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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, June 15, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant? - Henry David Thoreau

Current racing:

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BMC's Tour of Switzerland (Tour de Suisse) stage 5 team report:

14 June 2017, Cevio (SUI): Damiano Caruso successfully defended his overall race lead on Tour de Suisse stage 5 after a strong display of teamwork from BMC Racing Team saw him finish safely in the chaotic bunch sprint.

At 222km long, stage 5 was the longest of the race and, unsurprisingly, it was a battle to get into the breakaway with attempt after attempt being pulled back by the peloton. Eventually, after 70km of racing, six riders were able to go clear with their advantage rising to around six minutes as BMC Racing Team set the pace behind. 

It wasn't long after the breakaway formed that the race reached the main feature of the stage, the Simplonpass, a 20km hors categorie climb which peaked with 102km to go. The gradient of the climb took its toll on the advantage of the breakaway, and as the peloton charged down the descent, it began to fall quickly before settling at around three minutes on the second categorized climb of the day to Druogno.

Over the top of the climb, the five remaining leaders were holding onto their advantage before the chase began to heat up once again with a possible bunch sprint up for grabs. Just one minute stood between the two groups with 30km to go before finally, as the rain began to fall heavily on the road, only two riders were left out in front.

The pace of the peloton calmed slightly allowing the duo's lead to edge over 30 seconds with 15km remaining. However, with a motivated chase resumed behind, they were ultimately caught with 5km to go.

BMC Racing Team kept Caruso in a good position as the race entered its closing kilometers and with clearer skies welcoming the peloton going under the flamme rouge, riders prepared for a bunch sprint in Cevio.

With the peloton going at full-speed and battling for position, Peter Sagan (Bora - Hansgrohe) jumped clear with 200m to go and was able to hold onto his advantage to take the stage win. Daniel Oss negotiated a chaotic finale with Caruso tucked safely into his wheel before the race leader crossed the line 14th to keep the yellow jersey going into stage 6.

After taking a bonus second at the last intermediate sprint, Caruso now leads the General Classification by 16 seconds.

Damiano Caruso

Damiano Caruso retained his overall lead.

Damiano Caruso: "The start was really fast, and many riders tried to make it into the breakaway so, it took over 70km for the final breakaway to form. The pace was really high. I think we were going at around 50km/h for the first two hours. We were then setting a good tempo on the long climb before the second part of the race which was pretty technical especially the descent. The guys did a really amazing job to keep me in a good position and in the end, I finished safe. For me, that was the most important thing."

"I think I was able to manage how I used my energy today. It was important for me to stay focussed and stay safe but, even though it was a long stage, I don't think I expended too much unnecessary energy."

"Tomorrow is the second test for us and for me in particular. It is another hard stage, another summit finish. We will see what happens, but I feel good." 

Sports Director, Jackson Stewart: "The start was hectic. We didn't know what would happen with the breakaway, but we wanted to make sure we could control it. It was hard, but the group did some of the work for us. It took over 70km, but once the breakaway went clear, it was the perfect situation for us with no-one threatening the GC. We then went to work, and we were just going to control it but the sprinters' teams came up really fast and knew they couldn't give it too much time. They did a lot of the work for us. We kind of expected them to be interested in the stage and it worked out well for us."

"The guys did a great job protecting Caruso and even in the final, the squeezed in a bonus second. The guys really are on fire in."

Miguel Angel Lopez crashes out of Tour of Switzerland

Here's the update from Lopez's Astana team:

It was a day of bad luck for Astana leader Miguel Angel Lopez, who crashed out after descent from the first climb of the day Simplonpass. Immediately after the crash he was moved to the hospital of Domodossola for medical checking.

Fortunately, Lopez avoided the major injures: he got a small fracture of the right thumb, two stitches and a few abrasions on the right side.

The 5th stage of the race started very fast. There were a lot of attacks in the first 70-80 km of racing and only after that a break of 6 riders broke clear with maximum of 6 minutes of advantage. Kazakhstan champion Arman Kamyshev was in that break, doing a very nice race.

The break was caught on the second climb of the stage, while later everything was decided in the massive sprint won by the World champion Peter Sagan. Astana rider Oscar Gatto did a good sprint, taking 8th place at the finish.

- I saw that everything is coming to the sprint, so I tried to do my best to reach as high as possible. I found a good wheel and passing though the final corners tried to save my position. So, I finished 8th, but the main thing is I felt quite well today. Now I am looking forward to the Saturday’s stage, - said Oscar Gatto.

Italian Damiano Caruso is still leading the general classification of the race, while Pello Bilbao is 11th.

Tomorrow will be held another hard stage: 166,7 km from Locarno to the top of the climb in La Punt.

Quick-Step Floors Ster ZLM Toer report:

Quick-Step Floors lead the team classification after the first day of the Dutch race.

Marcel Kittel doesn't miss an opportunity to showcase his skills against the clock every time he has the chance, especially on a short parcours, as was the one scheduled Wednesday evening by the Ster ZLM Toer. The German sprinter, a two-time Junior World ITT Champion, was one of the early starters in the 7.5km-long race and he stopped the clock in 8:07, a time thanks to which he stayed in the hot seat for nearly two hours.

Fellow countryman Maximilian Schachmann rounded out the podium, same time as Marcel, and three seconds behind stage winner Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). Two other young Quick-Step Floors riders – Rémi Cavagna and Laurens De Plus – put in a strong effort – which helped the squad take the top spot on the team standings.

"It's not nice when you are in the hot seat for a long time and then you get beaten by the last starter, but Primoz was stronger, so congratulations to him. I'm happy with my legs and how I felt, it was a good way to start the race. I'm now looking forward to the next stages", said Marcel Kittel at the finish in Westkapelle.

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