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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, May 3, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

A fool and his money are soon elected. - Will Rogers

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EF Education First-Drapac releases Giro squad names

The team sent me this release:

A handful of climbers, a few rouleurs, and a sprinter. The EF Education First-Drapac squad for this very special 101st Giro d’Italia is made for the mountains but deep enough to contest an array of stages, from lumpy profiles to sprint finishes.

Mike Woods headlines our roster, fresh off his second place finish at Liège-Bastogne- Liège. Hugh Carthy, Nate Brown, Sacha Modolo, Tom Van Asbroeck, Mitch Docker, Tom Scully, and Joe Dombrowski join the Canadian.

The Giro d’Italia ventures out of Europe for the Grand Depart. The race begins on Saturday, May 5 with a time trial in Jerusalem. Two road stages in Israel follow before the peloton travels to Sicily for stages four – six. The peloton will reach mainland Italy for stage seven on the second weekend of racing.

Below, you’ll find our rider-by-rider take on the upcoming Giro, with some insights from our Giro sport directors Fabrizio Guidi and Juanma Garate.

“My big goal for this Giro is to get a stage win. I haven’t won a WorldTour race yet, and with 21 stages on tap, I’m hoping I can win one of them.”

Garate on Woods: “The Giro is going to be another step in Mike’s career. After a difficult start for him this season, I think he arrives in Israel exactly as we wanted. If he enjoys every day, if he continues to feel like he is living his dream, I believe this next month will be a really successful one.”

“My goal is to support the team’s goals in helping Mike achieve a high position on the general classification. I’d like to play an important role for him in the high mountains and show what I’m capable on over the steepest terrain. If I get the opportunity to have my own success on individual stages, I will take it and race aggressively.”

Garate on Carthy: “If there is one race on the calendar that fits Hugh’s characteristics, that race is the Giro. He will have his opportunities, especially on the long climbs in the second part of the race. We need to pay attention to ensure that he doesn’t lose too much energy in the first part of the race so that he can make the difference in the last breakaways of the race.”

“This is my third Giro, and I’m super excited to be back. My personal ambitions center around helping Woods however I can. He’s riding super well, and I would love to help him get a result. If the team gives me the opportunity to get into a break or two, I would love to win a stage.”

Garate on Brown: “I would like to see some extra character from Nate in this coming month. With him, I believe if he wants, he can. He has to have confidence in himself and feel the confidence we have in him so that he and his teammates can enjoy his experience to be in the right moves. When Nate is switched on, he is very capable.”

Nthan Brown

Nathan Brown after stage 3 of the 2917 Tour de France

“My ambition is simple. I want to win a stage.”
Guidi on Modolo: “Sacha is our sprinter, and the course of the Giro adapts to his characteristics. He has a lot of experience and is obviously highly motivated.”

“I’m focused on getting the best possible results for the team.”

Guidi on Van Asbroeck: “Tom had an unfortunate start to his season, and the Giro will help him find the right condition. He will be crucial in supporting Sacha in the sprints.”

“My personal ambitions are to set up Sacha for a stage win. To see an Italian winning a stage of the Giro in #PinkArgyle would be a dream come true.”

Guidi on Docker: “Mitch has athletic qualities to support our leaders, and his strong personality will be able to give structure and cohesion to our Giro group.”

“I think my strengths lie in assisting Mitch and TVA in the lead-out for Sacha on the sprint stages. I’ll also help out the climbing crew wherever possible.”

Garate on Scully: “Tom is a really important piece in our Giro puzzle. He did the cobbled classics, and he really knows how to position himself and his teammates in the bunch under stressful conditions. This is super important for Sacha and Mike. If Tom finds himself in the breakaway and it’s his day, watch out."

“Nothing is too set in stone. Normally I come good in the third week. Winning a big mountain stage would be great.”

Guidi on Dombrowski: “Joe is an athlete who adapts extraordinarily to the ‘Alpi’ difficulties. He won the Baby Giro, and we are convinced we will see him with the best riders on the most difficult mountain days.”

“I’m Mr. 26. I’ve raced 26 Grand Tours. To do a good Grand Tour, you need to know your body really well. You need to know when you can go deep and when not. And you need to have an overall picture of one race of 21 stages and not 21 races of one day. To be successful is really simple and really complicated at the same time, but I can repeat the same words that Pietro Algeri, my first sport director, told me in the radio many times when I was targeting the general classification on a Grand Tour: “Manuel, non mollare!” [Don't give up!]

“When I think about the Giro, I see myself as a child in front of the TV looking for the pink jersey. Then, I see myself still as a child but this time at the edge of the road, and I’m looking for the pink jersey. I’m strongly and emotionally linked to this race because my life was marked by the Giro. It doesn’t take long to understand what I can feel sitting in the team car.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Giro d’Italia

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

Nate Brown (USA)
Hugh Carthy (GBR)
Mitch Docker (AUS)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Sacha Modolo (ITA)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Mike Woods (CAN)
Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL)

Two days to the Giro d'Italia Big Start: quotes from the protagonists

Today, a number of the Giro d’Italia’s favorites shared their pre-race thoughts at a press conference. I grabbed this off the Giro site:

Team Sunweb
Tom Dumoulin: “It’s not the end of the world if I don’t perform in the opening time trial, but it would be nice to get a good result and hopefully win it. I haven’t seen the course yet but, in the book, it seems hilly, so it’s good. My first impressions of Israel have been great. I arrived late last night but I couldn’t resist the urge to visit the old city of Jerusalem, so I headed over on my bike. People were looking at me a bit funny, wondering who’s this guy with normal clothes on a race bike… Being the defending champion of the Giro, the difference is how people look at me but I haven’t changed. I was maybe too eager to show myself to the world at the beginning of the season but, after I reflected on what went wrong in the spring, I’m more confident in my capabilities at the start of the Giro. I’ve also learned from last year how to overcome the difficult moments. But I haven’t ‘reckonned’ any of the mountain stages for this year.”

