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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, April 28, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If you want to make enemies, try to change something. - Woodrow Wilson

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Tour de Romandie stage three team reports

We posted stage winner Egan Bernal's Team Lotto-Sky report with the results.

Here's the stage three report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Team LottoNL-Jumbo:

Primoz Roglic has successfully defended his leading position in the overall classification in the Tour de Romandie. The 28-year-old team captain of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished second in today’s mountain time trial at 4 seconds from the winner. Steven Kruijswijk also rode an excellent time trial and finished fourth. Kruijswijk now occupies the same position in the overall standings.

Sports director Sierk-Jan de Haan was very pleased with today’s results. “I am extremely proud of this. The whole team, the riders and the staff did a good job today. It’s a pity of those four seconds, because we went for the win. But we are especially glad that we still have the leader’s jersey in our possession. With a second and fourth place, Primoz and Steven have shown that they are among the best in this field. These results are pretty good and certainly not a coincidence. We know they can do this, but you still have to do it at this level and on such a tough climb.”

With two riders in the top five, De Haan sees opportunities for the remaining two stages. “We are still going for the overall win with Primoz, but the fact that Steven is doing so well, provides us with more options. If they stay together until deep into the final, they can play their game. We can hopefully benefit from that.”

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic successfully defending his GC lead in the time trial. Sirotti photo.

Kruijswijk is happy that he has been able to confirm his good shape with a good result. “I am happy with my performance today. This time trial was very difficult and it is always difficult to use your energy wisely in such a mountain time trial. You can’t start too fast and you have to make sure you have energy left for the last part. I might have started a bit too fast, but all in all it went very well.”

Richie Porte's Team BMC sent me this:

27 April, 2018, Villars (SUI): Richie Porte jumped up the General Classification at the Tour de Romandie today after an impressive performance on the uphill time trial saw him finish third on the stage and move into third overall.

The course saw the riders tackle a 9.9km climb from Ollon to Villars which had an average gradient of 7.9% and pitches of up to 10% in places. 

Porte, who started the day tenth overall, was one of the final riders to roll off the ramp and he made his intentions clear early, posting the provisional fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint, knocking 26 seconds off the time set by Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).

The defending champion continued to show his strength over the second half of the course before powering across the line in an impressive time of 25'28"27, 30 seconds quicker than the previous benchmark set by Kruijswijk.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte moved up to third in the GC after his excellent ride.

In the end, only Egan Bernal (Team Sky) and race leader, Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), who stopped the clock at 25'10"69 and 25'14"35 respectively, could better Porte's time and push him into third place on the stage.

Porte now heads into tomorrow's queen stage sitting third on the General Classification, 27 seconds behind Roglic, who narrowly held onto his race lead in Villars.

Rohan Dennis also put in a strong performance on stage 3 to finish seventh in a time of 26'36"12. The Australian national time trial champion now sits sixth overall, 1'22" back.

Quotes From the Finish Line:

Richie Porte:
"I felt good until about 2km to go and then I exploded but I was happy to finish it off like I did. It was a good ride and I think all of us are extra motivated by the passing of Andy Rihs last week so, it's nice to come to his backyard and have a good ride."

"Overall, I'm happy. It was a strong ride but normally I don't think I would have blown up as badly as I did in the final couple of kilometers. However, the team has been great behind me especially my coach, David Bailey, so we're motivated to try and finish this race off well."

Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"I actually thought that the stage win was in the pocket for Richie today especially when he set the fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint. At the end, he told us that he was really on the limit in the final two kilometers so maybe that's where he lost some time to the other two guys. However, we are happy with his performance and it is good to see that the Richie we know is back. We know there is still some work to do ahead of July but this is a really good sign and will give him a lot of motivation for his next goals."

"It will be hard to do something tomorrow I think but we will try. Tomorrow is a really tough stage and Team Sky have a strong team here and we saw today that LottoNL-Jumbo have a good group with Steven Kruijswijk finishing fourth. Anything can happen though and from the top of the last climb, it is a long downhill. The race is open and we know that the riders further back will try to make the race hard too. We will need to be attentive."

"It is also good to have Rohan Dennis up there. It shows that he is ready for the Giro d'Italia. It was a hard TT and to be in the top ten here is a good sign for him and also for us."

Here's what Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

Today saw the second race against the clock in this year’s Tour de Romandie. It was a stage in which the team hoped to see Emanuel Buchmann improve his standing in the general classification. After a solid performance in the time trial, he finished with the 9th fastest time, and also moved up to 9th place in the overall standings. E. Bernal was the fastest rider today, crossing the line 4 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey wearer P. Roglic.

