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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. - Desmond Tutu

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USA National Championships team reports

First, here's the time trial report from BMC:

24 June, 2017, Knoxville,Tennessee (USA): Joey Rosskopf was crowned US National Time Trial Champion in Knoxville today after an impressive performance saw him take the title ahead of BMC Racing Team teammate Brent Bookwalter.

After setting off in the second-to-last wave of riders, Rosskopf settled into an impressive rhythm quickly, posting the provisional best time at the halfway point of the four-lap course before powering across the line to move into the hot seat.

As the final riders set off, Rosskopf's time of 36'25" remained unshaken and eventually it proved enough to see him take the title and the stars and stripes jersey for the first time in his career.

Bookwalter was the final rider to start his 19.2 mile effort and out on the course, he put in a strong performance to clock the second-fastest time of the day, 57 seconds behind Rosskopf, and head onto the podium.

Interview with Joey Rosskopf:

Congratulations, Joey! How was it out on the course?

"With the laps, you knew what to expect from the parcours and as they were only 7.5km long, you could learn from every one. The corners were maybe a little more technical but we did a good recon this morning and I think that helped me a lot."

How did you feel when you were sat in the hot seat?

"I was a little unsure as to whether my time would stick until the final time check of the last wave. I started in the fourth wave so I had to wait to see if I had done enough and I knew that the final group of riders had a really good chance of winning also."

How will it feel to wear the stars and stripes skinsuit at your next time trial?

"It will definitely make me look forward to time trials more. It will make the day of pain a little more pleasant for the next year. It will be really cool and I have never worn the national champion's jersey before so I am looking forward to it."

"We wanted to prove that it was worthwhile making the trip to the US National Championships and it is always nice to give back to the team when they invest in you."

And looking ahead to the road race?

"I think it is a good course for us and if it is a hard race I think we have a good chance with Brent Bookwalter and me. I think we will have to play off the bigger teams here but we're off to a good start already and we will see what happens"

Brent Bookwalter: "Like we expected it was hot and humid today and I think that has been the theme running through a lot of the championships this week. It was a good course and the four laps kept it interesting. Success breeds confidence across the team whether that is at the races we do over the season or at the National Championships. There has been some amazing results from the team already this week and seeing this made us hungry for the same results here. Joey Rosskopf and me went into today confident and I think we were looking at each other as our biggest rivals. In the end, it turned out that Joey had a really great day and mine was maybe not as good but it is awesome for him to take the title and finishing first and second is a testament to the depth of our team."

"The road race is always a little different. It's very tactical and I think it will be a tall order to go up against some of the teams with eight or more riders but we will try to keep ourselves in the mix. We've started well though and that takes the pressure off us a little and hopefully we can shine in the later stages of the race where the consistency and form that we have gained from the longer races this year will be an advantage."

Race Profile: US National Time Trial Championships

Knoxville, 19.2 miles (30.9km)

Top 3: 1. Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing Team) 2. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) 3. Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman)

And Team Aqua Blue Sport posted this road race report:

Larry Warbasse is United States Champion. The US Aqua Blue Sport rider, fresh from a stage victory at Tour de Suisse, beat his two breakaway companions to seal the gold in the US National Championships at the event in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Warbasse, 26, had set a punishing pace in the finale. As he arrived into the finishing straight he sprinted to overcome Axeon Hagens Berman's Neilson Powless and LottoNL-Jumbo's Alexey Vermeulen.

He raised his arms in triumph and was swamped by his family and supporters after crossing the line.

Larry Warbasse

Larry Warbasse winning stage four of this year's Tour of Switzerland

In an interview with reporters at the finish he declared: "I'm in disbelief. I think this has been the best two weeks of my life.

"I had a really great race in Suisse a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, I felt pretty bad in the time trial, I was a bit disappointed, and I told some friends 'I guess I work well with disappointment, so hopefully tomorrow will be good’. Honestly I didn't feel good the whole day. At the start I was suffering – actually I was suffering the whole time. I don't think I was the strongest today but I think I was the smartest. I can't believe it, I'm so happy."

Stephen Moore, General Manager of Aqua Blue Sport, said: “Huge congratulations Larry – this is an incredible victory. Yet again hard work and dedication has rewarded Larry and Aqua Blue Sport with a fantastic victory. “Work will begin immediately on the design for Larry’s jersey – we will be in touch with our clothing partner Vermarc Sport in the morning. All of us at Aqua Blue Sport are looking forward to seeing our very own Captain America on the roads of Europe.”

