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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 24, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship. - Benjamin Franklin

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:


Tour de France stage 21 team reports

We'll start with Tour winner Chris Froome's Team Sky report:

Chris Froome wrote himself further into the cycling history books after securing a fourth Tour de France victory in Paris. The Team Sky rider was flanked by his team-mates as he crossed the line on the Champs-Elysees, and claimed the famed maillot jaune by an eventual winning margin of 54 seconds

Froome’s third victory in a row, and a fifth in eight years for Team Sky, came after three hard weeks of racing, with the team holding the race lead for 19 of the race’s 21 stages.

Yellow helmets and race numbers also signified victory in the Tour’s team GC for the first time – a classification Team Sky led from start to finish – with seven minutes and 14 seconds over nearest rivals Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Mikel Landa clinched fourth overall on the day, one tantalising second off a podium spot, after putting together a strong race and taking his opportunities while riding in support of Froome.

A fourth win elevates Froome to fifth on the all-time list of winners, with just Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain now ahead of the Kenyan-born Brit.

It also continues the 32 year old’s incredible run of Grand Tour results, placing no worse than fourth in every three-week race he’s finished – a record which now dates back to 2011.

"I’m speechless. It’s just an amazing feeling," said Froome after climbing off his bike in Paris. The Champs Elysees never disappoints. There’s something magical about it when you’ve spent three weeks thinking about being here and this moment. It’s so rewarding, every time.

"Each time I’ve won the Tour it’s been so unique, so different, such a different battle to get to this moment. They’re all so special in their own ways. This year will be remembered as being the closest and most hard-fought battle between the GC rivals."

19 days in yellow is also the longest stint in the race lead for Team Sky to date, with Geraint Thomas storming into the famous jersey after winning the opening time trial in rainy Dusseldorf.

Team Sky set about defending that jersey across the three weeks, with Froome assuming the lead after the race’s first summit finish on stage five. The team dug deep, weathering the loss of Thomas due to a crash and a broken collarbone, and defending the jersey. Luke Rowe also fractured a rib in a crash at the end of the race’s first week, but was able to continue to Paris and wrap up the prized lanterne rouge in the process.

Mikel Nieve (who finished 14th in his own right) and Sergio Henao provided vital support in the high mountains. Michal Kwiatkowski rode the race of his life in service of Froome, and was a constant presence both on the flat and on the climbs. Rowe and Christian Knees put in huge stints on the front across the flatlands and early climbs, while Vasil Kiryienka was his usual dependable self. Landa provided help right up to the finish line of many a stage.

Despite losing the lead for two days, Froome and the team showed great character and resolve, before ultimately putting the Tour beyond reach with an emphatic final time trial in Marseille.

After the race ended in a traditional sprint on the Champs-Elysees, won by Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Froome took to the podium to address the fans.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome got his fourth Tour win.

He said: "Firstly I want to dedicate this victory to my family. Michelle, Kellan, your love and support makes everything possible. You’ve been there for me through the ups and the downs and my life with you is what makes all the sacrifices worth it. Thank you.

"I also want to thank my team, Team Sky. I could not have achieved this victory without you. On and off the bike, your dedication and passion means we are a team I am proud to be a part of it.

"This Tour has been my toughest challenge yet. The performances of my rivals have pushed me harder than ever before, so I want to pay tribute to all the riders for their sportsmanship over the past three weeks. We race hard against each other, we suffer together, but the most special thing is the camaraderie and friendship in the peloton.

"The opportunity to win a fourth Tour de France this year has motivated and inspired me more than ever before. It is an honour to even be mentioned alongside those who form such an important part of the Tour’s history. It is a history I am very proud to be a part of, but every Tour is unique, and every year is a new story to be written.

"I will never forget what it means to wear the maillot jaune, and what an incredible privilege it is to stand here on the Champs Elysees as winner of the Tour de France."

Final stage winner Dylan Groenewegen's LottoNL-Jumbo team sent me this report:

Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to win his first grand tour stage in the best way, on the closing stage of the Tour de France in Paris, on the Champs Élysées. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dutch sprinter bolted to the front with 250 metres remaining and held it to the line.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo celebrated its second Tour de France stage victory of 2017 after Primoz Roglic’s Galibier solo move and the eighteenth victory this season.

“This is amazing,” said the emotional 24-year-old after his win. “I was fighting with Kristoff for the right wheel. Before that, Robert, Paul and Tom kept me out of the wind. Primoz did a great job by pulling on the front of the bunch. I came out of the turn in second place. The sprint felt like it lasted a century and I just grab it.

