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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 30, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. - Winston Churchill

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Tour de France News

The provisional 2017 TDF startlist is posted.

Lotto-Soudal's André Greipel is happy to start the Tour in his home country

The team sent me this:

André Greipel is about to start his seventh Tour de France. This time the Grand Départ takes place in Düsseldorf, in his home country. The German already won eleven Tour stages and he won at least one stage in twelve consecutive Grand Tours that he participated in, starting with the Giro of 2008. This amounted to a total number of 22 victories.

André Greipel: “The start of the Tour is always special. When you are not motivated for the Tour it is better not to come. This time the Grand Départ takes place close to home. The city Düsseldorf and the entire region have made the Tour start possible. Apart from that there was the trust that ASO put in Düsseldorf to realise the Grand Départ in a country that is rediscovering cycling. That is the merit of the many talented German riders who set strong performances the past years.”

“It’s obvious what the goal of our team is. I know what’s expected from me and my teammates know that too. We really want to win a stage and the sooner the better. Although I won’t say no to a victory on the Champs Elysées. The finish in Liège on Sunday is very special for our team. It would be fantastic to win at the first opportunity, but we won’t be the only team that wants that. We have a very experienced team that has ridden many Tours together and that has prepared a lot of bunch sprints together. We know how to handle stressful situations.”

“Many people I know will come to the start in Düsseldorf. That makes it very unique. During a fourteen kilometres long time trial you can’t take that in, but it is a nice thought that there are many familiar faces along the course. We did a first training of 120 kilometres on roads I know well. It’s good to be here.”

Andre Greipel

Greipel riding stage 18 of the 2016 Tour de France

“The competition is huge. It has been a while ago that there were so many strong sprinters at the start with the ambition to win a stage. Among them guys who already won Tour stages, like Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish and me. But there is a next generation that will definitely play along.”

Team Sky's Christian Knees on the Grand Depart. The team sent me this release:

29TH JUNE 2017: Team Sky rider Christian Knees has described racing the 2017 Tour de France as ‘doubly special’ with the Grand Depart taking place in Dusseldorf, just 80km from his hometown in Germany.

Knees, 36, is a veteran of 16 Grand Tours and will be a crucial member of the team’s nine-man lineup. The German said: "Just to get into the Tour de France team, even if the start wasn’t in Germany, would represent a great year for me. But with the Grand Depart in Germany, very close to my hometown – just 80 kilometres away – makes it very special. Dusseldorf is also the town where my wife used to live. I know it well so that makes it doubly special for me. I’m very proud to be there on the start line.

Chrsitian Knees

Christian Knees in the 2014 Eneco Tour

"The racing is definitely going to be exciting. I’m sure the crowds will be out, with the time trial on the opening day and the start of stage two. I know plenty of people in the area and it sounds like the schools and towns are all getting ready, painting bikes and dressing up the roadside. It’s a big deal for everybody, and I hope it will be a big celebration of cycling across the two days in Germany.

"I have plenty of fond memories of riding the Tour. To be selected for the squad, and having the defending champion in your team, and a pre-race favourite – that makes it really special and motivates me even more to give my best and arrive in the best possible shape for the race. To start the Tour with Froomey will be a special moment.

"I will bring all my experience into the team and try to help the younger guys wherever I can. I hope I can be a big help across the three weeks.

Orica-Scott sent me these highlights from its pre-Tour press conference:

Please find below a selection of highlight quotes from today's official ORICA-SCOTT Tour de France press conference:

Esteban Chaves:

On starting his first Tour de France:

“To begin my first Tour de France is like one dream. Everything started with my dad, sitting on the couch, watching and looking at the Tour de France and that’s where I am in love with this sport. To start in this Tour de France is one victory for me.”

On if he is ready:

“This is not one normal season for me but I raced in the Dauphine and also in Australia. All riders have different ways, some riders did Cataluyna and others ones did Basque country, Romandie or Suisse. The Dauphine was a big shock. It was eight months since I raced in Europe, since Lombardia, so everything was a bit of a shock but I am really happy to be back racing, especially in Europe.

“Also, it was a shock because I’ve never (done) races in France, I never did Dauphine, I never did Paris-Nice, I never did Tour de France, so all of this is new learnings for me. We are ready for this, not just Esteban but all the team.”

On the Colombian representation at TDF:

“It’s really good we start with seven riders here, the Colombians. One message for the Colombians is to support us and believe in your dreams.”

On what is a realistic goal:

“The first one (goal) is to enjoy and have fun. After that it is not one secret. We have two contenders here, really good for the GC, Yatesy (Simon Yates) and me. Yatesy will also go for the white jersey and we will try to do our best for that.”

Simon Yates:

On replicating brother Adam Yates’ white jersey from 2016:

“I have been training with my brother in Andorra and before this and I’ve seen the hard work go in last year when he won the jersey there. That’s what we’re here for, we’re trying to replicate that.”

“It’s going to be difficult, there’s a lot of fast young guys these days, but I’ll give it my best shot.”

On if brother Adam has offered him any advice:

“No, not really. It’s very difficult in a race, when you’re in a stressful situation, it’s very hard to show or describe that to someone. It’s really difficult when you’re not there in the moment, but I’m sure he’ll be encouraging me from the sofa.”

On having fun and working together with Chaves:

“It wasn’t far away, at the Vuelta last year, where we raced together really well - not just me and Esteban, but the whole team and not just the guys here, the wider team.”

