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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. - Will Durant

Current racing:

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Vuelta a España stage 10 team reports

Matteo Trentin won his second stage this Vuelta. Here's the report from his Quick-Step Floors team:

Matteo Trentin powered to another spectacular win at the Vuelta a España, exactly one week after opening his account at the race, in Tarragona. This time, the 28-year-old came out on top in the Murcia region where he arrived at the finish together with Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and outsprinted the Spaniard with ease, taking not only the victory, but also the green jersey, which he'll wear tomorrow for the sixth day at this edition.

The race resumed Tuesday afternoon with a 164.8km stage between Caravaca Jubilar and ElPozo, which had to wait for more than 80 kilometers to be covered before a breakaway finally formed. When this happened, Quick-Step Floors duo Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin were there, part of an 18-man move which quickly gained five minutes over the peloton led by the red jersey's team.

Everybody knew that the day's critical points will be the first-category climb of Collado Bermejo (7.7 kilometers, 6.5%) and the subsequent downhill, where narrow, twisty and treacherous roads awaited the riders, so the status quo soon went up in smoke and the group disintegrated as a result of several attacks. Distanced, Matteo linked with Niki Terpstra on the first slopes of the ascent, and the former Paris-Roubaix winner paced him before the Italian upped the tempo and bridged to the leading trio.

The four crested the top of the climb with a 30-second gap over their former breakaway companions and on the descent they even managed to extend that advantage before the group split under Rojas' impetus, who tried to go solo. Only Trentin could take the wheel of the home rider and the two changed turns at the front, so by the time the terrain flatted out, it became clear they will contest the win on stage ten.

Matteo led under the flamme rouge, but soon Rojas moved to the front and opened the sprint, with 400 meters remaining. The Quick-Step Floors rider patiently bided his time before coming out of his opponent's wheel, surging past the Spaniard and kicking out a devastating acceleration, which propelled him to his fifth Grand Tour victory.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin wins Vuelta stage ten

"I was thinking of this stage for a while now and the plan was to get in the breakaway, knowing there was a solid chance it could stick. I knew the last climb was a hard one, but I rode my own tempo and then, in the downhill, I just followed Rojas, aware he is a good descender and also that he knows the roads, being from Murcia. I am really happy with my second win here, our team is having a fantastic Vuelta a España and we hope to add other good results to our impressive tally in the next stages", Matteo said at the finish, following Quick-Step Floors' 14th Grand Tour victory of the year.

A few minutes after Matteo Trentin celebrated his emphatic victory, the overall contenders arrived to the line, and David De La Cruz retained his sixth place in the overall standings, which could witness some important changes on Wednesday, when the peloton will take on the Calar Alto climb (15.5 kilometers, 5.9%).

José Rojas was second. His Movistar team posted this report:

Yet another close call for the Movistar Team in the 2017 Vuelta a España. The telephone squad's consistency, still seeking for a maiden stage win in this year's race, was again proven on Tuesday at a very tough stage 10 in Alhama de Murcia, where José Joaquín Rojas tried to put the terrain's knowledge at his favour on the slopes and descent of the Collado Bermejo (Cat-1). The man from Cieza eventually finished 2nd behind Matteo Trentin (QST), holder of the green jersey as best sprinter of the race, after shattering a 18-man breakaway formed only after two initial hours ridden at... 53.2kph average!

Rojas, joined by Marc Soler into the front group, formed with just 60km from the finish, was a leading factor for the big selection of that break into the slopes of the Morrón de Totana (Cat-3), where only the Spaniard, Trentin, Rosón (CJR) and Van Rensburg (DDD) survived. The four were basically together during the whole Collado climb, where Soler attacked from G2, alongside Alexander Geniez (ALM), to try and make it back to the front, an action which left him only 20" behind at the top. Into the technical, dangerous descent, Rojas tried several times to leave Trentin behind, and actually managed to drop Rosón and Van Rensburg. However, the final sprint by Trentin was too much for the Murcian, already 3rd at Friday's Cuenca finish.

The efforts by both José Joaquín and Marc (6th today, 58" down) have helped Movistar Team establish a strong lead in the team GC -almost 10' on Astana, 12' to UAE- before the big mountain-top finishes in the 2017 Vuelta start on Wednesday with Calar Alto (Cat-1). The 2120m-high climb in Almería will be the end to a 188km trek starting in Lorca, and also featuring the Alto de Velefique (Cat-1) in quick succession with the day's main and decisive ascent.

José Joaquín Rojas: "It was clear that Trentin was the worst contender we could fight for a stage against; he's the best sprinter in this Vuelta. Finding him through a Cat-1 climb, in the roads of Murcia, just next to your home... It's sad we didn't really have a chance today. As we've said many times during this race, we must not stop trying, and for the moment we've snatched two third places, this second... We must continue to think that tomorrow's stage will be the good one.

"I had things planned on my mind, I knew what I had to do because I knew the terrain, but in the end, I could only try to sneak a way past Trentin into the descent, because he was so strong on the climbs, and coming into a sprint we knew we couldn't beat him. However, we weren't looking at him in the first place as a real contender. Before the Collado Bermejo, I was talking to Pablo Lastras, who was driving the DS car next to the break, and we agreed that 'Luisle' could be our biggest rival, since he knew the climb and was one of the best riders uphill into that group. Once we saw Trentin was staying there, our only opportunity was dropping him into the downhill, but we didn't succeed."