Dylan Groenewegem

Dylan Groenewegen wins the final stage.

“This is a beautiful day for a win like this. We had loads of critics, but on the most important day for sprinters, we prove we can do it. We won on the Champs-Élysées, that is unbelievable.”

In 2016, Team LottoNL-Jumbo started to work on a sprint train for Groenewegen and took him to that year’s Tour. The goal was to win a stage 2018, but hope increased for 2017 thanks to the fast progress the train made. The victory rewards the Amsterdam cyclist and the team for the effort that they invested in the project.

“We started sprinting in this Tour with sixth and fifth places, then it went to third and second places,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “We became hopeful for the last sprints. We had to do it on the last day. Our job was to deliver him in a good position in the last turn. All the guys did a superb job and Dylan finished that off fantastically.”

Verhoeven and the team began with “high hopes” already when the Tour kicked off in Düsseldorf.

“We wanted to win with Primoz in the time trials, but it did not work out because of a crash in Düsseldorf, caused by the bad weather, and bad luck in Marseille yesterday.

“Robert Gesink’s crash and abandon after a week was a huge disappointment. George Bennett was in the top-10 for a few days, but then slowly dropped out. It turned out he was unwell and had to abandon the Tour, as well. Primoz’s and Dylan’s wins gave us the big highs we wanted. With all these experiences, we can make the next step.”

Second-place Rigoberto Uran's Cannondale-Drapac team sent me this:

A time trial in Marseille clinched the best general classification result for Slipstream Sports in the team’s nine-year Tour de France history. Colombian Rigoberto Uran started stage 20 in third place overall, six seconds behind Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and 29-seconds adrift of race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). By stage finish, Uran had moved up one spot.

In Paris on Sunday evening, Uran climbed onto the podium as the 2017 Tour de France runner-up to Froome, who secured his fourth Tour title.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran (left) enjoys his time on the podium

“Finishing second to Froome at less than a minute seems pretty good to me,” said Uran. “It’s a quality final podium in Paris, so this is the greatest success of my career. This result is dedicated to my family, friends, my team and everyone who has supported me during the last three weeks.”

While the 22-kilometer lone effort out on the roads of Marseille determined the final general classification order, it was, of course, a culmination of work done up until that point to put Uran in a position to capitalize on a strong penultimate stage time trial.

A stage win into Chambery on the final day of the first week announced Uran as contender. From there, Uran’s star rose alongside his results as he cannily pocketed bonus seconds, 22 in total, and carefully metered his efforts.

“We knew it would be difficult to win the Tour but not impossible, so we gave it everything,” said Uran. “It’s been a great Tour.”

At Uran’s disposal as the race unfolded was a Cannondale-Drapac squad that included three Americans and four Tour debutants, a team selected largely to target stage wins, breakaways and animate the race. The squad punched above their collective weight, particularly in the final two weeks of the Tour when general classification ambitions became more realistic, more poignant.

“Many things came together for us to end up here,” noted head sport director Charly Wegelius. “Rigo finally had a clear run at a three-week race without hiccups, on a route that suited both him and our style of racing. His teammates all rose to the occasion and made up for their lack of experience – we had four Tour rookies! – with heart and hard work. I’m very proud of them.”

The top four overall were separated by only 29-seconds at the start of a decisive week three. It made for heart-in-throat racing for Cannondale-Drapac and #GreenArgyle fans world-wide.

The final week began with two flat but windy stages. Uran’s teammates, those not in the breakaways, stuck close to his side in a concerted effort to ensure he wouldn’t lose any time should the race split. And when it did split, Uran was on the right end of the selection. All of general contenders were not as lucky.

From there it was two days in the Alps. Uran won a four-up sprint for second place in Serre-Chevalier to earn six bonus seconds and a two-spot gain on the general classification. Bardet took back time up Izoard and Uran dropped down to third.

Less than 30-seconds separated the top three on the eve of the penultimate stage time trial in Marseille. “It was very tight, coming down to the last time trial,” noted Uran. “Everything was up for grabs. The tour was open right until the final time trial.”

The win was always a big ask given the gaps. Uran knew this. The team knew this. And still hope was harbored as Uran stood in the start house inside the Orange VéloDrome.

It was a good ride, solid save a bang-up with a barrier on the run-in home. Uran kept it upright to notch the eighth quickest-time. Froome was quicker. Bardet blew, narrowly clinging tight to the final spot on the podium.

