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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. - Aesop

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Team Sky announces Vuelta a España line-up

Team Sky sent me this news:

14TH AUGUST 2017: Chris Froome says that he has ‘unfinished business’ at the Vuelta a Espana, where he returns aiming to become just the third rider to win both the Vuelta and Tour de France in the same season.

Only Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault have previously achieved the Tour/Vuelta ‘double’, a feat no rider has accomplished since the Vuelta a Espana was moved to become the last of each year’s three Grand Tours back in 1995.

There will be a strong Team Sky lineup when the race kicks off with a team time trial in Nimes on Saturday August 19 - Chris Froome; Wout Poels; Mikel Nieve; Diego Rosa; David Lopez; Gianni Moscon; Salvatore Puccio; Ian Stannard and Christian Knees.

Froome, the four-time Tour de France champion, says that the team’s approach to this year’s Vuelta has given him reason to be optimistic about his chances of back-to-back Grand Tour victories.

“It certainly feels as if I’ve got unfinished business with this race. I’ve finished second three times now, but I’ve got a good feeling about this year’s Vuelta. It feels like we’re on much more of a mission this year, and aiming for the Tour/Vuelta double this season has been a huge motivation. I don’t think we’ve been to the Vuelta a Espana with a team as strong as we’ve got this year.”

Froome, though, is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge – and the harsh conditions the Vuelta offers up to riders. “It’s a race I love doing, but it’s relentless. The course is always a lot more mountainous than the Tour de France and the conditions are tougher. Being mid-August in Spain, it’s quite common to have temperatures up in the mid 40s. It’s absolutely brutal.

“One thing that really sets the Vuelta apart from other races is where it is in the season. You have this mixture of riders who have targeted the Vuelta specifically, and others who are coming off a big season already. Typically, it’s a very aggressive race and a very punchy style of racing, which always makes for great viewing for the fans.”

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will try to join Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault as a Tour/Vuelta winner

Sir Dave Brailsford underlined the importance that the team attached to this year’s race. He said: “Every Vuelta is important as it is a Grand Tour but this year we are more motivated than ever to try to win it. I believe this Vuelta can be a defining moment for Team Sky and for Chris Froome.

“Only two riders have done the Tour/Vuelta double in the same season - Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Bernard Hinault in 1978. This year Chris has the chance to write history alongside them and cement his place as one of the all-time greats of the sport.

“But we know from experience just how tough and competitive the Vuelta is as a race. This year is no different with one of the very hardest mountain top finishes on the Angliru on the penultimate stage.

“We go into the race with Chris supported by another group of very talented riders. It is great to have Wout Poels back after injury and it is an opportunity for him to put his mark on the season after a challenging year. Gianni Moscon will also be riding his first Grand Tour. He is an exciting talent with a lot to offer the team.

“I was very proud of how we rode the Tour this year - the teamwork and the way our riders supported each other was exceptional. This group go into the race with the same mindset and we will give them every support we can to help them succeed together.”

The full Team Sky lineup for this year’s Vuelta a Espana is:

Chris Froome – British – age 32: Chris Froome returns to the Vuelta a Espana, where he has been runner up three times in 2011, 2014 and 2016. Froome has spoken about his desire to win his first Vuelta title and has purposefully designed his 2017 season around peaking later in the campaign. Having earned a historic fourth Tour victory in July the 32-year-old has never been better placed to go for the Grand Tour double.

Christian Knees – German – age 36: Fresh off signing a new contract with the team, Christian Knees lines up at his second Grand Tour of the year, hoping to replicate the success he and Chris Froome enjoyed in July. The German is a powerful presence on the flat, but also a very able climber and experienced road captain. Having ridden the last four editions of the Vuelta for Team Sky, the former German national champion knows what the race is all about.

David Lopez – Spanish – age 36: Lining up for his 16th Grand Tour (and seventh Vuelta a Espana), David Lopez brings experience to the team. Lopez is no stranger to success at the Vuelta, winning a stage solo in 2010 as part of a breakaway that stayed clear. He was also in the team last year to help Froome to a runner-up spot in Madrid, and was in the Tour de France team in 2013 as the Brit claimed his first Grand Tour victory. The unflappable Spaniard will be a key asset in the mountains.

Gianni Moscon – Italian – age 23: Whether impressing in the sport’s toughest Classics or winning stage races in his own right, Gianni Moscon has staked his claim as one of cycling’s top young prospects. The talented Italian will make his Grand Tour debut in Spain, and arrives at the race off the back of a strong climbing showing at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, where he helped Mikel Landa to overall victory.

