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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 29, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

There is no great genius without some touch of madness. - Aristotle

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Lotto-Soudal to race two World Tour races this weekend

The team sent me this preview:

This weekend, there are two WorldTour races on the calendar. On Saturday, there is the Clásica San Sebastián, followed by the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday. Lotto Soudal starts both races with the same goal, which is to compete for victory.

Clásica San Sebastián:

The Clásica San Sebastián is a one-day classic which is held in the Basque Country for the 37th time. In the past years, the winner always finished solo after a decisive attack on the steep Murgil Tontorra in the finale of the race. This climb is nearly two kilometres long and has gradients up to 25%. Before this climb, the riders will also have done two ascents each of the Jaizkibel and the Arkale.

Lotto Soudal brings an ex-winner of the race at start of the Spanish cycling classic, namely Tony Gallopin. The team has also lined up, among others, Tiesj Benoot, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. Last year’s winner, Bauke Mollema, has proven to be in good shape by winning a stage in the past Tour de France and will be one of the main competitors, just like the Yates brothers and Greg Van Avermaet.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin winning San Sebastián in 2013.

Frederik Willems, sports director Lotto Soudal: “The goal for Saturday will be to compete for victory in the Clásica San Sebastián. We start with a strong team that consists of, on the one hand, riders who have ridden the Tour de France, and on the other hand, guys who just finished a good Tour de Wallonie.”

“Tony Gallopin will be the team leader. He has proven in the past that this is a race that suits him very well. He has always set a nice result in the three times he has participated. He won in 2013, was fifth in 2014 and finished in second place last year. He has shown to be in great shape during the past Tour de France where he was in the attack a couple of times in the second and third week.”

“Next to him, we also start with Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens. We will still have to see how good Tiesj will be after his first Grand Tour. Two seasons ago, Tim proved that he can ride a good second half of the season after the Tour de France, but the situation is slightly different now. He had to abandon the Tour due to illness, but he has indicated that his training rides went well. However, it has still to be seen how he will perform on Saturday.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Rémy Mertz, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Frederik Willems

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic

On Sunday, the peloton heads to the RideLondon Classic. It’s only the sixth time this race will be organised and it’s the first time that it’s a part of the UCI WorldTour. There are a few hills on the course of 186 kilometres, but the previous editions made it clear that this race will most likely end in a bunch sprint.

Lotto Soudal has one of the main favourites for this race with André Greipel. He will get the support from a good and experienced lead-out. Roelandts and Sieberg have performed very well in the past Tour de France, while the others have prepared themselves in the Tour de Wallonie. They showed to be in great shape as it resulted in a stage victory for Jasper De Buyst.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “This race has ended in a bunch sprint in most of the previous editions and that will be our goal for this year as well. Our line-up for Sunday is therefore completely focused on a bunch sprint. André Greipel, Jasper De Buyst and Moreno Hofland are all three fast riders, although André is definitely our leader.”

“André Greipel has returned in good shape from the Tour de France. It’s true that he didn’t win a stage, but he came close a couple of times. He has also put his mind onto this Prudential RideLondon. Next to that, Jasper De Buyst has shown to be in excellent shape in the Tour de Wallonie. He won the second stage and had a chance to win in the fourth stage as well.”

“We are heading to London with a sprint finish in mind and I suppose that there will be other teams with the same intention. Since we start with a very strong line-up, other teams will look at us to take control of the race. We will have to ensure that the early breakaway is not too large to control. All in all, if other teams want to eliminate André Greipel before the sprint, then the race must be made very hard, since he is able to overcome most hills without much problems.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, André Greipel, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts, James Shaw and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports director: Bart Leysen

BMC is headed to those same two races. Here's the update they sent me:

27 July, 2017, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team is set to line up at two UCI WorldTour one-day races this weekend with Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian on Saturday, followed by Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday.

Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said the majority of the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian riders are coming out of the Tour de France with good form. "Six of our eight riders are coming to Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian from the Tour de France so we know their form is good and after missing out on a stage win there, they will be very motivated to go for the win in San Sebastian," Ledanois said.

"We have one strong leader in Greg Van Avermaet who, as we know, was primed to win the race in 2015. I expect everyone to be ready to support Greg to go for a good result."

Van Avermaet is eyeing a top ten finish in San Sebastian. "I was a little sick in the last few days of the Tour de France so I'm hoping I'll be feeling good at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. I'm motivated to do a good race and a top ten finish would be great, especially considering there are UCI WorldTour points on offer. I like the course and it's challenging which suits me," Van Avermaet explained.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet having a rather good day at this year's Paris-Roubaix.

In London, BMC Racing Team will back Jempy Drucker and Stefan Küng depending on how the race develops, Sports Director Valerio Piva said. "We go into the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic with two protected riders. One is Stefan Küng who just finished his first Tour de France and is looking very strong. He will be protected in case of attacks on the hilly part of the race. The other will be Jempy Drucker, who won here two years ago, and who we know can be a strong contender if the race comes down to a sprint.  Of course, it depends on how the race develops but I definitely think that we can ride aggressively and be present," Piva said.

"Over the last two years, we have seen a similar pattern of racing with a group going clear on the hilly part, especially Box Hill. From the last climb, there is still 40km to go until the finish so, it is not easy to stay on the front and to arrive with a select group, and this is why we go into the race with two options."

Drucker is lining up at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic after winning stage 4 of the VOO Tour de Wallonie this week. "It's always nice to go back to a race that you have won and I have really good memories from Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. It's a super nice race and always an awesome crowd on the side of the road. I really like going back every year so I'm looking forward to the race and hopefully I can get a good result. I'm definitely coming in motivated and confident after my win at the VOO Tour de Wallonie this week," Drucker added.

Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian (29 July)

Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic (30 July)

Rider roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sports Director: Valerio Piva (ITA).

Team Sky has a full racing schedule this weekend

Here's the team's plans for the weekend:

Following the team’s fifth Tour de France victory Team Sky are back in action on three fronts this weekend.

The team will be back on British soil at RideLondon on Sunday, after a strong lineup contests the one-day Spanish Classic San Sebastian on Saturday. The week-long Tour of Poland (29 July-4 August) also kicks off on Saturday.

RideLondon is routinely contested by a selection of the world’s best sprinters and Elia Viviani will lead our charge, backed up by a strong British contingent: Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pete Kennaugh and Ian Stannard. Frenchman Kenny Elissonde rounds out the squad for the WorldTour test.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani winning the 2017 Tour of Austria's first stage.

Our San Sebastian lineup is chocked full of climbing talent, including several riders from our Tour de France winning team: Sergio Henao, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve. Philip Deignan, David Lopez and Gianni Moscon complete one of the strongest seven-man climbing lineups the team could produce.

Wout Poels has overcome his early-season injury problems and starts the second half of his campaign leading our Tour of Poland charge. The Dutchman is targeting our first overall victory in Poland.

Michal Golas and Lukasz Wisniowski will race on home turf in support of Poels, alongside Ian Boswell, Salvatore Puccio, Diego Rosa and sprinter Danny van Poppel.

Eight categorised climbs await on Saturday for San Sebastian across a testing 231 kilometres. It’s one of the most gruelling one day races of the season but is routinely decided by the final climb: the Murgil, a 2.5 kilometre ascent at 9%, which ramps up to 22% in places. After cresting that it’s a seven kilometre blast to the line in San Sebastian. While the pure climbers will need a hefty gap to stay clear on the run to the finish, the puncheurs will need to dig very deep to stick the pace on the Murgil. Prepare for an exciting finale.

British cycling fans are no strangers to the RideLondon route. Used in the 2012 Olympic Games road race, the course starts in central London and sets sail for Surrey’s famous Box Hill. After two laps in the hills the peloton will set its sights on The Mall for what’s likely to be a sprint finish at the end of a fast 183km. British based fans will be able to watch the race live on BBC One.

