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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 4, 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

It is a well-documented fact that guys will not ask for directions. This is a biological thing. This is why it takes several million sperm cells... to locate a female egg, despite the fact that the egg is, relative to them, the size of Wisconsin. - Dave Barry

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage three team reports

Here's what stage winner Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team had to say:

The terrible weather gave way to blue skies today, and the impact on the peloton in today’s Tour de France stage was clear – the BORA-hansgrohe team did themselves proud, pushing hard the entire day before ferrying the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, to the line to take his first win of this year’s race and BORA-hansgrohe’s first at the Tour de France. Even an unclipped pedal in the final sprint wasn’t going to stop the Slovak rider taking the win – his eighth in total.

The Tour de France finally made its way into France today, with a stage finishing in the north-eastern town of Longwy after a day spent first in Belgium, before moving into Luxembourg and finally France for the final 28km of the 212.5km route. With the change in countries came a change in weather – the rain that has blighted the first two days holding off for day three. Five categorised climbs dotted today’s stage, giving the Maillot à Pois contenders a few hills to stretch their legs on. The undulating terrain meant the finale was likely to be contested by the all-rounders – although there was every chance a committed break could last to the finish, or a late attack might take the win.

Two attacks early on in the day became a group of six, and this was the day’s breakaway. With a long way still to go to the finish, the peloton allowed the escape to go up ahead, taking a more leisurely approach to proceedings. While the break was eager to build their advantage and push on, their lead never broke much more than four minutes, and with Juraj Sagan leading the push to bring in the gap for BORA-hansgrohe, that fell to 2:30 at the 90km mark, and dropped steadily – the Slovakian National Champion taking charge and bringing the break’s lead down a further minute by the time the race hit the 50km to go point. A three-man attack bridged to the break, giving the escapees renewed vigour, but the strain was beginning to show, and the peloton had really started to chase.

The finish was just 30km away, and the break was being caught one by one, and by the 15km point there was just one rider out in front and he had only thirty seconds in hand over the peloton. With the catch made at 10km to go, it was just a matter of waiting to see if a late attack would take the win, or a group of all-rounders would fight it out amongst themselves. With teams nervously eyeing each other up, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were keeping UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, safe ahead of what was bound to be a hotly-contested finish. The short, punchy climb was far from easy – with a maximum gradient of 11% in the mid-section, but Emanuel Buchmann and Marcus Burghardt were driving the pace hard before the finish, with Rafał Majka taking over in the final kilometre. The line just a few hundred metres away, the sheer power of the Slovak rider ripped his shoe out of his pedal. For any other rider this would have been the end, but Peter calmly clipped back in and regained his rhythm, throwing his bike over the line to take the win – his eighth Tour de France stage victory and the BORA-hansgrohe team’s first in this prestigious race.

Peter Sagan

The third stage is Peter Sagan's

After the team had worked so hard for him all through the day, first to draw in the break, and then to take him to the finish, Peter immediately thanked his teammates for their role in his win. “First I’d like to thank all my BORA-hansgrohe teammates – they did an amazing job today. They were pulling all day on the front and it wasn’t easy, with the headwind and the technical section at the end – it was really stressful in the peloton. Then in the end it was a pretty hard climb – BMC did a good job for Richie Porte who then attacked in the last 800m. He created a small gap and went to the front, then I decided to go for it, but we were still at 400m to go and it was too early. It was still far away and I said to myself that again I was in the wrong position. Then I started my sprint and I unclipped – again I thought ‘another mistake – what’s going on today?’ but I went ahead. Matthews nearly beat me, but I made it. I’m so happy with this victory – Thank you BORA-hansgrohe.”

The excitement of Peter’s win was felt by the entire team, who were glad to ride for such a strong rider, as Marcus Burghardt explained from the finish. “It’s tricky here at the Tour because you start positioning yourselves for the finale 20-30km out and you need a good team that works well together. Mine and Pawel Poljanski’s job was to bring Peter into as good a position as possible at the front of the climb, and we did this. In the end though he did it alone – he has to do the big effort in the finale – he needs to have that power, and that’s what he did. I don’t know if he’s even from this planet – he’s so talented, and if he wants something, he’s going to get it. He’s got so much power in his head – and that’s what makes the difference.”

