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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, January 14, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Everything in excess is opposed to nature. - Hippocrates

Current racing:

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Movistar riders comment on 2018 Vuelta route

We posted the 2018 Vuelta a España route, which was revealed Saturday, January 13.

Alejandro Valverde: “It’s a beautiful route. The Vuelta always takes us to attractive sceneries and it should be an exciting race to watch. It’s obviously, though, up to us riders to confirm the expectations and offer some spectacle. In my opinion, the most difficult stage will be Andorra’s. We will have gone through three grueling weeks of racing by then and it will also be an absolute monster of a route. It might become a key factor on how some leaders tackle the race as a whole. Regarding myself – well, I’m feeling great at the moment, training is going as we expected and now I just want to put a backnumber on and confirm those good legs. It usually has nothing to do with how you feel when you’re training at home. I can’t wait to start; my first race will be the Mallorca Challenger, later this month.”

Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde

Nairo Quintana (left) and Alejandro Valverde at the start of stage 16 of the 2016 Vuelta

Mikel Landa: “There are plenty of beautiful stages in this Vuelta. It will be hard from start to finish, no doubts about that. As you can imagine, I really like to race in the Basque Country as much as possible, and when the organisers put a route in front of you as the stage finishing atop the Balcón de Bizkaia, it makes for an even more attractive menu for you to come. It’s great news for us overall. There are other stages which sound really well, such as the Lagos de Covadonga one – a climb really special for us riders, with lots of history written there – or the Andorra finale, which sould be really demanding, even more so considering it’s on day twenty of the race. We all will surely be saving some energy to take advantage from it. It also brings me good memories, since I won there in 2015.”

Eusebio Unzué: “The first look makes me think it’s even harder than previous editions. There are many demanding mountain-top finishes which could create massive gaps between the GC contenders, combined with some other really demanding, shorter climbs. Even though there are 40km of time trials -a reasonable amount, I’d say-, the route is clearly on the climbers’ side. I don’t feel like the TTs should be too much of a factor here. Andorra has to be considered as the crucial stage in this Vuelta, not only because it’s hard but also because it’s the final day where you can change things overall. However, the Lagos stage and the TT after the second rest day should benother big reference, and give us a clearer look on how the Madrid podium should look like.”

Amanda Spratt takes lead in Santos Women's Tour

Here's the report from Spratt's Mitchelton-Scott team:

The 2017 Santos Women’s Tour overall winner Amanda Spratt showed her class once again by taking an impressive victory on today’s stage three to move into the overall race lead with just one stage remaining.

Spratt made a well-timed attack with around 40kilometres remaining after current race leader Katrin Garfoot (UniSA) was caught out and had to chase back after a significant split in the peloton.

The 30-year-old was joined by Lauren Stephens (Cylance) and the pair worked to maintain their distance over the peloton before fighting for the stage win on the steep climb in Handorf.

The day began with strong winds and a very nervous bunch as they finished the neutral and turned into a crosswind. Immediately, the peloton shattered into three groups and after 10kilometres it looked like the splits would last but another change of direction and fierce headwind helped the peloton regroup and remain that way until 50kilometres.

Former world time trial champion Linda Villumsen (Team New Zealand) made a brave solo move into the wind and as the rain began to come down as the bunch steadily pushed into a headwind. Within five kilometres Villumsen opened up a dangerous advantage of five minutes.

As UniSA began to react under the pressure of the solo leader, a small but dangerous group formed with Annemiek van Vleuten and Lucy Kennedy representing Mitchelton-SCOTT. With race leader Garfoot missing the split, she was forced to do the chasing whilst Spratt was able to conserve energy on her wheel.

As Garfoot closed down the dangerous group, Spratt chose a perfect moment to launch an attack and was joined by Lauren Stephens (Cylance). The duo bridged across to the solo leader Villumsen and the trio hovered around 1minute 45seconds ahead of the bunch. After dropping Villumsen, it was a battle between the two, with Spratt coming out on top, gapping Stephens on the tough steep drag to the line.

Amanda Spratt - Stage winner & overall leader: “The team were just amazing. Linda Villumsen got out there and got that big gap and we didn’t panic, actually Annemiek was there and she really calmed me down because I was stressing.”

“UniSA started to panic and they started to send riders up the road and we actually got in an ideal move with Annemiek and Lucy in there with Kat behind. Kat panicked and had to do some work. I sat on her and as soon as she caught the group, I attacked straight away.”

“I knew it was the perfect moment. We did exactly what we wanted, we isolated Kat, and I could capitalise off that.”

“I was feeling very strong but you can never underestimate Lauren Stevens, she is a strong rider, I have had some battles with her in Europe over the years. I knew she would be strong, but this was my biggest goal of January, the Tour Down Under. I came in December and looked at all of the courses so I really targeted this stage because I knew it suited me. I knew the finish climb would hurt like hell, but I was ready.”

“It’s so exciting and I’m still a little bit in shock (about taking the race lead). I’m so grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity, it could have been any of the three of us that were up there on general classification so I am just so happy I could do it for the team.”

Amanda Spratt

Amanda Spratt takes the solo stage win and the overall lead.

Annemeik van Vleuten: “Linda Villumsen was in front and I thought that was perfect for us because we wanted to have UniSA working and as she got more minutes, they would have to do more to bring it down.

“Spratty was feeling like she had the jersey and had to do the chasing, so I just calmed her down and said we can actually back off. We had a plan, so I said we don’t chase, we play poker and let UniSA get nervous.

“It worked out really well and we really put UniSA on the back foot.”

Stage three results:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:47:24
2. Lauren Stephens (Cyclance Pro Cycling) +0:07
3. Grace Brown (Holden Team Gusto Racing) +0:59

General classification after stage three:
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 9:39:52
2. Lauren Stephens (Cycling Pro Cycling) +0:29
3. Katrin Garfoot (UniSA) +1:31

Lucinda Brand wins Dutch Cross champs

Brand's Sunweb team sent me this report:

After leading the race from start to finish, Team Sunweb's Lucinda Brand (NED) soloed to secure the Dutch national cyclo-cross champion title racing in Surhuisterveen, the Netherlands today.

The newly crowned Dutch champion said: "I had expected a little bit more of a battle but I had a really good feeling from the start. I could directly take a gap and keep going to make it a little bit bigger throughout the race which gave me a lot of confidence that I could bring the title home. I'm super happy with the win and I'm looking forward to enjoying the victory."

Lucinda Brand

Lucinda Brand showing how it's done.

Team Sunweb coach Herman Snoeijink (NED) said: "Lucinda had a really explosive start. She went for it to create a gap, which she did immediately. On the first lap she crashed in the mud into a post but had already taken enough of a lead to be able to get back on the bike and still be racing in first place. She continued to lead to through to the finish and she crossed the line solo taking the win. It was a phenomenal ride from Lucinda."

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