The Tour of Poland has altered its route slightly in 2017 and, as well as taking out the traditional individual time trial, there’s an onus on shorter, sharper stages to encourage more explosive racing. The sprinters should find joy in the early part of the week, before the GC contenders take over at the top of the standings towards the end, culminating in a thrilling queen stage on the final day in Bukowina.

Geraint Thomas lit up RideLondon in 2016 with a long-range solo attack. ‘G’ hit the gas on the final ascent of Box Hill to distance his breakaway companions 50km from the finish, but the Welshman was cruelly swept up inside the final 5km before a sprint won by Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) on The Mall.

The Tour of Poland was characterised by torrential rain last year, causing the race’s queen stage to be cancelled, but both Elia Viviani and Michal Kwiatkowski came close to stage wins. Viviani was pipped to the post by Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) on day two, before Kwiatkowski sprinted to third at the end of a lumpy stage four.

In typical fashion the gruelling Murgil decided the destination of the San Sebastian title in 2016. Nicolas Roche hung tough on the climb, but slipped behind towards the top and ended up in the third chase group on the road, behind lone leader and eventual winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Roche finished ninth, 34 seconds back, with Mikel Nieve just outside the top 20.

Full lineups:

San Sebastian: Philip Deignan, Sergio Henao, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, David Lopez, Gianni Moscon, Mikel Nieve

Tour of Poland: Ian Boswell, Michal Golas, Wout Poels, Salvatore Puccio, Diego Rosa, Danny van Poppel, Lukasz Wisniowski

RideLondon: Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Kenny Elissonde, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Elia Viviani

Team Quick-Step Floors to race Tour of Poland

Here's the team's update:

A strong and versatile team headlined by Giro d'Italia maglia bianca Bob Jungels will take on the seven-day Tour of Poland.

The season's 27th World Tour event, the Tour de Pologne (29 July – 4 August) will feature three uphill finishes, which together with the absence of an individual time trial will see the balance heavily weighted towards climbers and puncheurs, who'll fight for supremacy in Szczyrk, Zakopane and Bukowina Tatrzanska, leaving the sprinters to take center stage on the other four days of the race which this year will run its 74th edition.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels took the 2017 Giro white jersey home.

For 25-year-old Bob Jungels – best young rider of the Giro d'Italia for the second season running – the Tour de Pologne will be his first outing since notching another national title in spectacular fashion, one month ago, and the Luxembourger is more than eager to return to competition.

"I looked over the parcours and I can say it's going to be a hard race. But it's also a nice race that I like and I think it is a good option for us riders who didn't do the Tour de France to try something over here. I am for sure keen to do my best in order to get a good result in my first race after this month's two-week altitude camp in Livigno", said Bob, who made his Tour de Pologne debut in 2014.

Rémi Cavagna, Laurens De Plus, Davide Martinelli – a stage winner and yellow jersey wearer at the previous edition – Maximilian Schachmann, Niki Terpstra and Petr Vakoč, who soloed to a stage victory en route to a top 10 overall finish in 2014, will also be part of the Quick-Step Floors squad for the race.

Shimano bike sales down 3% in first half

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this report:

OSAKA, Japan (BRAIN) — Shimano is reporting that its bike-related sales were down 2.7 percent in the company's first half, which ended June 30. Operating income in the segment was down 11.5 percent.

Shimano said retail sales of complete bikes in North America were at about the same level as the first half of 2016, which distributor inventory was "somewhat low" in North America.

Bike-related sales were 129,080 million yen ($1.15 billion); operating income was 27,063 million yen. In the first quarter, sales were down 0.9 percent.

Outside North America, Shimano noted that weather was mixed in Europe in the first half, with good weather until mid-April, followed by unsettled weather. The company said European complete bike sales were "at the expected level" in Europe in the first half.

You can read the entire report here.


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