EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Chris Froome has won the 2018 Giro d’Italia – What now? All the news from the Italian Grand Tour, plus the Tour des Fjords, Baloise Belgium Tour and Plumelec-Morbihan with reports, quotes and video. In other cycling news: OVO Energy Tour Series, Critérium du Dauphiné, ‘Most Viral High-Altitude Finale’ of La Vuelta 18, Pieter Vanspeybrouck injury and we finish with video from the Sunweb team. Ciao Italia!

TOP STORY: So Chris Froome Won the 2018 Giro d’Italia
After a slow start Chris Froome came to life in the time trial and moved up to the fringe of the top men on the overall standings. Then stage 19 was an epic solo of 80 kilometers, up and down the mountain sides. His raid on the GC brought back memories of past heroics from riders like Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

Many of the recent Giri have been won in the final tough week, that’s when you need the form to come, not in the first two weeks, as was the case with Simon Yates. Of course Tom Dumoulin disproves the point as he was never out of the top three on the overall for the full three weeks.

Now that Froome has pulled it off, the problems will start. The dark cloud of the salbutamol case has not gone away and the way the Kenyan born rider dominated stage 19 has set the social media tongues on fire. Then there is the Tour de France…

Froome making his big solo move:

Giro d’Italia 2018
German Maximilian Schachmann from Berlin scored a fifth victory for Quick-Step Floors on Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia, after Elia Viviani’s four bunch sprints, to equal last year’s tally (four by Fernando Gaviria and one by Bob Jungels). The first Maglia Bianca of the 101st edition of the Corsa Rosa (eighth in the opening time trial in Israel) took advantage of the first winning breakaway en route to Prato Nevoso. The uphill finish proved brutal for race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who lost contact with Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Chris Froome (Sky), his closest rivals on GC. His lead over the defending champion is now reduced to 28 seconds.

Many riders had the goal of making it into the break on the first stage of this week’s brutal Alpine triptych, and for that reason attacks came in quick succession soon after the start in Abbiategrasso, a move taking shape only after 30 kilometers. At the feed zone, the twelve men – which included Mørkøv and Grand Tour debutant Schachmann – were 15 minutes ahead and it became clear there were going to make it, especially as Pratonevoso, despite being a long ascent, wasn’t excessively steep.

On the first ramps of the climb, the front group was halved, but both Max and Michael made the cut before a double-pronged attack of Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec) left only the two and Schachmann on the front. Inside the last three kilometers, the 24-year-old German put in a searing attack which dispatched Plaza and continued to do most of the work. His opponent tested Max with a brace of attacks, but the Quick-Step Floors rider responded with remarkable ease, before powering clear some 500 meters from the finish, where he raised his arms in celebration.

Stage 18 Race Report.

Stage winner, Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors): “I feel truly amazing, it’s unbelievable to win a stage on my first Grand Tour. This is a really hard Giro, which makes it even nicer to be on top on such a stage. Michael played a big part in this victory, he’s my roommate at this race and a great rider from whom I learned a lot, and what he did for me today underlines again our fantastic team spirit. I was aware that my opponents were experienced, so I kept an eye on them and their moves, but knowing that my legs were strong gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to play it cool in the final, and that’s why I opened my sprint so early. This race already was a great experience that I’ll never forget, helping Elia in the sprints and enjoying so many fantastic moments with my teammates, but winning a stage at my first Grand Tour presence is something special that serves as confirmation of all the hard work and progress I made since turning pro.”

Overall leader, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “Today it was an explosive big effort, which is not my forte. After Tom Dumoulin’s first acceleration, I looked at him to see how he was. When he went the second time, I couldn’t close the gap. I was tired. But I’m ok with it. I have no regret to have spent a lot of energy earlier in the Giro because this is what I needed to do. If I didn’t race so aggressively before, I would be behind Dumoulin. I collected almost 50 seconds in time bonuses – that’s more than my overall lead now. I only felt bad for one kilometer today. I’m still in the lead and the coming two mountain stages suit me much more than today’s.”

3rd overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “I was focused on Dumoulin and Froome. They attacked as I expected, because the final climb suit them both and their attacks hurt the Maglia Rosa. In this moment may big aim is the podium, but I will try to take a win if there is the chance.”

4th on the stage, Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The plan was to go in the break, and it worked out well as I managed to jump in when a group of riders attacked. Very soon we had a big gap over the peloton. As we faced the final climb of the day, we were only a few riders left, but the legs made the decision. After two weeks of racing my legs weren’t strong enough to achieve a podium spot. Of course, I am a little bit disappointed, as I was so close to a podium spot, and it would have been absolutely amazing for me. But I think, a top-five result in this tough stage of a Grand Tour is also a good result.”

5th on the stage, Merco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates): “The arrival, with the summit climb, was not completely suitable for me, however I was in a good position when the breakaway went clear and I decided to go with them. The attack’s advantage became larger and larger and we had the chance to battle for the stage victory. On the climb to Prato Nevoso I tried to give my best, but my opponents were stronger climbers.”

12th overall, Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data): “In the today seemed to go ok. It was pretty straight forward with just the big climb at the finish. The boys were really good today in making sure I was at the front when the climb started. It was a climb where the run-in could have been very chaotic. It wasn’t as hectic, I think every one is very wary now. You could see it by the way us GC guys raced up the climb. I did have some issues today, but I managed to keep myself calm and hold on as best I could and keep my 12th spot. In the end, it was a successful day.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Result:
1. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors in 4:55:42
2. Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:10
3. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:16
4. Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1:10
5. Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 1:26
6. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors at 1:36
7. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:52
8. Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 3:22
9. Alex Turrin (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia at 3:29
10. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 5:09.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 18:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott in 75:06:24
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:28
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 2:43
4. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 3:22
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 4:24
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 4:54
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC at 5:09
8. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 5:54
9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 5:59
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 7:05.

