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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, July 6, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. - Dale Carnegie

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage five reports

Here's the report from stage winner Fabio Aru's Team Astana:

Italian champion, Astana Pro Team rider Fabio Aru took an amazing victory at the fifth stage of the Tour de France. Aru triumphed atop the famous climb La Planche des Belles Filles after his solo attack with 3 km to go.

- Before start I had a plan to attack with more or less 3 km to go, I thought it was the best moment in the race. I felt really good, so when we reached that point in a quite small group, I decided to go away. I did my all during these kilometers and I succeed. At the final km I realized that I still have a good gap, so for the first time I started to believe I can do it till the end. This is something unbelievable! My dream came true with this win. I have stage wins at the Giro and Vuelta, but I always wanted to take a victory here at the Tour de France. Last year gave me a lot in understanding of this race. And today this experience helped me a lot. I am very happy to win in the Italian champion jersey, especially in such a nice jersey! I had some hard periods in this season, but my team was next to me, supporting all this time, and I thank Astana for it. Today I won, but almost the whole race is still ahead. So, I will do it day by day. While today we can celebrate a bit! – said Fabio Aru.

- Today, we were especially motivated for this stage. First of all, it was the first mountain stage, which could give the very first answers in general classification of the Tour de France. Secondly, the stage suited well to Fabio Aru. And also, we really wanted to take a nice victory ahead of the 20th anniversary of Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan and birthday of the president of our republic. Tomorrow is a big national holiday in our country and we gift this victory to all Kazakhstanis! – said general manager Alexandr Vinokurov.

The fifth stage of the Tour de France started in Vittel and finished atop La Planche des Belles Filles after 160,5 km of racing. There was a break of 7 riders, who broke away in the first part of the distance. The peloton controlled well this group and it was neutralized just at the beginning of the final climb.

The high pace of the peloton provoked a great selection in the group, while with 3 km to go it was Fabio Aru, who launched a strong attack. Nobody could answer to this move and Aru took a perfect win.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru wins stage 5

Irish Daniel Martin finished second, 16 seconds behind Astana leader. Chris Froome was third. Another Astana Pro Team leader Jakob Fuglsang finished 16th, 1 minute and 7 seconds behind Fabio.

Chris Froome is the new yellow jersey of the Tour de France, while Fabio Aru moved up to 3rd place in overall, 14 seconds behind the GC leader. Jakob Fuglsang is now 15th.

Besides, Fabio Aru is new polka dot jersey as the leader of the mountain classification.

Tomorrow, will be held the 6th stage of the race: 216 km from Vesoiul to Troyes.

Chris Froome is the new Yellow Jersey. Here's the report from his Team Sky:

Chris Froome moved into the yellow jersey at the Tour de France after claiming third place on the first summit finish of the race.

Froome latched onto the attack of rival Richie Porte in the final metres and was able to secure a podium and four bonus seconds at top of La Planche des Belles Filles. That was enough to elevate him into the maillot jaune, 12 seconds ahead of team-mate Geraint Thomas.

A relentless pace across stage five saw the peloton stretched as they arrived at the first-category summit. Team Sky took control on the climb, setting a pace to set up Froome. Vasil Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Nieve gradually turned the screw, with Thomas then hitting the front as the big attacks started to fire.

When Porte (BMC Racing) jumped Froome immediately responded, but along with Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) the trio had no answer for Fabio Aru (Astana). The Italian national champion jumped clear with 2.4km to go and won the stage by an impressive 16 seconds. That elevated him to third overall, 14 seconds behind the new race leader.

Team Sky were content to sit back for much of the day as an eight-strong breakaway disappeared up the road. BMC Racing pushed hard to peg the group at 3:30, setting up the battle for the stage win.

More teams arrived at the front as the climb closed in, with Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) hauled back with just 4km to go.

Kwiatkowski put in a huge turn, and as the summit neared Froome still had five team-mares with 4km to go. A final flurry of attacks saw riders of the calibre of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) slip back, with Froome now settling into an early race lead.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome gets another yellow jersey.

After pulling on the yellow jersey in a fourth Tour de France, Froome summed up his feelings, confirming: "It's an amazing feeling to be back in yellow. Having said that I know the race is far from over. It's only just begun for me. I think as a team we're in a great position, first and second. We can take confidence away from that and I think it gives us options going forward in terms of being able to play both cards.

"Today went really well. The team did a great job, keeping me out of trouble and then setting that pace on the final climb. If anything we made a little mistake in the final giving Aru that much space to go. But with it being flat before that final kick, I think no one really wanted to be left pulling at that point.

"[Aru] showed already at the Dauphine he's in great form and today just confirmed that."

After the stage Sport Director Nicolas Portal explained the tactics that went into the summit finish. He told Eurosport: “We didn’t want to pull all day so we gave some special attention to the breakaway as it was important to get that one right.

“BMC took the responsibility and chapeau - they rode really well all day. That allowed us to save our rouleurs like Christian Knees and Luke Rowe. It was pretty fast all day and you could see the time gap was always just over two minutes.

