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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 20, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. - Robert Kennedy

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Ben Hermans crowned Tour of Oman winner

Team BMC sent me this report:

19 February, 2017, Muscat (OMAN): Ben Hermans has claimed the first stage race win of his career after winning two stages and the overall victory at the Tour of Oman in an impressive display of strength and determination.

Hermans wore the leader's red jersey after taking the win on stage two of the six-day race, and with the entire BMC Racing Team behind him, defended it until he crossed the finish line on the Matrah Corniche today safely in the bunch.

Despite a scare when he crashed on the approach to the first climb, Hermans and his BMC Racing Team teammates were flawless all week and showed impressive strength at the front of the bunch to control the race.

Hermans' win signals his maturity and abilities as a rider after claiming second place at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and now going one better in Oman.

With two stage wins and the overall victory at the Tour of Oman, BMC Racing Team has recorded nine wins this season.

Ben hermans

Ben Hermans wins Oman Tour stage 5

Interview with Ben Hermans:

Firstly, tell us about the stage today with the crash.

"I was scared that something like that [crash] could happen, especially with the wind as the whole peloton was nervous. It was very dangerous and then they made a big mess by chasing the breakaway down for the sprints. It was just nervous but this is bike racing so we always have to be concentrating until we cross the finish line."

How can you summarize your performance here?

"I'm really happy that I could take two stage and the GC. It's more than I could have dreamed of. It was the perfect week for me, perfect start to the season. I always like to start the season in good shape and then normally it continues for the rest of the year."

Did you know coming into the race that you were in such good shape?

"I knew from training that I was really, really good. I was going so hard. I already had this feeling several times but I never won the GC, I won stages or I won classics, but I was never performing so well against the kind of climbers who are here. So in this way I surprised myself."

How do you feel going into the rest of your season after such a good start?

"It definitely gives me more confidence. I am not the level of Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen or Greg Van Avermaet. I am going to have my chances though I think. For the classics perhaps I will have a chance. Liege-Bastogne-Liege is for sure a goal for me."

Valerio Piva, Sports Director: "It was an amazing week. It was amazing to see the whole team working together. It was very nice and of course Ben was very strong to win two stages and the overall, but everybody helped. Without the team it was not possible so it is a team victory. When we came here the idea was to win a stage and we didn't have the overall win in our minds so much. Of course, you think about it. When Ben was really strong on the first climb we knew we could go for the win and we pulled it off. It's a great way to start the season, after an already successful first month of racing for BMC Racing Team."

Tim Wellens wins final stage of Ruta del Sol

Lotto-Soudal sent me this update:

Just like Thursday Tim Wellens chose to join an early breakaway. Today his adventure was successful and he won the fifth and last stage of the Ruta del Sol!

After only a few kilometres of racing Tim got in front with seven others: Bravo, Campenaerts, Clarke, Minnaard, Novak, Paterski and van der Lijke. The escapees got more than six minutes advantage. In the finale Sport Vlaanderen did loads of work to come closer to the front group, but the peloton wouldn’t close the gap anymore. Six riders – Bravo and Minnaard had been dropped – battled for the stage win. They had enough time – 1’45” advantage at the finish – to poker. There were some accelerations, but eventually they sprinted for the first place in Coín. Tim Wellens won easily! Simon Clarke got second and Victor Campenaerts got third.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens wins the stage

Tim Wellens: “There was a lot of headwind in the beginning of the stage. Everyone was attentive and nervous. Still, we could get away with eight on an uphill section. We had to ride very hard to build a sufficient lead. When the gap rose from four to six minutes I believed we would battle for the stage win. In the finale I tried to get rid of the others, but my attempt was unsuccessful. With twenty kilometres to go we had three minutes advantage left, a big enough margin. In the break we were all scared of each other. Everyone was looking at the others and no one could get away. I started sprinting at two hundred metres from the finish. Beforehand, I wasn’t certain at all that I would win the sprint, but it was actually pretty convincing. I like it more to win this way than to finish solo. If I can choose it can be exciting.”

“I know the area where we rode very well because I rented a house in Torremolinos last year and trained a lot on these roads. It’s nice to win here now. Last season I won four times. Now it’s half February and I have already won three races. I had never expected that a few weeks ago. My next goal will be Strade Bianche on 4 March. It’s the first time that I will take part in that race, but I believe that I can set a nice result.”

At the top of the classification nothing changed. Alejandro Valverde is the overall winner, with only one second lead on Alberto Contador. Jelle Vanendert finished fourteenth overall, while Bart De Clercq got twentieth.

At the Volta ao Algarve the last stage was scheduled as well today. Lotto Soudal goes home with one stage win, two jerseys and two riders on top ten of GC.

It took a while before a break was formed. Eventually 21 riders escaped, including André Greipel. The stage finished at Alto do Malhão, a three-kilometre long climb with gradients above 9%. The last escapees were caught on the climb. Amaro Antunes soloed to victory. Tiesj Benoot attacked in the last kilometres and claimed the third place, behind Vicente Garcia de Mateos. Tiesj is eighth in the overall ranking, at 1’42” of winner Primoz Roglic, and he wins the best young rider classification. Tony Gallopin, ninth today, moved from the fourth to the third place on GC still at 55” of Roglic. André Greipel, who won yesterday’s stage, goes home with the points jersey.

Primoz Roglic wins the Volta ao Algarve

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

Primoz Roglic won the Volta ao Algarve overall classification today in Portugal. The Slovenian of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished fifth on the final climb, just behind his biggest challenger Michal Kwiatkowski.

"We did it perfectly, at the beginning of the race we controlled the pack and on the climb, it was up to me," said Roglic, who called it a team win. "In the final, I had three team-mates with me, but on the climb, it was every man for himself."

On the final climb, the Alto de Malhão, the peloton caught the lead group and it was a battle between the GC riders. Kwiatkowski attacked, but Roglic followed. In the last hundred meters, Portuguese Manuel Antunes attacked and took the stage win.


Antunes wins the final stage

Kwiatkowski placed fourth with Roglic in his wheel. Roglic retained 22-second lead and gave the main sponsors, Lotto, Jumbo and BrandLoyalty their second overall classification victory.

"It was tough, but it was for everyone,” he continued. “We fought, but we did it." Roglic will celebrate and tomorrow start preparing for Strade Bianche and the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. He hopes to win again soon, especially in Tirreno-Adriatico. "It's wait and see what the future brings. I want to be good in the time trials, but also in the mountains. I hope to win more races like this one."

A large breakaway animated the final day in Portugal. Team LottoNL-Jumbo counted on Timo Roosen. When the climb began, the breakaway fell apart and Roosen drifted back to the peloton, where he could help in the final.

"It was easier today than we previously thought,” Sports Director Maassen said. “Everything went as planned or even better. "In the beginning of the race, the peloton broke into echelons, which of course was not detrimental to our team. We controlled the race in the first part of the stage.

"Another important objective was to be in the breakaway, which could be useful in the final. Once dropped, he helped Primoz. Tom Leezer and Lars Boom did so before the climb. It was a team effort."

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