Pre-race favorite Chris Froome (Sky) powered to his first ever Maglia Rosa as he dropped his fellow countryman Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and attacked with 80km to go on the Colle delle Finestre, the second iconic climb of Stage 19, after he previously mastered Monte Zoncolan. Froome rode solo to the finish at the top of the Jafferau where he arrived more than three minutes before stage 8 winner, Richard Carapaz (Movistar). With one mountain stage to go, the Brit enjoys a 40-second lead over defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

Right from the start the race was on fire as a big group tried to escape, but after the first climb of the day the race fell apart. As the race headed into the Colle delle Finestre many riders lost contact and several groups were formed. During the climb up to the KOM, Chris Froome launched an attack and opened up a gap. The Maglia Rosa was already dropped and Tom Dumoulin tried to close the gap to Froome. Froome held his lead and took his second stage win on the summit finish in Bardonecchia. In the overall ranking Froome is the new leader of the Maglia Rosa.

Stage 19 Race Report.

Stage winner, KOM and overall leader, Chris Froome (Sky): “I’ve had difficult moments in the Giro so I had to try something crazy. We took this tactical decision last night together with our nutritionists because there was a need for a good fueling strategy for that and for how the guys would execute the orders. There were a lot of big attacks in the early part of the race. My team made a strong pace on the Finestre to set up the situation for me. It’s great to ride like this. That’s what bike racing is all about. If I was just gonna wait for the final climb, I would not have put three minutes on the Maglia Rosa. I knew the Finestre really well since I had a training camp in the area last year. I knew how to pace myself correctly. It was also a calculated risk. If there was not a big group behind me and other teams didn’t have domestiques, the GC riders had to make the same efforts as me. I was getting time checks from the motorbikes and via radio. I was 20 seconds from the Maglia Rosa for a long time. What I didn’t know was whether Tom Dumoulin still had good legs but I got the feeling that everyone was at the limit. It was raw bike racing.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) “I want to keep my podium, it’s my priority. Froome was surprising with his attack so far from the finish. It’s completely crazy to live like this. The Giro is a crazy race, we wrote a beautiful page. Tomorrow, I hope to have good legs to stay on the podium but I am very happy with my day that will remain etched in my memory. It is true that today, I felt better, I had a good night. I had good feelings, I found my level!”

5th on the stage and 2nd overall, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): “Today was really a crazy stage. I expected Sky to go for it and knew they were planning something. I had good legs and did everything right but Froome was too strong and I didn’t have the legs to follow. I knew the responsibility was mostly mine in the chase group. Everyone was riding their own race and I can understand why not everyone was riding. At the moment I’m feeling a little bit pessimistic but we will see when I wake up tomorrow. It’s going to be difficult.”

7th on the stage, Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was an unbelievable stage, the pace was high and lot of riders tried to attack. As we reached the bottom of the Colle delle Finestre many riders got dropped but I think we worked really good together. Patrick and I stayed in the second chasing group as the race came to the final climb, we rode together and finished both top ten.”

Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) abandoned after 40 kilometers: “I had said that I’ll evaluate my feelings day by day because I feel that I’m going through an abnormal period of my sporting career. I wanted to keep going and honor the team’s jersey, give the fans something and the race its due respect. But I could not do it. I’m really sorry for all this, for my team, my family and the sponsors that I represent, but it didn’t male sense to go ahead. I’m not going to be dramatic, this is sport and maybe, even if it hurts to say so now, this is the beauty of the sport. I’ll try to reset and understand together with the team what happened, then I’ll restart thinking of the rest of the season. Because this is what you have to do in difficult moments.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Result:
1. Chris Froome (GB) Sky in 5:12:26
2. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 3:00
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 3:07
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 3:12
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 3:23
6. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 6:13
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 8:22
8. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb at 8:23
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 19:
1. Chris Froome (GB) Sky in 80:21:59
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:40
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 4:17
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 4:57
5. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 5:44
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 8:03
7. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 11:08
8. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 12:19
9. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo at 12:35
10. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb at 14:18.

Mikel Nieve avenged his Mitchelton-Scott captain Simon Yates on Stage 20, the day after he lost the Maglia Rosa as the Basque rider claimed the team’s fifth stage victory in the 2018 Giro d’Italia. He rode solo to Cervinia while Chris Froome (Sky) kept Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) under control to retain the lead, whereas Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was the loser of the day. The Frenchman was replaced in the top three overall by best young rider, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

Like in the previous stages a big group escaped relatively early into the 214km stage and built up a maximum gap of 6 minutes. As the race climbed up to the first climb of the day, some riders were dropped. During the second climb of the day, many of the favorites had problems to follow the pace and lost contact. Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) rider built a lead at the front of the race with a gap of more six minutes over the Maglia Rosa group. The race came alive as Nieve launched an attack for a one-minute gap over Großschartner. In the finish, Nieve took the stage win ahead of Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), who caught and passed Großschartner. Second placed Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) attacked the Froome group but was marked heavily by the Sky team and in the end lost 6 seconds on the pink jersey.

Race Report from Stage 20.

Stage winner, Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott): “It’s hard to say which one of my three victories at the Giro is the best. The first one [in 2011 at Gardeccia] was an extremely hard race but today being my birthday, it’s a very special one. We wanted to make it up after the sadness of yesterday [with Simon Yates losing ground]. It was a good stage for me. Roman Kreuziger came with me in the breakaway and paved the way for my victory. I realized straight away that there were other climbers in the front group. We had to make the race hard. Cervinia has some hard sections but also easy ones, so it was better to go solo before. I don’t often have the opportunity to break away for myself. I’m delighted to get the feeling of winning again.”

