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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 8, 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

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. - Confucius

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage seven reports

Stage seven was decided in a photo finish, with only a few millimeters seperating first and second place.

Here is the report from winner Marcel Kittel's Quick-Step team:

The 29-year-old Marcel Kittel equaled Erik Zabel for most stage wins by a German rider at the Grande Boucle.

Marcel Kittel won by a whisker stage 7 of the Tour de France after another sweltering day in the saddle, which took the riders over 213.5 kilometers from Troyes to Nuits-Saint-Georges, a new-entry in the race. It was his 12th stage success at the Tour de France, one which saw him equal the record set in 2002 by Erik Zabel, who until today was the most successful German at the Tour de France.

Kittel, already victorious in Liège and Troyes, was delivered into a perfect position by lead-out man Fabio Sabatini and kicked out with 75 meters remaining to capitalize on the excellent work of the his Quick-Step Floors team, who controlled the stage from the start with Julien Vermote, before Jack Bauer, Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin took over and mastered the frantic final kilometers of the stage.

It was a nail-biting finish, one of the closest in Tour de France victory, with Marcel Kittel and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) as protagonists; the Norwegian opened the sprint first, but a powerful surge, blistering speed and a late bike-throw secured Marcel's third victory at this edition, one which got him back into the green jersey.

After the stage, which was decided by a photo-finish, the German was full of praise for his teammates: "First of all, I want to thank the guys, they were fantastic today. Julien spent close to 1000 kilometers in the wind since the start of the race, which is incredible, while the rest of the team protected me throughout the day and made sure I was right up there when it became serious. Having such a team around me makes me very proud."

Stage 7 finish

It was pretty close.....

Before going to the podium to receive the winner's trophy, Marcel took a moment to catch his breath and watch the photo-finish, which showed him take the win for only six millimiters: "It was the closest sprint of my career. Reminds me of last year's stage in Limoges, but not even that one was so tight. I'm not surprised to see Edvald up there, he's in good shape and very strong, which we could already notice in Troyes. Seeing that only six millimeters made the difference between joy and disappointment today makes me happy and grateful for having the long arms which helped me get that decisive bike-throw."

14 years ago, Quick-Step Floors made its debut at the Tour de France and came out of the race with a beautiful stage victory, in Morzine. Since then, the team managed by Patrick Lefevere grew into one of the most successful in the history of the race, winning several classifications and reaching significant milestones. Most recent was on Friday afternoon, when Marcel Kittel delivered the squad's 30th Tour de France stage victory.

The win and green jersey which he reclaimed after three days brought a huge joy to the 29-year-old sprinter, but despite today's remarkable feats and the 15-point cushion he has over the next rider, Marcel isn't thinking of winning the classification: "It's still a long way to Paris. We're just seven stages into the race, so maybe we can talk more about this on the second rest day. Until then, I'm enjoying every moment and every victory I get at the Tour."

Second-place Edvald Boasson Hagen's Dimenmsion Data team posted this:

Once again, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka put its mark on the race as Edvald Boasson Hagen narrowly missed out on the victory after a photo-finish call on stage 7 of Tour de France.

Today’s stage was another one of over 200 km for the riders, who not only had to overcome the long distance but also the high temperatures, which continued to accompany the peloton. Four riders attacked right from the beginning of the day and the pack seemed more than happy to let them get away. However, as it has been custom in the Tour so far, the gap never got much bigger than three minutes.

The peloton kept the breakaway on a tight leash but they didn’t manage to reel the front group back in until the last six kilometers of the stage. As it all came back together, the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders started to move to the front. Yesterday, the team performed a strong leadout but unfortunately, Boasson Hagen was left alone at the front a little too early. Today, the riders were eager to get it right and they put in an impressive performance to set up the fast Norwegian.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg pulled of huge effort at the front of the peloton to launch Boasson Hagen. At first, it looked like the team had taken the win but after the race jury studied the photo-finish, Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) was awarded his third victory of the race. Chris Froome (Team Sky) is still the overall leader, while Serge Pauwels continues to sit in 20th place in the general classification.

Sprint finish

Another view of the stage seven finish

Edvald Boasson Hagen: ”The team did so well today. They took me all the way to the line with a perfect leadout. It’s a pity I couldn’t finish it off. However, I’m happy with this second place even though I would have liked to take the win. I’m not a pure sprinter, so to be able to be up there on these flat stages gives me a lot of confidence for the remaining part of the Tour”.

And here's what race leader Chris Froome's Team Sky reported:

Chris Froome holds the yellow jersey after one week of racing at the Tour de France, with stage seven decided by a bunch sprint.