Aqua Blue Sport also recorded some other strong performances: Conor Dunne took bronze at the Irish National Championships, Lasse Norman Hansen finished 7th in Denmark while Stefan Denifl also finished 7th in the Austrian National Championships over a difficult hilly course.

Team Ag2r-La Mondiale's report on the Belgian & French road championships:

Oliver Naesen: “Winning the Belgian championships is a victory that we dream about from the very first moment we start racing. I am very proud. I knew that I had good legs on the circuit, and racing so close to home, it all suited me very well.When I saw that riders like Gilbert and Van Avermaet were trying to make the race very hard with around 50km to go, I knew that would be a good idea since there are no teams who could really influence the race in the final.As with the E3 GP this past spring, I saw that I was creating the gaps on the pavé sections so I took my responsibilities at the end of the race. They may say that I am not much of a sprinter, but when we’re talking a group of four or five riders, I can go fast. I hope to continue to be worthy of this victory throughout the season, in the way Philippe Gilbert succeeded honouring the jersey this past year. I will be proud to wear this jersey during the Tour de France. It is the most beautiful jersey in the entire peloton.”

Oliver Naesen

Oliver Naesen racing at the 2016 World Championships

FRANCE ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIPS
RUDY BARBIER (7th) : "A GOOD MORALE BUILDER FOR WHAT’S TO COME"

“I enjoyed today, racing almost at home. With my recent crash at the Boucles de la Mayenne, I was just happy to be able to be at the start of the race.I was well looked after all day; the team did a great job. Samuel (Dumoulin) opened the door for me in the final, but I was a bit stuck. In any case, what I was able to do today will serve me well throughout the second part of the season. I saw that I could be present and competitive at the final after six hours of racing, though I haven’t had many racing opportunities recently.That fact will give me good morale on which to build the rest of the season.”

JULIEN JURDIE : "NO REGRETS"

“The race became very animated quite far from the finish, so that it was quite exhausting with the wind and the repetitions of the little climb. We rode at the front sticking to our game plan. We put in some digs with two laps to go, trying to forge ahead. Whether we finished in 4th or 7th, it’s the same thing.We knew it would be complicated trying to dismantle the FDJ phalanx, and this evening we have finished with no regrets.”

THE NUMBER: 7

Oliver Naesen’s victory is the seventh for the AG2R LA MONDIALE team this season. Samuel Dumoulin (1st stage of the Tour du Haut Var), Alexandre Geniez (2nd stage Tour de Provence), Mattéo Montaguti (4th stage Tour des Alps) Alexis Vuillermoz (Grand Prix of Plumelec), Domenico Pozzovivo (6th stage of the Tour de Suisse) And Pierre Latour (French Time Trial Champion) have all already claimed top honours this year.

THE NEWS: The final members of the team who will be sent to the Tour de France (July 1st-23rd) will be unveiled on Monday, June 26th. Romain Bardet,Axel Domont, Mathias Frank,Pierre Latour, Oliver Naesen et Alexis Vuillermoz are already selected.The last three riders will be chosen from among Jan Bakelants (BEL), Samuel Dumoulin (FRA), Ben Gastauer (LUX) and Cyril Gautier (FRA).

Team Dimension Data releases Tour de France squad, Cavendish included:

Here's the official announcement:

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was happy to announce its squad for the 104th edition of the Tour de France earlier today via its new mobile app, Africa’s Team. For exclusive insight & behind the scenes footage during Le Tour, you can download the app here.

It will be the 3rd participation for our African Team at La Grande Boucle and we return to the race with the same goals as in previous years, changing lives in Africa through our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign, to win stages and be visible in the racing.

It has been a difficult road to the Tour for Mark Cavendish following the serious illness that kept him out of action for the majority of the season. Our African Team has been committed to giving him the necessary support and time required to allow him every opportunity to make the team, and are therefore delighted to announce his inclusion.

Mark CAvendish

Mark Cavendish winning the first stage of the 2017 Tour of Abu Dhabi

Also coming from a long road to recovery, and fresh off the back of his double victory at the British National Championships, Steve Cummings will make his 3rd successive appearance at the Tour de France for our African Team. Remembering his historical stage win on Mandela Day in 2015, followed up by his emphatic stage victory last year, it is most satisfying to have Cummings back at the Tour for our African Team.

