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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 24, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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We have all spent too much time in the sun. Former racer David L. Stanley invites you to join him on an inside tour of his Melanoma and how he beat this dread desease.

Team Sky's Catalonia Tour stage 4 report

Here's what the team had to say about the day's raing in Spain:

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome remain third and fifth respectively on the general classification after a fast finish to stage four at the Volta a Catalunya.

It was a day of two halves, with the peloton waking up to falling snow in La Seu d'Urgeil. That necessitated a shortened test, with the start point moved 60km into the stage, removing the downhill run into Montferrer. With clear skies at the finish the peloton flew up the final climb of Turo del Puig. Thomas and Froome were well positioned over the summit, with Froome jumping clear as part of an exciting move.

Joined by Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler (both Movistar) and David Gaudu (FDJ) on the run into Igualada, the quartet opened out a small gap before being hauled back by a motivated peloton.

At the finish it was Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) who prevailed, capping off an impressive performance by out-sprinting stage one winner Davide Cimolai (FDJ) and Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott). Thomas crossed the line moments later in 12th, with Froome, Mikel Nieve, Pete Kennaugh and Mikel Landa all part of a reduced peloton after 134km.

Nacer Bouhanni

Nacer Bouhanni wins the shortened stage

Team Sky paced the final climb, with Phil Deignan bringing the team to the front alongside Vasil Kiryienka. Good positioning also ensured the team avoided a pileup with 32km to go, with Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) the biggest name to go down.

After the stage Thomas told "We knew it would probably be a bunch sprint with a reduced group, but with the shortened stage it was super fast all day. It was a technical little finish with the climb and twisty descent, then all the corners in the finish so it was certainly stressful but the boys did a cracking job, looked after me and Froomey really well, and over the top of the climb Froomey went with that move which was great because we had a guy there then, we could let everybody else do the chasing. Then with 3km to go it was all about staying near the front and out of trouble.

"It’s a big, big day tomorrow so we’ll rest up now, fuel up, and see what we’ve got."

Dimension Data's report on the first day of Coppi-Bartali

The opening day of the Coppi e Bartali comprised of a morning road stage and an afternoon team time trial. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were right in the thick of the action as Ryan Gibbons sprinted to 7th on stage 1a and then our top team time trial squad placed 4th in the race against the clock.

At just 98km, the morning road stage was a fast and furious affair with most expecting the stage to come down to a bunch sprint. 7 riders broke away and opened a lead of just over 2 minutes as we went into 3 local laps around Gatteo. Cannondale took responsibility for the chase but they weren’t really gaining ground on the break. Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Laurent Pichon (FDJ) attacked their breakaway mates and went in pursuit of glory together.

The remainder of the break was caught once our Africa Team started to chase from the peloton but it was a little too late. The duo arrived at the line with 19 seconds to spare over the peloton, Pichon taking the win. In the sprint for 3rd place, Ryan Gibbons was our protected rider on the stage and he was 5th in the kick, but obviously only 7th on the stage. The result was good enough to put Gibbons in the best young rider jersey heading into stage 1b though.

The unique team time trial format saw squads split their teams into two four rider groups for the 13km course. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s “B” team set a good early mark to have the fastest time at the finish for a short while. When the “A” teams started to come in though, the leaderboard changed a fair bit. Gibbons, Merhawi Kudus, Omar Fraile and Jaco Venter made up our “A” team and when they crossed the line in 15’12”, it was also a new fastest time. In the end, 3 teams were just able to nudge ahead of us, leaving us 4th on the stage and 15 seconds behind the winners, CCC Sprandi.

CCC Sparindi

CCC Sprandi Polkowice wins the team time trial

Ryan Gibbons – Rider: "It was quite a rough start to the morning stage on some pretty treacherous roads. It was tough to control the race because every 500 meters there was either a corner, a crash or road furniture. The climb on the circuit wasn’t too hard, Cannondale controlled it for most of the way but they were going too slow. The break just kept running away from us. On the final climb, we saw the break was 1’30” still ahead so we committed but it was too late, the break stayed away by 20 seconds which was disappointing. And then when you know you not sprinting for the win you don’t always take the risks you normally would. So, when I got squeezed into the barrier I just let it go but I was feeling pretty good and the team put in a great effort too."

Merhawi Kudus – Rider: "These 2 stages have gone well for me and the team really put in a good effort. We were very close to the best time at the finish of the time trial, placing 4th. We did our best today and I am happy with the overall position. Now I’m looking forward to other stages which can suit me better."

Cannondale-Drapac classics Q and A: Vanmarcke, Klier, Vanmarcke and Van Baarle

The team sent me this:

E3-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem loom over the classics teams now, and just further in the distance are the cobbled monuments of Flanders and Roubaix. There are no such things as tune-up races in the spring anymore — those who fare well over the next two races declare warnings for the Monuments to come.