Overall leader, Chris Froome (Sky): “The whole Giro has been brutal and today again, Tom [Dumoulin] didn’t give up. He kept fighting. He attacked several times. Luckily, I was able to follow but it has made it an exciting racing again. I’ve got nothing but respect for all my rivals. They fought until I got to this point of keeping the Maglia Rosa at the top of the last mountain. I feel sorry for Simon [Yates] yesterday and today it was [Thibaut] Pinot struggling, that’s why Astana rode so hard. We still need to get to the finishing line in Rome. After that, I’ll start thinking of my achievement but there’s no bigger goal for a Grand Tour rider than winning three in a row.”

2nd overall, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): “I’ve had a great three weeks here with the team. I have to thank all of my team mates. I wanted to return the favor and help Sam Oomen at the end there. I was tired today but I would have blamed myself if I didn’t try. I tried everything that I could and Froome was just the better rider. I wasn’t sure if I would have the legs in the final but I knew that I would always regret it if I didn’t try. Now I know that I have no regrets. I’m super proud of the team and super proud of myself.”

3rd overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “I’m super happy now, it’s still difficult to believe I reached the podium at the Giro! Fantastic! It was a tough stage and I had to fight from the first climb until the very last meter. I want to thank my team, which did incredible work today and during the whole Giro. My teammates were super strong and it is thanks to them that I’m now in the white jersey and on the podium. Especially, I want to thank Luis Leon Sanchez for a great support! It was a real fight today for the white jersey. Carapaz did a solid race and I am happy I was able to answer him and to win. The white jersey was my objective as well as the Top 5 overall. Now I’m third and that’s amazing! I worked really hard to be where I am now.”

9th on the stage and 5th overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “With the crisis of Pinot I stayed quite easily with the Maglia Rosa group today. I think I took a well deserved 5th place. Except for yesterday’s bad day, my Giro was very good and all in all I hit the target planned with the team. It was the highest level Giro that I’ve ever ridden and I’m satisfied to have been with the best of this edition. With the crisis of Pinot I stayed quite easily with the Maglia Rosa group today. I think I took a well deserved 5th place. Except for yesterday’s bad day, my Giro was very good and all in all I hit the target planned with the team. It was the highest level Giro that I’ve ever ridden and I’m satisfied to have been with the best of this edition”

3rd on the stage, Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I worked three weeks hard for my teammates, and today I got the chance to try something and I really wanted to use this chance. I finished third, which makes me really happy, the victory wasn’t possible, Nieve was too strong today. But I think the whole Giro went more than well for us, we achieved two top ten overall rankings and two stage victories so far, shows that we did a good job over this three weeks.”

17th on the stage and 11th overall, Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale): “The hardest thing to do in a Grand Tour is to be consistent throughout all the days, and to limit any time gaps. I think I managed my three weeks pretty well considering the terrain, and I never lost stupid time. My teammates did an amazing job for me throughout the race, and that was indeed the case again today. It’s super important not to be isolated, and I really have to thank everyone on the team for that. In terms of level, I think this is the best I have been at a Giro. The really big mountains were concentrated all in three days, and these was a lot of jostling in the general classification. There is still the stage to Rome, of course, but I am happy with my overall level during these three weeks.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Result:
1. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott in 5:43:38
2. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:17
3. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:41
4. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 3:45
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 5:23
6. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky at 6:03
7. Chris Froome (GB) Sky
8. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 20:
1. Chris Froome (GB) Sky in 86:11:50
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:46
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 4:57
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 5:44
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 8:03
6. Pello Bilboa (Spa) Astana at 11:50
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 13:01
8. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo at 13:17
9. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb at 14:18
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 15:16.

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) pipped Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) on the prestigious final finishing line on Stage 21 of the 101st Giro d’Italia to claim his third stage victory in front of the Coliseum in Rome. The times were neutralized after three laps to ensure a safe race so the sprinters could put on a great show while Chris Froome and the other GC contenders were able to enjoy the great atmosphere of the Eternal City. The leader of Team Sky became the first Briton to win the Giro d’Italia and the third rider to make the grand slam with three Grand Tours victories in a row. Defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and best young rider Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) rounded out the final podium.

After some discussions about the route the Jury decided to neutralize the first two laps, therefore it was a calm start in this final stage. On the third lap a group of riders built a small gap over the main bunch and with 4 laps left the race split in several groups, but, as expected the race was back together with 3km to go. After the Quick-Step Floors team kept the speed high into the final meters, the Irish sprinter, Sam Bennett, increased his pace and overtook Elia Viviani to take his third stage.

Chris Froome (Sky) becomes only the third rider in history to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time, after claiming a Tour de France and Vuelta a España double last season. The first British winner of the Italian Grand Tour, Froome finished the Giro resplendent in the maglia rosa, flanked by his team-mates with an eventual winning margin of 46 seconds over 2017 Giro winner, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and 4:57 on third placed Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

Team Sky claimed victory in the team classification by almost 25 minutes.

More from Stage 21 HERE.

Stage winner, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I woke up not feeling so good today, my legs were tired and I wasn’t sure if I could go for the sprint. The race course was really difficult and I couldn’t take my hands off the bike due to the cobblestones during the race I felt better as the pace increased and once again it was a great team effort. The boys worked so hard for me, closed the gap and did a strong lead-out. Without them the victory wouldn’t have been possible. Quick-Step made the race hard very early and it was super fast. In the middle of the Giro, I’d say I could win in Roma but when I woke up this morning, I had such bad legs that I didn’t imagine myself winning today. However, with the winner’s mentality, you always want more and I couldn’t let my team-mates down. I kept positioning myself from 2km to go. A few people wanted Viviani’s wheel. It was a super fast finale. I knew Viviani could have a second kick so I sprinted as late as possible. Three stage wins makes me very happy but I’d also like to win a classic and Milano-Sanremo is the only one.”

