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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 7, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. - Claude Monet

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Vuelta a España stage twelve news

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from 2nd-place Dylan van Baarle's Sky team

Dylan van Baarle went agonisingly close to a stage victory at the Vuelta a Espana as he finished second to Alexandre Geniez (AG2R la Mondiale) after a long range breakaway was decided on the finish line.

Van Baarle sprinted to within inches of beating Geniez after the pair has been part of a stage-long escape group which had battled across the 181km lumpy terrain between Mondoñedo and Faro de Estaca de Bares.

Alexandre Geniez

Alexandre Geniez takes a close one from Dylan van Baarle. Sirotti photo.

The overall lead changed hands as another member of the original break, who was dropped by Van Baarle's select group - Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), moved into the red jersey after the escapees amassed a large lead of over 11 minutes which saw the Spanish rider topple leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). 

Following the sprint, Van Baarle was involved in an unfortunate incident as he and Geniez crossed the line as the French rider collided with an official and Van Baarle fell over the pair, causing cuts and bruises before another rider crashed into Van Baarle while he was grounded.

Vuelta organisers later confirmed that the official involved in the incident was not hurt in the incident.

But despite the late setback, Van Baarle was upbeat about his day in the break, telling “I really wanted to be in the break today, I asked [Sport Director] Gabriel Rasch yesterday if I could go. I was happy I was there and I tried to save my legs a little bit. I felt pretty good all day until the crash after the finish.”

“I felt pretty good and I saw some guys really suffering so I tried to attack when they looked at each other. Also in the last kick I tried to pace [myself] a little bit and I came back. I was close, but no cigar.”

Following the incident after the race with the official, Team Sky Doctor Neil Heron provided an update on Van Baarle's condition. He told “He has a few cuts to his right hip and elbow as well as a bruise on the right side of his ribs. He has quite a lot of pain in his right thigh - at the minute I think this is just from the impact of the bike on his thigh but we will need to see over the next few hours."

Here's Bora-hansgrohe's Vuelta stage twelve summary:

In the same way you can never judge a book by its cover, you can’t always judge a cycling race by its profile. While the stage looked like it would be one for the sprinters to contest, some tough climbs and continued climbing and descending meant that they would be well out of contention by the finish line. Instead, the excitement came from the day’s breakaway, in which BORA-hansgrohe’s Davide Formolo brought some fighting spirit, working hard and responding well to the challenging parcours, the Italian rider ended the day in sixth position. In the GC race, while a member of the break pulled on the red jersey of race leader, Emanuel Buchmann maintained his top ten position in the overall standings, finishing the day seventh in the GC.


Some of the riders in the day's break went the distance, beating the pack to the finish. Sirotti photo.

The Stage
Meandering along the coast of northern Spain, this 181.1km stage had been earmarked as one for the sprinters, owing to the flat finish. However, the stage profile, while appearing reasonably flat and straightforward, was going to be more challenging than expected. There were just two categorised climbs – one third category in the opening 10km, and another third category at the 130km mark – but the remainder of the day, while appearing flat in between the day’s climbs, would see more, smaller climbs, which would steadily chip away at the riders’ energy reserves. A fast and steep downhill section in the final kilometre to the finish line in Estaca de Bares might give an extra push to the faster riders, but they would have to be there to contest the finish to begin with, and with over 2,250m of climbing today, there was no guarantee of this happening, especially if a committed break or late attack shook things up.

The Team Tactics
Regardless of who was going to be able to take the stage win, today one of the main aims was to protect Emanuel Buchmann. The whole stage would be stressful, and the difficulty of the finale would mean some bigger gaps could form in the overall standings. The winding, narrow roads to the finish would make it difficult to stay together as a group, both due to the downhill section pushing speeds high, as well as the narrow roads making it hard to stay together as a bunch. Otherwise, it would be a matter of keeping an eye on how the day unfolded and be ready to respond to any and all eventualities, as well as taking any opportunities that came the team’s way.