And that was the Tour de France general classification decided: Froome, Uran, Bardet. “Of course when you are racing to win, that’s something you believe in until the very end, so second place takes a moment to sink in,” said Wegelius. “However I think the whole group can look back and be proud that we did our absolute best and feel satisfied in that.”

“You race to win. You train to win. You organize a team to win,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “The other 200 guys also want to win. While winning is always the goal, second place is certainly an incredibly worthy achievement in the Tour de France. We played the game as best we could, from Rigo to all the staff that make it happen. We gave 100 percent, and you always have to be happy with that.”

“I don’t like to talk up my chances because cycling is a sport where the legs do the talking, and you have to wait until the end, but we knew I was coming into the Tour in good shape,” said Uran. “The most important thing this year was that I lost time in the time trial on the opening day. After that there wasn’t a lot of difference. This gives me hope.”

The collective accomplishments of Cannondale-Drapac provide every reason to be hopeful. In addition to Uran’s second place overall and stage win, Cannondale-Drapac spent three days in the King of the Mountains red-and-white spotted polka dot jersey on the backs of Taylor Phinney and Nate Brown, earned the most aggressive rider award on stage seven with Dylan van Baarle and embraced every opportunity to slip into the breakaways. All nine #GreenArgyle starters rode into Paris on Sunday.

Romain Bardet's Ag2r team sent this interesting update:

LE TOUR DE FRANCE IN NUMBERS

1
Stage victory thanks to Romain Bardet’s win on July 13th in the stage between Pau and Peyragudes.

2
This was the first Tour participation for Axel Domont and Pierre Latour. They both were able to finish the race and  Pierre Latour wore the jersey as the best young rider for two stages.The AG2R LA MONDIALE team also finished second in the overall team classification.

3
Following Jean-Christophe Péraud’s second place in 2014 and Romain Bardet’s second place in 2016, this is the third time in four years that an AG2R LA MONDIALE rider has finished on the final podium at the Tour de France.

4
After having been on the podium in 2014 as a member of the team that won the overall team classification, then having won the Most Combative Prize in 2015, and now taking a place on the final podium two consecutive years, Romain Bardet has taken part in the final podium celebrations on the Champs-Elysées for the fourth consecutive year.

9
The entire team of nine riders succeeded in finishing the Tour de France, which is the second year in a row that has happened.

13
In his fourth time racing the Tour, Alexis Vuillermoz earned his best yet finish by taking 13th place in the overall.

18
The AG2R LA MONDIALE team has won 18 stages at the Tour de France since 1998. 20It had been twenty years since a Frenchman has appeared two years in a row on the final podium of the Tour de France.

25
This is the 25th time that Vincent Lavenu's team has taken part in the Tour de France.

639
The number of kilometers that Jan Bakelants spent in a breakaway during this Tour de France.

THE NEWS: Cyril Gautier has finished his eight Tour de France today. But this was a very special day for him for an additional reason. Early in the stage, Gautier, who comes from Brittany, proposed to his girlfriend Caroline live on TV.  They have been together for ten years, and happily, Caroline accepted.

The AG2R LA MONDIALE team would like to congratulate the happy couple.

Here's Lotto-Soudal's Tour wrap-up:

Third in the mountains classification, third in the points classification, fiftieth in the general classification and – according to the jury – second most combative: Thomas De Gendt did leave his mark on this Tour. “I came to the Tour after a period where I couldn’t follow the training programme I had, due to my wrist injury. Because of this, I wasn’t in the best shape during the first part of the Tour, but I improved in the course of the three weeks. In the flat stages, I have tried to do my job for the team and for André as good as possible, as I knew that there would be chances later on.”

Overviewing his Tour, De Gendt indicates that he tried to grasp every chance, even the smallest. “Maybe it would have been better that I didn’t go into the breakaway on three or four occasions, but sometimes I ended up in the front effortlessly. If there is a breakaway of ten or more riders, than I’m convinced that I should be one of them. Contrary to last year, Team Sky did take control rigorously. This made that a few chances that I hoped to get were thwarted. In my opinion, they put unnecessary efforts in controlling the peloton, but they have every right to do so.”