BORA-hansgrohe’s Team Manager, Ralph Denk, was understandably thrilled at Peter’s amazing win. “This is a very special day for BORA-hansgrohe! After four years in the Tour de France, we took our first stage! The stage was made for Peter, but when I saw the climb I wasn’t sure anymore. The team did an amazing job, but when he got out of the pedal, I thought it was over. However, he is the UCI World Champion and he really proved that today.”

Expect some fireworks from the American riders in the peloton tomorrow. While the fourth stage of the Tour de France doesn’t feature the most exciting parcours, it’s the riders who will bring the day to life on this Independence Day stage. The 207.5km route sees one categorised climb over its distance, but this could prove to be a useful springboard for a late attack.

And GC leader Geraint Thomas' Team Sky posted this report:

Geraint Thomas retained the overall lead and Chris Froome moved up to second after an exciting finish to stage three of the Tour de France. Thomas and Froome sprinted to eighth and ninth respectively on the tough uphill finale into Longwy, just two seconds behind stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Richie Porte (BMC) had attacked inside the final kilometre but was brought back by Sagan who then sprinted to a comfortable win ahead of Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors).

Froome’s strong finish moves him up to second, still 12 seconds back on Thomas after the testing 212.5km stage. Speaking afterwards, Thomas explained the hectic finale: “We were a little bit far back going into the climb so we had to make a bit of an effort to move up before the corner just before Richie attacked and we stayed around that sort of position then.

“It’s a good day because it was stressful out there. Once the other three guys jumped across to the break it made the peloton really speed up then. It was left and right, there was a bit of street furniture… it certainly wasn’t a relaxing ride but I’m happy to have got through it unscathed with Froomey.”

Barring any time loss on what should be a straightforward stage for the sprinters tomorrow, Thomas will wear the yellow jersey for the race’s first mountain top finish on day five. The Welshman hopes to ride strongly up to Les Planches des Belles Filles in support of Chris Froome, and hopes that if he does lose the yellow jersey, it's Froome who will take it off him.

Gerant Thomas

Geraint Thomas gets to spend another day in yellow.

He added: “Obviously from the time trial I’ve got decent power, but I’m just a little bit heavier than what I was going into the Giro. But I think I can still do a good job. I’ll probably still end up losing the jersey on that stage, hopefully to Froomey! It would be nice to pass it onto him. It’s another day down. It’s good to get through days like that unscathed because it’s certainly hectic out there. I’m enjoying racing my bike here at the moment, wearing this jersey.”

The day’s break was never allowed a big gap as the race headed from Belgium, through Luxembourg, and into France for the first time in 2017 and the pace turned up a notch once Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calméjane (Direct Energie) and Pierre-Louis Périchon (Fortuneo) broke from the peloton to join the original escapees.

Eventually it was just Calméjane out alone but he was swept up inside the final 15km on the tricky run to the line. Vasil Kiryienka suffered an unfortunate crash in the bunch although he was able to quickly remount and make it back to the peloton in order to help the team in the closing stages.

Then it was over to Michal Kwiatkowski, who expertly shepherded Thomas and Froome up to the final kilometre ahead of the exciting sprint finish.

Richie Porte's BMC team sent me this update:

3 July, 2017, Longwy (FRA): BMC Racing Team put in a dominant display of racing in the finale of Tour de France stage 3 with Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte testing their legs on the uphill finish in Longwy.

After some hesitation from the peloton in the opening 10km of the 212.5km stage, six riders were allowed to go clear but for the first half of the stage their advantage was kept within two minutes. The breakaway split up on the Eschdorf Slope and behind, the peloton eased their chase and crossed the line of the category three summit 4'05" behind solo leader Nathan Brown (Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team) after 120km of racing.

After the breakaway came back together, three riders attacked from the peloton and made the bridge to form a 9-rider breakaway with 55km to go.

Having protected Porte all day, BMC Racing Team assumed their place at the front of the peloton inside the final 30km as the pace picked up and the fight for positioning intensified. Ten kilometers before the finish line, the race came back together, following which BMC Racing Team showed a strong display of teamwork to position Van Avermaet and Porte in the finale.

