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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion. Then I go out and paint the stars. - Vincent Van Gogh

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Giro d'Italia stage four team reports

We posted the organizer's as well as GC leader Rohan Dennis' Team BMC report with the stage results.

Here's the update stage winner Tim Wellens' Lotto-Soudal squad sent me:

Before today’s stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, many people predicted Tim Wellens as one of the main favourites for the stage win. It seemed fully righteous to say so because after winning his first stage in the Giro in 2016, he now won his second one in Caltagirone!

The stage offered a perfect chance for breakaway riders, causing many attacks in the opening phase of the race. Finally, five riders managed to escape from the peloton. Frapporti, Jauregui, Barbin, Belkov and Mosca were not granted more than four minutes advantage.

It was BMC together with Sander Armée who took the responsibility and kept the advantage to a minimum. With 100 kilometres to go, it was UAE taking control over the race and trying to reduce the size of the pack. Soon, they realised that it was too early and handed the initiative back over to BMC. The breakaway was caught at less than 15 kilometres to go. When Conti attacked in the final ten kilometres, it was Adam Hansen who kept the advantage of the Italian below half a minute. Tosh Van der Sande eventually caught Conti and persisted in his effort. This caused the peloton to split. Tim Wellens accelerated at 200 metres from the finish, passed Enrico Battaglin and won! Michael Woods and Enrico Battaglin completed the podium.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens takes stage four. Sirotti photo

Tim Wellens: “I saw that Battaglin accelerated with 250 metres to go. I took his wheel and passed him 200 metres from the finish. Then it was just the case of pedalling as hard as I could to make it to the finish. I wasn’t sure though until I crossed the line.”

“The victory of today is very different to my previous Giro stage victory in Roccaraso. Two years ago, I had a lot more time to celebrate. Today, I was the best of a group including all the big favourites. Actually, this victory gives me a better feeling than two years ago.”

“The whole team did a great job today. We took the initiative together with BMC to control the breakaway. We stayed in the front during the whole day, but there was some panic when UAE accelerated and tried to drop some riders. Adam Hansen and Tosh Van der Sande delivered an incredible effort today. The pace was so high that it caused a split in the peloton when we began the final ascent. The team was a great part of the victory today.”

“We came to the Giro to win a stage. That sounds obvious but it is not easy to fulfil those expectations. We can continue the Giro now with a lot less stress, having already won a stage. I am sure other opportunities will follow, not only for me, but also for other guys in the team. But for now, it is nice to have that first stage win secured.”

Here's the Bora-hansgrohe report:

The first day on Italian soil ended with a challenging uphill finish in the city of Caltagirone. Both BORA – hansgrohe GC contenders Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad showed a strong performance on the last climb of the day and were able to finish top-ten as T. Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took the stage win in Caltagirone. The Austrian Konrad moved up to 9thspot in the overall rankings.

The Stage
The whole race travelled back to Italy to continue the Giro d´Italia with stage 4 in Sicily. After a travel day, the peloton started in Catania today. The race covered more than 200km, a total elevation of 2500m and finished in the city of Caltagirone. The riders had to tackle two KOM`s, both fourth category, and two intermediate sprints, one in Palazzolo Acreide and one in Monterosso Alma before the 4thstage winner could be decided. The route had an undulating profile but with a short but tough uphill finish in the old town centre of Caltagirone. 

The Team Tactics
This undulating stage wasn’t easy to plan, due to the stage profile, this day suited both, punchers and climbers. Therefore BORA – hansgrohe went into today´s race with several options, Sam Bennett for the sprint, Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad, if the race will be decided by the climbers in the peloton.

The Race
After some kilometres of racing, five riders launched an attack and pulled away. Their advantage over the peloton, where BORA – hansgrohe rode, was more than three minutes. BMC, with the leader in the overall, took control over the peloton and set the pace for many kilometres. 32km before the finish, only three riders stayed at the front with a gap of nearly two minutes, BORA – hansgrohe was in the pack and tried to save energy for the finale. The race came alive as the peloton closed the gap to the escapees and headed into the final climb of the day.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates finishing just ahead of Davide Formolo

With 10km remaining two riders attacked and were able to distance themselves for a short time, however it was all back together with 3km to go. Cesare Benedetti pulled hard for his teammates Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad. Also, Sam Bennett was at the front and tried to go with the climbers, but in the steep climb the Irish sprinter couldn’t go with the pace. Two crashes catered for more excitement in the finale. Luckily, no BORA – hansgrohe rider was involved. In the last metres, T. Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) made the final move and took the stage win. BORA – hansgrohe rider Davide Formolo crossed the line in 5th positions after a strong performance on the tough uphill finish. Teammate Patrick Konrad finished in 7th position and moved up to 9th place in the general classification.

