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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, May 25, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

I hate flowers; I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move. - Georgia O'Keeffe

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:


Giro d'Italia news

We'll start with Team Sunweb's Giro updates. I got two today.

The first:

As the Giro d'Italia headed into the Dolomites for stage 17, Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin (NED) retains his lead in the overall standings.

In a day that favoured the breakaway, stage 17 saw a group of 25 riders go through to the finish. With the general classification contenders happy to give the break some glory, Team Sunweb were tasked with the job of controlling their advantage to ensure the Maglia Rosa stayed on the shoulders of Dumoulin. As the breakaway conquered, the efforts of Team Sunweb in the chase sees Dumoulin retain his lead in the overall by 31 seconds.

After the stage Dumoulin said: "We weren't too worried today, we needed to chase harder than we had expected but we also knew that it was in a lot of other teams best interest to chase with us. The team did a really good job to protect the jersey and were on the front all day chasing the break. Overall it was a good day and we look forward to another good day tomorrow."

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) added: "Today was a hard day. We tried to stay in control of the situation with the break and the guys did a good job defending the jersey. The team brought Tom to the finish safe and with as much energy reserved as possible for what is set to be a tough day tomorrow."

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin will start stage 18 in pink

And later I got this note about Phil Bauhaus' abandonment:

After a challenging few weeks of racing at the Giro d'Italia, Team Sunweb's German Grand Tour debutant Phil Bauhaus has called it a day, abandoning the race on its 17th stage due to fatigue. The youngest member of Team Sunweb's Giro d'Italia roster had a successful debut taking five top 15 finishes including a close podium finish at stage 12. Bauhaus also played a key role in keeping the Maglia Rosa safe on the shoulders of Tom Dumoulin (NED) for what has now been seven consecutive days.

Team Sunweb physician Anko Boelens (NED) said: "The decision was made for Phil to abandon after a tough few weeks of racing. He was experiencing some fatigue and we decided that the best way forward was for him to leave the Giro on a positive note and head home for some well earned rest in preparation for his coming races."

After his abandonment Bauhaus said: "It's been a really good experience to be part of the team and great to have been part of a really successful race so far. I feel like I have learned a lot and developed whilst being here with the team. Unfortunately the last few days I have become really tired and after a huge effort today my tank was completely empty. It's a shame to leave but I am proud to have played a role in the team's fight for the Maglia Rosa and I look forward to my next Grand Tour."

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) added: "Phil has ridden an amazing Grand Tour. He has done a huge amount of work over the past few weeks and unfortunately today he ran out of energy. He has already come really far in this race and we are proud of the development that he has made. He has contributed to our goals here at the Giro d'Italia and his results in the sprints show a really promising future for him."

Cannondale-Drapac had a great day with Pierre Rolland's solo victory. Here's the team's report:

Pierre Rolland knew he had won stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia when he hit the flamme rouge with 27 seconds over his chasers. The Frenchman had time to savor the victory in Canazei. He flashed a huge smile, pointed to the sponsors on the front of his jersey and threw his hands in the air as he crossed the finish line.

He embraced Cannondale-Drapac soigneur Ricardo Pereira first and then communications director Matthew Beaudin. He hoisted his Cannondale Evo SuperSix high over his head. And then Rolland buried his face in his hands and he cried.

“I don’t have the word in English,” said Rolland. “It’s soulagment [relief]. I worked so hard for this, and I haven’t had the compensation for my work. I have tried to win so many times, and today I finally did. This is the reward for me and all my Cannondale-Drapac teammates.”

Pierre Rolland

Pierre Rolland celebrates his stage win

Rolland was part of an early breakaway of three riders that slipped away at the start of the 219-kilometer stage. The 30-year-old rode with Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) and Pavel Brutt (Gazprom) over the first two categorized climbs before opting to drop back to a 40-rider chase group that included Mike Woods.

“Sometimes after a hard stage, I go from the start,” said Rolland. “I didn’t think there would be just three of us. I took the first climb easy, the second climb easy, and then I waited for the big group. “Those big groups are never easy to manage,” Rolland added. “They’re like a big lottery.”