We are proud to have the South African national jersey also represented at the Tour de France by our African Team, with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg set for his 3rd successive Tour start. Jaco Venter and Scott Thwaites will make their debut appearances, while our team will be completed by the experienced quartet of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Serge Pauwels.

With a race strategy that served us well in both 2015 and 2016, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will once again target specific stages with individual riders during the 2017 edition of the race. Riding from the front, searching for breakaway’s and looking to wear a leaders jersey will also bring further awareness to our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. We are confident these 9 riders will make an impact that matters on the African continent over the next 3 weeks.

Mark Cavendish – Rider: "As has been widely reported, it’s been a difficult few months for me on the back of the illness that set me back earlier on in the season. Despite this setback and my lack of race time I’ve worked incredibly hard both to ensure I could firstly recover from the illness as well as then aiming to build my fitness up as much as possible in order to start the Tour.

"If I am being totally honest, had this not been the Tour de France we may have collectively taken a different approach with regards to my inclusion but I feel that I owe it to myself, the team, our sponsors and most importantly to the Tour itself given its history and everything that it stands for – as well as the emotional attachment I have for it – to give it my best and to put everything I have in to trying to help the team.

"In addition, I also feel a great sense of pride to be supporting Qhubeka and our Bicycles Change Lives campaign, and am keen to raise as much awareness as possible for what is such an incredible cause at the Tour."

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: "This team was built on a dream and to be in our 3rd Tour de France is so special as we chase more dreams with every single rider that will represent this team and what it stands for on July 1st.

"Our 2 debutants, Jaco and Scott, will have their eyes wide open as they experience the enormousness of The Tour de France and what a privilege to do that with the incredible experience of the rest of the team.

"The hard work that has been put in by the riders and our team partners to be ready to represent Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka in this year’s event is truly incredible and shows their commitment to the sport of cycling and the impact they can make on others. Join us through our campaign as we make a noise for Qhubeka in July."

Cannondale-Drapac announces Tour de France team:

Alberto Bettiol. Paddy Bevin. Nate Brown. Simon Clarke. Andrew Talansky. Taylor Phinney. Pierre Rolland. Rigoberto Uran. Dylan Van Baarle. Those nine got the call-up for the Cannondale-Drapac squad 2017 Tour de France squad. Four debutantes will certainly add to the team’s attacking, excited spirit and Tour veterans will balance the team.

The team heads into La Grande Boucle with multiple objectives: on one hand, the team will attack and search for chances on every inch of road during the sport’s biggest race, and on the other hand the team will balance dual general classification hopes with Uran and Talansky.

Andrew Talansky

Andrew Talansky has GC hopes for the Tour de France

Talansky has finished 10th and 11th at the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Uran has ridden the Tour three times, and finished second on two occasions at the Giro d’Italia. The team also goes in with two-time stage winner Pierre Rolland, fresh off a victory at the season’s opening grand tour.

“We’re going in with two GC leaders. Andrew and Rigo. But neither of those GC projects will hinder us from going after stage wins,” said sport director Charly Wegelius. “When I look at this team, I see enthusiasm. I see potential. I see real, quality engines there. And I see a group of people who are really prepared to support one another. I see energy. It’s all the things we say we are.

“We want people with the enthusiasm to take every single chance that comes, even if they’re small ones. We want riders fighting for stages they have a smaller chance of winning as if they were stages they had a high probability of winning. We’ve got to go after everything with the same kind of hunger the group at the Giro showed. Because they exploited everything.”

“Charly did a great job selecting a dynamic group of riders for this Tour,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “I have confidence in the riders, but I also have confidence in the entire staff representing us in France, from the soigneurs to the directors and mechanics. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

Below, we offer up thoughts from our Tour riders and insights from Wegelius.

ALBERTO BETTIOL (TOUR DEBUT) 

Wegelius: In Alberto’s case specifically, it’s an atypical tour. We don’t have 11 days of wall-to-wall sprint finishes. There’s an awful lot of mixed stages that could end in breaks or smaller sprints. Riders like Alberto, Dylan there’s a lot of things they can do.