“The plan was to take our pace on the final climb and see what the other guys would do. We’ve been in a good situation since the time trial so this was a different way for us to ride. We didn’t need to be aggressive and we also tried to save some guys. Paris is quite far away!”

Orica-Scott had a good day at the Tour. Here's their update:

British climber Simon Yates has stood up to the first big test of the 2017 Tour de France, finishing sixth on stage five to move up to sixth overall and into the best young rider’s jersey.

The stage was set for first of just three summit finishes and it didn’t disappoint with Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) launching a move with two kilometres to go that couldn’t be matched for the victory.

Behind, Yates was the only rider to set off in an attempt to fight for the stage win but the 24-year-old then settled back in with the group of general classification favourites before finishing 26seconds behind stage winner Aru for sixth place.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates digs deep in stage five's final meters.

“I always try,” Yates explained after the finish. “There’s not many summit finishes this year at the Tour and I think you really have to take the opportunity when it comes.”

“I knew the climb from previous years. I felt pretty good. Maybe I burnt some matches there, but I wanted to try to win the stage so sometimes you have to risk a bit.

“There’s a lot of strong guys not really very far behind me so it’s going to be difficult to try to keep hold of (the white jersey) but I’ll give it my best shot.”

How it happened: Anticipation was high as the peloton set off on stage five for what was touted as the first general classification test of this year’s Tour de France.

Eight riders formed the day’s breakaway, but BMC Racing Team immediately moved to the front of the peloton and took responsibility in controlling their advantage.

They allowed the breakaway a maximum of three-minutes advantage but had it within a minute at the foot of the final climb.

On the final ascent, Team Sky moved to the front and set a solid pace that whittled down the bunch as many riders lost touch and the final breakaway riders were swept up.

Aru attacked with two kilometres to go and wasn’t seen again as he rode to the stage victory. Daniel Martin (Quickstep Floors) finished 14seconds behind for second place with Chris Froome 20seconds adrift to take third and the overall lead.

Ritchie Porte's BMC team sent this report:

5 July, 2017, La Planche des Belles Filles (FRA): The first summit finish of the Tour de France delivered a thrilling showdown between the General Classification contenders on the steep La Planche des Belles Filles climb which saw Richie Porte cross the line in fourth place.

BMC Racing Team controlled the race for the majority of the stage after eight riders went clear in the opening ten kilometers. With all nine BMC Racing Team riders lined up at the front of the bunch, the breakaway's advantage was kept to within three minutes on the 160.5km stage.

After coming down to two minutes, the advantage stretched back out to three minutes over the category 3 Esmoulières Slope, before coming down once again as Porte's teammates dug deep to bring the group back.

Attacks from the breakaway saw the group split apart and eventually the last remaining riders were caught by the reduced peloton with 4km to go on the slopes of the climb.

Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Cycling Team) attacked with 2.5km to go and created a gap between himself and the ten or so riders left in Porte's group. Chris Froome (Team Sky) countered and Porte was immediately in his wheel as dropped riders began to crawl back behind them.

Inside the final kilometer, Porte attacked and gained some meters, as up ahead Aru held on to take the solo win. Porte was passed by Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors) and Froome in the final meters before the line and finished in fourth place.

Ritchie Porte

Ritchie heads for the stage five finish.

The first summit showdown sees a reshuffling of the General Classification with Froome taking the yellow jersey and Porte moving up to fifth place overall, 39 seconds behind.

Richie Porte: "I can't say anymore for my teammates. They were incredible today, and I think we took it to them [the peloton]. In the final there, Aru slipped away. I'm still happy with my ride for the first mountain stage. I kind of expected a little more but there's a long way to go."

"As a unit today, BMC Racing Team were the team that made the race. Michi Schär and Stefan Küng basically rode the whole race on the front and then the rest of the guys towards the end. I thought we were going too fast and told them to slow down, but they actually kept it up and that's testament to how strong they are."

"Chris Froome is obviously going stronger than when we saw him at the last race but I think Team Sky weren't quite what they were last year. Still, I think they have a lot of pressure coming up."

Here's the stage 5 report UAE Team Emirates sent me:

UAE Team Emirates’s Louis Meintjes put in a strong display amongst the climbers in stage five of the Tour de France (Vittel-La Planche des Belles Filles, 160,5 km), crossing the finish line in 11th place (photo Bettini), only denied a top 10 finish by yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas, who finished 10th passing the leadership of the race to his team mate Froome.

The result boosts Meintjes 100 places in the General Classification to the 13rd place.

Riders were tasked with a brutal up-hill climb to end stage five – the first summit finish of the Tour. Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) rode to a clear victory, having made a break from the front pack with less than 3 km to go.

Speaking after the stage, Meintjes said: “It was really fast right from the start, they let a strong breakaway go but they kept the gap small so all day was fast and nervous. The last 2 km was really fast and the guys that had legs left on the finish. It was almost like a sprint finish with a really steep final. I was just a little bit empty when I arrived there“.

Riders will head in to stage six having an understanding of how the Tour is starting to play out. The 216 km flat between Vesoul and Troyes will give sprinters ample opportunities to pull back crucial seconds after the previous stage’s summit finish. However, the terrain may cause some riders issues and a series of sharp corners, curves and roundabouts leading to the finish-line could make for a thrilling end to the stage.