2018 Giro d’Italia overall winner, Chris Froome (Sky): “After we started racing on the circuit, many riders came to me to find a solution to make the race safer. It’s been a fantastic event. It still came down to a bunch sprint with Sam Bennett and Elia [Viviani] fighting, that’s what everyone wanted to see this evening. The atmosphere was fantastic, you could see how much it meant for the fans to have the Giro finishing in Rome. A week ago, I didn’t believe that I’d be here in the Maglia Rosa. To recover more than three minutes, it had been done before but it seemed unlikely. Stage 19 with the Colle delle Finestre was the moment the race turned around for me. This is in my mind what bike racing is about. I’d like to dedicate this victory to my wife and the daughter we’re expecting at the beginning of August.”

2nd on he stage and points competition winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “Winning three stages and the ciclamino were my big goals before the start of the race, and arriving in Rome with four victories and the jersey makes for a perfect Giro d’Italia, one which wouldn’t have been possible without my phenomenal teammates. On the flat, they gave me a perfect lead-out, while in the tough mountain stages they stayed by my side and helped me arrive safely at the finish. The past three weeks have been unforgettable, an outstanding experience, and for this I have to thank to everyone, from my teammates and staff and to the amazing fans which cheered for us every single day!”

2nd overall, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): “I am super proud of myself and the team. We’ve got a superb three weeks behind us and we tried everything that we could to take the win. This is by far the heaviest Grand Tour I have ever raced so I can definitely live with my second place. I’m really happy; we did everything well, the team work was great and I’m very thankful for everything that the guys did for me. We rode brilliantly over these three weeks and I’m super proud of what we have achieved. We couldn’t have done anything differently so we can leave being really happy with second overall.”

3rd overall, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): “It is unbelievable! I have so great feelings right now staying here at the podium in Rome. This is a big result for me and, I think, for the whole Astana Team. I want to thank my team for fantastic support both, during the race and during all these years. I am grateful to my teammates, team’s staff, directors and our general manager Alexandr Vinokurov. It is our common success! We worked hardly all three weeks at the Giro, we had some bad luck with the crashes, but finally, we reached the podium. Also, I am happy to win this white jersey of the best young rider. It was my first goal coming here at the Giro and it is great to reach it. A top-5 in the general classification was my second goal and now, on the podium, I am happy to beat my target. During the Giro I’ve realized how many fans I have not only in Colombia, but also in Kazakhstan. It is so cool! Thanks you all for your support, I hope, you’ve enjoyed the Giro d’Italia this year.”

5th overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “My plan was to be in the top five and fight for the podium if possible. I was able to be third overall for many days and I lost it only because of a bad day. I’ve always tried to take a stage win too, I did not succeed, but rivals like a super Yates in the first weeks prevented me to do it.”

9th overall, Sam Oomen (Sunweb): “I’m proud of myself, proud of the team and proud of Tom. I had the job to be deep in the final with Tom so that automatically caused me to be up there in the GC. After my work with Tom I rode my own pace to the finish which meant that I was in the top 15, that’s what I had expected to achieve here. This last week was amazing and I managed to jump up into the top 10 which is really incredible for me, alongside Tom’s place on the podium.”

3rd on the stage, Jempy Drucker (BMC): “It’s nice to be up there. I knew I could do that during the whole Grand Tour but I never had the opening or the opportunity. Today, Rohan set me up really well and that helped me to save some energy for the sprint. I had some good feelings over the last couple of days and I knew I could do a good sprint here so, it’s nice to finish the race off like this. Overall, it was a hard time here but we made it to Rome so I’m happy. We had a nice three weeks, a super good start with Rohan in the pink jersey, then afterward he won a stage also. So I think as a team we did a good job. It was a nice experience in Italy.”

Pink jersey wearer, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “A success is probably the best way to sum it up. I didn’t expect too much out of this Giro d’Italia, to be honest. I didn’t want to put too much expectation on myself after last year’s disappointment so I sort of came here hoping that it would be a lot better and it has been.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Result:
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe in 2:50:49
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
3. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
6. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
7. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8. Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
10. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors.

Giro d’Italia Final Overall Result:
1. Chris Froome (GB) Sky in 89:02:39
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:46
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 4:57
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 5:44
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 8:03
6. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 11:50
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 13:01
8. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo at 13:17
9. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb at 14:18
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 15:16.

Tour des Fjords 2018
The Final Stage 3 of the Tour des Fjords was scheduled. With over 4,000 meters of elevation between Farsund and Egersund, it promised to be a really tough stage. Attack after attack was launched, but eventually a select group of riders would sprint for the win. Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht proved to be the strongest in the sprint and took his first pro victory! He beat Michael Albasini and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Lambrecht also finished second in the general classification, only six seconds down on Albasini.

After one hour of racing, six riders managed to escape the peloton. The six escapees were Bernard, Cardona, Earle, Mas, Mihaylov and Lotto Soudal rider Maxime Monfort. Mitchelton-Scott took the initiative at the front of the peloton and kept the advantage limited to three minutes. After several climbs on the way to Egersund, only Earle and Monfort remained at the front. In the meantime, Canty, Doull, Weening and Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht set up a counterattack. Eventually, everything got back together at a few kilometers from the line. Several riders still tried to avoid the sprint, but they failed in their attempt. In the sprint, it was Bjorg Lambrecht who was the strongest! He beat Albasini and Boasson Hagen and took his first professional victory!

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal): “It was a really tough stage today. We rode the first climb of the day at full speed and only twenty riders were left in the peloton including myself and teammate Maxime Monfort. Everything got back together in the descent and on the second climb of the day, Monfort escaped the peloton. That was an ideal situation for our team, that protected me all day long. I attacked on the ultimate climb of the day and joined a small group of riders. We worked together really well, but eventually we got caught by the peloton. Then, we decided that we would go for the sprint. The team did an awesome job today. They delivered me at the front with three kilometres to go and then I just had to sprint. Of course, I was not sure of beating riders like Albasini and Boasson Hagen. But when I saw them slowing down at 300 meters from the finish, I went all out and sprinted to the victory. I am so happy I could finish it off, it’s like a dream come true. I knew it would be difficult to take the overall victory. I had expected that Albasini would finish on top three. But I am super happy with my victory today and a second place in the general classification.”

