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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours. - Benjamin Disraeli

Today's racing:

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Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) stage one team reports

We posted stage winner Julian Alaphilippe's Team Quick-Step report on the race results page.

Second-place Primoz Roglic's LottoNL-Jumbo team had this to say about stage one:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo has started the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in an excellent way with the second place of Primoz Roglic. The 28-year-old from Slovenia impressed on the climbs in the opening stage from and to Zarautz. In the final sprint he had to acknowledge his superior in breakaway companion Julian Alaphilippe.

Roglic was well protected all day by his teammates of Team LottoNL-Jumbo and was perfectly positioned at the ascent of the final climb. On the short but very steep hill Roglic immediately forced the pace after which only Alaphilippe could join.

“Primoz proved today that he is very strong”, sports director Grischa Niermann said. “We are here with one purpose and that is to go for the overall classification with Primoz. Today was a very tough stage with five climbs, but the team did a good job all day and perfectly dropped off Primoz at the final climb. The plan was for Primoz to force the pace from the beginning of the climb and to see who was still in his wheel on top. We would have liked to win, but that did not happen today. We started well and that gives us confidence for the rest of the week."

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this race update:

The first stage of the Itzulia Basque Country Race was a stage for the climbers in the peloton. After the breakaway of the day was caught, the race exploded on the final climb of the day. Later stage winner, J. Alaphilippe, launched a late attack but Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad were in the chasing group only some seconds behind and finished in sixth and seventh place.

The Stage
The first stage of the Itzulia Basque Country covered 162 hilly kilometres, with start and finish in the city of Zarautz. Today´s stage favoured the climbers in the peloton, with five categorised climbs (three Cat. 3 and two Cat.2) and two intermediate sprints. The final climb up to the Elkano Gaina was 2,1km long with an average of about 10%.

The Team Tactics
BORA – hansgrohe came with a young and ambitious squad to the Basque Country. For today´s tough stage the German team had several cards to play. Jay McCarthy, Patrick Konrad, Gregor Mühlberger or their GC rider Emanuel Buchmann were their riders for a good stage result. The tactic was to wait until the final climb to be in a good position and go with the favourites.

The Race
The race started under clear skies as a group of four riders went up the road and built an advantage of four minutes over the peloton, where BORA – hansgrohe stayed. After the third climb of the day the breakaway led still with some minutes gap. However, with 26km remaining the group was caught and the race came together to the final climb.

The German team BORA – hansgrohe was in a good position in the pack. 24km before the finish, Team Sky took control over the main bunch and increased the pace. Shortly before the final categorised climb of the day, BORA – hansgrohe climbers Gregor Mühlberger and Emanuel Buchmann took the control over the main bunch and set the pace.

The race headed into the final kilometres as Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad were in front of the peloton. With 10km remaining J. Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and P. Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked and opened a gap of some seconds, but the two BORA – hansgrohe riders were in the chasing group and tried to close the gap. In the end, Alaphilippe took the win ahead of Rogilc. Emanuel Buchmann crossed the line in sixth place and teammate Patrick Konrad finished in seventh position.

Julian Alaphilippe wins stage 1

Julian Alaphilippe wins stage one.

From the Finish Line
“It was a hard first stage but the team worked very well together. I wanted to go with Alaphilippe as he attacked but he was too strong today, but I tried together with Patrick to close the gap and in the end we both finished in the Top-Ten, therefore I am satisfied. We have some stages left and we will try our best.“ – Emanuel Buchmann

“Our plan was, that our GC contenders finish with the favourites and more or less we accomplished our goal for today. Emanuel came after a long period of training and we could see that he is in a really good shape. Also, the team worked really good today, with a sixth and seventh place, I think we can be really satisfied. Only bitter pill, after a mistake of another rider, who came into Gregor´s front wheel in the descent, he had to stop and change the wheel. Due to this he lost time and ruined his chances for a good GC result.” – Christian Pömer, sports director 

Robert Stannard wins Giro del Belvedere

Mitchelton-Bike Exchange sent me this report:

One day after finishing second at Trofeo Piva 19-year-old Australian Robert Stannard went one better for Mitchelton-BikeExchange, sprinting to an impressive win at the 80th edition of the Giro del Belvedere [ranked 1.2U] in Italy.