Rolland won this particular lottery with panache. Having marked several attacks in the finale, he launched one of his own with seven kilometers still to race. The gap opened with relative ease, and it was immediately clear Rolland had the legs to last the distance. In his wake, Quick-Step Floors and Dimension Data were late to organize the chase, and their efforts were stymied by Woods, who saw fit to play the role of the disrupter as the finish line loomed.

“Mike was a very effective and selfless teammate today,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “Without his intelligence and sacrifice, there would be no win.”

HOW IT HAPPENED

With two categorized climbs in the opening 60 kilometers on the heels of a huge general classification day on Tuesday, Giro d’Italia 17 offered the escape artists an enticing opportunity. Yet the anticipated hard-fought battle to be in the move of the day never materialized. Rolland, Mohoric and Brutt were allowed to roll off the front from the start.

“The chase group set itself up in a really weird way, too,” noted Woods. “It was a headwind going up a climb, and I think guys were a bit tired from yesterday. Some guys let go of the wheels, and all of a sudden we were just in a group.

“I had Alex Howes yelling at me in the radio: ‘Keep motivated. It’s a good group. This one is going to go.’ ”

It went.

By the mid-point of the stage, Rolland had dropped back to the chase group with Woods to save his energy for the second half of the stage. Brutt cracked dramatically, leaving Mohoric alone out front. The young Slovenian was swept up by the chasers with 55 kilometers still to race.

The group had 11 minutes on the peloton heading into the final hour of racing.

“We didn’t have to talk too much because we both knew what we had to do,” said Woods. “Pierre is a good leader, and he gave me a bit of advice as to who we should follow. We had [sport director] Charley [Wegelius] in the car, saying we need to cover UAE, we need to cover Movistar. That’s what we did. We covered the key figures and the key moves in the race. We both had great legs.”

In Rolland and Woods, Cannondale-Drapac had two distinct options. Rolland relishes any opportunity to go on the offensive, and Woods has proven capable in the hardest uphill sprints.

“I had a huge boost of adrenaline coming into the final,” said Woods. “I’m always excited to be at the front of a race at a race of this significance. It was hard, but I didn’t even feel my legs. The finish suited us. With so many guys tired from yesterday, today, I was able to cover moves confidently, and that got me increasingly excited.”

As the chase group fractured and regrouped, Rolland and Woods always managed to put themselves on the right side of any split.

“In a race like this, at the end, everyone is dead,” noted Rolland. “Every rider is tired. It’s an unbelievable fight. I followed some moves, and then in one moment, I thought: ‘Okay, it’s now.’ And I went. I attacked. I got 10 meters. 20 meters. 30 meters. I thought: ‘push! push! push!’ There’s nothing more to it than that.

“I had 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds. 25 seconds. I understood Charley on the radio, and I was really connecting with him. We have a good connection from last year and Tour and our experiences there. That helped me today.”

Rolland has won two Tour de France stages. His victory in Canazei is his first Grand Tour win in five years, and his first win for Cannondale-Drapac. Rolland had a deeply disappointing inaugural season with the American-registered squad. He put all his efforts into leading the team at the Tour de France only to crash heavily twice. The first crash eliminated his general classification hopes; the second crash his stage-hunting ambitions.

“During the winter, I went to Colorado to speak with Jonathan Vaughters, who is the manager of my team and also my coach now,” said Rolland. “We considered my career. We realized that I’m not built for racing the general classification. It’s against my nature. I’m more of an attacker – so we decided I would go for stage wins at the Giro and the Tour.”

Back home in Colorado, Vaughters watched Rolland attack his way to victory. “It was a great and very athlete win for Pierre,” said Vaughters. “He has such huge talent, and I’m just glad the world finally got to see it in full display today.

“He has been an open-minded and hard working student,” Vaughters added. “What we’ve done is vastly different than how he’s trained and eaten in the past. I’m thankful he’s continued to have faith in the training, even when things were a bit rough. Today it paid off, and I think this is only the beginning of the dividends.”