Overall winner and 2nd on the stage, Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott): “In the finish everybody in the team was up their giving their best to bring me in a good position and it was up to me to finish it off. It was tight but I just made it and I am really happy now. We knew I would have to finish on the podium again for the bonus seconds, so there was a bit of pressure on and because the team rode so well for me. The boys did an incredible job all day, it was a tough stage and at the start we tried to sneak out of the control but that didn’t work at all and we had to really control the whole race. Luke Durbridge had a big day out there and was super strong, he basically controlled the breakaway himself. Carlos Verona, Cameron Meyer and Lucas Hamilton were riding the last ones on the climbs, actually everybody was riding so well so we always took the control of the race. The team gave me the best chance to have a sprint then it was just up to me. It is good to know I am back and it was a confirmation for me personally that I can still be up there and I am really really happy for this.”

Tour des Fjords Stage 3 Result:
1. Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:36:43
2. Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
4. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
5. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:03
6. August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
9. Aaron Gate (NZ) Aqua Blue Sport
10. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij.

Tour des Fjords Final Overall Result:
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott in 13:32:01
2. Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:06
3. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:10
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 0:12
5. Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo at 0:14
6. Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:15
7. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:19
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
9. Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
10. Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo.

Baloise Belgium Tour 2018
Stage 2 of the Baloise Belgium Tour took the riders in 150 kilometres from Lochristi to Knokke-Heist. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) was very familiar with today’s slightly uphill finish. In the past, he sprinted three times to the victory in Knokke-Heist. He added a fourth victory today. He beat, on a flat tire, Dutchman Wippert and Belgian Merlier in the sprint. Greipel also extends his lead in the general classification due to the bonus seconds he gained today.

Five riders formed the breakaway of the day. Jacobs, Janssens, Hermans, Ruijgh and Warner never got much advantage though. Just like yesterday, Jelle Wallays took the initiative at the front of the pack and controlled the advantage of the five escapees. Somewhat later in the race, he was assisted by a couple of riders from Team Astana.

Two local laps were scheduled in and around Knokke-Heist. In those laps, Aqua Blue tried to form an echelon. They seemed to succeed, but eventually a big group of riders could return. The breakaway got caught at around ten kilometres to go. Some riders tried to escape the predicted bunch sprint, but the sprint teams kept everything together. A few kilometres from the line, the Lotto Soudal train moved to the front and it was Jasper De Buyst who delivered the perfect lead-out. André Greipel sprinted, on a flat tire, to his second victory in two days time. He beat Wippert and Merlier with a perfectly timed sprint.

Stage winner and overall leader, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “I’m very happy with this second stage win! It’s never an easy sprint here in Knokke-Heist as it’s a slightly uphill finish, but I timed perfectly and I had a good lead-out of course! I felt my opponents coming, but I could hold them off. It’s always great when a plan comes together. Although that didn’t happen without obstacles. I slipped in the last corner and I noticed I was getting a puncture. I could only hope I could hold on to the finish and luckily I did. I managed to stay on the wheel of Jasper De Buyst, who did once again a strong lead-out for me. It’s wonderful to have a team behind you and teammates who you can trust blindly. Marcel Sieberg for example always makes the right decisions in the run-up to the sprint. Like yesterday, everyone had his part in the victory. Jelle Wallays did again a huge amount of pulling in the bunch. I’m not in top shape yet after coming back from my collarbone fracture, but on the other hand I feel very fresh. That’s the positive side of missing out on the spring races. I’ve won ten stages at the Baloise Belgium Tour and of course it would be great to add another one to my list of victories, we’ll see if that will still happen this year. I’m leading the overall classification, but Saturday’s Ardennes stage is really hard. That stage will be decisive.”

Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 2 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 3:15:21
2. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
3. Tim Merlier (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
4. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club
6. Roy Jans (Bel) Cibel-Cebon
7. Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Bram Welten (Ned) Fortuneo-Samsic
9. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
10. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana.

Baloise Belgium Tour Overall After Stage 2:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 7:09:30
2. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:11
3. Tim Merlier (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:12
4. Wouter Wippert (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:14
5. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana
6. Michael Boros (Cze) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 0:15
7. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:16
9. Antoine Warnier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
10. Conor Dunne (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport.

Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) won the 10.6 kilometer individual time trial Stage 3 in Bornem to take the overall lead. He beat Ukrainian Andrey Grivko (Astana) by 5 seconds, Brian van Goethem (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) by 7 and Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal) at 10 seconds. Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) held second place overall, but those four riders filled the other places in the top five.

Stage winner and overall leader, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “I am very happy. I took risks because I wanted to do well after the error made during the stage of Thursday. I felt good and I reached my goals. We had to fight the day before because of a stroke of bad luck. We were not paying enough attention. Today, I wanted to erase this bad memory. Even if I did not expect such a feat since it is my race of recovery. At the Tour de Provence, I lost the time for 2 seconds. So I am very satisfied with this first victory of my career in a time trial. We will savor this bouquet and this leading position with the team before focusing on the next stage. Even if the difficulty of this route in the Ardennes is known, we will defend this jersey together.

Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 12:38
2. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:05
3. Brian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:07
4. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:10
5. Mark Cristian (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
6. Marco Mathis (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:15
8. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems-Crelan at 0:16
9. Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:18
10. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport.

Baloise Belgium Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 7:22:28
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal at 0:04
3. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:05
4. Brian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:07
5. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:09
6. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
7. Mark Cristian (GB) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:10
8. Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda’s Willems Crelan at 0:12
9. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 00:15
10. Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:18.