The Brit was supported ably in the peloton during a 213.5-kilometre stage for the sprinters, and maintained his 12-second race lead heading into a weekend which should provide more action at the top of the GC.

A rapid run into Nuits-Saint-Georges produced a thrilling sprint and a photo finish at the line between Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data). Kittel edged out the win by the narrowest of margins to take his third stage victory of the race, moving back into the green jersey in the process.

With the wind whipping up slightly there was a battle for position heading into the final 20km. Christian Knees, Vasil Kiryienka and Luke Rowe all made their presence felt to ensure the team occupied the best position at the head of the peloton.

With the day’s four-man breakaway caught with 6km to go the team dropped back to a safe distance and crossed the line without issue. Geraint Thomas maintains second place overall, with Fabio Aru (Astana) still just two seconds back in third.

Once again the bunch kick ensured Team Sky retained their lead at the top of the team classification. They will head into the weekend wearing the yellow numbers and helmets with an advantage of 1:59.

Chris Froome

Froome will be tested this weekend. Will he spend Monday's rest day in yellow?

After the stage Froome described the early threat of cross-winds, as well as looking ahead to a weekend of climbs. He told ITV: “There was a lot of talk of sidewinds today and I think we did have some earlier on in the race, but no one wanted to hit out with a 200km stage ahead.

“It was a nervous day. The guys wanted to be at the front all day just in case something did happen and the team did a great job looking after me today, really kept me up front, and fortunately nothing really went down in the final. It was a good day to tick off and have behind us now.

“Station des Rousses tomorrow – not quite a mountaintop finish, but there’s a big climb close to the end. It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen really, but the more decisive stage is going to be on Sunday. There’s certainly a big weekend of racing ahead.”

I haven't checked in with Team Movistar for a few day's here's their stage 7 news:

Nairo Quintana -still 9th overall- and whole Movistar Team complete another flawless ride against the win towards Nuits-Saint-Georges; Blues ready for second mountain block in the 2017 Tour, over Les Rousses (Saturday) and the Mont du Chat (Sunday).

The most dangerous day in the 2017 Tour de France when it comes to the wind - most of the 213.5km from Troyes to Nuits-Saint-Georges covered on exposed roads - saw Nairo Quintana and his Movistar team-mates managing well their nerves and always keeping the front. The Colombian crossed the finish line inside the main field to complete the long on-bike transfer between the Vosges and the two days in the Jura mountains.

“It was another day of intense heat, but we basically got through it very well. We’re already thinking about Saturday and Sunday, two days where we hope to find our best legs. Systems seem to work well at the moment, and we’re ready for what’s to come. Our body seems to be recovering OK,” was Quintana’s quick overview of a day where, as with every July 7th, the squad managed by Eusebio Unzué put on red scarfs to celebrate San Fermín, the patron saint of their home region Navarra.

Marcel Kittel (QST) claimed a millimeter-tight sprint against Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD), with no gaps whatsoever between the GC contenders. Quintana remains in 9th place, 54” after Chris Froome (SKY), before a really lumpy weekend, with three climbs -La Joux (Cat-2), Viry (Cat-2) and Combe de Laisia Les Molunes (Cat-1)- on the second half of Saturday’s stage eight to Les Rousses, plus seven (!) on Sunday, including the ‘Hors Categorie’ cols of La Biche, Grand Colombier and the steep and twisty Mont du Chat.

And BMC sent me this:

7 July, 2017, Nuits-Saint-Georges (FRA): The riders faced another long day in the saddle on stage 7 of the Tour de France with 213.5km on the cards and a photo finish bunch sprint playing out in Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Stage 7 provided the last chance for the sprinters before the first rest day on Monday so once again, it was a small breakaway of four riders that went clear as soon as the flag dropped.

The sprinters' teams controlled the race situation and kept the advantage to under three minutes for the majority of the stage, while Richie Porte's BMC Racing Team teammates kept him out of trouble. The breakaway's advantage started to fall inside the final 100km but the leading quartet put in an impressive ride to stay away.

With narrow roads and cross winds expected, it was a battle for positioning in the final 30km and Porte stayed close to the front of the bunch, protected by his teammates. Although the advantage dropped to 30 seconds inside the final 20km, the breakaway fought hard to extend it back out to almost a minute as they approached the final 13km of racing.

With the catch eventually made 6km before the finish line, the sprint trains were in place and the stage victory came down to a photo finish between Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Quickstep Floors), with Kittel taking the honors.

Porte's safe passage on stage 7 sees him retain fifth place on the General Classification.