The Race
Compared to yesterday’s long wait for the break to form, it only took 20km for a big group to go on up the road. These eighteen riders – including BORA-hansgrohe’s Davide Formolo – quickly made their mark, building up a lead of three minutes, before extending this even more as the day went on. Having raced for 80km, the lead was just below ten minutes, and the peloton showed no sign of wanting to bring them back, and it appeared as though this committed group, with their size and their significant time advantage, would last to the end of the stage. Having descended the day’s second categorised climb, the Alto de San Pedro, it was out to eleven minutes, with Davide setting the pace high and even teasing his comrades in the break by going on the attack, before a second attack from the Italian rider 33km from the end saw Davide forming a new lead group of eight riders. As the race hit its final 5km and only six riders remained on the front, rather than simply responding to other riders’ moves, Davide took the fight to his fellow escapees, attacking and counterattacking and making the going tough. On the final climb – an uncategorised but steep drag leading to the descent to the line – Davide just lost contact and was just unable to contest the sprint, but taking sixth on the line, the Italian rider had injected excitement and attacking spirit into the day. While there was a new race leader from the second breakaway group, Emanuel Buchmann remained in the GC top ten, dropping one place but still well in contention.

From the Finish Line
"Just 5 kilometres after the start, on the first climb, a strong group of 18 riders got away. We had Davide Formolo there, so all the other riders of the team focused solely on helping Emu. The maximum gap of the breakaway was 11 minutes and Davide tried many times in the final kilometres to open a gap and get to the finish alone because he wasn't the fastest sprinter of the breakaway but that didn't work. Still, he fought hard throughout the stage and got a good sixth place. From tomorrow, we have mountain-top finishes and all our efforts will be for Emu." – André Schulze, Sports Director

"As some riders tried to attack, I thought I would try as well and it worked out. Together we worked really well and opened up a gap of more than ten minutes. Soon we knew we would be fighting for the stage victory. I stayed at the front to make my opponents tired. The last kilometres hurt and when some riders launched an attack, I couldn’t follow and took sixth. There was a crash right after the finish line but, fortunately, I was able to avoid it." – Davide Formolo

Tour of Britain stage five news

We posted the report from organizer with the results.

Stage winner LottoNL-Jumbo sent this report:

LottoNL-Jumbo made history today, winning its first team time trial in the Tour of Britain. The team won the Whinlatter Pass stage and Primoz Roglic took the lead in the overall standings with three more stages on the menu. Team LottoNL-Jumbo celebrates its 30th victory this season.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo

LottoNL-Jumbo on their stage-winning ride

"We are all very happy. It is a very special moment for us as a team," Roglic said. "Taking the overall lead was not the goal. We wanted to do a very good team time trial. We never thought we could win, but we succeeded. Now that we have the jersey, we are definitely going to defend it. The team is very strong. And this is a very nice victory."

Sports Director Jan Boven is delighted with this victory. "It was a special team time trial, with the last six kilometres uphill. Our goal for this race was to win a stage, but we never expected this today. We had hoped to finish within the first three. The whole team contributed to this victory."

Performance Manager Mathieu Heijboer pointed to the years of investment. "In 2015, when we started with Team LottoNL-Jumbo, the team time trial became an important part of our process. We have seen a steady development with ups but also downs. Especially this year it did not work out well. The team time trail in the Tour de France was a big disappointment. We have learned from our mistakes. It is super cool that everything falls into place today. We beat reputable teams in this discipline. This victory characterises our team and the philosophy we have: Winning together. It's just awesome."

Amer Sports wants to sell Mavic & Enve

Bike Europe sent me this:

HELSINKI, Finland – Mavic and Enve no longer fit in Amer Sports’ strategy to pursue sustainable, profitable growth. “We prioritize acceleration in soft goods, B2C, China, United States, and digitalization,” said Amer Sports President and CEO Heikki Takala this morning while he announced the company’s updated strategy.

This updated strategy includes the sale of the holding company’s activities in cycling. This is triggered by continuous deteriorating results of Mavic and Enve. For the first half of 2018 Amer Sports reported that sales of its cycling division declined by 13 percent to 60 million euro. Across all its divisions, Amer Sports saw first half year sales increase by 2 percent, to 1.1 billion euro. “We are looking for somebody who can better look for Mavic’s and Enve’s assets,” announced Heikki Takala.

The Amer Sports CEO further explained “We have continued to deliver sustainable profitable growth and solid value creation. Our strategy is proven, driving both continuous improvement and targeted transformation. The company profile is today increasingly attractive with especially soft goods, B2C, and China growing to significant weight in the portfolio and contributing disproportionally to our value creation. Going forward we continue the proven strategy whilst accelerating our portfolio transformation towards areas of faster growth, higher profitability, and more efficiency. We think this is also the moment to place the Mavic cycling business under strategic review.”

You can read the entire story here.

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