Alberto knows how to race a bike, he knows how to position himself. We saw that in the classics. This year, but also in his career, the Tour is going to be a race that suits him.

Bettiol: This year, up to now, I have done more races than last year and bigger ones, too. I went pretty well in the cobbled classics, but I’m not satisfied. I expected more of myself, and I’m working hard to set that right in the second part of the season. I’d like to play my cards in a sprint with a reduced bunch.

Starting in the Tour de France feels like I’m truly becoming a pro cyclist. If you haven’t done the Tour, you’re not a real pro. I get goosebumps thinking about it. My goal is to win a stage — dreaming doesn’t cost anything, so let’s dream. 

PATRICK "PADDY" BEVIN (TOUR DEBUT) 

Wegelius: Paddy had a rough spring with some disappointments for him. That came on the back of a winter in which he worked really hard. But I think he took on the lessons. He regrouped, he trained. He came out meaning business after Norway and did a great Tour de Suisse in which he gained a bit of confidence after strong sprints. He’s going to be an asset for the same reasons as Alberto.

Bevin: I want to leave a mark on the Tour. The team is very keen to animate the race, and I can’t wait to be part of that. At the end of three weeks I want some performances to be proud of, not just three weeks of holding on for dear life. I am genuinely excited about being part of the Tour. I was one of those kids up at 3 am in New Zealand watching the Tour every July, completely captivated by it. You can’t shake those feelings and to cross that threshold and be on the other side is a privilege not many get to experience.

NATE BROWN (TOUR DEBUT) 

Wegelius: Nate has been on form and on message all season. He’s turned up to work in good shape, and his performances have incrementally grown the whole season. He did well in the spring; he did really well in California, really well in the Dauphiné. He’s got the enthusiasm to go after things. He’s a very, very loyal teammate and I think he’ll be a great help.

Brown: I can't explain the feelings when I found out about the selection.  It's been a childhood dream of mine to one day race in the Tour de France, and now that dream is coming true. I am excited anytime I get the call to do a grand tour, but this is the call I have been waiting for my whole life.

I can't thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity. Helping the team out to my best ability, and getting some good team results would be a success. I am excited to be doing my first Tour de France, and I hope on a personal level that I can get into a few breaks and fly the Cannondale-Drapac colors.

SIMON CLARKE 

Wegelius: He’s an asset at any race we go to because of his leadership on the road and the vision he has at the races. But we don’t want him to stop being a bike racer in his own right. We saw a glimpse of that in the Dauphiné  — that he can do really well himself,  and he doesn’t always have to be looking after the others. He’s a high-quality rider. Hopefully we can give him some chances, too.

Clarke: My top three Tour de France memories are: winning the team time trial in 2013, having the yellow jersey in the team for four days that same year. The following year, on stage 13 in 2014, it was my birthday, and I had been in the breakaway all day the day before. I had a really bad day. It was probably one of the hardest days I have ever had on the bike. This year? A successful Tour from a personal perspective would be winning a stage.  

TAYLOR PHINNEY (TOUR DEBUT) 

Wegelius: Taylor has been improving since the classics. He had a lot of setbacks this year, no doubting that. Which has been rough for him, because he worked hard to get his body firing, and just when he was on the cusp of being able to cash in on that, some hiccup happened. But he never lost his focus.

He’s really someone who has got the ability to rise to a big occasion without letting the occasion get the better of him. He’s someone who can read how big the Tour is and get the best of himself because of that.

Phinney: Making the Tour de France team is a dream come true. This is my seventh year professional. I’ve never raced the Tour de France. The main reason I got into the sport of cycling is because I went to go watch the Tour de France when I was 14. And 15. I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ It’s taken me a long time to get to this point of saying I’m about to line up for the Tour. It feels right. It feels natural. I’ve been fighting back all season from various things just to make to this point. I’m really thankful to the team for supporting me in this endeavor. Supporting me this whole year.” 

PIERRE ROLLAND 

Wegelius: Pierre’s in a good place. The win in the Giro was really good for him. Because it kind of put to rest some of the disappointment he was dragging with him from last season. I saw in La Route du Sud that having that win in the bag gave him the peace of mind to race even better, to race with a cold head. He manages himself very well between the races. He’s scrupulous with the training. And he’s got such a big engine. He’s a real bike racer.

