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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 8, 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

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking. - George S. Patton

Current racing:

Upcoming racing:

Latest completed racing:

Dubai Tour stage two team reports

Here's the update from Team Quick-Step Floors:

Elia Viviani couldn't have asked for a better present on the day he turned 29, as the Quick-Step Floors rider combined physical presence, positioning, timing and speed – after a flawless display of his teammates – and sailed to his second victory of the season in Ras al Khaimah, holding off the late surge of race leader Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and countryman Riccardo Minali (Astana).

"I was very motivated after yesterday's disappointment. In Palm Jumeirah I felt that I lost a chance and was very frustrated, also because my teammates put in a huge amount of work and I let them down. I'm a pro since 2010 and people know that a defeat motivates me more than a victory, and this was the case also today. The feeling with the guys is incredible, it's very special to be part of this team and I'm happy to get the victory here, which makes my birthday even more beautiful."

One of the top contenders at the start of the 190km-long stage, Elia spent a quiet day in the bunch, except for a rear wheel change inside the last 25 kilometers. Despite losing around 40 seconds to the peloton, the 29-year-old kept his composure, and helped by three Quick-Step Floors teammates, returned to the main group, which soon after reeled in the last three breakaway riders.

Unlike Tuesday, the final kilometers of the stage were easier, but the pack was again very nervous, with the sprinters' teams beginning to jostle for position with ten kilometers to go. Piloted by a strong Niki Terpstra, the Quick-Step Floors train took the left side of the road and navigated through the field to the front, with Elia Viviani – fourth wheel under the flamme rouge – relying once again before the sprint on an amazing Fabio Sabatini.

Elia Viviani

Elia Viviani wins Dubai Tour stage two.

"The last kilometer was chaotic, but it's always like that when you have the best sprinters in the world fighting for victory. The team made their presence felt, and with 500 meters left, Saba closed the gap to the riders in the front. Then, I got into the wheel of Kristoff and decided to sprint earlier than yesterday. It's my best start of the season and I hope I won't stop here. I know that I am second overall now, but I am not thinking of the general classification yet. The plan is to take it day by day and see what happens", concluded Viviani after netting the team's ninth stage victory at the Dubai Tour.

GC leader Dylan Groenewegen's LottoNL-Jumbo team had this to report about the second stage:

After the second stage of the Dubai Tour, Dylan Groenewegen is still leading in the general classification. The rider of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was close to another stage win, but was ultimately beaten by Elia Viviani after a long sprint. In the general classification, the Dutchman is two seconds ahead of the Italian. In addition, Groenewegen remains the leader in the points and youth classification.

The race developed in a very similar way to yesterday’s race, when an early escape managed to gain a big advantage. The race was then controlled by, amongst others, Bram Tankink, who rode in the front of the peloton all day. After a while, the breakaway group slowly disintegrated, to be swallowed by the chasing peloton ten kilometres before the finish line.

In the peloton, preparations for a mass sprint had already been put into effect, as was the case with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. In the hectic final, Groenewegen seemed to lose sight of his lead-out. "That happened a kilometre and a half before the finish. It was really hard today”, he said afterwards.

"I had to come from very far to sprint for the win. The fact that I didn’t win is disappointing, but the gain of today is that I’m still the leader in the general classification. Now, the focus is on tomorrow”, said the sprinter of Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

Daryl lmpey wins seventh South African time trial championship

Impey's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this:

Recently crowned Tour Down Under winner Daryl Impey has continued his winning momentum by impressing once again at the South African national championships to claim his seventh time trial title today in Oudtshoorn.

Impey is the first South African rider to win the time trial title seven times after dominating the 43.8kilometre race against the clock in blistering hot conditions, to finish two minutes 17seconds faster than his nearest rival, Ryan Gibbons (Dimension-Data).

Dary Impey - 2018 National TT champion: “It is always nice to win the time trial, every year there is always a bit more pressure. I was confident after Down Under that I would come here and be able to do a good ride, it was really hard and I am super happy with it.”

“I started off quite fast and hard but kind of blew up a little bit towards the end, but I think I still paced it quite well. It was so hot compared to other years and I think the competition felt that. It was around 36degrees at two thirty in the afternoon.”

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey after winning this year's Tour Down Under

The South African Road Race Championships takes place on Saturday 10th February, where Impey will be back in action aiming to bring his national coloured road jersey to Mitchelton-SCOTT for the first time.

“The road race is something I have never won so there is always pressure from myself to try and win. It is important to try and win it eventually, but it is hard, I know the odds are stacked against me with all the teams and their numbers.

“I am hoping to carry some form from Down Under and hopefully do something special on Saturday, we will see, it is always difficult to say what will happen. Condition-wise I am ready for it, it is quite a short race so I think it should be quite aggressive.”

