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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page

If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered. Edgar Allan Poe

Recently completed racing:

Current Racing:

2017 Giro d'Italia Route presented

2017 Giro d'Italia route

2017 Giro'Italia page

Maps and elevation profiles for all 21 stages are posted

Abu Dhabi stage stage four team reports

Here's Tinkoff's farewell racing post:

Having already sprinted to two top tens in the opening days of the race, Michael Kolar was again up there at the end of the closing stage on the spectacular Yas Marina race circuit to take 10th. With no change on the GC after the stage, Alberto Contador and Jesper Hansen confirm their fifth and 10th places respectively.

The unique stage set under floodlights on the circuit famous for its use as a Formula 1 track was a fast affair set over 26 laps of a 5.5km lap, totalling 143km for the day. An early breakaway of five riders pulled clear and build a small advantage that proved enough to keep them clear for much of the stage, but a sprint always looked likely.

With the catch made on the final lap, and the speed rising and rising from the pressure of the lead-out trains, Michael managed to find a good position and get some space to sprint for his third top ten of the race.

After the stage, Sport Director Tristan Hoffman said: “The action was very normal for a sprint stage today, an early break and tempo behind in the bunch. We expected a sprint today but our boys didn’t have the legs to really get up there at the end. Overall, we competed well in the race, everyone did what they could, and we finish with two in the top ten and we’ve been active each day so I’m happy with what the boys have done.

Mark CAvendish

Mark Cavendish wins the final Abu Dhabi stage under the lights

“That’s it now. In the end the team was started back in 1998, and I’ve been a part of it for many years now so it’s a shame as it is the end of an era.”

The end of the race brings a curtain down on the final season for the Tinkoff team, and the end of Oleg Tinkov’s time in the sport. With Grand Tour wins, classics victories, World and European championship titles, it has been a hugely successful time in the sport, and a superb final season. A huge thanks to all of the sponsors and partners involved in making the team possible, together with everyone working behind the scenes to make the team work from day to day. The end of an era.

Trek-Segafredo had this to report:

The sun had set and under the floodlights the peloton stretched in a long line, snaking around the F1 Yas Marina circuit. There was little doubt on the fast 5.5-kilometer loop, the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, of anything other than a bunch finish. One last chance at glory for the sprinters as the 2016 season drew to a close in the United Arab Emirates Sunday evening.

Kiel Reijnen, Marco Coledan, and Niccolo Bonifazio once again swarmed the front in the final lap, Giacomo Nizzolo in their slipstream as they protected him, keeping him in good position. The workers from each team showed the strain of the effort, peeling off when there was nothing more to give.

The sprinters sat behind. Poised. Ready.

Somewhere in the midst of the swarm of moving bikes and bodies, amid the shouts and jostling for positioning, were Jacopo Mosca and Julien Bernard. Mosca was making certain that Bernard would arrive to the finish safely and collect the Best Young Rider jersey and maintain his 6th place in the overall classification, the reward of a stellar performance in the queen stage yesterday.

The riders sped toward the one-kilometer banner, flying around the last bends, the pace at an absolute maximum on the racing circuit built for speed. Holding wheels and staying in a draft so important.

Nizzolo was too far back. He knew he had to make an effort; it was now or never. He sprinted into the wind, using precious energy to move forward and grab Mark Cavendish's (Dimension Data) wheel. In the final 500 meters, he had the position he wanted. But the effort to get there would cost him.

Two hundred meters to go. Cavendish jumped. Nizzolo reacted. The two riders sprinted around the last lead-out rider. Cavendish went right. Nizzolo left. Nizzolo started behind and had to make up ground, but he had already fired a bullet. Cavendish crossed the line first, arms in the air, as Nizzolo settled for second. His countryman Elia Viviani (Team Sky) was a distant third.

"In the last kilometer I had to make a big effort to take the right position behind Cavendish, and I paid for this effort in the last meters of the sprint," said Nizzolo. "Anyway, I'm quite happy because I had a good attitude and I was in the right spot at the right moment.

"To ride in the F1 circuit for me was amazing," he added. "I am a huge fan of Motorsport and the atmosphere racing at night was great! I would have loved to finish the season off with a win, but I am satisfied with second."

Trek-Segafredo concluded the four days of the Abu Dhabi Tour with a stage win, a second place, top 10 GC, and a jersey. A fruitful ending to a long and successful season.

"At the end of the season we don’t know really what to expect," said director Adriano Baffi.  "But honestly we had great ambiance this race and a good performance. Sometimes you make the performance and do not get the results, so it was nice to see the rewards for the team's efforts.

"It was a very, very good week and also with the white jersey of Julien, that is something as well. To have a young rider get an achievement like this means a lot for me and for the team.

"I have to remark that it was a good week for the whole team, not just Giacomo and Julien. The spirit of everyone all week made these results possible. It was a good week and good way to end the year."

Team Sky's Japan Cup report

Alex Peters rounded out his season with an encouraging sixth place at the Japan Cup, as Xabier Zandio rode his final race as a professional. Peters was among a select group of riders who broke away in the closing stages of the 14 lap, 142-kilometre race in Utsunomiya.

Sixth place saw the young Brit finish the year on a high, while Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac) attacked late and stayed clear to take the win over Christopher Juul Jensen (Orica-BikeExchange).

Peters came home 14 seconds later in the group fighting for third after strong work from a Team Sky quartet featuring outgoing rider Lars Petter Nordhaug, plus David Lopez and Zandio.