Wout Poels – Dutch – age 29: Troubled by a knee injury early in the 2017 season, Wout Poels just missed out on selection for the Tour de France, but he’s back firing and determined to perform well at the Vuelta a Espana. The Dutchman enjoys a close relationship with Chris Froome and he played a big part in Froome’s 2015 and 2016 Tour de France victories. The pair will hope to combine to successful effect yet again in Spain.

Salvatore Puccio – Italian – age 27: The versatile Italian has been improving year on year since joining the team back in 2012. Now on the verge of his eighth Grand Tour appearance, Puccio has proven he can play a role on flat, rolling or mountain roads. He will turn 28 during the race, and came within a whisker of a stage victory in the 2015 edition of the Vuelta. His Classics know-how should also prove key in the hustle and bustle of a peloton fighting for position.

Mikel Nieve – Spanish – age 33: Consistently one of the best pure climbers in the peloton, Mikel Nieve provides a key presence in the high mountains of any Grand Tour. Kicking off his 14th Grand Tour, the Basque rider arrives at the Vuelta alongside Chris Froome fresh off a winning three weeks in July, and will be hoping for more of the same in a race he knows well. A stage winner in both the Vuelta and Giro d’Italia, Nieve also claimed the mountains jersey in the Giro last year.

Diego Rosa – Italian – age 28: Diego Rosa has enjoyed an encouraging first campaign with Team Sky and is set for his second Grand Tour of the season after riding the Giro d’Italia. The tenacious Italian - who finished 20th at the Vuelta a Espana in 2015 - heads into the race off a strong performance at the Tour of Poland and will form a key part of Chris Froome’s support group in the high mountains.

Ian Stannard – British – age 30: One of the best all-rounders in the sport, Ian Stannard is just as comfortable tearing up the Cobbled Classics as he is setting tempo in the heat of a Grand Tour. The Brit’s pedigree in three-week races is clear, having been a key part for Chris Froome’s first three Tour de France victories. The two-time Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner will be pressed into action to make sure the team are positioned on the flat and heading onto the early climbs.

BMC also announces Vuelta squad

The team sent me this:

14 August, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will back a strong and experienced team at the Vuelta a España when racing gets underway on Saturday, 19 August.

Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the team has multiple objectives at the third Grand Tour of the season. "We are lining up at the Vuelta a España with one of the strongest rosters we have named in recent years. As a result, we have a number of different goals for the race. To start with, the Team Time Trial in Nimes is a big objective for us. Team Time Trials are always an important discipline for BMC Racing Team, but here at the Vuelta a España, a good result means starting the three-week race with good morale and motivation, and potentially the leader's jersey," Ledanois explained.

"For the General Classification, we have a number of riders who can be up there, including Tejay van Garderen, Nicolas Roche and Samuel Sánchez. These riders are very motivated for a good result overall so we will take things day by day and see how the race plays out. I would like to see aggressive racing from all of our riders and with guys like Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi and Rohan Dennis, we have a good chance for stage wins. In Daniel Oss and Francisco Ventoso, we have two strong riders who will play an important role in protecting our leaders, and for Kilian Frankiny, who will make his Grand Tour debut, this will be a good learning experience for the future."

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay Van Garderen will be on the Vuelta's start line

BMC Racing Team's nine riders collectively have 14 Vuelta a España stage wins and seven top ten General Classification results from 26 participations to their names, with only Frankiny and Oss set to make their debut.

The 72nd edition of the Vuelta a España starts on Saturday, August 19th with a 13.8km Team Time Trial in Nimes, France and finishes on Sunday, September 10 with the traditional sprinters' stage in Madrid.

BMC Racing Team at the 2017 Vuelta a España:

Sports Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Maximilian Sciandri (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

Damiano Caruso (ITA): "I have some really good memories from the Vuelta a España. The last time I raced was in 2014 when I was ninth on the General Classification. This year, the route is very hard with a lot of climbing and some nervous stages. My goal for the race is to help the team and try to win a stage."

Alessandro De Marchi (ITA): "I come into the Vuelta a España after a good period of rest and work. The season has been good but not like I have wanted it to go. The Vuelta is a race I love and has always given me great emotions. It's the race in which I was re-born after a long and bad injury. I like to start the last part of the season with this race as it allows you to continue with strong motivation to the end of the season and be ready for the last, big races. It's always a race that has hard days but it's also open to riders who like to play and take risk. Personally, it's going to be a race of freedom. I would like to look for some good stages where I can really do the race I like. Obviously, the start with a Team Time Trial is really important for the team and I will give the maximum effort. I'm really happy to race and I'll try to enjoy every single moment."

