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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. - Rabindranath Tagore

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Tour de Suisse Stage four team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Christopher Juul-Jensen's Mitchelton-Scott team with the results.

Here's the update from GC leader Stefan Küng's BMC team:

12 June, 2018, Gstaad (SUI): Stefan Küng successfully defended his yellow jersey on stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse which saw the sprinters denied on another rain-soaked stage.

The day's breakaway was formed easily when six riders broke clear almost as soon as the flag dropped at kilometer 0 and with 189km on the cards, the peloton, led by BMC Racing Team, was happy to let the group go more than six minutes down the road.

With rain falling heavily throughout the stage, BMC Racing Team remained at the front of the bunch out of trouble to protect race leader Stefan Küng and team leader Richie Porte.

The breakaway's advantage slowly came down in the second half of the stage with the category 3 Saanenmöserstrasse climb providing the main challenge before a descent into the finish in Gstaad.

The breakaway riders started the climb with a one-minute advantage and immediately attacks came from the six riders which saw Chris Jul-Jensen (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and Nansa Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) in the lead over the summit, while behind the high pace in the peloton prevented any riders from going clear.

Despite the peloton closing in on the duo in the final 10km, just over ten seconds behind wiht 5km remaining, Jul-Jensen proved to be too strong and led the race solo with 3km to go as he entered the aerodrome that provided a spectacular finish to stage 4.

The sprinters' teams tried their best to close the gap but were left to sprint for second place behind Jul-Jensen who hung on to claim the win. Küng crossed the line safely in the bunch to retain the overall lead, as did Greg Van Avermaet, Porte, and Tejay van Garderen, who remain three seconds behind Küng on the General Classification.

Stefan Kung

Stefan Küng gets another yellow jersey. Sirotti photo

Stefan Küng:
"The rain didn't make it easier but it was quite an easy start and we were surprised as we expected a bigger fight for the breakaway. Then, the race was fast with strong guys out in front. Luckily, we had some help from other teams to chase it down but I think Michi Schär will need a lot of pasta tonight to recover from today's effort."

"Tomorrow is the first time that we go really into the mountains with a summit finish so it will be difficult for me to defend the jersey but I think up until now we can be happy. I won't let the jersey go without fighting for it."

"I came as a kid and always looked on ski holidays but I have never ridden tomorrow's climb by bike because I wasn't expecting to be in yellow when we hit this stage so, it is also a little bit of new territory for me but we will see how it goes."

Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this update:

Soaked to the skin almost from the drop of the flag, it was a long and draining day in the saddle for the riders at the Tour de Suisse today. While the poor weather could have easily dampened the spirits in the peloton, it was a spirited ride from the breakaway that proved decisive, with a lone rider managing to hold the bunch at bay, where the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, took fourth in the sprint for the remaining places. This fourth position allowed the Slovak rider to swap his Rainbow Jersey for the black jersey of Tour de Suisse points leader.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan in his points leader's jersey. Sirotti photo.

The Stage
The profile of today’s stage looked like a long and slow uphill struggle. A third category climb opened the day, summiting 23km into this 189km stage – the longest of this year’s edition of the race – followed by a steady ascent before taking on the second category Saanenmöser. Having started the Tour de Suisse on relatively flat terrain, the race was slowly easing riders into the mountains as it steadily moved south, but while the biggest climb of the day was close to the finish, the day didn’t end at the summit. With a 10km downhill section to the finish line, there was no guarantee a climber would go away with the stage victory today.

The Team Tactics
There was no clear outcome predicted for today’s stage. While the finale was flat, it would come after a long day’s riding, with some tough climbs throughout – particularly the second category ascent summiting 10km from the finish. If the chance was there, the team would take it, but with wet weather conditions bringing with them the potential for crashes, along with the need to save energy for the coming mountain stages, the main aim today would be to stay safe ahead of the pivotal days to come.

The Race
While on yesterday’s stage, the rain held off until the end of the day, the riders were racing on wet roads from the drop of the flag today, and conditions only worsened as the day progressed. Clearly not phased by the downpour, six riders made their move early on, managing to put a clear 6:30 between them and the peloton, maintaining this advantage much of the day before dropping steadily in the final 75km. By this point, the weather conditions had worsened, and as the Saanenmöser appeared on the horizon, teams were working harder to reduce the gap, with Maciej Bodnar and Juraj Sagan leading out the peloton. The group of six splintered on the climb, but in spite of the gap falling, two riders were making a concerted effort to push on. With just 2km remaining, the remaining breakaway riders were within touching distance, but that’s where the peloton would remain – a lone rider taking the stage, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, taking fourth spot in the sprint for the remaining places. This top five finish meant Peter swapped his drenched Rainbow Jersey for the Tour de Suisse’s black jersey of points leader.

From the Finish Line
"This stage was already hard by itself and the pouring rain made it even trickier. I felt in good form on the climb and I had strong legs but Juul-Jensen played his cards well and was able to stay in front of the peloton and win. I'd like to thank again all my teammates, they have been doing an amazing job so far and I now have the points jersey thanks to them." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

"It was a day for the breakaway and we have to give credit to Juul-Jensen. We put on, again, a hard effort under today's difficult conditions and the guys worked hard, chasing the escapees. We had expected a faster race but we saw a number of sprinters get dropped on the climb. The slippery roads in the downhill section to Gstaad made the peloton more reluctant, so the breakaway built a gap big enough to take the win. Peter felt well on the climb and was at the front of the reduced bunch for the sprint but it was too late to aim at the stage win. He now wears the points jersey andtomorrow is another day to take our chances."– Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Pivot Cycles focuses on close-to-market production in Europe

Bike Europe sent me this news:

STUTTGART, Germany – The Tempe, Arizona based maker of premium performance bikes Pivot Cycles earlier announced the opening of a European sales & service center in Stuttgart. That’s now being followed with an announcement that the company will start assembling bikes in Europe. This summer Pivot Cycles will start the delivery of “Fully assembled bikes to German retailers as well as our European distribution partners”.

In 2015 Pivot Cycles strengthened its presence in Europe with the hiring of Volker Knaus, who has been laying the groundwork for today’s Pivot Cycles European operations. He says “It’s crazy to see how fast it all went! What started out as a one-man show, a big van, and 15 demo bikes in 2015; today it is a powerful team that stands behind Pivot Cycles here in Germany”.

Founded in late 2016, Pivot Cycles EU GmbH now has eight permanent employees and several part-timers. Moreover longtime Pivot Cycles US employee Emily Landeryou moved from the USA to Germany where the bike assembly takes place. She is overseeing the quality control on all bikes as well as the day-to-day business operations. An experienced bicycle assembler in Bad Salzuflen near Bielefeld was chosen by Pivot for its European close to the market assembly. From Bad Salzuflen the assembled bikes are shipped all over Europe. With the new assembly in Europe Pivot Cycles ships now from three different warehouses and assembly sites worldwide: United States, Taiwan and Germany.

Pivot Cycles’ Stuttgart office handles the company’s marketing and sales activities for which some 70 demo bikes are in use throughout Europe. Five new employees have been added to the European marketing team. Matthias Sandbrink is organizing the European demo fleet as well as all technical matters in the company’s new service office.

You can read the entire story here.

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