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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 1, 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

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. - W.B. Yeats

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Annemiek van Vleuten wins stage two of Women's Herald Sun Tour

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

World time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten showed her class along the streets of Melbourne today, taking the victory on stage two of the Women’s Herald Sun Tour presented by Let’s Go Motorhomes, in a lung busting 1.6 kilometre race against the clock.

Wearing her rainbow stripe skinsuit for the first time, Van Vleuten was in a league of her own stopping the clock with a time two second faster than her nearest rival Katrin Garfoot (Team Australia) with New Zealand champion Georgia Williams claiming an impressive third place to make it two on the podium for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Early hot-seat
The first rider to set a threatening time was Nettie Edmondson (Wiggle-High5) with a time of 2:13:64 that left her sitting in the hot-seat for a significant peroid before the final ten or so riders began to post times good enough to knock her out of the top spot.

Riding rainbows
In the first timed event since winning the world championship time trial last year in Bergen, Van Vleuten was finally able to debut her  new rainbow skinsuit in a spectacular fashion. With large crowds in the busy centre of Melbourne, it proved to be the perfect stage to show off the new outfit in the team’s home country.

Annemiek van Vleuten - First place: “It’s so good to win in this jersey. I’m so proud and to do it here in Melbourne, in Australia, for my Australian team. I didn’t expect this to be honest because I suffered yesterday so hard in the last 20km and I know some girls had a more easy ride to the finish."

“I was not feeling so much pressure because I know I am not in top top shape and I had a really hard day yesterday so I didn’t feel like the favourite today but of course you want to go hard when you are in the rainbow. If you want to win a prologue you have to take risks, but I did a lot of recon of the course so I think that helped and they were calculated risks.”

Anemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten wins the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race in 2017

Georgia Williams - Third place: “I definitely wasn't expecting that. I was hoping to get in the top ten but to get on the podium is awesome and it’s super special to wear my jersey. It’s definitely a track distance race and I still have a bit of the track power in my legs so that definitely helped.”

“It’s a shame we didn’t win the race overall but having two on the podium today is really cool.”

Women’s Herald Sun Tour stage two results:

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:09:62
2. Katrin Garfoot (Team Australia) 1:41
3. Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 2:07

Final general classification:

1. Brodie Chapman (Team Australia) 3:22:16
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 0:05
3. Chloe Hosking (Ale Cippolini) 1:05

Ed Clancy wins the Herald Sun Tour prologue

Here's the report from Clancy's JLT-Condor team:

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy OBE (JLT Condor) set a blistering pace of 51 kilometres per hour to take out the 1.6km Beastwear Individual Time Trial, the opening stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in the heart of Melbourne.
Three of Clancy’s team mates also produced fast times on the short city centre course finishing in top positions – Ian Bibby (8th), Graham Birggs (10th) and Matt Gibson (11th).

Speaking after the time trial, Clancy admitted he’d been targeting a podium performance at the prestigious race. “As soon as I saw on Cycling News that the race organisers had shortened the course from 2.2 kilometres to 1.6 kilometres immediately my eyes lit up.”

Clancy, one of the favourites for the stage win, soon took to the leader's hot seat. However, the Yorkshire-man then had over an hour in the hot seat while he waited for all the riders to complete the course. With the top five separated by a few hundredths of a second Ed said he became nervous as riders started to post times closer and closer to his winning effort of 1:54:95.

Ed Clancy

Ed Clancy winning the prologue

“When you are sat next to guys like this and you see Alex Frame (Trek Segafredo) and Alex Edmondson (Mitchleton Scott) – I was trying to play it cool but I was getting pretty worried in the last 30 minutes. I am buzzing it’s the biggest thing by far I’ve ever achieved on the road, I’m over the moon,” said Clancy, who won gold for Great Britain in the Team Pursuit at the 2008, ’12 and ’16 Olympic Games.

Young rider, Matt Gibson showed his good form was continuing, following a stage win at last weeks’ New Zealand Classic, the 21 year-old finished 11th in Herald Sun Tour. The result puts him has the highest placed rider under 23.
Clancy goes into tomorrow’s stage 1 of the Sun Tour wearing the leader’s yellow jersey and Matt Gibson will wear the white under 23 leader’s jersey. The stage consists of 161.6km between Colac and Warrnambool and is most likely to end in a bunch sprint.

1 – Edward Clancy – GBR (JLT Condor) 1.54.74
2 – Mads Pederson – DEN (Trek Segafredo) 1.55.38
3 – Lasse Norman Hansen – DEN (Aqua Blue Sport) 1.55.46

Team BMC reports on the Volta a Valenciana first stage:

Jürgen Roelandts impressed in his race debut with BMC Racing Team by sprinting to third place on stage 1 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which marked the beginning of BMC Racing Team’s European season.

After multiple attacks in the first 10km, of the 191.5km stage, four riders opened up a maximum advantage of 4’50” on the peloton, where all seven BMC Racing Team riders remained.

With a predicted sprint finish on the cards, the peloton stayed in control of the situation and allowed the breakaway to maintain an advantage of four minutes for the following 80km.

The only climb of the day, the category 2 Bandereta, featured after 86km of racing and had little influence on the race situation with the peloton slightly eating into the breakaway’s advantage on the climb.

