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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

You can observe a lot by watching. - Yogi Berra

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a España stage two team reports

We posted the organizer's report here.

Team Quick-Step Floors took first and second place. Here's their report:

Our team took the front in the final kilometers and split the field before the Belgian Yves Lampaert soloed the victory and the coveted red jersey.

Quick-Step Floors became on Sunday afternoon the first team to capture stage wins in all three Grand Tours this season, taking its remarkable tally in the 2017 three-week races to 11 triumphs, an all-time best for the outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere. This outstanding feat was achieved on stage 2 of the Vuelta a España, which took place between Nîmes and Gruissan, over a pan flat course exposed to crosswinds, which saw all the teams stay alert throughout the day, not allowing any breakaway to form.

Our boys were the main instigators, as they moved to the front just ahead of the penultimate roundabout of the day, inside the last 2000 meters, with the likes of Niki Terpstra Julian Alaphilippe, Yves Lampaert and Matteo Trentin pilling up the pressure and pushing the pedal to the metal; their forcing in the strong crosswinds fractured the peloton, who was preparing for a bunch gallop after 203 long and nervous kilometers, and animated what should have been the first stage to conclude in a bunch gallop.

As chaos ensued behind, Quick-Step Floors continued to ride hard and cause splits, only a handful of men being capable of taking their wheel. Then, under the flamme rouge, Yves attacked and put his impressive time trial skills to work, powering away and holding onto that advantage until the finish line, as behind teammate Matteo Trentin helped this move stick by disrupting any chase attempt, before sprinting to second place.

Lampaerts' maiden Grand Tour victory is the fourth for the 26-year-old rider from Izegem in what can already be labeled as his finest season to date, one in which he conquered also Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gullegem Koerse and the National ITT Championships.

Yeves Lampaert

Yves Lampaert wins the second stage

"Our ideal scenario was to create an echelon long before the finish, but in case this didn't happen, then we had a back-up plan: to try again in the last kilometers. We wanted to deliver Matteo in a perfect position to sprint for the win, but once we splintered the peloton and opened a gap in the final kilometer, we improvised a bit, as he told me to go, and that's what I did. I can't find my words to tell you how I feel after this unbelievable day. It's really crazy and I couldn't have done it without the help of my incredible teammates", an ecstatic Yves Lampaert said in Gruissan.

The 26-year-old – who this season stepped up a level – became the first Belgian rider since 2010 to don the leader's jersey at the Vuelta a España. Besides the general classification, where Lampaert and Trentin got hold of the top two positions, Quick-Step Floors came out of Sunday's race also with the green jersey (worn by the same Yves) and the first place in the team standings, all results which brought huge joy to sport director Rik Van Slycke.

"The team's first goal of the day was to help Matteo take three seconds at the intermediate sprint, knowing these would have helped him get closer in the GC. This was important, because with those bonifications there was a fair chance for him to seize the leader's jersey at the end of the stage, providing he would have finished in the first two", Rik Van Slycke explained.

"A few teams tried to split the group during the stage, but it was too early. You need to know when to do that and wait for the right moment. For us, that moment came with two kilometers remaining, once Niki took the reins and went full gas. Then Julian took over and pushed hard, while Matteo played it really smart, leaving a gap behind Yves and allowing him to break clear. It was a tactical masterpiece. To win stages in all Grand Tours this year is sensational and overwhelming! I am very proud of the boys and of the entire team", Van Slycke concluded.

Adam Blythe was third in stage two. Here's what his Aqua Blue Sport team had to say:

Aqua Blue Sport sprinter Adam Blythe has taken third place in a stunning sprint finish on stage two of La Vuelta a España.

Blythe was just behind Yves Lampert and Matteo Trentin of Quickstep in high winds and blazing sunshine as the peloton rushed across the line in the French seaside town of Gruissan. The talk at breakfast was all about the high wind conditions outside. The breeze was gusting well in excess of 26 kilometres per hour in a tail-crosswind as the race sped southwards along the coast from the historic town of Nimes to Gruissan.