The Stage
While last year’s race saw the individual time trial decide the general classification on the last day, this year the race against the clock was held on the fourth day of competition. The 9.9km-long course from Ollon to Villars was a continuously uphill Category 1 climb, which led each of the riders over 800 metres of elevation. Today’s stage was the second race against the clock to be featured in this year’s Tour de Romandie, however this stage was expected to see larger time gaps appear in the general classification than those which were produced by the Prologue on the first day of racing. The course, which was anything but flat, with an average gradient of around 8 per cent which ramped up to 11 per cent in some sections, put the riders under constant pressure.

The Team Tactics
The parcours suited our climber Emanuel Buchmann well. Today’s uphill time trial was expected to mix things up in the general classification, and for him, the goal was to keep his distance to the leaders in the GC within reasonable bounds, or even improve his standing.

The Race
After the withdrawal of Erik Baška, BORA-hansgrohe took to the start of the stage with only six riders, three of whom started the race relatively early for the team. Rudi Selig was the first to roll out of the start house in Ollon, followed only a few minutes later by Pascal Ackermann and Andreas Schillinger. The next riders who took up the race against the clock were Peter Kennaugh as well as Pawel Poljanski, the latter of whom arrived at the finish with a time of 29:28, the second-best time set by a rider of the team today.

Just over an hour later, teammate Emanuel Buchmann was the last BORA-hansgrohe rider to take to the course for the team. The rider from Ravensburg had the fifth best time at the first intermediate time check with 5.4km to the finish, 27 seconds behind the fastest rider. He completed the course with an average speed of 22.3km/h and ended up in 9th position on the stage, 1:30 down on the winner of the day E. Bernal, who stopped the clock with a time of 25:10. Emanuel fought hard to improve his standing in the general classification and put in a good performance today, which stands him in good stead for tomorrow’s queen stage.

From the Finish Line
“I think I rode a good time trial today. I felt good in the first kilometres of the stage and was able to hold a good tempo. In the finale, however, I wasn’t able to keep the pace as high, and in the end finished in 9th place. I had hoped for a little more, however a top ten is by no means a bad result. I’m satisfied that I was able to improve my position in the general classification and am looking forward to tomorrow’s stage.” – Emanuel Buchmann.

“Emanuel did an excellent job today and achieved a very good result in the time trial. In the last two kilometres, he had a bit of trouble keeping up the tempo. However, despite this, he recorded a favourable time. In the general classification, he also improved 8 places to now sit in 9th position. We are very satisfied with his achievements today.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director. 

Chris Froome to lead Team Sky in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia

Here's the news piece the team sent me:

27TH APRIL 2018: Chris Froome will lead Team Sky in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia (4-27 May).

The four-time Tour de France winner and reigning Vuelta a España champion will be supported in his attempts to win a maiden Giro title by David de la Cruz, Kenny Elissonde, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Wout Poels and Salvatore Puccio.

Froome takes to the Giro d’Italia start line for the first time since 2010. Ahead of the Team’s departure to Jerusalem, Froome, who lived in Italy in the early part of his career, said: “I have always enjoyed racing in Italy and it has been great riding Tour of the Alps and Tirreno-Adriatico this year. The Giro is special and full of history, and I am looking forward to racing it again after almost a decade.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome riding in this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

“I’ve had a different start to the season as I’ve obviously been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual. But the target of going for a third consecutive Grand Tour has given me new motivation.

“Of course there is an element of risk involved in targeting the Giro before the Tour, but I think I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t give this race a go. I also recognise the wider issues and as I have said before I am doing everything I can, together with the Team, to help resolve them as quickly as possible. In the meantime I am focussed on racing. I would love to win the maglia rosa, but I am under no illusions whatsoever about how hard the race will be.”

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “As a Team we have strong Italian connections through our owners, key partners, riders and staff and we love the Giro with all its tradition in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. We have been on the podium before but have never won the maglia rosa which is a great ambition for us.

“Chris is also going for a third consecutive Grand Tour. Everyone in cycling knows just how tough that is. We have a strong, talented and versatile team supporting him. Every rider will have an important contribution to make.

“This year’s race promises to be a very tough edition with some of the hardest mountain climbs in cycling including Mount Etna and the Zoncolan. It should make for a great spectacle for the fans and all provides an added incentive for us going into the race.”

The full Team Sky lineup for this year’s Giro d’Italia is:

Chris Froome – British – age 32
The reigning Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana champion, Froome now takes aim at the Giro as he attempts to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time. Now widely considered as the best stage racer in the world, Froome will turn 33 during the Giro, which he tackles for the first time as a team leader. The race presents an exciting new challenge for the Brit, who will also target a fifth Tour de France title in July.

