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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, January 16, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

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People's Choice Classic team reports

Here's what Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team reported:

The Tour Down Under started today with a criterium to whet both the riders’ and fans’ appetites for a hard week of racing in Australia. The Adelaide street circuit parcours was a gentle introduction to the 2017 season and the Tour to come, but the riders made the short course tough, eager to get back to racing. BORA - hansgrohe took two of the podium spots after a little over an hour in the saddle, with Sam Bennett taking second and the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, in third.

The People’s Choice Classic is the precursor to the Tour Down Under – a criterium in the streets of Adelaide circling one of the city’s beautiful parks. While the course was a simple 50.6km route, covering 22 laps of a four-sided street circuit, this meant the riders themselves took centre stage, with breakaways and attacks from the drop of the flag. While no UCI points were up for grabs, this in no way affected the pace of the racing – for many riders this was their first race of the 2017 season, as well as their first time racing for new teams.

The first ten laps were marked by a succession of two-man breakaways – riders eager to pick up bonuses in the sprints at the five and ten-lap points. However, as the shadows grew longer, the speed in the bunch rose steadily as the race entered its final five laps of the circuit.

Keeping a close eye on the break, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan was making his first appearance for BORA - hansgrohe and his second at the Tour Down Under. The Slovakian rider was testing his legs in this early season race, and the bunch was doing a good job of providing that test, with speeds hitting 55km/h as the race neared its end.

With two laps left to go, it was all back together and the sprinters started massing at the front, eager to take the first win of their season. The sprint trains took their turns, trying to take control of the peloton ahead of the final lap and as the finish loomed closer, it was the BORA - hansgrohe riders who took their place at the head of the race, the UCI World Champion leading out Sam Bennett for second place, the Irish rider swinging round him before the line, before taking third for himself.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan at the start line

The Irish rider was grateful for Peter’s support in the final sprint – the Slovakian rider setting an incredibly fast pace in the race’s close. “The guys did an amazing job. They did everything perfectly I can’t thank them enough. In the final, everybody thought Peter was sprinting, so it was a fight for his wheel so he had to hang back for the last kilometre, but even then the last 500m we were still fighting for his wheel and they wouldn’t let him out, and we had to open up the sprint really late. We had great power and speed and that gave us great confidence. If we’d just got out in time we would have got that.”

The strong finish represented a good start to the new season, as Sports Director, Steffen Radochla, explained: "It was the first race of the team and they did a really, really good job. Being their first race, the leadout worked very well and they had a nice finale. We took second and third and that makes me happy for the next days. I look forward to the race."

Ralph Denk, Manager of BORA - hansgrohe, seconded his Sports Director’s comments. "It was nice to see the guys racing. We worked really hard in the last two months to set up everything, make the contracts with the riders and sponsors and bring everything in order. It was a good opening for us, with a second place for Sam Bennett and a third for Peter Sagan. For sure, we tried to win the race but aren't unhappy and this will give us confidence for the next days."

The UCI World Champion, having ridden hard in support of his team today, was already looking ahead to the next stage. “It was ok today. I rode for Sam, so I was one of the last guys on the lead-out train for the sprint, or the second last one. We’ll see how my legs are for the days to come – I’m going to recover now for the next stage.”

The race proper starts on Tuesday, where riders will take on an undulating 145km route, starting with a punishing climb up Humbug Scrub, before tackling a tough final circuit ridden three times ahead of the downhill final run into the finish in Lyndoch.

Team Movistar had this to say about the race:

The Movistar Team and the 18 squads in the UCI WorldTour had their opening pedal strokes together on Sunday at the People's Choice Classic criterium in Adelaide's Wakefield Road, 50km and 22 laps as fast as in the previously traditional Rymill park circuit. The prelude to the big Australian festival of cycling saw local hero Caleb Ewan (ORS) prevailing into the inevitable bunch sprint, ahead of Bora duo Sam Bennett and Peter Sagan.

The José Luis Arrieta-led squad's two chances for the sprint, Jasha Sütterlin and Carlos Barbero, finished 10th and 11th respectively in the opening day of racing Down Under, an otherwise uneventful and calm ride for the Blues as they look for more auspicious scenarios. The race will start proper on Tuesday - stage one coming to an end around 5am Euro time - with a 145km stage one between Unley and a three-lap circuit around Lyndoch. Sprinters should be contesting the win again there.

This came from Team UAE Abu Dhabi:

The city of Adelaide and the date of January the 15th 2017 will be a milestone in the world cycling history, as they'll mark the debut of Team UAE in a competition.

The first Emirati World Tour team participated in the People's Choice Classic Criterium. Kump, Laengen, Marcato, Meintjes, Mori, Swift and Ulissi rode their Colnago C60 on the 2.3 km of the street circuit in Adelaide, which was covered 22 times (total distance 50.6 km).

The course of the foretaste of the Santos Tour Down Under (first stage scheduled on Tuesday, January the 17th) was different from the one of the past editions: in the European early morning, the cyclists covered the perimeter of a rectangular trapezoid with the acute angle at the end of the final straight.

The criterium ends in a mass sprint in which Marko Kump, the designated sprinter for Team UAE, could not demonstrate completely his speed because he could not approach the final straight in a front position of the bunch, also because of a crash, in which no Team UAE's cyclists were involved, which occurred in the bunch and which forced Kump to lose the wheel of his team mate Swift.

Caleb Ewen

Caleb Ewen wins the sprint

Kump crossed the finish line in 18th position, Ewan won the race preceding Bennet and Sagan.

The first quote of the season about a race is from Marco Marzano, Team UAE's sports director: "The first goal of the team for this criterium was to find a good team spirit, this was important also because three ctclists were at their debut in our group. I feel that we achieved this target, our riders pedaled one close to the other for all the race, this is what I'd like we'll be able to do also in the next days.

We missed the opportunity to be in the front position in the approach of the sprint, Swift and Kump tried to be together, however the crash and the fight for the positions separated them".

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