The wind was such that the peloton realised the futility of breakaways and all riders sat in the peloton. In an unnerving show of unity the riders did not launch a single attack and rolled, at speed, towards the finish. A crash saw three Aqua Blue Sport riders on the deck but their injuries amounted to a few grazes and some bruising. They remounted instantly and rejoined the pack.

There was a monetary split in the pack with 60 kilometres to go but it was over a short few minutes later. The next flashpoint was with six kilometres to go as Team Sky caused a dramatic split in the pack. Aqua Blue Sport made it into the front section as Mark Christian and Blythe succeeded in making the junction.

It was a frenetic ride to the finish as the gusting high speed wind played havoc with the race. Blythe lit up his sprint and sped through. He finished close behind the two Quickstep riders and took third place.

After the stage he said:

“It was good today – bit disappointed that we were so close but so far. I was feeling good today and I was really up for the stage. The team worked really well today and managed the crosswind sections really well. I have been looking at this stage for a while but you have to be happy with third really and I am looking forward to the next stages and getting that win.”

Sacha Modolo was fifth in Vuelta stage two. His UAE Team Emirates sent me this news:

Stage two wrapped up with UAE Team Emirates Italian sprinter Sacha Modolo crossing the finish line in fifth place. Meanwhile Belgian team Quick-Step Floors dominated the first two positions with Yves Lampaert snatching the overall leader’s Red Jersey from Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) whilst his teammate Matteo Trentin came in second ahead of Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport).

Commenting on his top five finish, Modolo commented: “It was an extremely nerve wrecking stage that was made harder with high speeds throughout and windy weather conditions. I managed to get into a good position and choose the right timing to start my sprint though I have to be honest, my legs felt quite heavy today and not in their best condition. Seeing as that was the case, fifth place is pretty good.”

The second stage of La Vuelta proved to be treacherous with UAE Team Emirates’ Moroccan rider, Anass Ait el Abdia getting caught up in a crash with half a dozen other riders- including Javi Moreno of Bahrain Merida and Marc Fournier (FDJ) – forcing him (broken right collarbone) to withdraw from the race.

Stage three takes riders to the Pyrenees, for what could be a very tough 158.5km in the saddle. A category one climb within the opening 32km is followed by over 60km of decent as riders approach the Catalan town of La Seu d’Urgell. As the Vuelta hits Andorra, there is a steep category one climb to contend with before a sprint and category two climb test the legs of the riders, with just 7km to go.

LottoNL-Jumbo reports on EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg

The team sent me this report:

It was close for Dylan Groenewegen today during the Cyclassics in Hamburg. The sprint, in which the Amsterdammer had to come from a great distance, didn’t last long enough. Team LottoNL-Jumbo's 24-year-old rider came close but it he couldn't win. Groenewegen ended third, behind Elia Viviani and Arnaud Démare. For Groenewegen, this result meant his first podium place in a classic.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani wons the 2017 EuroEyes Cyclassics in Hamburg

The fact that Groenewegen was Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s main asset became clear during the course. The team controlled the course as much as possible. Sports director Merijn Zeeman: "With Martijn Keizer at the head of the peloton, we managed to catch the escapees in time. Later, there was a hectic period when we lost Jos van Emden because of a crash. We have not seen the perfect sprint train today. It's something that didn't come unexpected in a race with such a strong entry. Dylan had a strong sprint, but two riders were better today. Next year Groenewegen will return, and win", Zeeman said.

"If I continue to race like this, that would indeed be the logical result", Groenewegen said afterwards. But he’d rather put his arms in the air today, he admitted. "It was hectic in the end, which resulted in me sprinting from far. You can keep on talking about it afterwards, but it doesn't change anything. My legs felt good, and that's good news regarding the upcoming races", Groenewegen said.

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