David de la Cruz – Spanish – age 28
De La Cruz has quickly settled in during his first year with Team Sky. With a stage win at Paris-Nice already under his belt this season, the Spaniard is an elite climber and stage racer, as demonstrated by a superb seventh place finish at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016. A key part of the team’s climbing roster, expect to see De La Cruz setting a tough tempo in the race’s medium and high mountains.

Kenny Elissonde – French – age 26
Fresh from a fantastic climbing performance at the Tour of the Alps, Elissonde arrives at the Giro in great form and will hope to once again play a key role for Chris Froome in the mountains. The Frenchman is a Grand Tour stage winner in his own right, winning the queen stage of the Vuelta in 2013, and will line up at his second consecutive Giro in Team Sky colours.

Sergio Henao – Colombian – age 30
The Colombian national champion is one of the best climbers in the world and claimed the biggest win of his career at Paris-Nice last season. Henao picked up a top-10 finish at the Giro during his first ever Grand Tour appearance back in 2012. Since then he has established himself in the mountains, and after a consistent Ardennes Classic campaign he has the form to provide key support for Froome.

Vasil Kiryienka – Belarusian – age 36
Lining up for his 19th Grand Tour, and seventh Giro, Kiryienka brings an abundance of experience to the roster. One of the most impressive rouleurs in the sport, the Belarusian is comfortable setting a torrid pace at the head of the peloton, both on the flat and on the climbs. The former time trial world champion is also a three-time stage winner at the Giro d’Italia.

Christian Knees – German – age 37
Bringing power and experience to the team, the German played a key wingman role for Chris Froome last season at both his Tour and Vuelta victories. The duo team up again for the third Grand Tour in succession, with Knees using the knowledge gained over 18 Grand Tours to play the all-important road captain role. The former German national champion is a reassuring presence on the flat, as well as very able climber.

Wout Poels – Dutch – age 30
Another impressive climbing talent, Poels secured his best ever Grand Tour finish of sixth place last year at the Vuelta a Espana. The Dutchman achieved that while supporting Chris Froome and has been a key super domestique in three of the Brit’s Grand Tour victories. Winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2016, Poels is riding back into form after sustaining a broken collarbone at Paris-Nice.

Salvatore Puccio – Italian – age 28
The versatile Italian has been improving year on year since joining the team back in 2012. Now on the verge of his ninth Grand Tour appearance, Puccio has proven he can play a role on flat, rolling or mountain roads. Puccio came within a whisker of a stage victory in the 2015 edition of the Vuelta, and his Classics know-how should also prove key in the hustle and bustle of a peloton fighting for position.

UAE-Team Emirates announces Giro squad

Here's the report the team sent me:

The UAE Team Emirates will bring its strongest men, including four Italians, to support Fabio Aru in the Giro d’Italia, May 4 to 27.

The Emirates team will back its Sardinian climber, second in the 2015 Giro, with Darwin Atapuma, Diego Ulissi, Valerio Conti, Manuele Mori, Marco Marcato, Jan Polanc, and Vegard Stake Laengen.

Joxean Fernandez Matxin, Marco Marzano, Mario Scirea and Paolo Tiralongo will direct the team over the three weeks.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru (shown in 2017 at the Tour de France) will ride the Giro in 2018.

“Fabio is going to the Giro d’Italia with a huge desire to make an impact,” said General Manager Giuseppe Saronni. “This feeling of strong sentiment towards the Corsa Rosa will allow him to give his best in every situation.

"At his side are a group of riders who share the same emotions and are able to manage the possible scenarios correctly. Italians, four of them, give this roster a strong local flavour to honour the Giro d’Italia and give the most attention to our fifth Italian, the national champion in the tricolour jersey, Fabio Aru.

"The three non-Italians Atapuma, Laengen and Polanc have shown their love for this race and their ability to contribute enthusiastically to the group.

"And let’s not forget that these riders know about success, just think of the six stage wins by Ulissi, two by Polanc and three by Aru. And Aru has been on the podium twice.

"These are the details that can make the difference over three weeks of a grand tour even in the face of teams that look stronger on paper“.

Lotto-Soudal to become Lotto-Fix ALL for the Giro

Here's the team's press release:

Lotto Soudal will be riding the 101st edition of Giro d’Italia as Lotto Fix ALL, with an adapted shirt. It’s the third time that this change takes place, after the team became Lotto Fix ALL for Paris-Nice in 2016 and 2017. This time name sponsor Soudal, the producer of Fix ALL, chose for the Giro.

Dirk Coorevits, CEO Soudal: “Because the Giro is one of the three Grand Tours and the race reaches a worldwide audience, in 171 countries, this is the perfect time for this activation. Besides, Italy is an important market for Soudal. We wish the team the best of luck at the Giro and are looking forward to seeing the Fix ALL jersey on TV.”

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