CyclingNews
Bahrain-Merida close out debut season at Tour of Guangxi
Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:34:00 +0000

Ten months on from making its debut WorldTour appearance at the Tour Down Under, Bahrain-Merida will close its inaugural season at the first edition of the Tour of Guangxi. Team leader Vincenzo Nibali will ride the Taiwan KOM Challenge on Friday and so Bahrain-Merida has selected squad capable of challenging for stage wins at the Tour of Guangxi.

The team also has the only Chinese rider in the Guangxi peloton with Meiyin Wang selected for the race. On the eve of the race, Bahrain-Merida's sports director Philippe Mauduit explained to Cyclingnews that Wang would be given opportunities to impress via breakaways.

"It is difficult for him to have the ambition to win a stage but he is in his home country," Mauduit said. "He is the only Chinese here in the race and it is important, at least for him, but it would also be good for the team if he can go in some breakaway and show the jersey, show himself and have fun front of his public."

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The 28-year-old, who turned professional with the Trek–Marco Polo team in 2009, has won stages of the Tour of Langkawi and Tour of China I but is yet to taste success at the WorldTour. Starting his season with the Tour of Oman, Wang rode the majority of the spring classics through to the Tour of Romandie. Since April, Wang has had a light schedule but returned to racing in the Italian autumn races.

Wang isn't the team's only card for the race with Italian sprint duo Sonny Colbrelli and Niccolò Bonifazio to be given support in their bid for stage wins. However, with the late date of the race, Mauduit is unsure what level to expect of the sprint field in Guangxi.

"We go with Sonny and Niccolò for stage wins," Mauduit said. "It is a little bit difficult to know exactly what we will be able to do here because when it is the end of the season most of the time the riders have lighter training we would say. We will see how on the road how it goes to be smart and to do something."

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

2018 Tour de France route in 3D - Video
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:40:00 +0000

The ASO has unveiled all 21 stages of the 2018 Tour de France, which starts in Noirmoutier-En-L'Ïle on Saturday, July 7, and concludes three weeks later in Paris on July 29. In between, the peloton will tackle a 35km team time trial in Cholet, a 31km individual time trial from Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette, and six mountain says with three summit finishes.

The 2018 Tour de France will return to staples such as Alpe d'Huez and Pau, but there will also be an incredibly short 65km mountain stage, a stage that borrows 21.7km of cobbles from Paris-Roubaix, and a stage in the Alps that will take riders over gravel roads.

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It's a lot to take in, but the race organisers have provided this five-minute "3D" video to help bring the route to life. Hang on as the peloton zips through each of the stage routes and literally flies through the transfer days.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Quintana: I will be the leader at the Tour de France
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:05:00 +0000

Nairo Quintana told reporters on Tuesday that he would be Movistar’s team leader at next year’s Tour de France. Speaking after the route for the 2018 edition of the race was revealed in Paris, Quintana said that the matter had already been decided upon, but added that he would be able to work with new signing Mikel Landa if the Basque rider made an appearance at the French Grand Tour.

“Next season I will be the team leader in the Tour,” Quintana said. “This has been agreed with the directors and they will support me with the right teammates. I don’t know if Mikel will ride, but with Alejandro [Valverde] we had similar situations and together we came together for the good of Movistar.”

Movistar has proved adept at sharing the leadership role, and indeed changing it, in the past. They got both Quintana and Valverde on the podium at the 2015 Tour, although they arguably hedged their bets a bit too much when it became clear that they could achieve a rare double podium. Should Landa ride the Tour, he will expect a certain level of freedom even if he has been brought in as support for the Colombian.

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The route announced for the 2018 Tour de France has a little bit of everything for the general classification riders. There will be some causes for concern, but there are also elements to cheer for Quintana and the Movistar team. A strong team time trial outfit, the Spanish squad should be able to protect their rider well on stage 3 and could even help him make time on a few rivals. The plentiful mountains will have raised a smile, and he will be grateful that the penultimate day time trial isn’t any flatter – although he’d definitely have preferred it even hillier.

The downhill run to Bagnères-de-Luchon, which caught Quintana out in 2016 when Chris Froome attacked to win the stage and gain time on his rivals, is back for 2018. Quintana will also have to get past more than just the team time trial in the opening nine days, with a cobbled stage like no other to close out the first week. Quintana has tackled the cobbles before, en route to his second-place finish in 2015, but next year will feature close to double what he saw on that day, and he will need his team to get him through.

“I think that it is a route that favours me because we face a lot of mountains. Neither will there be too many kilometres of time trialling and so I think that I can do it at a high level,” said Quintana. “Without doubt, we must pay a lot of attention to the cobbled stage. I will be surrounded by specialists like [Daniele] Bennati, [Imanol] Erviti and [Jose Joaquin] Rojas to ensure that we get through without any problems.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Woods extends with Slipstream through 2019
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:30:00 +0000

Canadian Michael Woods has signed a two-year extension with the Slipstream Sports WorldTour team currently known as Cannondale-Drapac. The 31-year-old former runner came to Slipstream's Cannondale team in 2016 and has rapidly progressed through the pro peleton, finishing seventh in this year's Vuelta a Espana.