Cannondale-Drapac sends a talented roster into the opening weekend of cobbled racing in Flanders, one that’s all in for captain Sep Vanmarcke. Here, find interviews with some of our key classics players in Sep Vanmarcke and Dylan Van Baarle and directors Andreas Klier and Ken Vanmarcke.

Sep Vanmarcke:

First off, how are you doing after that crash at Strade?

I'm fine. The ribs are not yet totally okay, but since this weekend I felt they’re improving. Doctors say I won't damage it more with racing, so that's good to know. I want to focus on the race, not on the pain.

What do you make of these next two races? What’s an important thing to look out for?

Both in E3 and Gent-Wevelgem I've had several top five results, so they suit me well. But both are different races. E3 has more hills. Gent Wevelgem has the wind playing a key role. But both races I like. In both there is a very high level because the top of the classics riders are at the start with their best form. In both races it's really important to have good position at the right moments. There are many important sections, so there are many fights for position.

How’s the team feeling to you?

After the opening weekend, we had a good view on everything and everybody, so we could work from there. We are developing how to make it perfect.  I'm sure we will do well as a group here. Everybody has a good condition and really wants to do his work well. 

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke enjoying the cobbles of 2016 Paris-Roubaix


What do we have to watch for in E3 and Gent? What makes these races special, or unique?

First of all, is it the weather which has made Gent-Wevelgem very special over the last few years. Because of the fact that there is a very exposed area where the race takes place, very often the first decision will happen before you actually enter the key sections around the Kemmelberg. About E3, I can say that over the last years that race has been a "small brother" of the Ronde and the results of that race show that I am right. If you are able to be top three there, then you are absolutely also competitive for the upcoming races.

How is the cobbles team doing right now?

They’re doing fine and are all on track. Our key riders where able to compete in Tirreno or Paris-Nice, and none of them had any big problems considering the build toward peak performance for the northern classics.

Do we go in with a plan to support Sep 100 percent in these earlier classics or will there be opportunity for others?

We will always support Sep 100 percent from the very first race until the last northern classic. Out of that sort of plan, very often you create moment where you can play another card. If this would be the case and we have a rider who could play a key role in the deep final of a race without having any negative influence on Sep's mission, then of course we will do that. 


How are you feeling heading into the big spring campaign?

The condition after Tirreno gets better and better. In Omloop and Strade Bianche, I crashed and hit my knee really bad. So after Omloop, I couldn't train properly. I suffered a lot in the Tirreno but came out stronger.

What do these races mean to you?

The cobbles are always special to me. Every year I'm looking forward to those races. E3 is like a mini tour of Flanders. And with Gent-Wevelgen I have a love/hate relationship. DNF for the last 2 years. So hope I can go there now for a nice result. We have a really strong leader in Sep. He is able to follow Sagan and Van Avermaet on the climbs. For me personally, I have to be in front when Sep starts his engine. As a team we have the strongest team since I've been here. So I'm really looking forward to this week’s racing.

Ken Vanmarcke, DS

How is the cobbled team doing right now?

We have a mixed team of experienced riders and young riders. With the help of the young riders, who are very motivated to learn and support leaders, we hope to animate the finishes. 

Since you know this area so well...What's interesting about E3? What do we have to watch for?

E3 is the only race that uses different roads towards the [more famous] climbs. That’s why road-knowledge is even more important here. They call E3 the mini Tour of Flanders, as it is very close to the level of Flanders. Every year it’s extremely nervous towards Taaienberg, which always splits the bunch. In the final we have 3 hills, Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, and Karnemelkbeekstraat, which decides the leading group.

And about Gent-Wevelgem?

There are several things that makes this race very interesting. We always have to deal with wind, which makes the race very nervous all day. Than we also have the Kemmelberg, which is a hard hill with no ideal line to ride, and everybody wants to be in front at the base of it. And since this year we have three off-road sections, we don’t know what we can expect there.

How important are these races coming up? Do we try for a result now, or build to Flanders?

All races are WorldTour class, so there is no doubt we want to score in all three races. In modern cycling, there are no ‘build up' races anymore. As it is so hard to win, you always have to aim for victory. 

Cannondale-Drapac for E3-Harelbeke:

Alberto Bettiol (ITL)
Kristijan Koren (SVN)
Sebastian Langeveld (NLD)
Ryan Mullen (IRL)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Dylan Van Baarle (NED)
Sep Vanmarcke (BEL)

Cannondale-Drapac for Gent-Wevelgem

Kristijan Koren (SVN)
Sebastian Langeveld (NLD)
Ryan Mullen (IRL)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Dylan Van Baarle (NLD)
Sep Vanmarcke (BEL)
Wouter Wippert (NLD) 

Lotto-Soudal previews E3 Harelbeke

The team sent me this update:

The peloton continues its way along Flemish hills and cobbles. The 60th edition of E3 Harelbeke, a WorldTour race, is scheduled tomorrow. Fifteen Flemish hills and a range of top riders are the ingredients for a spectacular race.

