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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 23, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss

Current Racing

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:


National Championship team reports

Team Sunweb sent me this:

The perfect match between bike and rider led defending Dutch time trial champion to extend his national title today, as Tom Dumoulin (NED) charged to victory at the Dutch national time trial championships on his Giant Trinity Advanced SL.

Dumoulin set out to regain his title in Montferland today with a 50 kilometre course that suited his strengths well. After a strong start Dumoulin rebounded from a six second deficit that was clocked at the first intermediate checkpoint. By the next clock-stop, he had taken back seven seconds to put him into the lead by one second. It came down to a showdown between two which saw Dumoulin continue with his famous time trialling power to ride to the Dutch time trial victory for the third time in his professional career. He stopped the clock at 59 minutes and seven seconds, securing the title by 24 seconds.

"I'm really happy to take the win once again," said Dumoulin after the race. "The parcours suited me well and although the heat made things quite challenging, I managed to cope with the conditions well. Dealing with the mental and physical aspects of the past few weeks have gone pretty well and have been much easier than I had anticipated. It's great to be able to wear the jersey for another year."

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin at this year's Tour of Switzerland

Team Sunweb trainer Adriaan Helmantel added: "We knew that the circumstances today would be quite difficult after Tom suffered fatigue following an intense racing period. He had a good few days of recovery over the past week to ensure that he was feeling fresh for today. The team did a great job in executing the protocols to perfection so that all Tom had to focus on was what he does best. We knew that it would be a mental battle above everything but he was really motivated beforehand to keep the jersey. He had a really controlled start and went at his own pace despite initially being down a few seconds. With each checkpoint his lead increased and in the end he won by 24 seconds, it's a really strong ride from him and a great performance."

BMC sent me reports on several national championships:

Here's Luxembourg:

21 June, 2017, Remerschen (LUX): After standing on the second step of the podium for the past two years, Jempy Drucker went one better in 2017 to become the Luxembourg time trial champion for the first time in his career.

Drucker rolled down the ramp this evening in Remerschen for the 18.7km two-lap course and proved his speed against the clock to finish with a time of 20'53", six seconds faster than reigning time trial champion Bob Jungels (Quickstep-Floors) and 20 seconds faster than Alex Kirsch (WB Veranclassic).

It is the second win on home soil this year for Drucker after he won stage 1 of the SkodaTour de Luxembourg last month.

Interview with Jempy Drucker:

Congratulations, Jempy! How was it out there tonight?

"It was a totally different course to last year. It was pan flat and it was almost 20km so it was at a really high speed. I felt pretty good. I came out of Route du Sud and I recovered pretty well. It's also a surprise for me to beat Bob Jungels (Quickstep-Floors) because he's a really good time trialist, he's a specialist."

Did you realize you were on track to win?

"I was just focusing on my own performance. I didn't wear a radio so I had no time splits. I focused on my effort and that worked pretty well. I tried to pace myself well. Also, with the heat it wasn't so easy so I tried to keep a little bit left in the tank for the second lap because we had to do two laps."

How will it feel to wear the Luxembourg colors at your next time trial?

"To wear the jersey for the next year will be really cool. I'm not sure where I will be able to wear it for the first time as my program hasn't been decided but it will be really nice."

Stefan Küng Claims Swiss Time Trial Championship:

22 June, 2017, Lüterkofen - Ichertswil (BEL): Stefan Küng put in a commanding performance at the Swiss National Time Trial Championships to take the win over teammate Silvan Dillier.

Küng set a blistering pace on the 38.6km course and with 15km remaining, his advantage was sitting at two minutes, before he eventually crossed the line with 48'34", 57 seconds faster than Dillier.

Having been named in BMC Racing Team's Tour de France roster, Küng will roll out for the opening time trial in Dusseldorf next Saturday as the Swiss National Time Trial champion hoping to swap his red and white skinsuit for the yellow jersey.

Stefan kung

Stefan Kung

Interview with Stefan Küng:

Congratulations, Stefan! How does it feel to be Swiss champion?

"I was feeling good. I was pretty confident in my form. The parcours was really nice and I enjoyed it a lot. I went out quite fast and had a big gap to the other guys so I just kept going. I overtook a lot of guys and especially at the end, I didn't take a lot of risks. I backed off a little bit in the descents. In the end, I just had to bring it home. It will feel really nice to wear the jersey in Dusseldorf at the Tour de France."

What did you like about the parcours?

