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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. - e. e. cummings

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Vuelta a España team updates

Mitchelton-Scott sent me this Vuelta preview:

Mitchelton-SCOTT have finalised an exciting and talent-packed line up for the Vuelta a Espana which starts in Malaga this weekend.

Following earlier confirmation of the participation of British twins Adam and Simon Yates, and subsequent overall ambitions with the latter, the full eight-rider team also includes a number of exciting opportunists, including four-time 2017 stage winner and current European champion Matteo Trentin and former Giro d’Italia stage winner Luka Mezgec.

The Team:
Michael Albasini (SUI, 37)
Alexander Edmondson (AUS, 24)
Jack Haig (AUS, 24)
Damien Howson (AUS, 26)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 30)
Matteo Trentin (ITA, 29)
Adam Yates (GBR, 26)
Simon Yates (GBR, 26)

The Race:
The final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, is typically considered the more relaxed of the trio of three-week races, but is shaping up to be no less competitive than the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France with a field stacked with the highest quality contenders.

The 21 stages cover a total of 3254.7km and feature two individual time trials, six sprint stages, six ‘hilly’ stages and nine challenging mountain or summit-finish stages.

The Objective:
Mitchelton-SCOTT will continue its general classification development of the Yates brothers, with three-time 2018 Giro d’Italia stage winner Simon Yates targeting an overall result. With a focus on progression from previous attempts, brother Adam Yates and Australian climbing duo Jack Haig and Damien Howson will support the 26-year-old in the mountains.

The remaining quartet will support the team’s overall ambitions but also back the talent of Trentin and Mezgec for opportunistic stage victories. Veteran Suisse Michael Albasini will play a versatile role as well as filling the road captain duties, whilst Alex Edmondson will be nurtured in his support of the group in his second Grand Tour start.

Race History:
In the past six years Mitchelton-SCOTT has claimed 11 stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana and had two different riders feature in the red leader’s jersey for a total of nine days.

The team’s best result was third overall with Esteban Chaves in 2016, a year that also saw teammate Simon Yates finish sixth – his top GC performance to date.

Julian Dean – Sport Director:
“Certainly our objective for the Vuelta is the general classification like we have already said. But when you have a guy like Trentin, who last year won four stages, and a guy like Luka Mezgec, who has won stages at the Giro before, you can’t come into a race and not look for opportunities where these guys can potentially win stages.

“The idea is to manage our resources. Obviously now with eight riders it takes a little bit more juggling, but we’ve certainly got enough talent and racing nous to look for opportunities without spending too much energy to keep our options open for stage wins and complete the GC support roles.

“We’ve seen great things from both Damien and Jack in the last couple of years at Grand Tours, Damo previously in the Vuelta and Jack at the Giro d’Italia this year. We have some good, clear objectives for Damien to be able to support Simon in the medium mountain stages. He has been riding well at the Tour of Colorado after breaking his wrist at the Tour de France, so certainly he is ready and primed for the Vuelta.

“We’ve seen Jack work really well with Simon during the Giro this year. He was a big standout for the team there, and we will be looking to see more of the same from Jack again. He will be able to come into this race with a lot more confidence after his performance at the Giro.

“Albasini, with his experience, will have a key role of leading the group out on the road. He is also a very versatile rider, so he will be able to cross over to help the GC guys and the sprint group.

“It is a bit of development opportunity for Edmondson. He had some experience at the Giro last year, but he is going to be around a couple of good guys and they will be able to direct him in some of these sprints at the Vuelta. There will be some varied roles for Alex to do which will be a big learning curve for him.”

Matteo Trentin

Mateo Trentin wins 2017 Vuelta stage 21. Sirotti photo

Matteo Trentin:
“After all of the trouble at the start of the year, the Vuelta has become the biggest target of the year for me because I didn’t perform how I wanted at the Classics and I missed the Tour de France and some other races with injury.

“After the European Championships I am starting with the jersey so for sure my confidence and moral has been boosted more for this Vuelta. We have a good balanced team for the Vuelta. We will support the general classification for Simon with a few really good climbers around him, and we also have some great guys who can support the sprint or stage opportunities.”