With 60km to go, the peloton was within two minutes of the leading four and after the sprinters’ teams committed to bringing the race back together, the catch was made with 18km remaining. The sprinters’ teams jostled for position in the final 10km and with 5km to go, Roelandts and his BMC Racing Team teammates began to move up to the front of the bunch.

Despite a late attack from Gianni Moscon (Team Sky), the bunch came back together 3km before the finish line and the stage was set for a bunch sprint.

As eventual winner Danny van Poppel (LottoNL Jumbo) launched his sprint, Roelandts was directly on his wheel and managed to hold on for third place on the line.

Danny van Poppel

Danny van Poppel takes the first Valenciana stage

Quotes from the Finish Line

Jürgen Roelandts:“I was good feeling pretty good today. It was good to start off with a good result. I was a bit in doubt after my injury last year and my operation on August 1st which was six months ago. After six months out of competition, it’s nice to be back in the game. I think I still have the skills to do a sprint. I didn’t have the kick yet because I was a bit surprised when Van Poppel went so early today. I was straight away two meters back but I stayed on two meters until the finish line. In the beginning I wasn’t feeling so good but that’s normal after two rest days. Having been a professional for ten years, I know how my body reacts and I knew it would get better. It wasn’t the hardest stage today so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how my condition is. Of course, it’s good for the morale to have a good result in the first race with a new team. It means that I worked hard and the team worked hard in the off season.”

“I feel really good in the new team. I had a nice ten years with Lotto Soudal but it’s nice to have a change. It was quite funny today in the peloton because after ten years with one team, a lot of riders didn’t recognize me in the new kit. I had to start talking to them and then they were surprised to see me in BMC Racing Team kit. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the races.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “It was a pretty good day. It was nice weather, pretty relaxed, and I was happy with how the race went. It was pretty hectic in the final but I’m happy that none of us crashed and Jürgen was able to do a nice third place.”

“I’ve been looking at the parcours from tomorrow and it looks pretty hard. I don’t the course or the climbs very well but I think it’s a good test to see how my condition is and how far I can come. It’s hard to say as the last climb looks pretty hard so I don’t know how my body will react or how the race will go. But, I’ll try to do my best and go as far as possible.”

Sergio Henao to lead Team Sky's Colombian debut

Team Sky sent me this update:

31st January 2018: Sergio Henao will head Team Sky’s charge in his homeland at the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz (6-11 February). The Colombian heads a lineup including fellow countrymen Sebastian Henao and Egan Bernal for the new six-day stage race, which will see Team Sky race in Colombia for the first time ever. Debutant Jonathan Castroviejo, Tao Geoghegan Hart and David Lopez complete the six-man squad.

Oro y Paz comes hot on the heels of the Colombian national road championships, where Sergio will be hoping to defend his road race jersey on 4 February in Medellin.

Sergio Henao

Sergio Henao waits for the 2017 Milano-Torino to start.

It’s a new venture for Team Sky and Sport Director Nicolas Portal, who will lead the team in Colombia, explained how the plan came together: “Everything combined really well. The Colombian national championships are just before the race and obviously we have three Colombians now, so we want to support them.

“We are out in Colombia early for a Camp. Then we’ll all go and support the Colombians for their national championships before we fly to Cali for the race.”

Sergio believes it will be ‘something special’ to race in Team Sky colours on home turf. He said: “It’s such a good thing to have Team Sky here and for us it’s something special to come back home. It allows people to get closer and better know the three Colombian riders in the team.

“It means a lot for Colombia to have a 2.1 level stage race with the presence of a team such as Sky and I think the race will grow in the future.”

Sebastian echoed his cousin’s comments: “I’m very happy that Team Sky will be racing in Colombia for the first time. People will love it because the team has lots of fans in Colombia. I’m so happy that we will be racing in our country.”

Cycling is one of the biggest sports in Colombia and Portal is expecting the atmosphere around the race to be memorable. “It will be an all new experience,” he continued. “We are all excited. It is one of the heartlands of cycling. With this generation of Colombian riders like Sergio, Egan, Rigoberto [Uran], [Nairo] Quintana, there is a massive amount of fans. They love cycling. It is going to be something special.

“When we are at the Tour de France you see all the Colombian fans every day. It’s nuts! They are smiling, they enjoy it - they are pure fans. We expect something special in their country.”

Introducing the team for Oro y Paz, Portal added: “Sergio is looking good. He wants to defend his national jersey, and he will be our number one. Then there is Egan, who has the Tour Down Under in his legs and is already going well. So we’ve got two leaders, really. We will support Sergio and Egan will be able to back him up.

“We also have Sebastian, who is always good on the climbs, along with David, Jonathan and Tao – we have a really good group. I expect it’s not going to be like a race in Europe where you can control all day. We need to be clever – we only have six guys, so it’s pretty interesting. This is where Tao, David, Sebastian and Jonathan can maybe take some time on an early stage or halfway through a stage where there’s an attack, they can tactically mark some other big teams. We need to be smart, and only try to control the bunch when it’s needed.”

The race itself kicks off with three sprint days, before the climbing action begins.

“There’s a little bit of everything – it’s a good way to start the season,” explained Portal. “The first three days are flat and then the last three days all finish in the mountains. They are not super hard, but all of them are proper summit finishes. The race starts at 1,000m then there are some really long climbs - 20 or 30 kilometres. It’s not crazy, but they really are long, long climbs.

“The riders are all really excited about it and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

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