At twenty past twelve the riders start in Harelbeke, for a race of 206.1 kilometres. Before they get to the tough second half of the race they can warm up by covering two cobblestone sections and the Katteberg. Before the peloton enters the last one hundred kilometres it has to climb La Houppe. From then on it’s one hill after another. The Taaienberg, often crucial in this race, lies at just over seventy kilometres from the finish. The route runs further over among other Eikenberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont. After the Kwaremont it’s time for the Karnemelkbeekstraat. Last year, Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski rode away on that hill. Over the cobbles of the Varent it goes to Tiegemberg, the last hill of the day. From the top it’s 18.6 kilometres to the finish.

Tiesj Benoot was the best Lotto Soudal rider last year. He arrived at the finish in the first chasing group, elevens seconds after Kwiatkowski who had won. Tiesj got seventh. This year Tiesj is part of the Lotto Soudal line-up again. Also Tony Gallopin is selected for this race. In 2014 he was sixth in Harelbeke. That year Peter Sagan won. The world champion will start tomorrow as well. Last year’s winner Michal Kwiatkowski won’t be there. Other names on the start list are five-time winner Tom Boonen, John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Alexander Kristoff, Ian Stannard, Jasper Stuyven, Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin will be on the E3 start line

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Yesterday, we were overtaken by events in Dwars door Vlaanderen. We only had Jelle Wallays in the front group that was established with 75 kilometres to go. That was not enough. This is an important time of the year, in which we go from one big race to another. Tomorrow is another opportunity which we want to grab with both hands. We want to perform as a strong team, that animates the race and plays along for the top results.”

“At Dwars door Vlaanderen the selection was made on the Berendries, where nobody expected it. Also tomorrow it can happen on every hill, starting from La Houppe. We need to be attentive. You can also determine the decisive moment yourself. At Dwars door Vlaanderen, we saw that teams dared to attack. Also we can’t risk to wait tomorrow.”

“There are so many strong competitors at E3 Harelbeke, with also Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet who will take the start. Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin are the leaders of our team. We hope to see them both at the head of the race in the finale. The situation will determine how we have to deal with that. Yesterday, it was successful for Quick-Step Floors, with Lampaert winning the race and Gilbert finishing second. We also have four riders who can anticipate: Jasper De Buyst, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes and Jelle Wallays. The E3 Harelbeke is one of the toughest one-day races on the calendar and I hope that we can set a nice result with our team.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Jasper De Buyst, Tony Gallopin, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Theo Bos selected for track cycling world championships in Hong Kong

This came from Beat Cycling Club:

March 23, 2017 - National coach René Wolff has selected BEAT Cycling Club member Theo Bos for the Dutch team that will compete at the UCI track cycling world championships in Hong Kong from April 12  to 16.

Bos will compete in the sprint and the kilometer. Six sprint riders will be part of the Dutch track cycling team in Hong Kong. Wolff will choose the team for the team sprint at a later stage. It was not initially certain that five-time world champion Bos would make the team. He first needed to perform well in the qualification races and training sessions, and the number of places on the Dutch team for the upcoming world championships was limited.

The qualification races were held two weeks ago at the international sprint and keirin tournament in Alkmaar. Bos won all three races: sprint, keirin and team sprint. He also beat international competitors, demonstrating his good form. These wins were the first professional victories for BEAT Cycling Club, which made the accomplishment even more memorable.

Bos said: “The races in Alkmaar provided a real confidence boost. It’s always good to win just before a big tournament. I feel great and I’m confident I will achieve good results at the world championships. I am very happy to have been selected for these disciplines.”

Bos will leave for Hong Kong on April 9. Until then he has a regular training schedule to follow. “It’s important that I add the finishing touches to my preparations for the world championships in Hong Kong,” he said. "Part of the preparation was the aero testing last week in Alkmaar. We tested different equipment to choose the best setup for the world championships. Every hundredth of a second will be crucial. With the help of BEAT Cycling Club I have been able to prepare perfectly for Hong Kong."

“I have the best chance of winning the kilometer. The team sprint and sprint can go either way, but we’re going to Hong Kong with high ambitions.”

BEAT Cycling Club started a big adventure at the end of 2016: creating a professional cycling team from a club structure. A team that is rooted in a strong community of cycling enthusiasts. A club with its own name and identity. A club built on community values that will start a revolution in the world of cycling. The club structure allows BEAT to strengthen the fragile business model of the professional peloton by adding alternative income besides support from main sponsors.

ABOUT THEO BOS: Theo Bos (Hierden, August 22 1983) is one of the most successful Dutch track cyclists, with five world championship titles and a silver medal in the sprint at the 2004 Olympics. In 2006 he was named Dutch sportsman of the year. From 2009 to 2016 he raced on the road and achieved 40 victories, including the general classification in the World Ports Classic (2014). Bos has been a member of BEAT Cycling Club since January 2017.

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