The penultimate Stage 4 of the Baloise Belgium Tour was scheduled in and around Wanze and was ridden on a hilly course. It was Lotto Soudal who dominated the race. Jelle Vanendert attacked on the last climb of the day from a group of five riders including teammate Jens Keukeleire. He soloed to victory and Keukeleire put the cherry on the cake. He beat Smith in the sprint for second place and took over the leader’s jersey from Frenchman Laporte. Vanendert claimed the second spot in the general classification, fifteen seconds down on Keukeleire.

Two local laps of about 75 kilometres including each time six climbs had to make the fourth stage of the Baloise Belgium Tour a real spectacle. And so they did, because with over 100 kilometres to go, a group of favorites managed to escape the peloton. Three Lotto Soudal-riders were represented at the front: Jens Keukeleire, Jelle Vanendert and Jelle Wallays. Later, several riders joined but it had already been clear that the select group would battle for the stage victory.

Jens Keukeleire anticipated at 45 kilometres in order to begin the steep Mur de Huy with an advantage. He was joined by Martijn Budding and Edward Dunbar. That choice proved to be the right one because on the Mur de Huy, he had to let go some riders but was able to return only moments later. Finally, five riders managed to go clear at twenty kilometres from the finish line. Dunbar, Keukeleire, Smith, Turgis and Vanendert quickly got a considerable advantage over the chasing riders. Lotto Soudal used the numerical superiority to its advantage. Jelle Vanendert attacked on the last climb of the day and no one was able to answer his acceleration. He quickly got an advantage of ten seconds and extended it consequently. Vanendert managed to hold off the chasers and soloed to his second career win! Jens Keukeleire beat Dion Smith in the sprint for second place and is also the new leader in the general classification. Tomorrow, the Baloise Belgium Tour concludes with a 166 kilometres long stage between Landen and Tongeren.

Stage winner and 2nd overall, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal): “I am very happy with this stage victory. We were really strong as a team and we not only won the stage, but Jens Keukeleire also takes the leader’s jersey. That makes our day even more successful. The stage just went perfectly for us. It wasn’t an easy day due to the heat, but I felt good. I had some energy left uphill at the Golden Kilometer, but some flat kilometres were still to follow after that, which was less evident. I knew that I would need more than twenty seconds advantage before the last descent. I have been performing at a high level during the whole season and I am very happy that I managed to take my second career victory today. I just returned from two weeks of training in the Sierra Nevada to prepare for the Dauphiné and the Tour. This week was really important to me to get some race rhythm and speed in the legs. Yesterday, I felt good during the time trial, but I could not yet go flat out. However, I could already feel the power in my legs. Today, everything went perfectly. We had the numerical superiority in the front group and I felt strong. As a non-sprinter, it’s difficult to win a lot of races, so that’s why I am very happy with this stage win.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal): “With one stage to go, I am in a better position than last year. We performed strongly as a team today and we will be confident at tomorrow’s start to put the cherry on the cake. I had a difficult moment during the second ascent of the Mur de Huy. I already struggled on the first climb of the Mur the Huy, so I decided to attack before the second passage in order to have some margin. After I got caught, I chose to ride at my own pace and I only had to focus on Grivko for the general classification. Jelle Vanendert told me that he felt really strong and wanted to go for the stage victory. It was nice to ride with such a team today. Jelle Wallays put every rider of the breakaway in the hurt locker as he rode at a brutal pace. Jelle Vanendert looked very strong and his win was certainly a well-deserved one. I am very happy with my performance after I missed most of the Spring Classic due to illness. Because I had just joined a new team, that did hurt. Now, I feel very good and I hope to continue my current performances towards the Tour.”

3rd on the stage and 4th overall, Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I actually felt really bad for the first 30 kilometers. I was only able to follow. Then I saw everyone else suffering, that kinda gave me the motivation. I just had to ride smart in the break. I tried to follow Vanendert in the final, but it was either go really deep and blow up or ride my own pace and last to the finish. Of course I wanted to win, but when there are two super strong guys you have to take what you can get. It has been a slow start of the year in the classics. The chances are slim in those races. I mean this is still a hard race and a good level. This is definitely good for my morale and really good for the team. Top 5 in the GC after yesterday’s time trial seemed to be unreachable.”

Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:33:24
2. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:16
3. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis
5. Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:20
6. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 1:09
7. Gianni Marchand (Bel) Cibel-Cebon
8. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:53
9. Martijn Budding (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
10. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions.

Baloise Belgium Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 10:56:11
2. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:15
3. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis at 0:26
4. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:39
5. Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:45
6. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:55
7. Gianni Marchand (Bel) Cibel-Cebon at 1:16
8. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:49
9. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:53
10. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club at 1:58.

The end of the Baloise Belgium Tour brought success for the Vital Concept Cycling Club with the victory of Bryan Coquard on the Final Stage 5 over 168 kilometers between Landen and Tongeren. Despite a chaotic finalé, “the Rooster” won the sprint ahead of Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and the Belgian Roy Jans Cibel-Cebon. Under a deluge that hit the race in the last kilometers and the day after a high-flying performance on the stage over the Ardennes, Coquard won his third victory of the season and confirmed his excellent condition. The ultimate stage of the Baloise Belgium Tour took the riders from Landen to Tongeren on an undulating course with three local laps of 13.8 kilometres. Lotto Soudal once again delivered a fine lead-out. André Greipel accelerated powerfully, but he timed his sprint a bit too early, allowing Coquard to sprint for victory.

Lotto Soudal’s Jens Keukeleire’s overall victory was never in any danger. He won, just like last year, the Baloise Belgium Tour. Teammate Jelle Vanendert finished in second position in the general classification. André Greipel secured the new Lotto points jersey by sprinting to an eight.