"It had a rolling start and then a 2km climb and then it was slightly down in the valley. It was a real time trial and we had to do the laps twice. Hats off to the race organization for creating such a nice course. It makes me happy to win here and it gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the Tour de France."

You're lining up at your first Tour de France. How excited are you?

"At the moment I'm taking it day by day. For sure, I'm excited but I cannot imagine now what it will be like. I've spoken to the other guys and they have told me it will be crazy. I'm really looking forward to it."

Silvan Dillier: "It was only a one-hour effort so it wasn't that bad compared to the Tourmalet stage at Route du Sud last week. The parcours was nice. We had some really good rides. It was an interesting course with some up and down and corners, but nothing too dangerous or nothing too tricky. Still, you had to push hard the whole way. I felt good and I was fresh enough after Route du Sud coming into the championships."

Roche Claims Silver Medal at Irish National Time Trial Championships:

22 June, 2017, Wexford (IRL): Nicolas Roche took to the podium at the Irish National Time Trial Championships for the second consecutive year after claiming the silver medal behind winner Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team).

As defending champion, Roche rolled out as the last rider on the 34km course and was chasing Mullen's best time as he raced against the clock.

Roche finished 15 seconds behind Mullen in his third appearance at the Irish National Time Trial Championships.

As the current Irish Road Race Champion, Roche will be back in action on Sunday where he will look to defend his title.

Nicolas Roche: "It was actually a pretty similar course to last year's time trial. Basically 15km one way, a couple of kilometers through a town and 15km back the other way. It was mostly rolling terrain as it's never dead flat in Ireland. I did one of my best time trials today. Ryan Mullen was just incredible strong. He's shown over the last couple of years that he is definitely one of the best time trialists so he was always going to be tough to beat. So, I did my best time trial possible today and just came up short. I can take a lot of confidence from my performance and my shape going into the Tour de France next week. The road race on Sunday isn't the best course for me because it's pretty flat but we'll see how things go."

Hermans Time Trials to Third Place at Belgian National Championships

22 June, 2017, Chimay (BEL)

After setting off in the second-to-last wave of riders, Ben Hermans sat on the hot seat at the Belgian National Time Trial Championships with the fastest provisional time of 47'14".

As the final eight riders set off, only two riders were able to better Hermans' time and eventually the Belgian finished in third place on the podium for the second consecutive year.

Hermans stopped the clock on the 37.8km course 31 seconds behind eventual winner Yves Lamaert (Quickstep-Floors) and 14 seconds behind Victor Campenaerts (Team LottoNL Jumbo).

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans at this year's Tour of Oman

Ben Hermans: "It was a different course to last year. It was more up and down and less technical. I started in the third series, not with the favorites and then the temperature was a lot lower for the last eight riders and maybe the wind was more, maybe it was less. I lost by half a minute or so but with a little bit more or less wind, half a minute is not much. My power was really good. It was warm and I love the conditions. I think I am in good condition but now I have some rest. I still have the road race on Sunday but it's not my goal race as it's not a great parcours for me. This was a goal race. To end up third is a good result but I've been on the podium now four times and then you want to win. It's disappointing but I can also be happy with the performance."

Ag2r had good news to send as well:

Pierre Latour time trial Champion of France:

“After turning pro in 2015, I have done several pretty long time trials, but none ever as long as today (51.6km). I didn’t think my intermediate times were so great; there were a lot of little climbs and changes in pace.

This was a very demanding course. It’s a special day for me. I have never been a Champion of France. My best place before this was a silver medal in 2011 as a junior behind my cousin Romain Faussurier.

I want to enjoy this moment, I know it does not happen often. I am proud to win this title in a discipline that I have always loved. It will be a real pleasure to race my first Tour de France and be able to wear this distinctive jersey in Düsseldorf. I will keep my feet on the ground, since I know the level at the WorldTour is very high, but I will certainly fight.”

Pierre Latour

Pierre Latour

Vincent Lavenu: “Pierre did a superb race, and beat a lot of great professionals today. Still, he was a Junior silver medalists at the World Champion in 2013, so that is an important reference point. Pierre has enormous ability and qualities.
We knew he would do a very good ride, but we were not quite expecting such a victory. On a demanding course like that of Saint-Omer, he fought very hard to win this title.

:We saw at the time trial during the  Dauphiné (14th) that he was in shape.
He keeps gaining power from one season to the next, and above all, he never gives up.After his stage victory at the Vuelta last year, this is a new stage in his career. And he will have the joy of wearing this beautiful jersey in a few days at the start of the Tour de France.”