The Giro d’Italia continues tomorrow with a short but sharp stage. The peloton will cover five categorized climbs over 137 kilometers between Moena and St. Urlich.

“I’m feeling good,” said Woods. “I think I’m improving every day. Pierre is flying. Davide [Formolo] is riding so well on the general classification. It’s gotten everyone motivated. We still have a lot left. We’re not done yet.”

Here's Team Quick-Step Floors update:

Fernando Gaviria and Bob Jungels continue to lead the points and the best young riders classification.

There's no such thing as an easy day at the Giro d'Italia, and the riders got to see and feel this again on stage 17, which at 219 kilometers was one of the longest at this edition. Wednesday, the race started from Canazei and had two important climbs jammed in the first 60 kilometers: Aprica and Passo del Tonale, which was introduced on the course back in 1933, when the legendary Alfredo Binda was the first at the top.

The profile looked perfectly suited to an escape, and for that reason a big battle to make it to the front began between the riders eager to book a place in the front group. When things finally settled down, the breakaway counted 40 riders, including two of Quick-Step Floors: Laurens De Plus, who got himself infiltrated into the escape for the third time in the past week, and Dries Devenyns.

As the peloton took it easy, the gap swelled to 14 minutes at the midway point, and that marked the moment which saw Quick-Step Floors take the reins in the bunch, because Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) – who posed a serious threat to Bob Jungels' white jersey – also made it into the large group. Eros Capecchi, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry all took long turns at the front, clawing back time until the Slovenian's advantage didn't represent a problem anymore.

Once the breakaway entered in the final 20 kilometers, the cohesion between the riders hit the skids and everyone had a go at victory. Dries Devenyns twice tried to slip away, last time with ten kilometers left, but he was brought back each time. The decisive move came with eight kilometers remaining and saw Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) solo to victory, 24 seconds ahead of the chasing group, from which Dries sprinted to sixth for Quick-Step Floors' 17th top-10 finish at the Corsa Rosa.

Bob Jungels concluded the stage between Tirano and Canazei in the peloton led by teammate Eros Capecchi and kept the white jersey which he won at the previous edition, while Fernando Gaviria, who arrived a few minutes later, also held onto his maglia ciclamino.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels continues to be the Giro's best young rider

"It was another long and difficult day, but we are satisfied with the fact we were again among the protagonists. Laurens and Dries, who tried a few times to go away, rode a solid stage and put in a really impressive effort. When the gap of the break reached 13 minutes, we stepped in and took the responsibility in the peloton, as we are doing every single day since the start of the race. The guys were committed and worked hard to protect Bob's jersey, so chapeau to them, it was another beautiful team effort", said sport director Davide Bramati at the end of the day.

And finally, UAE Team Emirates sent me this Giro report:

Rui Costa’s performance at the 17th stage of the Giro d’Italia secured UAE Team Emirates a podium position in Canazei whilst Jan Polanc successfully climbed up the General Classification standings to secure a place in the top ten. Pierre Rolland won the stage with Izagirre in third behind Rui Costa. Tom Dumoulin continues to retain the Maglia Rosa.

Commenting on his second place, Rui Costa said: “I missed the victory for the second time and it’s a pity because today my legs felt really good. I’m however very proud of the impressive team effort showen by UAE Team Emirates today, there were four of us in the main breakaway driving the pace of the leading group: myself, Polanc, Mohoric and Conti. Towards the end of the race there were a lot of attacks and it was not possible to keep up with them all. Overall I am happy with the results“.

Matej Mohoric, who crested the first climb solo, said of the team’s efforts: “I went clear of the peloton from the start and tried my best to help Polanc move up in the General Classification and supporr Rui to get the stage victory, which was unfortunatley won by Rolland. We are a strong team and I have not doubt that we will attack again“.

UAE Team Emirates worked together to push Polanc into thenth place in the GC.
Commenting on the results, the Slovenian rider said: “Right now my legs feel quite drained. I joined the breakaway because it was such a big group however it proved to be hard. Everybody was playing it safe after yesterdays’s dramatic stage and I really hope I didn’t overdo it today. I thank my teammates for helping me move into the top ten of the General Classification“.

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