Here's Ag2r La Mondiale's stage 5 news:

ROMAIN BARDET: "A GOOD START"

5th place for the stage 24” back
7th place overall at 47”

“We climbed it very aggressively. I was a little afraid of the first mountain stage with the heat. But I dealt with it well. I was comfortable when Froome attacked with Porte, and a small group formed that played around till 200 meters. I think that Aru was the strongest today; he was the only one who could attack and create a big gap. So chapeau to him.

"I am happy with how I’ve started. You had to be tough to hold on. I feel at the right level, and we will see how it plays out over the three weeks. This was a good performance by the legs.”

JAN BAKELANTS: "I BELIEVED"

51th on the stage at 4'02”
42th in the general at 4'57”

“I found my way into a great breakaway group, and we worked well together. I believed in our chances. BMC pulled the peloton behind us. And they put in a lot of work on a stage where it may have been better to economise the effort. On our side, that’s exactly what we did, aside from me of course. Romain had a good stage. I have no regrets: I tried, I had fun, and I feel better than last year.”

VINCENT LAVENU: "A POSITIVE DAY FOR THE TEAM"

“We are very much in the game after this first mountain stage. Many sports directors have questions about the form of their leaders and their adversaries. Romain Bardet showed today that he is prepared to live up to his hopes, and our hopes as well. He followed the best on the first mountain top finish on a very hot day with sharp climbs instead of the longer passes that he prefers. He showed that he is ready to strike a blow and it bodes well for the future.

Now the Jura and then Chambéry. Until then, the team will be in protection mode for Romain. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure he arrives with a maximum amount of energy for the mountain stages .Today was very satisfying, with the team doing a big job.

Jan Bakelants at the front tried his best; it has been a very positive day for the team.”

THE NUMBER: 3

The team took third place for the stage, which means that the AG2R LA MONDIALE team occupies third place in the overall team classification at 3'21'' behind Team Sky.

BREAKING NEWS : The loyalty medal for AG2R LA MONDIALE

This morning in Vittel, Yvon Breton, head of partnerships at AG2R LA MONDIALE, accompanied by Vincent Lavenu, were awarded the medal of loyalty from Christian Prudhomme that rewards 20 years of sponsorship in cycling.

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

The organizer sent me this update:

LEPISTÖ DID IT IN ROSETO; IT'S A FINNISH TRIUMPH!

The rider of Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team, bronze medal at the Road World Championships Doha 2016 and winner of the Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem in 2017, has taken the victory of Stage 6 in the 28th Giro Rosa (Roseto degli Abruzzi - Roseto degli Abruzzi, 116.160 kms), response of a bunch sprint where the Scandinavian could beat the American Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) and the Italian Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5).

The stage was divided in four laps of a circuit around Roseto degli Abruzzi, including the short climb of Piana degli Ulivi (Cat. 3 KOM in the penultimate lap). The average speed of the first hour was over 40 km/h and it could not permit many attacks in the first kilometers. Alexis Ryan (Canyon SRAM) and the local athlete Carmela Cipriani of Conceria Zabri - Fanini - Guerciotti Team (she lives in Spoltore, near Pescara) earned only a few seconds.

At the beginning of the lap 3 Claudia Koster (Team Veloconcept) and Alison Jackson (BePink- Cogeas) tried for a breakaway, the Canadian of the Italian Team directed by Walter Zini leaded the race at the intermediate sprint of Pagliare. The acceleration of the peloton was strong and the three riders Hannah Barnes (Canyon SRAM), Soraya Paladin (Alè - Cipollini - Galassia) and Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana Women's Team). The Brit won the KOM of Piana degli Ulivi and she could earn a maximal gap of 48''. The teams of the sprinters didn't want to lose this chance and the breakaway was catched by the peloton a few kilometers later. Even the last transit from Piana degli Ulivi could give the chances of a "finisseur" attack so the bunch sprint was launched.

Lotta Lepistö from Finland took the stage win, with Coryn Rivera and Giorgia Bronzini just behind. A gap of 3'' could give the possibility to Anna Van der Breggen to earn time against her main rivals Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek Van Vleuten in the General Classification.

The stage 7, Isernia - Baronissi, is the longest of the Giro Rosa 2017 with its 141.8 kms length and the Passo Serra 43 kms from the finish.

RESULTS STAGE 6 GIRO ROSA 2017 (TOP 5):

1. Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team)   2h50'36''   Avg. 40,853 km/h
2. Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)                                       st
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5)                                   st
4. Roxane Fournier (FDJ)                                                st
5. Elena Cecchini (Canyon SRAM)                                    st

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 6 (TOP 5):

1. Anna Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)              11h53'11''   Avg.40,641 km/h
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle - High5)                       +1'03''
3. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica - Scott)                       +1'39''
4. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)                             +3'11''
5. Amanda Spratt (Orica - Scott)                                   +3'32''

THE JERSEYS OF THE 28TH GIRO ROSA AFTER STAGE 6:

PINK Jersey COLNAGO: Anna Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)
CYCLAMINE Jersey SELLE SMP: Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
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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