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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, January 23, 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

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. - Harry S Truman

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:

Vuelta a San Juan stage one team reports

We posted the Quick-Step stage one report with the results

2nd-place Niccolo Bonifazio's Bahrain-Merida team had this to say about the stage:

San Juan, Sunday 21st January – A second place at the end of a very difficult day. After that Vincenzo Nibali could not be at the start of the race and Mark Padun’s abandon after only 60 km came the first podium of this Vuelta San Juan thanks to Niccolò Bonifazio.

“I followed Gaviria – says the Italian sprinter – but I could not get over him. I’m not 100% but I’m sure I can grow again. Already tomorrow the finish will be very particular and will count less to have a so organized “train” for the sprint “.

“We have already tried the climb in the final – still Niccolò – it is just over a kilometer long and climbs in about three minutes. It will be decisive to reach the top in the first twenty positions and then organize the final sprint “.

“Bonifazio’s result – comments Head of performance Paolo Slongo – is important for the morale of the team that today was not the best. He made a good sprint surpassed only by a champion like  the Colombian Fernando Gaviria “.

“The absences of Vincenzo and Mark certainly do not help – he underlines – but we go forward with the same enthusiasm as before. Already tomorrow, we will have a new opportunity to win the stage. I’m thinking again about Niccolò but also Siutsou can have the chance”.

Tomorrow, second stage with start and finish at Peri Lago Punta Negra. They are almost 150 kilometers with a fairly demanding route that includes a climb of 1.5 which ends at 2.5 km from the finish line.

Bora-hansgrohe sent me this update:

After BORA – hansgrohe controlled the race most of the stage when a seven-rider breakaway went up the road. In the end a bunch sprint had to decide the stage as expected. Birthday boy Matteo Pelucchi finished in 3rd place, while the timing of the lead-out was not perfect yet and F. Gaviria took the first win.

The Stage:
A flat stage opened the Vuelta a San Juan today in Argentina. Between San Juan and Pocito the peloton had to cover 148.9 kilometers and a bunch sprint was expected, as several teams wanted to give their fast men a chance for an early win in the race.

The Team Tactics:
With Matteo Pelucchi and Pascal Ackermann BORA – hansgrohe had two cards to play today. But it was Matteo who was picked to go for the sprint, as it was also the Birthday of the now 29-year-old Italian. Michael Kolar and Ackermann were the lead-out men for Pelucchi who already showed good shape in the teams’ last training camp.

The Race:
Early in the stage seven riders went up the road to form the breakaway of the day. But BORA – hansgrohe and Quickstep controlled the gap at two minutes and later increased their pace to catch the last breakaway riders with about 17k to go. In the stages’ final, the lead-out trains formed as usual, but BORA – hansgrohe was at the front early – too early. In the end F. Gaviria took the win, while Matteo Pelucchi crossed the line in 3rd place.

Fernando Gaviria

Fernando Gaviria wins the first stage.

01        F. Gaviria        3:15:23
02        N. Bonifazio    + 0:00
03        M. Pelucchi     + 0:00
04        G. Nizzolo       + 0:00
05        M. Belletti       + 0:00

From the Finish Line:
“Well, we cannot be totally satisfied today. Our goal was, or now still is, to win a stage. The boys showed they are in good shape, but in the end, they hit the front way too early. Matteo had no other chance than to wait a little and then it was hard for him to defend his position. Third place is not bad, but we can achieve more.”– Enrico Poitschke, sports director 

Israel Cycling Academy earns Giro d'Italia wild card invitation

Here's the team's announcement:

Tel Aviv. January 18, 2018: Calling it “a historic moment for Israeli sports and a great honor,” Israel’s first ever professional team, Israel Cycling Academy, has proudly accepted an invitation to participate in the Giro d’Italia, one of the world’s most significant sporting events, scheduled to begin in Jerusalem on May 4th.

“Israel Cycling Academy earned this selection with our excellent team, including seasoned riders who have secured victories in two of the three Grand Tours,” stated the team’s co-owner Sylvan Adams, who is also the Honorary President of the Giro’s “Big Start” in Israel. “We now expect to add a stage win in this year’s Giro and to place a team leader high on the GC [General Classification of overall the leaders]. These are our goals in this year’s Giro and we wish to thank the race organizer RCS for this opportunity.”

