that is among the best in the world. The vision of the sporting project is what seduced me and won me over. I will have a varied role. On the one hand, I will be playing a big part in the spring classics and hopefully helping Oliver Naesen to land a monument. I know that I will also have my own chance when racing the week-long events like the Paris-Nice. I have been able to prove also that some of the one-day races suit me, and I hope to earn some great victories while wearing the AG2R LA MONDIALE jersey. And then another part of my job will be to support Romain Bardet at the Tour de France. I am very motivated by this new challenge.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin wins San Sebastian in 2013

VINCENT LAVENU: “BRINGS HIS RACE EXPERIENCE”

“As a racer, Tony cuts the sort of figure we were looking for. He is experienced, a talented puncheur, very smart, and can climb with the best deep into the mountains. He showed once again in the most recent Tour de France that he is a warrior who has a real intelligence when racing. His role will be to help Oliver Naesen early in the season and then Romain Bardet at the Tour de France. Of course, he will have his own freedom at the races that suit his strengths. We know that he is a rider capable of winning great things.”

Tony Gallopin in brief

Professional since 2008: Lotto Soudal (2014-2017); RadioShack (2012-2013); Cofidis (2010-2011); Auber 2008-2009)

Main Victories:Classica San-Sebastian (2013); 11th stage Tour de France (2014) and wore the yellow jersey one day; 6th stage Paris-Nice (2015)

THE NUMBER: 2

Tony Gallopin is the second new member of the AG2R LA MONDIALE team for the 2018 season. Clément Venturini has also committed to two seasons.


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