More Tour de France team lineups announced

Here's the Team Sky update:

22nd JUNE 2017: Team Sky leader Chris Froome seeking a landmark fourth Tour de France victory

Team Sky has announced its lineup for the 2017 Tour de France, which starts in Dusseldorf on Saturday 1st July.

Team leader Chris Froome will be seeking a fourth Tour de France win and a third straight Tour victory. Froome previously won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 editions of the race.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will try to make it four yellow jerseys

Froome will be joined in the Team Sky lineup by:

Sergio Henao
Vasil Kiryienka
Christian Knees
Michal Kwiatkowski
Mikel Landa
Mikel Nieve
Luke Rowe
Geraint Thomas

Chris Froome said: “The Tour de France is a special race and it would just be incredible to win it for a fourth time. Aiming for that fourth victory has given me a lot of motivation.

“To me, each Tour tells a different story. Every Tour is a different battle in terms of getting that Yellow Jersey and then trying to hold on to it. We’re ready as a team and I can’t wait for the Tour to start now. Honestly, I just love it. It’s a feeling that you don’t get from any other race.”

Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “We’re really looking forward to the Tour.  Chris is in good shape and he’s ready for it. To win the Tour once is a huge achievement, but to win it a fourth time would be remarkable.

“We’ve selected a strong and experienced lineup who will support him, and we’ll be looking to use the strength of the team to our advantage.”

The Team Sky squad for the 2016 Tour de France is:

Chris Froome – British – age 32: 2016 winner Chris Froome returns to the Tour de France with his eyes firmly set on a landmark fourth victory and a third consecutive Tour title. Froome has spoken of the need to create his own opportunities at what is expected to be a fiercely competitive edition of the Tour, and a combative display at the Criterium du Dauphine gave an indication of things to come.

Sergio Henao – Colombian – age 29: Colombian climber Sergio Henao is enjoying the finest season of his career. Fresh from winning the Colombian national road championship in February the 29 year old won a thrilling edition of Paris-Nice, before enjoying a strong Ardennes campaign, co-leading the team alongside Michal Kwiatkowski. Henao is viewed as one of the fiercest competitors in the peloton, and Froome knows he can rely upon the loyal Colombian come rain or shine.

Vasil Kiryienka – Belarusian – age 35: Time trial specialist Vasil Kiryienka is one of the sport’s most consistent performers. Off the back of a typically committed performance at the Giro d’Italia, the popular Belarusian is sure to take the 18th Grand Tour of his illustrious career in his stride, setting tempo on the flat and in the mid-mountains. A hugely popular member of the squad, fan favourite ‘Kiry’ rarely misses a beat and is sure to be seen at the front of the peloton over the coming month.

Christian Knees – German – age 36: Christian Knees will proudly take to the start line of his 17th Grand Tour at the Grand Depart in his homeland. The German brings a wealth of experience to the table and will relish racing his first Tour de France since 2012 on the back of a resurgent 2017. He performed his typically strong and selfless role throughout the cobbled Classics campaign, then looked after Chris Froome on the flatter days at the Criterium du Dauphine. A hugely respected member of the squad, Knees will be a crucial part of the Team Sky lineup.

Michal Kwiatkowski – Polish – age 27: Racing his first Tour de France in Team Sky colours on the back of a triumphant first half of the season, Kwiatkowski is in some of the best form of his career. After winning Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, Kwiato earned two podium finishes in the Ardennes Classics, before demonstrating his versatility by producing an inspired climbing performance in support of Chris Froome at the Criterium du Dauphine. It’s that world-class versatility that will make Kwiatkowski invaluable on the road in France.

Mikel Landa – Spanish – age 27: If his Giro d’Italia form is anything to go by, Mikel Landa is likely to arrive at the Tour de France in outstanding shape. The Spaniard suffered an unfortunate crash on stage nine in Italy, ending his GC challenge, but he bounced back in superb fashion: third on stage 14 then second on stages 16 and 18, the Spaniard finally secured a famous win on stage 19, wrapping up the Mountains jersey in the process. Now his focus has switched to supporting Chris Froome and being part of a winning Tour team for the second year running.

Mikel Nieve – Spanish – age 33: One of the team’s most valued climbers, Nieve is set to ride his third Tour de France in support of Chris Froome. The Basque climber, known as Frosty to his team mates, finished 12th in the Tour in 2013, has won two stages at the Giro d’Italia, and recently demonstrated his form with a strong climbing performance at the Tour de Suisse ahead of his 13th Grand Tour.

