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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, August 16, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe. - Frank Zappa

Current racing:

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Binckbank Tour stage four reports

We posted the organizer's stage-four report with the results

Here's the report from stage winner Tim Wellens' Lotto-Soudal team:

After yesterday’s third consecutive win by Bennett, Tim Wellens scored another hattrick in the BinckBank Tour today! The Lotto Soudal rider took his third stage victory in Houffalize after earlier ones in 2015 and 2017. During the short but action-packed 96 kilometres long stage, De Plus, Hirschi and Wellens proved to be the strongest riders in the race. Marc Hirschi launched his sprint for victory quite early, but it was Tim Wellens who conquered - with an ultimate jump to the line - not only the stage victory but also the leader’s jersey.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens just wins the stage. Sirotti photo

Lotto Soudal rider Stan Dewulf opened today’s fourth BinckBank Tour stage as he set up the first breakaway of the day, together with Iljo Keisse. At around 50 kilometres from the line, the race was set on fire inside the bunch, which resulted in an elite group being formed at the front, including Lotto Soudal riders Stan Dewulf and Tim Wellens. Just as the chasing group was about to join, Wellens decided to attack solo, but soon, he dropped back to the reduced bunch. Right after starting the final local lap, the front group once again split to pieces under the impetus of De Plus.

At first, only Tim Wellens and Marc Hirschi seemed able to answer that acceleration but García Cortina could bridge to the front some kilometres later. The Spaniard was dropped on the ultimate climb of the day, which meant De Plus, Hirschi and Wellens would battle for the win in Houffalize. At ten kilometres from the line, the tactical game began but eventually, the trio would sprint for victory. Marc Hirschi launched his sprint early but Wellens was still able to pass the Swiss rider with an ultimate jump to the line. In addition to taking the stage victory, the 28-year-old Belgian now also leads the general classification.

Tim Wellens: “We had a difficult week but thanks to the support of Bjorg’s parents, we decided to - after the guys continued in the Tour de Pologne - also take the start in the BinckBank Tour, with a stage victory as the objective. A good general classification would be the logical consequence of that. The past three stages were quite dangerous at times - something typical to racing on Flemish roads - but we managed to not lose any time.”

“Today, the second part of the BinckBank Tour kicked off with a stage that could possibly be decisive. We tried to make it a hard race today. When I was riding alone at the front for a moment, I dropped back because I was wasting energy. A few moments later, I still felt strong enough to respond to the acceleration of De Plus and go to the line together with him and Hirschi. Due to the short distance, I was a little afraid that time differences would remain limited, but eventually we worked together really well. I get on great with Laurens De Plus so we would make sure one of us could take the stage, but eventually it was a sprint man to man.”

“Before the stage, I rewatched the final kilometres a couple of times, which certainly helped me going into the final corner. I knew that I couldn’t go full gas immediately, so I stayed on Hirschi’s wheel. Eventually, I could beat him with an ultimate jump. I wasn’t sure that I won but eventually, it was enough to take the stage win and the leader’s jersey. Saturday’s eight kilometres long time trial is something that should suit me but that is also the case for De Plus. I hope to still lead the race on Saturday night. We have a kind of ‘Classics team’ for Sunday’s stage in Geraardsbergen and they should be able to assist me as good as possible. Of course, I want to keep this jersey but there are still some difficult stages to come.”

And here's the report from second-place Marc Hirschi's Team Sunweb:

The fourth day of racing at the BinckBank Tour saw the peloton faced with a short but sharp 96 kilometre long stage, starting and finishing in Houffalize. From the flag drop there were numerous attacks but it didn’t take long for a duo to get clear and form the break of the day, quickly building up an advantage of almost three minutes.