“There was no question that we wanted Mike to stay with us,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “We knew he was capable of the performances he put in this year if he was managed and mentored properly, and we think we’re still uncovering the depths of his potential. Mike is motivated, bright and open-minded. He’s an asset to our program."

Woods initially signed a two-year extension with the team after stage 7 of the Vuelta, according to the rider's most recent blog on Cyclingnews, but the agreement was put on hold when the team went through some sponsorship uncertainty and faced a possible shuttering of its doors. Woods' agents started seeking out other offers, but when Vaughters landed EF Education First as a new title sponsor, the negotiations with Slipstream were back on.

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“The team has put their faith in me from the start,” Woods said. “They were the first team that reached out to me, and they gave me a leadership role in my very first race – which is even harder to wrap my mind around now than it was back then. I’m happy to have the opportunity to pay back everyone for the trust and support they showed me during these next two years.”

Woods burst onto the WorldTour in 2016 at the Tour Down Under, where he finished fifth overall in his WorldTour debut. Although his 2016 season was hampered by illness and injury, his potential continued to shine though with a 12th-place finish at Flèche Wallonne and promising end-of-season results that included second and Milano-Torino and 31st in Il Lombardia.

“I couldn’t get out of my own way,” Woods said of his 2016 effort. “I had the legs but not the experience or the confidence. My teammates were exceedingly patient with me – especially Alex Howes and Simon Clarke.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Peter Sagan 'extra motivated' to win Tour de France green jersey
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Ralph Denk has confirmed that Peter Sagan will again target the green jersey at the 2018 Tour de France, and the German has told Cyclingnews that the world champion is ‘extra motivated’ and hungry to win back the jersey after being disqualified from the 2017 Tour.

Denk, the general manager at Bora-Hansgrohe, was speaking in Paris on Tuesday after attending the route presentation for the 2018 Tour.

“It’s a tough Tour. The first few days will have cross-winds. Then we have pave and then there’s the really hard climbs. Don’t forget that there’s the TTT. It’s the hardest race in the world,” Denk told Cyclingnewsas he strolled out through the auditorium of the Palais des Congres.

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Denk’s crown jewel, Sagan, was disqualified from the Tour this year after he was adjudged to have ridden Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) into the barriers on stage 4. Sagan’s departure from the race ended his incredible run of green jersey victories that had stretched back to 2012. The green jersey was eventually won by Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), who picked off two stages and saw off Marcel Kittel for the title.

“He’s hungry for sure, and he loves a challenge,” Denk told Cyclingnews.

“We saw that in Bergen when he became the first rider to win three times in a row, and he would love the challenge to come back to the Tour de France. I think it gives him extra motivation after what happened in 2017. To win the green jersey is the main goal, and then to win a Monument. Then we have the Worlds in Austria. It’s close to where we are based.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Simon Yates hints at Tour de France podium challenge in 2018
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:51:00 +0000

The luxury for Orica-Scott is that they have three of the most dynamic climbers in the peloton in the form of Esteban Chaves and the Yates brothers, Simon and Adam. Three leaders for three Grand Tours: it makes perfect sense. But while the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España routes for 2018 are yet to be unveiled, Simon Yates has hinted at returning to the Tour de France next season.

Yates finished 7th in the 2017 edition of the Tour, picking up the white jersey as the best young rider for his efforts. After seeing next year’s route presented by Christian Prudhomme in Paris on Tuesday, the Briton stopped just short of delivering a concrete intent to return to the race for back-to-back challenges.

“We’ll see. There’s still a lot of planning to do and the presentations for the Giro and the Vuelta,” Yates told Cyclingnews. “But we’ll have to see. Why not?”

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Asked if he would lead the team come July, Yates said: “It really depends on the routes and the feelings of the other guys. We’ve cards to play and we can decide who goes where and how we’re going to play.”

Should Simon Yates be Orica’s designated Tour leader it would leave his brother Adam and Chaves as the team’s options for the Giro and the Vuelta. That said, Orica sent two of their leaders to the Tour this year after Chaves’ spring was ravaged by injury and then turned up at the Vuelta with all three captains.

“I just have to keep improving,” Yates said of his own Grand Tour ambitions. “I was seventh last year in the GC and I’d rather keep raising the roof, keep going, target the podium and go from there.”

Critical first week

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Porte back in action at the Japan Cup
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:20:00 +0000

Richie Porte will return to racing for the first time since crashing out of the Tour de France, joining his BMC Racing teammates for the Japan Cup from October 22-23. The race consists of a criterium on Saturday, October 22, and a road race on Sunday, October 23, both near Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo.

Porte was one of the favourites for overall victory at the Tour de France, but his hopes were wiped out in an instant as he crashed at speed on the treacherous descent of the Mont du Chat on stage 9.

He left the race in a neck brace and an ambulance and was later diagnosed with a broken collarbone and pelvis but admitted that he was lucky not to have been more seriously injured.

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Porte has made a gradual recovery but was unable to train consistently until recently. Riding in Japan will allow him to race before starting his winter training.