Davide Villela

Davide Villella wins the 2016 Japan Cup

For Zandio the event brought to a close a fantastic 18-year career in the pro peloton. A loyal domestique, the 39 year old famously has a single win on his palmares, taking overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos in 2008. Xabi has essentially ridden for just two teams in his career, starting out at the Banesto setup that race today in the colours of Movistar, before joining Sky in 2011.

Orica-BikeExchange summarizes its 2016 season

The team sent me this report:

2016 has been declared the best season yet for ORICA-BikeExchange after it officially came to an end with the Japan Cup and Tour of Abu Dhabi yesterday. The Australian outfit recorded 28 UCI victories in its fifth year, including 17 WorldTour wins, six Grand Tour stage victories and two monuments.

In addition to some of its biggest victories, ORICA-BikeExchange also celebrated some of its most defining podiums with two Grand Tour general classification podiums and the best young rider jersey at the Tour de France.

General manager Shayne Bannan heralded the team’s performance in a breakout season. “If you had presented us with these results at the start of the season, we would have asked where to sign,” Bannan said. “Every year our group continue to push the limits and we can absolutely claim this season as our best to date.”

“Our victories come from 11 different riders, another pleasing fact, and each of them with an individual story that goes well beyond standing on the top step of a podium.

“You have to highlight Mat Hayman’s victory at Paris-Roubaix as one of the stand out moments of the season. To come back from that wrist injury to win in his 15th attempt is something that will motivate and inspire our riders to keep fighting for many years to come.”

Matthew Hayman

Matthew Hayman wins Paris-Roubaix

Bannan said it wasn’t just the victories that defined ORICA-BikeExchange’s season “Last year we started to introduce ourselves into the general classification game, but this year with have taken a big leap in this regard,” Bannan explained.

“We now start week-long races and Grand Tours with genuine winning options, whether that be with Esteban Chaves, Simon or Adam Yates. Whilst we saw results such as second at the Giro d’Italia, fourth at the Tour de France and third at the Vuelta a Espana in our future, we are the first to admit that this success has come even faster than we had hoped. And the most exciting thing for the team and for our fans is that the best is yet to come.”

We take a look back at some of the highlights of the 2016 season:

Down Under Domination:

As motivated as ever for our home WorldTour season start, ORICA-BikeExchange claimed the People’s Choice Classic, four of the six stages and the overall title thanks to Simon Gerrans and Caleb Ewan.

Bannan: “We started the year as always with a lot of pressure at the Tour Down Under and yet again the boys faced it with determination, winning four of the six stages and taking out the overall. To leave Australia with five WorldTour victories before you even hit Europe is about as good as it gets.”

From Hell to Heaven:

It might be the ‘Hell of the North’ for some but in 2016 it turned into heaven for Mathew Hayman and ORICA-BikeExchange.

Just five weeks after fracturing his right radius Hayman returned for his 15th attempt at Paris-Roubaix, a race he has always declared unfinished business with, to claim one of the most inspiring and deserving victories of all time.

Bannan: “This win is one we will talk about for many years to come and when we do the goose bumps will return. It was an unbelievable moment for Mat and for the team and one of those true stories of determination and grit.”

Fight for Pink:

A queen stage victory and dramatic battle in the Italian mountains saw Colombian Esteban Chaves claim second overall at the Giro d’Italia – ORICA-BikeExchange’s best result and first ever Grand Tour podium.

Chaves started the penultimate day of the Giro d’Italia in the pink leader’s jersey and after an epic battle with veteran Vincenzo Nibali on the penultimate day, the 26-year-old settled for second but not without a warning to the world that we had hit the general classification stage.

Bannan: “We may have lost the pink jersey on the penultimate day, but our disappointment was quickly replaced with content, pride and excitement. We knew immediately that the 2016 Giro d’Italia was just the start of our Grand Tour journey.”

Historic White Jersey:

In just his second attempt at the world's biggest race, Adam Yates became the first British rider to win the best young rider award at the 2016 Tour de France. Despite not starting with general classification ambitions, the then 23-year old rode an impressive race to finish in fourth place overall and once again cemented to the world the young talent amongst the ORICA-BikeExchange ranks.

His performance was boosted by a strong team effort that also saw Michael Matthews claim his first Tour de France stage victory.

Bannan: “We knew that Adam is an incredible talent and full of potential and his performance at the Tour de France this year showed that to the world. One of the most pleasing elements of his performance was his poise and control in what is a frantic and stressful race.  As a young rider, he showed wisdom well above his years.”

Spanish Spectacular:

Four stage wins, two race-defining team rides and third overall made for a spectacular Vuelta a Espana for ORICA-BikeExchange. Briton Simon Yates (stage 6), Belgian Jens Keukeleire (stage 12) and Danish Grand Tour debutant Magnus Cort (Stage 18 & 21) all claimed glory whilst still supporting Esteban Chaves to third and Yates to sixth overall in another inspiring team effort.

Bannan: “To finish the final Grand Tour off like the previous two, well above our expectations, was another gratifying moment for the team this year. The results are a sign of talent, but they are just as much about the belief our riders and staff have for this team.”

Magical Monument:

In the perfect end to the WorldTour season, Esteban Chaves maintained his impressive Vuelta a Espana form to take out Il Lombardia – one of cycling’s famous monuments.

In the process, Chaves became the first non-European winner in the 110-year history of the race and the first ever Colombian winner of a monument.

Bannan: Our second monument victory of the season was another emotional win for the team. Esteban went in as a favourite and rode as such, but also, particularly for him, it was a signal of where he has come from after his crash to now. No one can ever take ‘the first Colombian to win a monument’ away from you.”

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