From the Finish Line
“It was a hard day, the stage covered more than 200km and the last climb up to the finish in the city of Caltagirone was short but steep. We stayed the day over in the peloton to save energy for the finale and as we arrived at the climb I tried to be at the front and as Yates attacked I was able to go with him. But Wellens was the better climber today and took the win, but I am satisfied with my fifth place and felt good. Therefore, I am looking forward to the upcoming stages. The Etna-stage will be a tough one but I feel good, we will see.”– Davide Formolo

“It was really a difficult stage today, especially the last climb was a tough one. The stage was hard to plan, it was a stage which can suit the climbers but also the punchers. But I think we can be satisfied, our sprinter Sam was at the front as we were in the last climb but the finale was too steep for the sprinters in the peloton. However our two GC contenders showed a strong ride and finished in the top-ten and Patrick moved up to 9thplace in the overall. All in all it was a good day for BORA - hansgrohe." – Jens Zemke, sport director 

Here's the report from Chris Froome's Team Sky:

The action resumed in Sicily following the opening rest day, with a tough and undulating 202-kilometre run to Caltagirone featuring a testing finale.

Froome crossed the line 21 seconds back on the day’s winner following a hectic final run-in, where the Brit was forced to a near-stop after a hold up with a kilometre to go. Wout Poels and Sergio Henao finished just ahead in a fractured lead group.

The result sees Froome now sit 20th overall, 55 seconds back on maglia rosa Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), who retained his slender race lead by a single second over Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).

Chris Froome and Kenny Ellisonde

Chris Froome & Kenny Elissonde just after the stage

On the day it was pre-stage favourite Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix All) who put in a stinging late acceleration to claim the victory atop the final climb.

Team Sky had hit the front heading into the final 10km with David de la Cruz leading the line, shortly after the day’s breakaway had been hauled back. But a narrow and technical finale proved tough for any team to control, amid a number of late attacks.

Bardiani-CSF's Andrea Guardini abandons Giro

Here's the team's release: Bittersweet day for Bardiani-CSF at Giro d’Italia (Catania-Catalgirone, 198 km). For the third consecutive day the #GreenTeam has been on the podium thanks to Enrico Barbin, the leader of climbers' classification, protagonist also today in the breakaway. The Italian has won both the KoM and now wears the azzurra jersey with four points on Frapporti (11 vs 7).

The bad news of the day comes from Andrea Guardini. During  the stage the sprinter of Bardiani-CSF had to withdraw from the Corsa Rosa due to illness, probably a virus. Guardini already had bad feeling in Jerusalem, also due to tracheitis suffered in the week before the start.

"I passed a troubled night but I didn't want to give up. Unfortunately just after the start, I understood it would be a really hard day. When the gap passed 15 minutes with more than 70 km to the finish, I raised the white flag. I'm deeply sad, I wanted to race the Giro since the beginning of the season and repaying the trust of the team”, said the rider.

Team Sunweb's upcoming racing

The team sent me this update:

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED): "It's a really challenging course for the 2018 Amgen Tour of California. Our main focus for the race is on stage results, where we want to build further on the development of our upcoming sprint talents Max, Nikias and Mike. With Max we have a clear focus on the fast sprint stages which begin directly on in Long Beach on stage one. The uphill battle begins on stage two as we tackle Gibraltar Road, which is a really tough 12 kilometre climb with an average gradient of 6 percent. Other key stages that we will look at are the time trial with Lennard and Nikias, as well as stage three to Laguna Seca where anything from a decimated bunch sprint to an offensive battle between the puncheurs could happen." 

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt racing in Italy in 2016

RACE: Amgen Tour of California (WT)

DATE: 13-19/05/2018

COACH: Aike Visbeek (NED) 

Nikias Arndt (GER)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Lennard Kämna (GER)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED)
Mike Teunissen (NED)
Max Walscheid (GER) 

Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED): "Overijssel is a tricky race with various potential scenarios that the team need to be aware of. We can expect a lot of early attacks with a likely bunch sprint, where we will go for Niklas. It's his first year with the team and his first chance to go for a result for himself so it will be a really good step in his development. To support him in the lead-out we have Max as our road captain, alongside Jens, Nils and Leon, who is back in action after a period recovering from injury. Sergio and Martin will be the guys to support and position the team on the important moments. After a good week of racing at the Tour of Bretagne with some nice results, we are looking forward to another good race in Overijssel." 

RACE: Ronde van Overijssel (UCI 1.2)

DATE: 12/05/2018

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Max Kanter (GER)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Sergio Tu (TAI)
Jens Vanoverberghe (BEL) 

Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers (NED): "GP Criquielion is a tough and demanding race with different potential outcomes possible so the team need to remain sharp to ensure that the race plays into our hands. We will try to be in the break and if we aren't, then we will make sure that we show ourselves throughout the race and try to bring things back together for a sprint. Our plan is to sprint with Nils, with Jens and Jarno as the last men in the lead-out. It will be a really tough race where only the strongest men will battle it out at the finish and we hope to make good steps in our development here." 

RACE: GP Criquielion (UCI 1.2)

DATE: 13/05/2018

COACH: Tom Veelers (NED) 

Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Jarno Mobach (NED)
Martin Salmon (GER)
Florian Stork (GER)
Sergio Tu (TAI)
Jens Vanoverberghe (BEL) 

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