The 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia opens with three stages traversing Israel, marking the first time a Grand Tour has ever left Europe. The prestigious event will see 176 of the world’s top cyclists begin the competition against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City. Over the following two days, the athletes will ride from the north of Israel southward to the tip of the Red Sea.

Team founder and co-owner Ron Baron stressed the importance of the team’s selection for the Giro, both to Israel and to Israeli cycling. “Our dream, almost unthinkable only 3 years ago when we launched the team, is now coming true. A professional team with world class Israeli riders alongside the finest international talents all under the Israeli flag, racing with pride in a Grand Tour. I encourage all our fans from Israel and around the world to support the team as it makes history.”

Israeli road champion Roy Goldstein said, “No Israeli rider has ever competed in a Grand Tour, so for us it’s really an unbelievable dream come true. It’s our chance to step up and stand on the biggest stage in the cycling world and to scream, ‘We are on the map and we will stay on the map!’”

To be competitive, Israel Cycling Academy has enhanced its roster. “The first step was already taken by adding 8 riders and forming a team of 24, including riders with a proven record of victories in Grand Tours,” explained Israel Cycling Academy team director Kjell Carlström. “But the most important thing will be getting the guys to race at a high standard in hard races to get used to the speed expected. The next 3 months of racing will help us to select our race strategy in the Giro, as well as the riders. We believe we have strong riders for both sprints and the mountains and since we have 24 [riders on the team], there will be plenty to choose from.”

As for the ambitious team’s strategy, it’s no secret. Carlström said, “Our team DNA is to attack. I am not afraid to say: We have a goal of winning a stage in the Giro!”

The squad’s early season racing calendar has also stepped up a level. The team will debut in World Tour races such as the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Volta a Catalunya, before returning to classic Giro preparation races like the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Vuelta a Andalucia.

The team will also add another two significant races to its strengthened calendar: Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico. RCS, the organizers of the Giro d’Italia, have confirmed Israel Cycling Academy’s invitation to the pair of respected Italian races.

Veteran riders like Ben Hermans and Ruben Plaza may be obvious candidates to make the 8 man Giro roster, but nothing can be taken for granted. Plaza, with wins in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España already under his belt, is keen to line up in Jerusalem in what would be his third Giro d’Italia.

Ruben Plaza

Ruben Plaza riding in stage 19 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia

Ruben Plaza said, “My personal dream is to win in our home country Israel, but we would be very happy if it happens in any of the other stages. One thing we have already achieved through being selected for the Giro: a recognition that this team is on the path to achieving the greatest feats in the sport.”

The 5 Israeli riders in the team will be particularly motivated to make the team’s Giro squad, thereby becoming the first ever Israeli to race a Grand Tour. “I have no doubt that whichever Israeli rider gets the chance will prove that he can take it on successfully,” said the two-time Israeli road champion Guy Sagiv.

Hopeful that at least one Israeli rider will make the Giro roster, general manager Ran Margaliot said, “It’s certainly a goal for us to see an Israeli rider there but we made it clear to all the 24 riders: there will be no free gifts here. Every rider who wants to get selected will have to prove his worth.”

Mitchelton-Scott announces riders for Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

The team sent me this release:

After success at the national championships and the Tour Down Under in the past two weeks, Mitchelton-SCOTT today name a strong team motivated to maintain momentum in Australia as they line up at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this week.

South African Daryl Impey will lead the team, having been crowned 2018 Tour Down Under champion yesterday, and will be joined by the likes of 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman and 2016 Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves in Sunday’s main event.

Daryl Impey

Daryl Impey will lead the Mitchelton-Scott team at the Cadel Evans race.

Sprint king Caleb Ewan will line up in his final race in Australia for 2018 at the Race Melbourne criterium on Thursday.