Rohan Dennis (AUS): "I am lining up at the Vuelta a España with a pretty loose General Classification objective. My goals are going for some stage wins and hopefully I will be able to test myself in the mountain stages against the General Classification guys."

Kilian Frankiny (SUI): "First of all, I'm very excited for my first Grand Tour. To race my first Grand Tour in my first pro year makes it very special for me as I never thought I would do one in my first year and with such a strong team, it's an honor. It will be a big challenge, but I'm looking forward to it! My first goal is a good Team Time Trial on the first day. The whole race I hope to learn a lot and gain more experience for the future. I hope to get a good result on one of the climbing stages and to help the team as much as possible, before arriving with the whole team in Madrid."

Daniel Oss (ITA): "After five times at the Tour de France and three times at the Giro d'Italia, this is my first Vuelta a España. I expect I will enjoy it and I hope we can have some good results as a team. The Team Time Trial is really important for us and it's a discipline that I love, so I hope we can start the three weeks of racing with a strong result here. As the race progresses, I'll be there to help our leaders as we make our way towards Madrid."

Nicolas Roche (IRL): "I'm always looking forward to the Vuelta a España because it's probably my favorite race of the year. I'm excited to start the race for the seventh time in my career and I hope to do well on both a team and personal level. I think we have a strong team and it will be nice to get things underway with the Team Time Trial. The Vuelta is always tough and this year is no exception so we will take things day by day."

Samuel Sánchez (ESP): "This year's edition of La Vuelta a España has very demanding routes with many steep climbs and towns visited for the first time. We will have to live day by day as many stages will require superior mental and physical strength. We bring a quite balanced team to fight for stages and try to be on top. For me, this is a chance to forget last year's bad experiences and do a good result this year."

Tejay van Garderen (USA): "The Vuelta a España was my first grand tour back in 2010. I love the warm weather and beautiful Spanish scenery. It's a tough course with lots of steep uphill finishes that lends many different opportunities for attacks and an explosive style of racing. I'd like to try and climb as high as possible on the General Classification, and hopefully challenge for a stage victory. We also have a strong team to challenge for the team classification which would be a huge honor to win."

Francisco Ventoso (ESP): "As a Spanish rider, the Vuelta a España is always a pleasure and this year even more so, because we have three stages in my region of Cantabria. This year there are a lot of climbs, 11 I think, so for sure it will be pretty hard with spectacular finals for the spectators. For me, the first goal is to help the team in the Team Time Trial and hopefully take the jersey. After that, I will help the team and support the captains throughout the race and for sure, I will enjoy the roads, the people and the team."

And here's the squad Orica-Scott is sending to the Vuelta

The team sent me this update:

ORICA-SCOTT will start the final Grand Tour of the 2017 season, the Vuelta a Espana, with another firm focus on a general classification result. The Australian outfit will line up at the Spanish three-week race with two overall hopefuls in 2016 Tour de France white jersey Adam Yates and last year’s Vuelta podium placer Esteban Chaves.

Fresh off a strong performance at the Tour de France, that saw him claim seventh overall and winner of the best young rider competition, Simon Yates gives the team a third option in the mountains.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates is headed to Spain.

The 2017 Vuelta a Espana will be the first time ORICA-SCOTT’s trio of young general classification riders will race a Grand Tour together and the first time the Yates brothers will race two three-week races in a single season.

Sport director Neil Stephens said the combination was an exciting prospect and set a positive challenge for the team. “We have the best general classification riders we can put together, we have all three of them here, and that is going to be a bit of a challenge,” Stephens acknowledged.

“It’s an exciting challenge for us all to focus on, but at the end of the day the team is our leader and all three riders have always fully committed to that. We did it at the Vuelta last year with Simon and Esteban and in the final the race is sorted out on the road. Despite finishing with a top 10 himself, Simon was selfless in his support of our podium finish. The aim is a team result in Madrid, who it is, it doesn’t matter.”

Supporting the trio is a balanced outfit, well-equipped for the varying terrain throughout the 3324.1km journey from Nimes in France to Madrid in Spain.

“We believe we have a pretty evenly balanced team,” Stephens said. “We have a couple of big strong guys in Sam Bewley and Svein Tuft who will pilot our leaders around throughout the Vuelta and their importance will start immediately in supporting a decent team time trial to open and a potentially dangerous and windy stage two.