Stage winner, Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept Club): “I knew that the legs were very good. I had not managed to impose myself on the first two stages (concluded in the sprint) despite my good condition and the support of my teammates. This time, I stayed calm despite the fall of Boeckie (Kris Boeckmans) less than 3 kilometers from the finish. It was a little disorganized, Momo (Julien Morice) and Coco (Corentin Ermenault) wondered who had fallen but Jonas (Van Genechten) stayed by my side and took me very well in the end, going back to the left with extraordinary calm. Once deposited in the wheel of Laporte to 400 meters, I knew to remain lucid and to wait that it stuck a little to produce my effort. At the briefing this morning, we had agreed not to take the sprint by far because, on this false flat climb, it was clear that it was better to come from behind with speed. That’s exactly what we’ve been able to do and it’s rewarding the work of the entire team since the start of this Tour of Belgium.”

Overall winner, Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal): “It definitely wasn’t an easy last day. Especially in the beginning of the race, we had to keep an eye on the dangerous guys in the general classification and not let them slip into a breakaway. We also had to stay concentrated and avoid crashes with the heavy rainfall in the end. Luckily, the rain came pouring down only five kilometres from the finish. Last year’s win with the national team was special because I hadn’t expected to be able to win. This year was different, but also special to me. I had to miss a major part of the Spring Classics due to illness. I could not have imagined a better way to start the second part of the season. I definitely didn’t come to this race thinking it would be easy to win. But everything went very smoothly this week. I did a good time trial and during the Ardennes stage yesterday, I joined the early breakaway. Jelle Wallays, who was also part of that front group, was really strong. In the finale, I took the initiative together with Jelle Vanendert.”

Baloise Belgium Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club in 3:48:27
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
3. Roy Jans (Bel) Cibel-Cebon
4. Bram Welten (Ned) Fortuneo-Samsic
5. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
6. Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
9. Jelle Mannaerts (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
10. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana.

Baloise Belgium Tour Final Overall Result:
1. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 14:43:37
2. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:15
3. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:39
4. Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:45
5. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:55
6. Gianni Marchand (Bel) Cibel-Cebon at 1:16
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club at 1:48
8. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:49
9. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin at 1:53
10. Martijn Budding (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 2:50.

Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan 2018
Andrea Pasqualon got a beautiful second victory for Wanty-Groupe Gobert on Saturday in Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan (1.1, 26/05). On the Côte de Cadoudal Pasqualon proved that he is hard to beat in a tough uphill sprint with a reduced group.

Yoann Offredo, Xandro Meurisse and Guillaume Martin increased the pace, after which Pasqualon followed Herrada, Vichot and the others on the two kilometer long final climb. In the final meters Pasqualon could accelerate again. He passed all his competitors and sprinted to a fantastic first season victory, his second for the team after Coppa Sabatini 2017.

Andrea Pasqualon: “I knew that I had a good chance here in Bretagne. This 1.5km uphill finish looks like Coppa Sabatini, where I took the victory last year. This morning we decided in the team meeting that I would be today’s leader. The team delivered me perfect in the final. Guillaume Martin and Xandro Meurisse went full gas on the final climb, but I can also be proud of the other ones who worked before. After the team job I stayed in the front. Samuel Dumoulin started the sprint, but in the final 50 meters I was able to accelerate one more time and could pass everyone. After my altitude training camp in Livigno I felt my form was improving. I already performed well in Tour de l’Ain. With this condition I knew that it was impossible not to win here today. I almost had to skip this race because my flight was cancelled yesterday. I travelled for 14 hours yesterday, which was not ideal for the head and my legs. But today proved to be another day…”

2nd, Julien Simon (Cofidis): “Of course I did not win even though I came for that because I really like the race. I had explained it to Christian Guiberteau this morning. I did not miss much. A hesitation in the 500 meters when I wondered if I had to counter Alexis Vuillermoz may have cost me the victory. But the important thing is that I finally go out of the water. This winter, I had a lot of health problems. So I stayed in my corner to work to find sensations. After Les 4 Jours de Dunkerque, I still did a little personal training to make myself shine and it turned out to be a good idea. I will continue on this good momentum both at the Boucles de L’Aulne and Le Dauphiné, my next races.”

Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan Result:
1. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert in 4:27:42
2. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
3. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
4. Arthur Vichot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
5. Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
6. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 0:03
7. Garikoitz Bravo (Spa) Euskadi-Murias at 0:10
8. Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic at 0:14
9. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:17
10. Jonathan Lastra (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:18.

Defending Champions Strike Back in Aberystwyth OVO Energy Tour Series
Canyon-Eisberg made it a clean sweep of the penultimate week of the OVO Energy Tour Series as Commonwealth Games Silver medallist Harry Tanfield became the third rider from the team to take an individual win at the fifth round in Aberystwyth on Saturday, following on from success for Jack Pullar and Andy Tennant in Durham.

There were dominant maiden winners in both the men and women’s events, with Tanfield crossing the line alone, hands aloft, to win by 24 seconds from ONE Pro Cycling’s Jacob Scott, who had chased alone. Anna Henderson took her first ever Tour Series victory for Team OnForm earlier in the evening.

However, despite the successes of their riders, with both winners also taking the respective Brother Fastest Laps, neither Canyon Eisberg nor Team OnForm were the team victors on the night, with defending champions JLT Condor and Trek-Drops taking the honors.

The win for JLT Condor, thanks to the presence of Graham Briggs (third), Eisberg Points leader Matt Gibson (fourth) and Jon Mould (sixth) in the lead group of eight – who lapped the main field – moved them to second overall, three points behind Madison Genesis, who retain the Series lead.

Aberystwyth saw a first win for Trek-Drops in the women’s Series, the team having been missed recent rounds following injury and illness, but with Team Breeze coming second, the British Cycling development squad extended their lead in the Series to three points over NJC-Biemme-Echelon.

Early on in the race Henderson struck out for home by herself, saying: “I went round the [final] corner, you know take the risk round the corner, and one of the girls dropped the wheel and you know what I thought ‘take a risk’ and yeah, it paid off. That’s a big effort from me – it was a pretty cool technical course that suited me and I really enjoyed that.”