The team:
Jack Bauer (NZL, 32)
Esteban Chaves (COL, 28) - Sunday only
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 24) - Thursday only
Caleb Ewan (AUS, 23) - Thursday only
Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 21) - Thursday only
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 39)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26)
Damien Howson (AUS, 25) - Sunday only
Daryl Impey (RSA, 33)
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 30) - Sunday only

The objective:
Results so far in 2018 have Mitchelton-SCOTT aiming for one thing – a victory.

The Australian team boast Ewan in Thursday’s criterium and multiple options in the main road race on Sunday including 2018 Tour Down Under champion Daryl Impey, track champion Cameron Meyer and Colombian Esteban Chaves who will kick start his season in Geelong following the withdrawal of Luke Durbridge due to injury.

The course:
A dynamic one-day race, reminiscent of the Spring Classics in Europe, makes for exciting and unpredictable racing. 2018 sees a change in the finishing circuit, including as extra ascent of the challenging Challambra Climb. We’ve seen solo and small bunch sprint finishes in the past, and either could occur again.

The regular punchy riders like BMC Racing’s Simon Gerrans, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Jay McCarthy, reigning champion Nikias Ardnt (Team Sunweb) and Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Impey will head up the favourites list.

The past – close but no cigar:
The relatively new Australian race has eluded the Mitchelton-SCOTT men’s team in its first three editions, the home team settling for second place on two occasions (2015 & 2017), with fifth their lowest result in 2016. Can 2018 be the breakthrough year?

Daryl Impey – 2018 Tour Down Under champion:
“I will definitely go into the Cadel Road Race with confidence. It was the race we really targeted and I am excited to go there, particularly after the great week we’ve had at Tour Down Under. We will approach it like we did in Adelaide, take it kilometre by kilometre and the legs will do the talking in the final if they are still there.”

Esteban Chaves – debut 2018 race:
“It’s always a special feeling to start a new season, no matter where it is. But for me, it is extra special to start in Australia, it’s a country I love and where I have had a lot of different good experiences. This race is awesome as well, I did it for the first time last year. It is hard, the public is awesome, Geelong is a great town and all of the atmosphere around this race is pretty cool.

“I’ve seen that they have added an extra climb, actually it’s a hard climb. One more time can maybe make a difference, but it also depends on how the first 150kms will be. Most of the guys will come from the Tour Down Under so for me, it will be a good test to see where I am after pre-season.”

Matt Wilson – sport director:
“Our ambitions for this race are very clear – we are going there to win. It’s a race that we haven’t managed to win yet and it’s high on our priority list and we are obviously coming off a great summer so far with some big results so we will be hoping for a very good result come Sunday.

“I think the course change is quite significant. A fourth time up Challambra Crescent as well as the shorter local circuits will definitely make for a more dynamic and exciting final. Again, we have a very good team going which will give us multiple options.”

Race details:
Thu, 25 Jan: Towards Zero Race Melbourne, Albert Park, 116.6km
Sun, 28 Jan: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Geelong, 164km

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

Here's the announcement the team sent me:


Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): "Continuing with the Australian races, on Thursday we have Race Melbourne, a criterium race around Melbourne's Formula 1 circuit. With 22 laps around a 5.3km circuit, the race totals 116.6 kilometres and we can expect a really fast and furious show. We have our German sprinter Phil Bauhaus whom we'll aim for a result with, and a strong team to support our goal." 

RACE: Towards Zero Race Melbourne (CRT)

DATE: 25/01/2018

COACH: Luke Roberts (AUS) 

Nikias Arndt (GER)
Phil Bauhaus (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Sam Oomen (NED)
Michael Storer (AUS)
Mike Teunissen (NED) 

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt will race be racing this week in Australia.


Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): "We go to Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race as defending title holders with Nikias Arndt, who will be back again and have the opportunity to go for a result. Once again we can expect a decimated bunch sprint, despite some changes to the parcours. This year there will be one less climb on the lap, but an additional longer climb to contend with over the race's 164 kilometres. Our expectations remain that things will come down to a small bunch sprint where we will aim for a result with Nikias." 

RACE: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (WT)

DATE: 28/01/2018

COACH: Luke Roberts (AUS) 

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