Here's the Vuelta preview from EF Education First-Drapac:

The 2018 Vuelta a España begins this Saturday in Malaga, Spain. It’s anticipated to be another difficult edition, with nine summit finishes — six of those coming over eight stages during the Vuelta’s second half — and two individual time trials. There are six flat stages and four mid-mountain days as well. But the numbers alone don’t do the challenge justice.

As EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale head Vuelta sport director Juanma Garate notes, “It’s a hard Vuelta without many opportunities for the sprinters. Lots of technical, narrow roads. Flat stages, on paper, all of them have an area of wind. It’s important to ride with focus. We can’t ride in the back and relax. There’s no time for that. Flat stages, on paper, all of them have an area of wind. We need to focus every day from day one one.”

In keeping with the usual #PinkArgyle Grand Tour tradition, find comments from each of our Vuelta riders and Garate on each rider's selection, below.

Garate says: Rigo is our leader and will contest the general classification. We have the space to show how good he is and how good we are with this team at the Vuelta.

Uran says: This team is really strong for this Vuelta. I have strong guys for the climbing days, guys for the flat stages and guys for the wind. I’m really happy with the team for this Vuelta, and I believe we can do something special.

Uran’s best Vuelta memory: I have always good memories in all my race. Always I enjoy every day in all my races.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran (pink helmet and jersey) riding in stage nine of the 2018 Tour de France

Garate says: He’s in good shape at the moment. He showed that at Utah. Mike is an important piece for our strategy with Rigo and also to contest stages with an uphill finals. One those steep, short climbs, Mike is a specialist.

Woods says: After crashing at Tour of Utah, and having the wound get infected, I’ve had to adjust my expectations. I'm not ruling out any possibilities, but based off of how I have been feeling over the past week, I am going to try and play things safe over week one and build from there. With the length of a Grand Tour, anything is possible. If I can come around, my goals will be to target a stage win in week three and do whatever I can to help Rigo in his general classification pursuits. We’re bringing a team with a lot of talent to this year's race, and with Rigo motivated for the GC, I expect to see lots of pink at the front of the race.

Woods' best Vuelta memory: Stage nine last year. The day before we had been informed that the team would likely not continue. Instead of being this disjointed and depressed unit, the team really came on stage nine to ride a great race.  I managed to finish third on the stage, which was one of my best results in my career at that point, and I experienced a huge range of emotions after the finish line, however, as I rode back to the team bus the most dominant feeling was pride.  I was proud of how we rode as a team and with how we handled the tough news.

Garate says: Dani Moreno has the most experience in the Vuelta on our roster. I expect him, as he’s done in the past, to be close to his leader. He’s a confidence man. He speaks the same language as Rigo. That’s important.

Moreno says: I hope to be where I’ve always been – at the front with the best. Luck and focus will be the two most important factors. We’ve already done the hard work to get it right.

Moreno’s best Vuelta memory: I have many good Vuelta memories. The two that stand out most are the day I set myself up as a leader in in Valdepeñas de Jaén and the victory I took in Finisterre in front of Cancellara. Nobody expected that one – except for me!

Garate says: When he is good and when he is motivated, we know Pierre is able to do really great things, especially in the mountains. And here at the Vuelta, same as Mike, we can use him strategically on the mountain stages.

Rolland says: My main personal objective is to win a stage, so that I can add my name to the list of riders that have won a stage at each of the three Grand Tours. I will race offensively when the route is good for my strengths. I leave the team at the end of this season, and I would really like to finish my story with EF in the most beautiful way.

Rolland’s best Vuelta memory: My best memory is always the arrival in Madrid. The Vuelta is such a difficult race, and the finish is always a happy experience.

Garate says: He’s done a lot of races with Rigo, and Rigo has a lot of confidence in Simon. He’s going to be his shadow, all day long. For me, it’s important to have Simon because I know when he’s there he keeps us out of trouble.