However, with it being a short day out, the action soon started within the peloton. Søren Kragh Andersen and Marc Hirschi were attentive at the front of the bunch and made an initial split before the race regrouped. Kragh Andersen and Hirschi were joined in the select group of around 30 riders by Martijn Tusveld, as the race headed towards the final lap. A big increase in speed on the toughest climb of the day saw a strong trio of riders break clear from the bunch, with neo-pro Hirschi impressing and making the move.

The three worked well together and after being joined by one more rider, they soon extended their advantage over the peloton. On the last main climb of the day the power was put down in the breakaway and it once again became a trio of riders. Hirschi rode strongly to be there in the group and as they approached the finish, it was clear that they would fight it out for the stage win.

Hirschi delivered a very impressive turn of speed on the kick up to the finish, taking the sprint on from the front. Digging deep and as the line approached, he was just overhauled by stage winner Wellens, who took the day in a photo finish. As a result of bonus seconds at the finish and the golden kilometre, Hirschi now sits in second place on GC, just 4 seconds behind Wellens.

In the group behind, Kragh Andersen finished eighth in the uphill sprint, with Tusveld also coming home on the same time, meaning the team has three riders in the top 20 on GC. Tomorrow sees the peloton travel from Riemst to Venray and what should be another stage for the sprinters to do battle.

“It was a short and intense stage, with it full gas from the beginning,” explained Hirschi at the finish. “On the second lap there was a split, with Søren in the front group but it all came back together. Then on the last lap, De Plus and Wellens attacked on a climb and I jumped to follow them. The three of us tried to work as well as possible together and I attempted to take some bonus seconds at the golden kilometre. In the end I lost in the sprint to Tim. I’m a bit disappointed to be so close but I’m sure in the evening or tomorrow morning I will be really happy about the result. The team in general did really good today; positioning us well for the climbs and Søren is also still in a good position on GC after the stage. We’re looking forward to the TT and also the last day; we’re motivated and we’ll give it our best.”

Team Sunweb coach Michiel Elijzen added: “It was a good day for the team, on a stage that was much better suited for our group of riders. We were always in control throughout the day and at the end Marc was in with a good chance of winning. Unfortunately, we got second but it was a great performance from him and the whole team and we’re in a good position for the stages to come.”

And here's the report from Bora-hansgrohe:

The fourth stage of the BinckBank Tour, an out-and-back race of 96.2 km in Houffalize in Wallonia, featured steep climbs to the Bois des Moines, Côte Saint Roch and Côte Achouffe, the latter being a 800m-long ascent with an average gradient of eight per cent that came with approximately 15km before the finish. With this type of terrain, it was not expected that the winner would come from a large group.

The peloton made its way towards Houffalize on wet roads and immediately after the start, a duo unsuccessfully tried their luck in a breakaway but were reeled back in not long afterwards. On the climb to the Côte Bois des Moines, the field split but Jay McCarthy and Lukas Pöstlberger were able to make the cut into a leading group of nine riders, which was joined soon afterwards by yet more riders. With 30km remaining to the finish, T. Wellens, M. Hirschi and L. De Plus attacked and were able to put distance between them and the followers behind.

The chasing group, which contained several favourites, was not willing to let the leaders escape, but the trio up front worked well together and the chasers were unable to catch up. In the end, the win was fought out between these three riders. M. Hirschi led out the sprint to the line, but T. Wellens was able to overtake him over the last few meters to snatch the win from the Swiss rider.

Lukas and Jay arrived at the finish line approximately two minutes in arrears of the stage winner. Sam Bennett, who had been leading the general classification for the three days, had to relinquish the green jersey and now sits in fourth place in the general classification, but managed to hold on to his lead in the points classification.