“We have our climbers in Jack Haig, who is in great shape coming into the race from Poland and Carlos Verona who has been getting ready in the hills of Andorra. And we have a couple of guys who can handle the intensity of stage finishes, the punchy guys that know where to position and are physically capable of positioning our leaders towards the finals of the stage which is Chris Juul-Jensen and Magnus Cort.”

The nine-rider group will together tackle six flat stages, eight hilly stages, five mountain stages and a team and individual time trial.

Stephens acknowledged a difficult parcours and ‘hot GC field’. “The race ramps up as it goes,” he explained. “In the first half of the Vuelta there’s some surprisingly difficult stages that don’t look that difficult on paper, but might catch people off guard.”

“When we start getting towards the south of Spain there’s some difficult stages and the general classification will start to really take shape. From there we go to the second time trial, which is going to be important, and we finish with a very difficult last week. Looking at the quality of rivals, if we were able to repeat what we did last year and get on the podium in Madrid that would be a really fantastic result.”

ORICA-SCOTT at La Vuelta a Espana (Saturday, 19th August to Sunday, 10 September):

Sam Bewley (NZL, 30)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 27)
Magnus Cort (DEN, 24)
Jack Haig (AUS, 23)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 28)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 40)
Carlos Verona (SPA, 24)
Adam Yates (GBR, 25)
Simon Yates (GBR, 25)

UAE Team Emirates Vuelta line-up

Here's the team's Vuelta news:

The UAE Team Emirates has defined its 2017 Vuelta a España selection for the race that will start in Nìmes (France) on Saturday, 19th August, and will finish, as usual, in Madrid on Sunday the 10th of September.

“We have a good team, all the guys are in good form,” says sports director Simone Pedrazzini “The team’s captains will be Louis Meintjes and Rui Costa, who are aiming to get a final Top Ten, while they will be relying on Darwin Atapuma and Jan Polanc for the mountain stages and Sacha Modolo for the sprints, they will all be trying to get a stage win”.

Louis Meintjes: “I have been doing high altitude training in Andorra to prepare for the Vuelta a Espana. The goal is to fight for the GC but we will have to see how my body has recovered after the Tour de France effort.”

Rui Costa: “This will be my first Vuelta a Espana and I’m happy to ride in it. I want to live day by day without thinking specifically about the General Classification, enjoying every single stage. The third one will already be a good test to understand what kind of shape I’m in.”

La Vuelta a Espana (19 August – 10 September)

Rider Roster: Ait El Abdia Anass (Morocco), Atapuma Darwin (Colombia), Faria Da Costa Rui Alberto (Portugal),Meintjes Louis (South Africa), Modolo Sacha (Italy), Mohoric Matej (Slovenia), Niemiec Przemyslaw (Poland), Polanc Jan (Slovenia), Zurlo Federico (Italy).

Sports Directors: Simone Pedrazzini (Switzerland), Vicino Bruno (Italy)

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing plans

Here's the release the team sent me:

LADIES TOUR OF NORWAY (WWT)

The Ladies Tour of Norway is contested over four stages, with a 3.4 kilometre prologue to open the race. The second stage could be a day for the breakaway specialists followed by a day for the fast finishers on day three. The final stage introduces a 7.6 kilometre gravel section with the finish expected to come down to a bunch sprint, providing riders survive the day's early tests.

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We line-up in Norway with ambitions of stage success and to come away with a good position in the overall standings. This is a very open race where anything could happen. The first stage is a prologue and we have both Leah and Ellen as our specialists for this. The following three stages are quite challenging with lots of altitude metres. The weather is also predicted to be quite bad which is an additional factor that could make the race quite hard. It's going to be a tough race but we are fully prepared to chase our goals."

RACE: Ladies Tour of Norway (WWT)

DATE: 17-20/08/2017

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED)

LINE-UP
Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Sabrina Stultiens (NED)

VUELTA A ESPAÑA (WT)

The 2017 edition of the Vuelta a España begins this Saturday with a team time trial to open the race in Nimes, France. Taking place from August 19th to September 10th, the race covers a total of 3,324 kilometres consisting of eight hilly stages, five mountain stages, five flat stages, one flat stage at altitude, a team time trial and an individual time trial. Team Sunweb head to the Vuelta a España with general classification ambitions and a team that combines experience with young, up-and-coming talent.

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) said: "With our GC ambitions it will be crucial for the team to be sharp straight from the first stage. After two very successful Grand Tours earlier this year the moral is high and the guys are eager to continue this line. We've had a good preparation period for this Vuelta and everybody is ready and motivated to make the last Grand Tour of the season a good one. With five debutants on the team we hope that they will be able to make the next step in their development and take some knowledge from the more experienced riders on our roster."