De Gendt was twice really present in the finale; in the stage to Rodez and last Friday to Salon-de-Provence. “I knew my chances were small in the stage to Rodez, because Sunweb and BMC would be setting the pace in the peloton, and that it would be almost impossible for anyone of our team to win that day. That’s why we decided to go in the attack that stage. I had hoped to stay ahead longer, but I was caught with twelve kilometres remaining. Last Friday, I was part of a group of twenty strong riders, including a few fast ones. After winning on Mont Ventoux last year, it seems for the outside as if I can repeat such feat each year, but it is not that simple. I cannot really call out a highlight, but if I have to choose, it would be my prize for the most combative rider in stage fourteen to Rodez.”

During the Tour, his drive to go for the Super-combativity award only grew. “Let me be clear: Warren Barguil has ridden a fantastic Tour and I don’t feel any grudge towards him. But the mountains jersey is for the best climber, a stage win is for the rider who was the strongest that day and the green jersey is for the rider who was regularly the fastest. I my opinion, the prize for the super-combativity should go to someone who showed throughout the Tour that he was there to animate the race and to go in the attack. That did not result in the desired result – a stage victory – but that should not be necessary to win the Super-combativity award.”

“The fact that there are five Frenchmen in the jury did play its part. If there were five Belgians in the jury, the outcome would have been different; which is evidence that the composition is not right. It should at least be an international jury that decides on this. I am very disappointed. I am too disappointed to go any deeper into this. I would rather go straight home, but I will do my utmost today to let the stage end in a sprint finish on the Champs Elysées.”

Here's BMC's Tour report:

23 July, 2017, Paris (FRA): The 2017 Tour de France concluded with the traditional ride into Paris, culminating with eight laps of the iconic Champs-Élysées which came down to a sprint won by Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).

Having lost team leader Richie Porte to a crash on stage 9 of the race, BMC Racing Team's remaining eight riders crossed the line in Paris to add another Tour de France participation to their respective cycling careers.

Damiano Caruso was the team's top finisher in 11th place on the General Classification after stepping up to the role of leader after losing Porte.

While a stage win eluded the team, BMC Racing Team's riders recorded eight top ten finishes across the 21 stages.

After crossing the finish line in Paris, here's what they had to say about the past three weeks of racing.

Damiano Caruso: "For sure, 11th on the General Classification is a good result for me. For the team, we will come next year with even more ambition with Richie Porte again to do our best result."

Alessandro De Marchi: "It has been a Tour de France with a lot of ups and downs and this is typical of the Tour. I think I showed that I was ready to do a particular kind of job and be ready for the team. We missed the big goal, we missed Richie, but I think we showed in the end that we were ready. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose."

Stefan Küng: "I didn't really know what to expect from the Tour de France. Today will be my first time riding on the Champs-Élysées and I think it is the dream of every rider to get there. I finish my first Tour de France with some nice results. We lost Richie Porte but otherwise we had a good Tour, good fun with a good team spirit."

Amaël Moinard: "The Tour de France is divided into two parts for us. Before Richie Porte's crash we did a really good race, almost perfect around him. Then we had to refocus and go for stage wins and we tried a lot with no success. I think we saw a good reaction and I think we showed we would have been here for Richie."

Nicolas Roche: "I formatted my year to be here with Richie Porte so of course it was a big blow when we lost him. But I think we tried, I tried, to go in the breakaways and be aggressive and to show that BMC Racing Team is one of the best teams in the world and we were still in the race. We lost Richie but there were still two weeks to go. We didn't get the results we wanted but at least we gave it a proper go."

Michael Schär: "The big thing was Richie's crash. We lost him and had to reset our goals and I really think we stepped up and did a good job as a team, as a unit, to find strength again. I think we kicked back as good as we could with lots of breakaways and trying with Greg Van Avermaet for stages. At the end of the three weeks we have to be happy with what we did as group."

Greg Van Avermaet: "I don't think I can be happy. My goal was winning a stage and I didn't win. I was close a few times but it didn't happen. Sometimes you try and it doesn't work out and this year I didn't win. I'm looking forward to the end of the year to hopefully have some nice Classics wins."

Danilo Wyss: "The Tour de France was not as good as we expected with the crash of Richie Porte. For me personally it was quite okay. I'm happy to be now in Paris and I look forward to hopefully coming back again with Richie in good shape."

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director: "We came to the Tour de France to put Richie Porte on the podium. Of course when Richie crashed it was a terrible moment for the team. But with two weeks still to come, we had to sit down, refocus and set new goals. We tried really hard for a stage win but didn't quite get there. I think we can be proud of the way we picked ourselves up and now we will return even more motivated in 2018."

You may enjoy this video giving a short history of the Tour from 1965 to 2007:

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