From the finish line:
“We controlled the race over the first lap, but then other teams started to attack and tried to make the race as hard as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up and fell back somewhat. However, we spent a lot of energy during the first three stages, and I think this got to our legs a bit today. Tomorrow there’s yet another flat stage, and so we’ll try to net another good result with Sam. Jay and I will try to not lose any time, because you never know what can happen on the parcours of these Belgian and Dutch races. Perhaps we can try something during the last stages.” - Lukas Pöstlberger

“After three very intense stages, where we put in a lot of work to pull off three consecutive stage wins, we weren’t able to completely fulfil our expectations, which were to place a rider in the top 10 of the general classification. Today’s stage was extremely difficult and the race split into several groups. Lukas Pöstlberger and Jay McCarthy were able to stay in the first groups, however, with 20 to 25 km remaining, they paid the price for all of the work that they had done over the first three days of racing. However, we can we more than satisfied with the three stage wins which we achieved so far, and the fact that Sam Bennett still leads the points classification.” - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Mitchelton-SCOTT wins opening team time trial at Czech Tour

Here's the report Mitchelton-Scott sent me:

Mitchelton-SCOTT has won the opening stage team time trial at Czech Tour, taking 16seconds out of their closest rivals with three road stages to come.


Mitchelton-Scott time-trialing at this year's Tour de France. Sirotti photo

The Australian outfit, which boasts five 2019 Tour de France representatives and a number of time trial specialists, had targeted the 16km race against the clock, eventually completely the course in 18’36”.

Local pro-continental outfit Elkov-Author finished in second place 16seconds down whilst Bora-Hansgrohe, the second WorldTour outfit in the race, finished 21seconds down.

Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge will wear the leader’s jersey on tomorrow’s opening road stage after crossing the line first for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Luke Durbridge:
“The team was really good, we executed the course really well and it’s always nice to get a victory. As a team we always pride ourselves on team time trialling, and I think the team rode really well.

“To take the jersey from a team ride, you always feel very privileged, so I’m happy to wear it tomorrow but it was 100% a team ride and we did a great job today.

“We’re here with quite lofty ambitions, today was stage one and we ticked that box. Onto tomorrow and hopefully we can hold onto the jersey all the way to the end.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“I’m not sure of the average speed in the end, but it was fast. It was and out and back TT with a hilly loop on the end. It wasn’t so technical, there was a couple of tight corners, but the vast majority of the course was quite fast and flowing.

“It wasn’t our smoothest of TTT performances but at the end of the day the guys got the job done on a course where we were expected to win.

“We came here to win the Tour and that hasn’t changed. Certainly, it won’t be with Luke but it’s nice, like in Tirreno when Michael Hepburn took the jersey after the TT, that he could take the jersey today.

"Heppy and Durbo have been the back bone of our team time trial victories over the last seven years, so for those guys to get their day in the limelight, it’s great and Luke is a well-deserved leader of day-one for us.”

Czech Tour – Stage 1 TTT Results:
1. Mitchelton-SCOTT 18:35
2. Elkov-Author +0:16
3. Bora-Hansgrohe +0:21

Specialized develops lightweight E-Racer drive system

Bike Europe sent me this:

MORGAN HILL, USA – At just 12.2 kilogram, Specialized’s new Turbo Creo SL e-racer is much lighter than other e-bike with bottom-bracket based motors. Instead of using an existing system designed for urban riding or mountain biking, Specialized have built a system from the ground up specifically for road riding. According to Specialized, “the new SL 1.1 motor provides a consistent power and smooth assistance giving the rider a natural feel when pedalling.”

Specialized invested in R&D to create technology that lives up to its own standards. For Specialized “There wasn’t a suitable motor and system for performance road e-bikes on the market.” In close cooperation with its Swiss e-bike engineering team the company developed an entirely new motor and battery system called the SL 1.1.

The Turbo Creo SL has a range of 195 kilometers. While 130 kilometers comes from the 320Wh internal battery which is located in the down tube, another 65 kilometers comes from an optional 160Wh range extender. The range extender is included in the S-Works and Founder’s bikes and can be purchased separately for the other models. The internal battery can be charged in 2 hours and 35 minutes. As every rider and every ride are different, Specialized has also created a Turbo Creo SL Range Calculator to help determine the exact range.

You can read the entire story here.

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