Jacques Janse Van Rensburg was fourth. His Dimension Data team posted this:

Matteo Trentin (Quickstep-Floors) won stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana by beating Jose Joquim Rojas (Movistar) in a 2-rider sprint. Jaime Roson (Caja-Rural) just pipped our South African, Jacques Janse van Rensburg for 3rd place on the stage.

The 10th stage of the Vuleta a Espana got underway in the pouring rain with riders leaving from Caravaca Jubilar, heading to Elpozo Alimentacion on a 164km route. The early kilometers were mostly flat to gently downhill and this made for an incredibly fast start, so fast in fact that a breakaway was only able to form after 100km racing, the average speed measuring at 52km/h to this point.

In the break, 18 riders were clear and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was represented by our South African, Jacques Janse van Rensburg. The two main features of the stage were the 18km climb up to Collado Bermejo and then the 22km descent to the finish thereafter. The climb was broken up into two parts though, first a cat 3 that led straight onto the main cat 1. Janse van Rensburg showed his positive intent just as the climb began and attacked the breakaway, quickly opening a 25″ gap, a margin he maintained through to the summit of the cat 3.

On the category 1 climb, Trentin, Rojas and Roson were able to come across to Janse van Rensburg and they set a fast pace to stay clear of the remaining breakaway riders and the peloton, which was clocked at 4’00” back at this point. Over the top of the climb, the quartet had a healthy lead but still, the technically treacherous 22km downhill remained.

Trentin pushed the pace on the downhill and this saw Janse van Rensburg losing contact initially. It took nerves of steel to navigate down the narrow road, covered in pine needles and constantly cutting back on itself, but Janse van Rensburg was able to bridge back up to the leading trio with 10km to go. At that moment, another acceleration by Trentin and Rojas was enough to gap Roson and Janse van Rensburg for good.

Janse Van Rensbrurg

Janse Van Renseburg leads the break.

As the road flattened slightly for the final 4km to the line, the leading duo pressed home their 20″ lead with Trentin having the faster kick to the line. Roson and Janse van Rensburg, visibly out of breath from a tough final chase, took the minor placings but a fantastic result nonetheless by our South African climber. Igor Anton finished comfortably with the main GC group today and moved up 3 places on GC, to sit 18th overall, Chris Froome (Team Sky) still the leader overall.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg: "It’s been quite a battle for me after the Giro. I went to Slovenia after the Giro and crashed on the 2nd stage, breaking my collarbone and three ribs. It took a while to get back into training and find some good shape. I wasn’t feeling bad in the first 9 stages here but the legs were a little slow. After the rest day, the legs finally arrived and it was nice to get into the break after 100km of fighting for it today. On the first climb, I felt really good and decided to try something and went for it early. I got 30 seconds and then rode my own tempo because I knew the guys behind would look at each other, some trying to save their legs and riding a bit negative so I just did my own race. 

"I think it worked out well with 3 guys coming across to me on the big climb. It was then down to who was tactically going to be the strongest on the descent and take the most risk because the road was still wet. That road is known for a number of crashes so I was a bit nervous, having broken bones for the last 3 years running already. I was able to come back on a little kicker in the middle of the descent but then on the bottom part of the descent Trentin and Rojas went away again. We didn’t lose much time but that’s how it would end. I felt like I was the strongest in the break though so that’s good motivation for the rest of the race."

Alexander Kristoff joins UAE Team Emirates

Here's the press release the team sent me:

Alexander Kristoff and UAE Team Emirates have signed a deal for the European Champion to join the Emirati team starting in 2018.

Both parties announced the agreement in the beginning of August. Since then they have finalized some details in the two-year contract, and the team’s medical staff have completed some routine exams.

Alexander Kristoff: ”I’m very proud and really excited to join UAE Team Emirates. For me this is a big move since it’s only the second time in my career that I’ve changed teams. I’m looking forward for meeting my new team mates and staff members, and getting to know all the people who work on this project. I’m very confident about the future and I’m sure that with UAE Team Emirates we will archive great results staring next Spring".

Alexander Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff wins the 2017 RideLondon Classic

UAE Team Emirates has defined the terms of contract for another Norwegian rider who has already worn the rainbow colours during his young cycling career: Sven Eryk Bystrøm, born in 1992, was the Under 23 World Champion in 2014. He has signed a two year contract and will be racing with the Emirati formation starting next season.

“Kristoff is a world class rider with an impressive dossier, and he is determined to achieve and succeed even more. His European Championship title is just further proof of his winning drive,” emphasized Carlo Saronni, Team Manager for UAE Team Emirates. “These are the skills that piqued our interest in Alexander as someone who can make the squad even better. We were happy to see how Kristoff appreciated the significance of the project behind our team and we are sure that this road we are taking together will bring even more prestige to Alexander’s image and career.

We also welcome Bystrøm, who’s a young talented rider.”


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