RACE: Vuelta a España (WT)

DATE: 19/08-10/10/2017

COACHES: Arthur van Dongen (NED), Marc Reef (NED)

LINE-UP
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Warren Barguil (FRA)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Sam Oomen (NED)

ARNHEM-VEENENDAAL CLASSIC (UCI 1.1)

Development Team Sunweb line-up at Arnhem-Veenendaal this Friday for the 194 kilometre one-day race. With a flat run into the finish the race is usually one for the sprinters, providing they can survive the day's early challenging climbs.

Team Sunweb coach Rudi Kemna (NED) said: "This is another great race for the team to develop and further progress with our in-race tactics. We have taken some good learning points from the finishes of previous races and the team are all really motivated to implement these into the race on Friday. We will aim to be present in the early breakaway and look for opportunities in the expected bunch sprint."

RACE: Arnhem-Veenendaal Classic (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 18/08/2017

COACH: Rudi Kemna (NED)

LINE-UP
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Marc Goos (NED)
Maxime Gressier (FRA)
Max Kanter (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Florian Stork (GER)
Ruben Zepuntke (GER)

CYCLASSICS HAMBURG (WT)

Cyclassics Hamburg takes riders along a 220 kilometre route with three categorised climbs and three intermediate sprints before the final showdown in Mönckebergstraße. Racing on home soil, Team Sunweb line-up with three fast and talented Germans for the race.

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS) said: "This is an important WorldTour race in Germany and we take a strong team to target a top result there. We bring a solid contingent of German riders with Nikias as our sprinter for the day. He is just coming off a strong Tour de France hoping to add another one-day victory to his palmares. We can expect the race to come down to a decimated bunch sprint and we have a well-rounded team to help us reach our goals for the day."

RACE: Cyclassics Hamburg (WT)

DATE: 20/08/2017

COACH: Luke Roberts (AUS)

Cannondale-Drapac re-signs Rigoberto Uran for three years

The team sent me this:

Cannondale-Drapac is thrilled to announce a contract extension with Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran. The Colombian has committed to a three-year deal with Slipstream Sports.

“I’m very happy with the team,” said Uran. “The environment here suits me. I have a lot of respect for the people that are part of the team – the mechanics, the soigneurs, the staff, my teammates. They know how to have fun off the bike and be serious when it’s time to race. That’s important to me. A three-year contract offers security, and the team is willing to allow me to focus my season on the Tour de France,” Uran said. “I was very happy to sign.”

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran will be with Cannondale-Drapac for three more years

Uran has spent the last two seasons racing in #GreenArgyle. The 30-year-old joined Slipstream Sports from Etixx – Quick-Step. His early tenure with the team was disrupted by illness. He battled bronchitis during the 2016 Giro d’Italia and his 2017 Ardennes campaign was derailed by a particularly nasty cold.

“Cycling is a sport where people have a bad year or two and they get written off quickly,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “And let me qualify that Uran’s ‘bad year’ included a seventh place finish at the Giro d’Italia while racing with bronchitis. We knew what he was capable of.”

Missing out on key objectives during his first 18 months with Cannondale-Drapac made his Tour de France success even sweeter. Uran was able to string together a four-week block where his health and his form were optimal. The result culminated in both Uran’s and Slipstream Sports’ most successful Tour de France campaign to date. “The goal of the team was to win a stage and finish in the top five overall,” said Uran. “We won a stage and came second. It was very good for the team and very good for me.”

Despite all that Uran has accomplished, he has yet to win a professional stage race. “Always second,” he noted pragmatically.

He aims to change that with Cannondale-Drapac, and he has his sights set on the biggest prize. “I’ll race many races, and I have many goals,” said Uran. “The biggest, of course, is the Tour de France. I want to win the Tour.”

“We’re fully prepared to support Uran in this pursuit,” said Vaughters. “His ambition is one that we share, and the team is excited to work with him on his biggest goal. Rigo is a great mentor and leader. Good times and bad, he inspires people.”

RIGOBERTO URAN

Nationality: Colombia
Date of Birth: 26 January 1987
Residence: Monaco, France

Key results:
1st Tour de France stage nine (2017)
1st Giro d’Italia stage 10 (2013)
1st Giro d’Italia stage 12 (2014)
1st GP Quebec (2015)
2nd Tour de France (2017)
2nd Giro d’Italia general classification (2013, 2015)


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