Clarke says: After the Tour de France and our misfortunate with Rigo, we’re all jumping at the bit to have another crack at what we weren’t able to achieve in July at the Tour.

Clarke’s best Vuelta memory: My first Vuelta in 2012 when I was able to win a stage and take the polka dot jersey overall. That was a special Vuelta for me.

Garate says: Mitch is going to be my road captain. I’m super happy with how he does the job. His condition is good, he’s very professional. His post-stage analysis is really good. In the debriefs, we can fix our mistakes, because the point of view he has is really good.

Docker says: I’m expecting big things from the team in this Vuelta. It felt like we’re on the cusp of a great result in the Giro, had some bad luck in the Tour and now its our turn. We have a really solid team of experienced riders. Personally I’m looking forward to working with Rigo for the first time and with Mike again after the Giro. No doubt Tom and I will have some fun in the flatter stages too.

Docker’s best Vuelta memory: Groveling across the line up the Bola del Mondo in 2012 to officially finish off the suffering of my first Vuelta and my first Grand Tour. It was such a sense of accomplishment.

Garate says: He’s our fast man, the man who will try to do a few finals. He knows he’s here to help the team, but he will have his opportunities. He will have several opportunities if he can climb as well as he did at BinckBank last week. The last hour of the race is always hilly —so there are opportunities for reduced sprints.

Van Asbroeck says: “I want to some nice results in the sprints, maybe even win. You never know. My condition and preparation have been excellent so far, so everything is possible. The team will be competitive in the general classification and the mountain stages, so this will only motivate me more for the sprints.” 

Van Asbroeck’s best Vuelta memory: “When we finish the Vuelta and have a great dinner with the team and our family after a successful three weeks of racing at the highest level, that’s always the best.”

Garate says: Sebas will be in a role similar to Simon. Langeveld, Simon and Mitch should work really well together for positioning throughout the Vuelta and in taking care of the train for the faster finishes for Tom and our general classification efforts.

Langeveld says: “With Rigo targeting the GC, there’s always a lot of unseen work to do. Besides helping the team as much as I can, I would like to do a consistently solid three-week performance.”

Langeveld’s best Vuelta memory: “My best memory is definitely winning the Vuelta with Denis Menchov in 2007.”

EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Vuelta a España:

Sport Directors:
Juan Manual Garate (ESP)
Fabrizio Guidi (ITA)

Simon Clarke (AUS)
Mitch Docker (AUS)
Sebastian Langeveld (NLD)
Dani Moreno (ESP)
Pierre Rolland (FRA)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)
Mike Woods (CAN)

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

Here's the update the team sent me:


Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): "The Deutschland Tour is back on the international calendar, which is a really good development for the sport in Germany. We head to the race with a young line-up, fully focusing on stage results throughout the race. We will use an offensive approach, looking for opportunities for stage success in Germany." 

RACE: Deutschland Tour (UCI 2.1)

DATE: 23-26/08/2018

COACH: Marc Reef (NED) 

Cees Bol (NED)
Tom Dumoulin (NED)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED) 

Team Sunweb coach Adriaan Helmantel (NED): "This is a special race organised in remembrance of the end of the Great War 100 years ago, which gives it an extra dimension. The course contains elements of the Flemish spring classics and in particular Gent Wevelgem. With Edward we have a specialist for these kind of races and we aim to support him for a result." 

RACE: Great War Remembrance Race (UCI 1.1)

DATE: 24/08/2018

COACH: Adriaan Helmantel (NED) 

Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Edward Theuns (BEL)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL) 

Max Walscheid will replace Phil Bauhaus at the Vuelta a España, who is unable to start the race due to slow recovery from sickness. Walscheid will take over the role of sprinter from Bauhaus with the team to continue their sprint focus in Spain.

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED): "It's too bad for Phil, who was our designated sprinter for the Vuelta, but with Max we have a strong replacer with who we can continue our sprint focus into the Vuelta. It will be the first Grand Tour for Max, and a new experience for him in a challenging environment. The Vuelta will be good for his long-term development and we will give it our all.