Luke Rowe – British – age 27: Amongst his many talents, Luke Rowe can also claim to be one of Chris Froome’s lucky charms - Froome has won both editions of the Tour that Rowe has raced, in 2015 and ’16. Road captain on both occasions, the popular Welshman will have a huge part to play again in 2017 after another encouraging campaign for the Classics specialist. An impressive third place finish at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in March was further evidence of Rowe’s development and he played a pivotal role in Sergio Henao’s Paris-Nice win, marshalling him through the race’s early crosswinds.

Geraint Thomas – British – age 31: 2017 has been a whirlwind year for Geraint Thomas. The Welshman picked up a brilliant stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico and took the overall title at the Tour of the Alps on his way to co-leading Team Sky at the Giro d’Italia, but suffered a heart-breaking crash on stage nine, sustaining injuries that eventually ruled him out of the race. The 31 year old has quickly bounced back to fitness, though, and will hope to continue the excellent form he took to the Giro as he returns to the Tour.

Here's BMC's Tour Team:

22 June, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team is backing Richie Porte in the pursuit of the yellow jersey at the Tour de France when racing gets underway in Dusseldorf on Saturday, July 1.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said a strong team has been assembled to support Porte from Dusseldorf through to Paris. "To have Richie Porte on the podium at the Tour de France would be a great result. Of course, we are lining up to win the race, to win the yellow jersey. We are going all in for Richie. All nine of our riders are coming to the Tour de France in good condition and we have a strong team. When we started planning for the Tour de France in December last year, these were the nine riders we had in mind," Baldato explained.

"We expect Damiano Caruso and Nicolas Roche to be the last two teammates with Richie in the big mountains. We have riders like Alessandro De Marchi and Amaël Moinard who will be crucial before and between the medium mountains. For the flat stages when the race is fast and difficult, we have our rouleurs; Stefan Küng, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Danilo Wyss. These are the riders who will protect Richie and bring him to the line safely."

"We would love to start things well with the time trial in Dusseldorf. Stefan is really motivated and we saw at Tour de Suisse that he is in great shape. It is his Tour de France debut but we expect he will be on the podium, which means starting the race well, with a good position on the General Classification and with a good car position. Our absolute priority is the General Classification with Richie Porte but in Greg Van Avermaet we have the Olympic champion, two-time Tour de France stage winner and wearer of the yellow jersey in 2016, so we would love to see Greg win another stage when the conditions are right and Richie is safe."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte will head BMC's team at the Tour de France

BMC Racing Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz affirmed Baldato's appraisal of the team. "Tour de France team selection is always hard and it was again for us this year. We have a strong and motivated team around Richie Porte and I think our objectives are clear. Richie and the rest of the team are clearly coming in with a lot of confidence from performances in recent races. We are confident but everyone starts from scratch in Dusseldorf. We hope to get off to a good start and keep the ball rolling across the 21 stages that lie ahead of us," Ochowicz said.

Porte is confident after recording one of the best seasons of his career in the lead up to the Tour de France, including victory at the Santos Tour Down Under, Tour de Romandie and second place at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

"The Tour de France is the big goal of the season and it has been a great season so far. I can definitely take confidence from my races and I feel like I'm where I need to be knowing that July is when I need to perform. BMC Racing Team has put a great team together around Greg Van Avermaet and me. I think we have strength in all of the areas needed," Porte explained.

"I am definitely a mix of excited and nervous. You can't deny that the Tour de France is the biggest goal of the season, but that means it's also another level of stress. It's a balance of being well-prepared and fresh enough to race at the highest level across 21 stages, but I feel like I'm in that position now. I'm just really looking forward to rolling out for the time trial next Saturday in Dusseldorf and then having a good three weeks of racing until we reach Paris."

Van Avermaet will line up in Dusseldorf as leader of the UCI WorldTour ranking and targeting a third Tour de France stage win. "I'm going into the Tour de France with the same goal as always; to win a stage. After winning a stage in 2015 and 2016, and then wearing the yellow jersey last year, it would be really special to win a third stage this year. There are a couple of stages that are well-suited to me and aside from that, I'll be there to support Richie Porte to go for the win. I think if we finished in Paris with a stage win and a good result on the General Classification, it would be a really successful Tour de France from BMC Racing Team," Van Avermaet said.

Tour de France (1-23 July)

Rider Roster: Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Stefan Küng (SUI), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Richie Porte (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Valerio Piva (ITA).

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