Inside the final kilometer, Porte surprised everyone by attacking and gaining a few meters on the strung out peloton behind him, however was ultimately caught about 400m before the line.

Van Avermaet launched his sprint but was not able to get passed eventual winner Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) and settled for fourth place on the line.

Richie Porte: "I was put in a fantastic position there in the final. I felt good but with 500 meters to go, I knew it was a bit too far out. I think it's good for the team. They were really strong today so it's a shame we couldn't quite finish it off. For the last 40km it was a hell of a fight. It was a dangerous and tricky final so it was nice to get through that one unscathed. All of the guys chipped in today and they were really strong. It's good for the confidence to have a bit of a crack."

Greg Van Avermaet: "I think Richie did a hard job. Everyone was a little bit 'à bloc'. Even Peter Sagan left a gap a little bit. Then, it was just about timing. I wanted to go a little bit earlier and surprise Peter a bit and take his wheel. But then he lost his pedal and he restarted his sprint again with me next to him and in the wind. This killed me a little bit I think. The team kept a good position for both of us, Richie and I. We had both options to play and I think this is the best approach to not lose time. Maybe you gain some seconds over the other guys if you are at the front of the peloton so for me it is the best solution to do what we did today. I felt great support from my team."

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director: "Priority was keeping Richie Porte there and also to try with Greg Van Avermaet. Of course, the team did an amazing job. They were able to take care of the two guys and be in the front. Richie was feeling good and he also tried in the last 700 meters which was a good sign. Greg was on the good wheel of Sagan but today Sagan was the strongest. I'm sure Greg can be in front soon."

King of the Mountains Nate Brown's Cannondale-Drapac team sent me this

Cannondale-Drapac will continue to #rockthedots at the Tour de France as the King of the Mountain jersey moved from the Taylor Phinney to Nate Brown on Monday following stage three. It was history in the making as Brown jumped to the top of the King of Mountain classification. Never before have two Americans worn polka dots in the same Tour.

Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is the King of the Mountains.

“If you had told me I’d be the one to take the jersey, I would have told you that you were crazy, even this morning,” Brown said. “Obviously we had Phinney – if he had the aptitude to go into the break again today. It’s a tall task to ask someone to go into back-to-back breaks. Dylan [van Baarle] was our second guy. I was third on the list.” 

Brown’s position at the top of the King of the Mountain classification, like Phinney’s, materialized from his ability to slip up the road. A three-rider escaped formed early. Phinney was tired from his outing on Sunday and Van Baarle had missed the move.

“The peloton completely blocked the field,” said Brown. “They weren’t going to let anyone by, but there was this Wanty guy that really, really wanted in on it, and I knew that. I stuck on his wheel. We got to this section where he could use a dirt road on the side to go around. I went with him, and we made it across.”

The escape eventually grew to include six riders: Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), who initiated the move, Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

First box ticked. Next Brown had to chase mountain points.

The 212-kilometer stage between Verviers, Belgium and Longway, France covered three countries and included five categorized climbs – three category four, two category three. The final climb doubled as the uphill finish.

Brown attacked on the first KOM to take the only point available on Côte de Sart. Politt out-sprinted Brown to the single point on offer on the second climb, the Côte de Wilzt. The pair gained a gap over their breakaway companions en route to the next climb, the category three Côte d’Eschdorf, that came 15-kilometers after climb two.

“We each had one point, and I thought ‘Oh boy. The third climb really matters’,” said Brown. “It was just the two of us away, and I didn’t trust my sprint. I knew if I took him to the very end he’d out-jump me. I went early, with two kilometers to go, maybe too early, but it didn’t matter,” said Brown. “It paid off. I got the points.”

With 92 kilometers and two climbs still to race, Brown was in virtual polka dots with three points to Phinney’s two and Politt’s one. The remaining points would be contested in the final 20 kilometers, and Brown expected the peloton to swallow up the break before the last two climbs.