Richie Porte: "There was a bit of wind there and everyone wanted to be at the front. It was an absolute nightmare all day so it's just nice to get that one done. Tomorrow is a bit of an unknown to be honest. It's kind of a finish that we don't normally do in the Tour de France, a 12km climb and then a bit of a plateau to the finish so I'm not sure what's going to happen there so it should be interesting."

"This weekend is the first real big shake up. We have climb after climb on Sunday and I think it's going to be a hard weekend for everyone. You just have to see how it will be raced. There is a fair distance to the finish after the climb on Sunday so it could be a negative race."

Giro Rosa (Women's Giro d'Italia) stage 8 news

Stage winner Lucinda Brand's Team Sunweb sent me this:

In an incredible show of power, tactic and determination Lucinda Brand (NED) has claimed Team Sunweb's first victory whilst riding their new, state-of-the-art Liv Langma during stage 8 of the Giro Rosa today.

Dubbed the Queen stage of the Giro Rosa, Team Sunweb's women's program set out for a tough day of climbing at stage 8. On the penultimate climb Team Sunweb had four riders inside the first peloton who were able to primely position Brand at the head of the bunch. Once in position, Brand launched an explosive attack from the peloton to reach both the chaser and breakaway rider. Debuting Liv Giant's new Langma during the Giro Rosa, Brand was not only able to power past the chaser but also bridge the gap to the race leader to take the victory by an impressive 12 seconds. The victory marks the third Giro Rosa stage win of Brand's career and her second victory with Team Sunweb.

"I am really happy with the win," explained Brand after the race finish. "We have fought so hard and have been really close to a result all week so it's brilliant to win today on such a difficult stage. When you come close all of the time it only makes you more motivated and hungrier for the win. I knew that the final really suited me with the descent so I knew that I had to go for it. I felt really good all day and on the climb I decided to try to get away and chase the other breakaway riders down. I had great support from the team and Adriaan all day so it's really an amazing victory on one of the hardest stages of the Giro Rosa."

Team Sunweb's Giro Rosa coach Adriaan Helmantel (NED) added: "Every day we have taken aspects to improve and the team have worked really hard to implement these points into the next stage, so it's really great that the team's hard work and focus has been rewarded with a stage win. Today Lucinda was feeling good so we decided that she should go for it. Step by step she closed the gap and even after a crash on the descent she managed to make it to the leader. It was a tough fight with over 30 kilometres out at the front on her own but she did a great job, as did the whole team. It's a great victory for us all today."  

And here's the organizer's stage 8 report:

EPIC WIN FOR LUCINDA BRAND IN PALINURO

The Dutch rider of Team Sunweb, already winner in two stages in year 2015, did a tactical masterpiece today in Palinuro, chasing and overtaking the Ukrainian Tatiana Riabchenko (Lensworld - Kuota), who tried a solo breakaway until two kilometers from the finish. Brand has built her feat with a majestic attack descending from the categorized climb of Cuccaro Vetere, where the delay was of over one minute from Riabchenko, as she was with her compatriot Janneke Ensing (Alè - Cipollini - Galassia) and Anouska Koster (WM3). Brand did the show on the technical downhill and the gap decreases quickly: 30'' after Centola but she slipped on the asphalt, restarting immediately.

Riabchenko has been taken at the beginning of the final climb, she tried to resist but lost meters in the final. Brand obtained her third victory in the Giro Rosa, after Mantova and Loano 2015, jumping to the Place 5 in the General Classification. The peloton arrives after 1'33'' and Megan Guarnier won the sprint for the third placement.

Anna Van der Breggen keeps the Pink Jersey with two stages remaining, the gap from Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek Van Vleuten isn't changed. The new leader of the Young Classification is now the Danish Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo Bigla). Tomorrow the Stage 9 goes from Palinuro to Polla for a very hilly stage which ends with a circuit of 36 kms. 

RESULTS STAGE 8 (TOP 5):

1. Lucinda Brand                         3h46'10''
2. Tatiana Riabchenko                       +12''
3. Megan Guarnier                          +1'33''
4. Annemiek Van Vleuten               +1'33''
5. Elisa Longo Borghini                  +1'33''

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 8:

1. Anna Van der Breggen           19h24'57''
2. Elisa Longo Borghini                     +1'03''
3. Annemiek Van Vleuten                  +1'39''
4. Megan Guarnier                            +3'07''
5. Lucinda Brand                               +3'26''

THE JERSEYS OF THE 28TH GIRO ROSA AFTER STAGE 8:

Maglia ROSA COLNAGO: Anna Van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans)
Maglia CICLAMINO SELLE SMP: Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
Maglia VERDE PURPLE by GLOBAL STOCK: Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
Maglia BIANCA COLNAGO: Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb)
Maglia BLU GSG: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5)

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