South Africa National Time Trial Results:
1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 52:37
2. Ryan Gibbons (Team Dimension Data)  +2:17
3. Rohan de Ploy +6:49

Fernando Gaviria wins again at Colombia Oro y Paz

Here's the Team Quick-Step report:

Quick-Step Floors is on fire this week and doesn't waste any opportunity in taking advantage of the superb form and momentum that is currently enjoying. After Fernando Gaviria opened his Colombia Oro y Paz campaign with a convincing win and Michael Mørkøv landed his seventh career victory at the Six Days of Copenhagen on Tuesday, Elia Viviani added to our remarkable haul of victories in the Dubai Tour, before the same Gaviria capped off an incredible 24 hours with another strong sprint at his home race, extending his lead in the general classification.

Once again, Iljo Keisse and Jhonatan Narvaez had the task of controlling the six-man breakaway who got green light from the peloton after the day's first intermediate sprint, nabbed by Fernando. The Quick-Step Floors duo, helped by a couple of teams in the last 20 kilometers, cut back the deficit to a minute and made sure of mopping them up inside the last ten kilometers of the stage to Palmira, the finishing venue for the second straight day.

With two kilometers left, Alvaro Hodeg stretched out the peloton, before Maximiliano Richeze took over in the final and launched Fernando Gaviria as he approached the last corner of the stage. From there, the pink jersey wearer got out of the saddle, unleashed an impressive burst of speed and eased over the line arms aloft, celebrating his third win of the season.

"Of course I am very happy, because it was another perfect day for Quick-Step Floors: Elia won in the morning and a few hours later I took another victory in front of my family and supporters, who were again unbelievable. It was a long day with high temperatures, but we controlled it – also with the help of other teams – and the win is for my fantastic teammates", said Fernando Gaviria after retaining the lead in the overall, points and youth classification.

Stage 3, from Palmira to Buga, will be the last opportunity for the sprinters at this edition, and even though he dominated both bunch gallops so far, Fernando doesn't take anything for granted: "Tomorrow we will have a different stage, with a long, straight finish. It would be a dream to complete a hat-trick of victories, but I'm not thinking of this now. All I want is to enjoy this beautiful moment together with my teammates and countrymen."

Damiano Cunego to begin his final season at the Tour de La Provence

Here's what Cunego's Nippo-Vini Fantini team had to say:

Damiano Cunego is preparing the last “season debut” of his incredible career, in France at Le Tour Cycliste International la Provence. The race will take place from 8 to 11 of February. Not only Damiano Cunego, 7 #OrangeBlue riders will start, composing a balanced line-up considering also the other important Italian race, the Trofeo Laigueglia, the first important race of the Ciclismo Cup.

Damiano Cunego

Damiano Cunego in pink in 2004, the year he won the Giro d'Italia

Damiano Cunego will be the leader of the team for the hardest stage, with the sprinter Eduard Grosu ready to battle in the sprint, but also in the first time trial. For the climbing stages the two Japanese riders will be important. Sho Hatsuyama was the best climber of the Tour of Japan 2017, while the young talent Marino Kobayashi is in a good condition looking forward to this race. Alan Marangoni is the experienced rider of this line-up, ready to lead the young riders, such as Hiroki Nishimura and Damiano Cima, for a roster ready to be competitive.

The full line-up:
Damiano Cunego, Eduard Grosu, Sho Hatsuyama, Alan Marangoni, Hiroki Nishimura, Marino Kobayashi, Damiano Cima.

The Sports Directors on the #OrangeBlue team car will be Valerio Tebaldi and Shinichi Fukushima. The Japanese DS comments with the following words the French competition and the Roster: “For someone of our riders will be the first race of the season and the first opportunity to see how is going their athletic preparation comparing to other competitors. Eduard Grosu will have important chances both in the sprint arrivals and in the time trial, while Alan Marangoni will be an important supporting rider, but also with some individual chance in the first prologue. Damiano Cima will be an important supporting rider for our sprinter, while Damiano Cunego is very motivated for his last season. With him the Japanese riders, as the young talent Marino Kobayashi that has a very good condition, while Sho Hatsuyama and Hiroki Nishimura can have some breakaway chance during the race.”

Le Tour Cycliste International la Provence is composed by 4 stages. After a first short prologue, that will take place inside the Motorsport circuit of Paul Ricard, 3 stages will compose the race. The hardest one will be the third fraction with 2.600 meters of difference in altitude, while the second and the fourth stage can be perfect for the sprinters. 2 World Tour teams on the start-line, together with 8 Professional teams, with the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini team. Rohan Dennis is the previous edition winner. In few days we will discover who will be the 2018 edition winner.

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