“We like to have fun, we like to race bikes and I think that really goes a long way to ease the pressure and the stress of racing. When you are growing up when you were younger, you wanted to have fun and just race bikes and I think that’s what we’re doing.”

Luke Durbridge:

On his plans for the opening TT stage:

“When it comes to stage 1, Tour de France prologue, I think everyone on this whole (press) table will be giving 100%, I think that’s the same for everyone on the start line.”

“For me, with a time trial background I would say yeh, for sure, I’m going to give it 100% and go for it.There’s definitely no ‘save yourself today because we have tomorrow’. Saturday I will go all in, give it a good chance. This is the big show, why not have a go for it.”

On his chances of winning stage 1:

“It’s been a while since I won a big prologue. I had a time trial win this year, but it’s been a while. No one is really going in as a clear favourite, it’s quite open, so who knows, hopefully you get that day – maybe a tail wind and then a wind change (joking). No, I’ll go full gas, roll the dice and we’ll see.”

Luke Durbridge

Luke Durbridge at De Panne this year

Damien Howson:

On his TDF debut and his partnership with Esteban:

“I’m obviously really excited. I’m going to treat this Grand Tour like I have the past three. It’s just a relationship all of the riders on this team, not just this direct team but the full team, have and I’m excited to be a part of something really special with this Tour de France.”

“(The partnership with Esteban is) something that each race we do together, you can continue to learn and grow as a bit of a partnership. As long as I keep progressing and Esteban can continue to grow also, that’s my aim and I’ll continue to do that.

Matt White:

On opportunists:

“It is a big focus, the general classification, but it’s a long Tour so when there’s opportunities, the guys will have the opportunity to take them.”

“We have some stages identified that we can go after. We’re not coming here with the same pressure as Sky or Movistar to get the same result. We’re coming here as Simon’s first attempt to ride the general classification at the Tour de France and Esteban’s first Tour de France. We have a different pressure and that can work in our advantage because we can go on the hunt for stages from time to time.”

On what would be a successful Tour:

“I think if everyone puts in 100% and really chases our goals to the maximum then we’re going to be very close to the mark of what we want to achieve. In regards to specific goals, we’d like something in the top ten, we’re going to support Yatesy as good as we can to chase that white jersey all the way to Paris and we are going to see with Esteban as well.”

On the 2017 Tour de France course:

“In the end I think it’ll be one of the tightest races for general classification we have seen in a long time because I don’t think there is too many opportunities for the GC guys to make the difference.  When they do make the difference, it’ll be a big one.”

“The first nine or ten days of the Tour we have a couple of little forays into the mountains and stage 3 and stage 5 are uphill finishes, but then when we get to the Alps, there’s a really tough stage – we looked at half of it at the Dauphine – and that’s I think when we will see the first big selection.”

“It’s an interesting course because it’s one where a lot of the hard climbs come between 15 and 40 kilometres from the finish so it’s going to create some entertaining racing a little earlier and descents will come in to factor. There’ll be some interesting tactics over the next three weeks, that’s for sure.”

Richie Porte extends contract with BMC Racing Team beyond 2017

BMC sent me this:

29 June, 2017, Dusseldorf (GER): Richie Porte will remain with BMC Racing Team beyond the 2017 season, General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced today at the team's Tour de France press conference. 

Porte, 32, joined BMC Racing Team in 2016 and has recorded two UCI WorldTour stage race wins, five stage wins, and fifth overall at the 2016 Tour de France, during that time.

Ochowicz said it was an easy decision to re-sign Porte ahead of the 2017 Tour de France. "Since joining BMC Racing Team last year, Richie Porte has developed into our outright General Classification leader. Richie's skill set and results speak for themselves and are in line with the team's goals and objectives throughout the season. In just over a year, Richie has become an integral part of this organization and it a pleasure to extend his contract," Ochowicz explained.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte after winning the 2017 Tour Down Under

"In 2017 alone, Richie has delivered the overall win at the Santos Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie, second place at the Critérium du Dauphiné and four stage wins, so I think any team would be thrilled to have a rider of Richie's calibre in their ranks. We have the most important race of the year ahead of us and we felt it was the right moment to re-sign Richie so that his full concentration can be on the Tour de France. We already have full confidence in Richie and I think we are further demonstrating that with this announcement. We are excited to see what Richie does at the Tour de France and beyond with BMC Racing Team."

Porte attributed his success and decision to re-sign to the team environment at BMC Racing Team. "I have really enjoyed my first two years with BMC Racing Team so it was a natural decision to extend my contract. We are on the eve of the biggest race of the year, and my biggest goal of the season, and I feel at home with my teammates and the management and staff. I have raced with a few teams throughout the years and I definitely think BMC Racing Team is the right fit at this point in my career as I try to win the Tour de France. I like the atmosphere and the way BMC Racing Team operates, so I am sure this is where I want to be," Porte said.

"I've had a great first half of the season and I think my results are a reflection of the way the team has created a really good training and racing environment for me. Things like having training camps at home in Monaco and building a core group of teammates around me from the first race of the year in Australia have really helped me. Whatever happens over the next three weeks, I'm looking forward to keeping the BMC Racing Team jersey on my back beyond the end of the season."

In keeping with BMC Racing Team policy, no other details of the contract were released.

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