Team Sky
Chris Froome: “To participate in the Giro is a decision I came to with the team during the winter. It’s been almost a decade since I first started the Giro in the country that welcomed me as a neo-pro with Barloworld and I’m back to win the event. It’s a huge motivation to try and win three Grand Tours in a row. From the feelings I’ve had at the Tour of the Alps, I’m ready to win but I can’t say this is gonna be the result in three weeks’ time. I’ve got an extremely versatile team to help me in every part of the race. I’m not going to rely on the time trials to win the Giro. It’s a full package. I’m glad I ‘reckonned’ the Zoncolan and the time trial [in Trentino]. I already knew the Colle delle Finestre. It’s a tough race ahead. We had security concerns before coming to Israel but it’s all been fantastic. We rode with the Israel junior team this morning. Hopefully the Giro starting here will inspire young cyclists and there will be prominent riders from this part of the world on the pro scene in a few years.”

Chris Froome

Chris Froome talks about the 2018 Giro

UAE Team Emirates
Fabio Aru: “Coming to Israel yesterday, we realized the temperature is pretty high. We’ll have to pay attention to hydration. On the roads of stage 2 and stage 3, the wind will also be a factor that should not be underestimated. The opening time trial is a tricky course with lots of ups and downs. I had a great desire to return to the Giro. It’s a crossroads in my career; it’s the right time to win the Giro. I’ve never felt young because I’ve raced with responsibilities albeit with no stress, almost since the beginning; in fact, since 2014. In our team, I feel the serenity and the harmony to do well. There are about 15 riders who are here for GC. In addition to Pinot, Pozzovivo and Lopez, who were in great form at the Tour of the Alps, and Froome, who was in a similar condition to me, there’s Chaves, [Simon] Yates, Bennett and Woods, who are among the climbers to watch. I don’t think the Zoncolan or the Jafferau will decide the race… all 21 stages will.”

Thibaut Pinot: “This is my first visit to Israel and I’m surprised by how beautiful it is. But it’s hot and that’s not my forte. However, the heat would be a problem for me in the mountains, not during the first three stages I guess. Last year I finished 1’20’’ down on Tom Dumoulin. It’s not much but I lost some time in the time trials and I was kind of sick in the second week. This year, I hope to not waste any time so I can make the podium. It’s great to have won the Tour of the Alps, beating Froome, Lopez and others, but each rider’s form can be different 15 days before a Grand Tour. I won’t let myself get carried away by this result. Maybe my rivals will mark me more. Most importantly, I want to be in great shape to attack in the mountains.”

Quick – Step Floors
Elia Viviani: “It’s a good experience to start the Giro in Israel. One of the beauties of cycling is to see a lot of places in the world. I’m delighted to be here in Jerusalem, a beautiful city with a lot of history. I’m yet to see the course of the time trial and decide if I race it flat out to target the Maglia Rosa later on or reserve strength for the following two days in which I want to win. With races in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I’m used to winning in the desert and I’m confident to continue this winning streak. I’m here to complete the Giro. After I had a bad experience of going home after eight days, I don’t want that to happen again. An amazing scenery awaits us in Rome for the conclusive stage. It’s an extra motivation. Every time I start the Giro, I aim for the cyclamen jersey but my first goal is to win a stage or more. I’d love to reach Rome with three stage victories and the cyclamen jersey.”

Gianluca Brambilla: “For me it’s a bit strange to arrive at the Giro d’Italia with only a few days of racing. After the Abu Dhabi Tour, I’ve been off the bike for 20 days as I contracted pneumonia. Then I trained well and I did not come back straight to racing. I waited for the Tour of Croatia. My goal is to try and make a good GC. As I’ve shown in the past, I prefer to take a stage victory instead of a position outside the top 10 on GC. I start the race by focusing on the top 10 but, if it doesn’t work out, I think I have a stage victory in my legs.”

Mark Cavendish is back

Here's the organizer's Tour of Yorkshire news:

Mark Cavendish has chosen to bounce back in Yorkshire! After a heavy fall which has kept him away from the pack since Milan-San Remo, the currently active rider with the most Tour de France stage wins has programmed his return to competition in Yorkshire, the very same place where he experienced one of his cruellest disillusionments with a fall at the finish of the first stage on Le Tour in 2014 in Harrogate. Since then, the British sprinter has been unable to accept the invitations from the Tour de Yorkshire, but he will be in attendance this time with a team capable of setting him up for victory, accompanied his most faithful lieutenant, Mark Renshaw. Particularly primed for sprints, “Cav” will have to overcome finishers like Bryan Coquard, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Phil Bauhaus, Ben Swift or Adam Blythe.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavandish on his way to starting stage two of the 2017 Tour.

However, on a route which could also be conducive to shows of strength from a long way out, the general classification could be pre-empted by an attacker able to open a gap at the summit finish at Cow and Calf rocks on the second stage. In this context, there are few who can rival with Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet, who missed his chance on his sole previous participation in 2015 (when he finished 7th), but who will be arriving with genuine objectives for victory. On this route, he will have to deal with competition from rivals such as Robert Kiserlovski, Stefan Denifl, Owain Doull or also Jonathan Hivert.

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