Rolland: This will be my ninth consecutive Tour de France ... already! It's always exciting just to be at the start of the Tour. A good Tour is when you arrive in Paris and you just tell yourself that you gave the best of yourself without regret. A great Tour is synonymous with a stage victory, but the main thing for me is always to give my maximum...the victory is often due to a race circumstance.

Our Tour team is composed of very solid riders, experienced climbers and exemplary teammates. I hope we will have victories and a rider placed in the top of the overall standings. 

ANDREW TALANSKY 

Wegelius: Andrew had a quiet first part of the season. He’s been in a long build since the beginning of May. And his win in California was a good step on the road to now. I think the route of the race suits him and gives a lot of chances to show his best.

Talansky: The Tour is the Tour. It’s a double-edged sword and you never know what challenges or triumphs it is going to bring. A successful Tour has a lot of components. I would love to win a stage. I have never won a stage of a grand tour; I’ve actually been the closest in the Tour de France in 2015, when I finished second in stage 17. But nothing in the world of bike racing compares to the pure joy of crossing the line first. The general classification will unfold as it does, but I think this Tour route lends itself towards aggressive racing and I certainly won’t let the opportunity to win something pass by. 

RIGOBERTO URAN  

Wegelius: Rigo. It’s time he went back to the Tour. He’s focused on the Giro for many years. Of all the Tours I’ve seen in the last three years, this is one that suits him pretty nicely I’d say. He’s got the experience, he’s got the leadership, he’s got the head to deal with a three-week race. I think he can do some nice things in July, I really do. 

Uran: It's always nice to be in the Tour de France group because the race is one of the most important in the world, and this is demonstrated by the level we see every year with the best riders on the best teams who fight for everything. This year is extra special for me because I have the opportunity to focus well on the Tour.  

DYLAN VAN BAARLE 

Wegelius: Dylan has got, as everyone knows, a really big engine. I think there’s quite a few stages in this race where he can use that big engine for long-range attacks. Some stages are going to be really rough to control. So I see big chances for him. He’s really growing into a well-respected and strong rider. 

Van Baarle: The Tour is the biggest race for a cyclist. Everybody in the world knows this race. It’s again an honor to be part of the team. The factor that everybody knows the race makes it the hardest; there is a lot of stress, a lot more media. But the last two years were fun. I aim for a stage win. And so I hope the team will win a stage/a good GC. Last year we had some bad luck. So hopefully the luck is this year at our side.

UAE Team Emirates' line-up for the Tour de France

The team sent me this news:

UAE Team Emirates will be present and well balanced at the Tour de France, introducing for the first time a squad coming from United Arab Emirates, with ambitious goals. Diego Ulissi and Ben Swift for the stages and Louis Meintjes, 8th in the last edition, will be fighting for the General Classification after showing a real good shape during last Criterium du Dauphiné.

“We are confident on the work done,” said sport director Mario Scirea “and the last performance at the Criterium du Dauphiné gave us the confirmation of being on the right way. We worked so hard as a team during last month on altitude, on Mount San Pellegrino in Italy, and all the data bring us confidence on the next Tour de France. For sure we also need good luck, but you have to help it”.

Quotes:

Louis Meintjes: “Last year I was 8th in the Tour de France, this result motivates me to try and go for some more in the GC. I hope that there will be no problems in the first week, then it will be great to have on the mountains the same feelings I had in the Criterium du Dauphiné”.

Ben Swift “This year at the Tour de France I'll live a new experience, because I’ll have the freedom of taking my opportunities. In the past, I worked for the team, now I’m happy that the team entrusted me of trying to be as much competitive as possible in the stages that suite me most“.

Diego Ulissi: “I will debut in the Tour, I strongly wanted to face this new challenge, in search of new motivations and in order to perceive directly how great is the Tour de France. I’ll be in France with the goal of trying to fight for a stage victory, however I’m aware that this is one of the most difficult task because everybody will go for this target“.

Riders Roster: Atapuma Darwin (Columbia), Bono Matteo (Italy), Durasek Kristijan (Croatia), Laengen Vegard Stake (Norway), Marcato Marco (Italy), Meintjes Louis (South Africa), Mori Manuele (Italy), Swift Ben (England), Ulissi Diego (Italy).

Sports directors: Mario Scirea (Italy), Marco Marzano (Italy).

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