Nine riders formed the early breakaway over the course of the opening circuits and the peloton tapped out a steady rhythm for the next 60kilometres, holding the leaders at close to three minutes until the group started to split with 50kilometres to go.

Sam Jenner and Stannard worked themselves into the first and second groups on the road after strong work from Jacob Hennessy and Brayan Chaves drove the pace as the race headed into the final circuits helping the Stannard group to reduce slightly as it gained time.

Over the last climb, the leading group was down to seven as it approached the finish with Stannard launching early and gaining a couple of bike lengths on his rivals. An advantage that he held to the line for a convincing win.

Robert Stannard – Winner:
“I am very happy to have achieved the win today, it’s my first of the season and my first ever in Italy. I have to say a huge thankyou to the guys, they were all fantastic today and for the first three hours I hardly touched the pedals they looked after me that well.”

“We knew from last year that the last two circuits would be the important ones and first Jacob, then Brayan really drove the bunch onto the penultimate climb and I kept the pace high all the way up to maintain momentum before Sam took over and shredded the group for the last ascent.

“Going into the finish I knew I was the strongest out of the group, there was only climbers left in there, so I set a pace I knew they couldn’t live with over the last kilometre and I was confident that I wouldn’t get caught in the sprint. It’s such a good feeling and I am pleasantly surprised with where my form is at this stage.”

Sport director James Victor:
“The Giro del Belvedere is a big race in Italy and has been for a long time so we’re very happy to have finally gotten the victory here. We’ve come close before with second in 2017, but to do it in this way with such strong teamwork is fantastic.”

“The team were given a plan and they stuck to it perfectly, the guys looked after Rob until the two last laps and from there he showed he was the strongest rider in the race, there was no holding back today and to start our European campaign off with a victory and a second place is almost perfect.

“It’s great for the confidence within the team and sets us up nicely for some of our big season objectives. Brayan gained a lot of valuable experience from his first European race days and performed very well whilst Jacob showed no signs of fatigue from Langkawi. Sam and Rob are both in good shape and will now look ahead to Belgium and Flanders at the weekend.”

Giro del Belvedere results:

1. Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange)
2. Christian Scaroni (Petroli-Firenze) ST
3. Matteo Sobrero (Dimension-Data) ST

Team Sunweb's upcoming races

Sunweb sent me this preview:


SCHELDEPRIJS (1.HC): Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED): “This year Scheldeprijs has a different route. Starting in Terneuzen, The Netherlands, the race heads over 130 kilometres before the riders reach the Belgium border and ride towards to the finish in Schoten. Typically the race ends with a sprint and our plan for the day is to hunt for a result with Max. We have a strong lead-out team to support him, with Roy as our road captain and Phil, Søren and Mike, who finished 2nd at Dwars door Vlaanderen, as the last guys.” 

RACE: Scheldeprijs (1.HC)

DATE: 04/04/2018

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Phil Bauhaus (GER)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Max Walscheid (GER) 

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel won the Scheldeprijs in 2017.

PARIS-ROUBAIX (WT): Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): "The Hell of the North; one of the most heroic races of the year with over 54 kilometres of cobbles. Paris-Roubaix is a race where you need race aggressively from the start. After 93.5 kilometres, somewhat earlier than in the previous years, we reach the first cobble sections. This is a point where you cannot win the race, but for sure you can already lose it. After here, the Arenberg is then the next section where the next shift will likely be made. Finally, we need to remain sharp on the Camphin-en-Pévèle and Carrefour, because it is here where most of the time the decisive move is made with just 39 kilometres left to race. Edward is normally our leader for Sunday and we will see how his condition improves throughout the week after his chances were ruined due to sickness at yesterday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Alongside Edward, we have Mike and Søren who were up there well into the final at Dwars door Vlaanderen, as well as another strong performance yesterday at De Ronde." 

RACE: Paris-Roubaix (WT)

DATE: 08/04/2018

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

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