“I had Charley [Wegelius] in my ear telling me that I had it,” Brown said. “He told me that someone would need to win the category four sprint at 20 kilometers and the stage to take it from me. I was fairly confident that wouldn’t happen, but I wasn’t going to get excited until I reached the finish and stood on the podium.”

It didn’t happen. The break rejoined the peloton before the fourth climb. Lilian Calmejane, the lone holdout from a late break, crested the climb 28-seconds ahead of the peloton and earned a single point.

The peloton caught Calmejane with 10 kilometers left to race, and the polka jot jersey was all but assured to rest on Brown’s shoulders. World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won a hotly contested battle for the stage win ahead of Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors). Cannondale-Drapac’s Alberto Bettiol fought to fifth place.

Spent from his early efforts, Brown finished nearly 12 minutes down, the 189th rider home, and headed to the podium to claim his jersey.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” said Brown. “I never though in a million years I’d be in the polka dot jersey at the Tour. I have no words. I’m speechless. I really don’t know what to say.”

Here's the update Team Ag2r-La Mondiale sent me:

Tour de France stage 3 - Pierre Latour white jersey.

21st in stage 3, 6th in the general classification

Latour said, “It was a difficult day with a lot of ‘leg breakers’. But I managed. I tried to attack on the final climb, but I just didn’t have the legs for it. I am happy to be wearing the white jersey, though. This completes my collection. But it remains to be seen if I will be able to keep it.”

Pierre Latour

Pierre Latour wore his tricolor French champion's jersey in the first stage time trial.

AXEL DOMONT: "A PRETTY OKAY DAY": “I suffered but I hung on. I felt pretty achy, especially in the last 40 kilometers. On the whole, it was a decent day which gave me the chance to recover a bit after my crash yesterday. And now bring on tomorrow…”

THE NUMBER: 2014: Romain Bardet is the most recent rider from the AG2R La Mondiale cycling team to have worn the white jersey as best young rider at the Tour de France. That was in 2014. He kept it for six days.

BREAKING NEWS: GASTAUER THE ONLY RIDER FROM LUXEMBOURG

Though the 4th stage tomorrow will start in Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg, Ben Gastauer is the only Luxembourg rider to participate in the 2017 Tour de France. This is his 4th participation.

Giro Rosa (Women's Giro d'Italia) stage 4 report

The race organizer sent me this:

The Belgian National Champion took a by a narrow margin victory in the Stage 4 of (Start and Finish at DeltaPo Family Destination Outlet, 118 km), beating the Australian Chloe Hosking (Alè - Cipollini - Galassia), and the American Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb). Anna Van der Breggen (Boels - Dolmans) keeps the Pink Jersey.

The stage has been raced on a completely flat route between Veneto and Emilia Romagna: the race has the first movements (Average speed 39.9 km/h), and Megan Guarnier won the first intermediate sprint in Bosaro.

The wind breaks the peloton and Annemiek Van Vleuten could not stay with the main group, losing about two minutes. The race has its general sprint and Jolien D'Hoore was first for a few millimeters faster than Chloe Hosking, followed by Coryn Rivera and Hannah Barnes, yesterday's winner and new leader of the points classification. The Pink Jersey is still Anna Van der Breggen, leader of the General Classification with a gap of 26'' from Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and 1'56'' from Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans). Annemiek Van Vleuten is now fourth, and she has to recover time tomorrow in the Individual Time Trial of Sant'Elpidio a Mare.

STAGE RESULTS GIRO ROSA 2017:

1. JOLIEN D'HOORE      2h42'04''
2. CHLOE HOSKING               ST
3. CORYN RIVERA                  ST

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 4:

1. ANNA VAN DER BREGGEN              8h36'25''
2. ELISA LONGO BORGHINI                       +26''
3. MEGAN GUARNIER                              +1'56''

THE JERSEYS OF THE 28TH GIRO ROSA AFTER STAGE 4:

PINK Jersey COLNAGO: Anna Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)
CYCLAMINE Jersey SELLE SMP: Hannah Barnes (Canyon SRAM)
GREEN Jersey PURPLE by GLOBAL STOCK: Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
WHITE Jersey COLNAGO: Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb)
BLUE Jersey GSG: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5)

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