"We’re very pleased to have Wilco at the start, which could be considered a small miracle after another difficult period recovering from a complicated injury. He has worked hard to come back, but we don’t know how stable his level will be throughout the three weeks of racing. We’ll have to take a day by day approach with the aim to keep him in the GC and see where he stands going into the third week. We’re also excited to have three more riders making their grand tour debut with Jai, Michael and Martijn. Heading to Spain will be great for their long-term development and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do with the opportunity.” 

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Keldeman racing stage 16 of the 2017 Vuelta. Sirotti photo

RACE: Vuelta a España (WT)

DATE: 25/08-16/09/2018

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Simon Geschke (GER)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Michael Storer (AUS)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Max Walscheid (GER) 

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans (NED): "The parcours remain unchanged in comparison to last year. With Coryn we have a sprinter who we believe can make it over the last climb, but next to her we also have strong riders in support. Last year we had Juliette, Liane and Leah there deep into the final who are also more than capable of going for a top result." 

RACE: GP de Plouay-Bretagne (WWT)

DATE: 25/08/2018

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Coryn Rivera (USA)
Julia Soek (NED)
Ruth Winder (USA) 

Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen (NED): "The goal for Plouay is to go for the sprint with Michael. With Sam and Søren we also have two riders in good shape and can play an important role in the final. The parcours in Bretagne will be a lot of up and down with twisty, technical roads. We'll have Roy as our road captain, with a strong team behind us to back our goals for the race." 

RACE: Bretagne Classic - Ouest-France (WT)

DATE: 26/08/2018

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Lennard Hofstede (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL) 

Team Sunweb coach Hendrik Werner (GER): "The Boels Ladies Tour will be held over six days, starting with a prologue. Day two will be tough and will already give us an indication of who the GC contenders will be. In comparison to previous years the crucial Limburg stage comes forward a day to the penultimate stage, with the final stage now being an individual time trial to decide the GC. Ellen has repeatedly taken podium finishes over the past five years at this race and has proven she's able to do well here. Alongside her Lucinda has also finished on the podium here, so we have a really strong team to support our GC goal. We will stay concentrated throughout the stage to enter the decisive final stages in the best possible position." 

RACE: Boels Ladies Rental Tour (WWT)

DATE: 28/08-02/09/2018

COACH: Hendrik Werner (GER) 

Patrick Bevin to continue with Continuum Sports

Team BMC sent me this:

21 August, 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA): After experiencing one of the most successful seasons of his career in his debut year with Continuum Sports, New Zealander Patrick Bevin has extended his contract beyond the 2018 season.

Bevin shows great potential and can continue to build on a strong start with the team, General Manager Jim Ochowicz said.

Patrick Bevin

Patrick Bevin at the start of stage two of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico. Sirotti photo

"In the eight months since Patrick Bevin joined us at Continuum Sports, he has impressed with his time trialling, teamwork, and professionalism, so we knew we wanted to keep him in the team when we secured CCC as our title sponsor for the 2019 season. Patrick has clocked some impressive time trial results throughout the season, including second in the Pais Vasco and AMGEN Tour of California time trials, and it is only a matter of time before he stands on the top step of the podium. Patrick's strength in the discipline has seen him play a crucial role in our team time trial success, most notably at the Tour de France which was a key reason for his selection," Ochowicz said.

"Patrick's dedication to the team has not gone unnoticed and it's not unusual to see him doing huge efforts at the front of the race to pull a breakaway back, or put pressure on the peloton. At 27-years-old, Patrick is still young and I'm looking forward to seeing his progression in the coming seasons which will no doubt include some personal breakthrough results."  

The 2016 New Zealand national time trial champion emphasized the structure and performance focus of the team, currently operating as BMC Racing Team, as motivation to re-sign.

"I have enjoyed the performance environment of this team. This year, I have been part of a lot of great results and improved mine at the same time. Together this creates a great atmosphere to be included in and one I look forward to continue being a part of," Bevin explained.

"Personally I want to continue to improve my time trials. I have markedly improved my time trial results this season over a range of terrains and distances and I want to continue this trend into even better results for the coming seasons."

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