“I’m really looking forward to racing at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race this year. Not only is it a chance for me to get another race day in the legs before the end of the season, but it’s also my first opportunity to race at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race since 2013,” Porte said in a statement from the BMC team.

“The Japanese fans are really incredible so it’s always a great atmosphere at the race. I can definitely say it’s one of my favourite races. Given I haven’t raced since July, I’m not going in with any expectations. I’m just happy to be racing again this year before my focus turns to the 2018 season.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Riders gather in Paris for 2018 Tour de France presentation - Gallery
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:10:00 +0000

As Christian Prudhomme unveiled the 21 stages that will make up the 2018 Tour de France, watching on from the front rows of Paris' Palais des Congres were many of the riders who will be competing for stage victories and the overall classification next July.

2017 champion and four-time winner Chris Froome was in attendance, heading up on stage to receive the Vélo d'Or award before later sharing his reaction to what is a testing and varied route. 

Sat alongside the Briton were Romain Bardet, who has finished behind him on the podium in the last two years, and Alberto Contador, who has won the race twice but recently retired from the sport. Nairo Quintana was there and no doubt pleased that the individual time trialling is limited to 31 hilly kilometres, while Thibaut Pinot was another attendee expected to challenge Froome for the yellow jersey. 

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Mark Cavendish, second on the all-time stage victory standings, watched on as eight potential sprint opportunities were unveiled, and he was joined by French sprinters Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bouhanni.

Lilian Calmejane and Warren Barguil, who both won hillier stages at this year's Tour, were also there and joined the others on the stage before picking out their favourite stages from the official 2018 Tour de France map. 

Click or swipe through the gallery above to see all the photos from the event. 

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

2018 Tour de France route suits me more than this year, says Bardet
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:55:00 +0000

Romain Bardet believes that the 2018 Tour de France route suits him better than this year’s race, but added that there is plenty of work to do to make sure that he is in the shape to back that up. Bardet finished third in July, 2:20 behind Chris Froome (Team Sky), his second visit to the Tour podium in as many years.

With the short, punchy stages, bruising mountain tests, downhill finishes and a hilly individual time trial, Bardet stands a clear chance of making it three podium finishes in a row and it provides him an opportunity to try to rattle Froome from his throne. With just over eight months until the race rolls out from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile, there is still plenty to do says the 26-year-old.

“Yes, I think so but I have to do a big work rate to try to get to my best and to try to make it happen,” Bardet told Cyclingnews when asked if the route favoured him more than the previous offering. “It is a good balance between the marathon stages and the short stages it can make the race really interesting.”

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Bardet added that even with the dramatically different race route, Froome remains the man to beat as he looks to take his fifth title.

“Whatever the parcours, he will be the favourite because he already won it four times. It is something really big and he has the best team for that and he is still the big favourites,” Bardet said.

A touch of fear

There were audible gasps from the audience and murmurs of interest from the riders as the route of the 2018 Tour de France was unveiled in the auditorium of the Palais de Congres in Paris on Tuesday afternoon. The camera panned to Bardet as the profile of the 200km test from Lourdes to Laruns on stage 19 was presented on the big screen. Unaware of the attention, Bardet’s expression betrayed a level of curiosity but a touch of fear and awe knowing what his legs would be put through in a few short months.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Chris Froome: Tour de France could be torn to pieces in first week
Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:40:00 +0000

Chris Froome (Team Sky) has yet to finalise his Grand Tour plans for 2018 but the British rider’s main focus will remain on the Tour de France as he seeks to add a fifth title to his ever-growing palmares.

At the route presentation at the Palais des Congres in Paris on Tuesday, Froome watched on as Christian Prudhomme and the ASO lined up to throw everything, including the proverbial kitchen sink, at the Tour’s defending champion. Romain Bardet, one of Froome’s select GC rivals, looked stunned as Prudhomme unleashed an almost shock-and-awe barrage of stages that included cobbles, coastal roads, gravel sectors, three mountain-top finishes, blockbuster stages in the Alps and the Pyrenees, and two time trials. ASO left very little in their arsenal.

Perhaps the greatest concern for Froome and the rest of the GC contenders will be the opening nine days of competition. The Vendée Grand Depart will ensure that the opening weekend of the race will be a fraught affair, with no individual time trial to settle the nerves or the standings. The 35km team time trial on stage 3 offers Froome to chance to open the throttle and put the likes of Bardet, Pinot and Uran on the back foot before two ascents of the Mur de Bretagne on stage 6 rattle the peloton. However, it’s stage 9 to Roubaix, with its 21.7 kilometres of pavé, that will keep riders awake for the next few months.

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“It’s tough and I wouldn’t expect anything else from the Tour de France organisers, especially the first eight or nine days,” Froome told Cyclingnews after an impromptu photoshoot to show off his 2017 Velo d’Or.

“It’s going to be very dangerous in the north-west of France, before we hit any of the big mountains. The wind could be a massive factor up there and with the GC being so close, we could see the race torn to pieces up there.

“There’s the inclusion of quite a substantial cobble stage and we could see a lot happening. Then there’s the stage with a gravel section and there’s a lot to get ready for in that sense."

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com


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