The 19-year-old, who emerged as one to watch during last year’s Series continued saying, “I’m still very new you know I’m learning every minute of every race and my team manager and my coach, everybody in the team is guiding me. And yeah it’s just a continuous upward spiral.”

Nikki Juniper finished second on the night, ensuring that Henderson only marginally trimmed her lead in the Eisberg Points Jersey, with the NJC-Biemme-Echelon rider still holding a 25-point advantage heading to Monday’s Bank Holiday event in Stevenage.

Juniper had chased with Trek-Drops’ Lizzie Holden, who took third, with freshly-crowned Welsh Criterium Champion Dani Rowe taking the bunch sprint for fourth from Ejay Harris (Storey Racing).

For full results from the men and women’s races, please click here.

Highlights of the Aberystwyth event of the OVO Energy Tour Series are on ITV4 at 22:00 on Monday 28 May with a repeat the following morning (Tuesday 29 May) at 07:30. All the 2018 highlights are also available on demand via the ITV Hub catch-up service.

Action resumes at Round Six in Stevenage on Bank Holiday Monday 29 May which includes a team time trial event for the men’s teams. For more details please visit

Winner in Aberystwyth, Harry Tanfield:

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018 – A Generation on the Rise
Even the old adage that every season is different can sometimes be wrong. This time of the year usually sees a changing of the guard, as the stars of the winter and spring races give way to a different breed of riders, one that lights the fireworks in the major stage races of the summer calendar. However, this year’s start list tells a different story, heralding a fierce battle among the elite of a generation on the rise that already shone in the early part of the year. Vincenzo Nibali is the only rider older than 30 with a clear shot at victory. The 2014 Tour champion has rarely excelled at the Dauphiné, but his victory in Milan–San Remo served as a good reminder of his ability to surprise. The Italian is right on track in the build-up to his main goal of the season. However, potential rivals have also shone during their preparation for the Tour de France. Movistar is banking on the youthful moxie of Marc Soler, who claimed Paris–Nice back in March, while Team Sky is fielding Geraint Thomas, Tirreno–Adriatico winner Michał Kwiatkowski and the newly crowned champion of the Tour of California, the sensational 21-year-old Egan Bernal.

The most prolific team since the start of the season, Quick-Step Floors, is heading to the Alps with the same ravenous appetite it displayed in Belgium: Flèche Wallonne winner Julian Alaphilippe and 25-year-old Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion Bob Jungels will have an ace or two up their sleeves. Tiesj Benoot, the winner of Strade Bianche and leader of the other Belgian team, Lotto–Soudal, also has cards to play. Romain Bardet, runner-up in Siena, has had the best start to the season of his career so far, including a podium place in Liège–Bastogne–Liège (third). Fortuneo’s standard-holder, Warren Barguil, has been uninspired so far, but last summer more than proved his ability to bounce back into the game. Mitchelton–Scott is pinning its hopes on Adam Yates (fourth in California), whose form often moves in lockstep with that of his brother Simon, currently leading the Giro d’Italia.

Key points
The 70th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné will start with a 6.6 km prologue through the streets of Valence on 3 June. After a long, hard slog on the roads of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the adventure will draw to a close in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc on 10 June.

Ø The Alps will separate the men from the boys in the Dauphiné and the Tour de France. A dynamic new generation is heading into the race with solid climbers such as Romain Bardet, Marc Soler, Egan Bernal and Bob Jungels. They could well end up toppling Vincenzo Nibali, a rider who has won all three Grand Tours and remains a powerful force to be reckoned with.

22 teams: the main contenders (as of 24 May):

South Africa
Team Dimension Data: Boasson Hagen and Cummings

Team Sunweb: Bauhaus and Teunissen
Bora-Hansgrohe: Buchmann and Kennaugh

Mitchelton–Scott: A. Yates

Bahrain-Merida: Nibali and Gasparotto

Quick–Step Floors: Alaphilippe and Jungels
Lotto–Soudal: Benoot, De Gendt and Vanendert
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: G. Martin, Backaert and Eiking

Movistar Team: Soler and Erviti

United States
BMC Racing Team: Caruso and Teuns
EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale: Rolland and Moreno
Trek–Segafredo: Skujiņš and Felline

AG2R–La Mondiale: Bardet, Latour, Gallopin and Naesen
Groupama-FDJ: Gaudu, Molard and Vichot
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Navarro, Simon and Teklehaimanot
Team Fortuneo-Samsic: Barguil and Feillu
Vital Concept Cycling Club: Coquard and Reza

United Kingdom
Team Sky: Thomas, Bernal and Kwiatkowski

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Martin, Byström and Ulissi

Astana Pro Team: Bilbao and Valgren

Team LottoNL–Jumbo: Boom, Leezer and Van Emden

Team Katusha-Alpecin: Zakarin and Kišerlovski

La Camperona is the ‘Most Viral High-Altitude Finale’ of La Vuelta 18
Cycling fans have voted and have chosen La Camperona as ‘The most viral high-altitude finale’ of La Vuelta 18. The Leon summit beat one of the 73rd edition’s unprecedented mountain passes in the final: Les Praeres, in Nava, in a very close final where more than 2000 users voted through La Vuelta’s Facebook page.

The summit, located in the heart of the Sabero Valley, has won a competition that began in February and has beaten seven other high-altitude finales in the race. In the face-offs, La Camperona directly beat another Asturian summit, Lagos de Covadonga, and its Castilian “neighbour”, La Covatilla.

During the three months of voting, over 6500 users participated in the seven rounds of face-offs. The localities near the mountain passes, deeply committed to the competition, also became involved and called for fans to vote.

All the voters now have the chance to win two VIP access bracelets to see the 13th stage, with the finish-line at La Camperona, to be held on the 7th of September. The winner will be chosen through a raffle among all the voters and his/her name will be announced next week on La Vuelta’s Facebook page.

Slopes with an Inclination of 25%
La Camperona is a first category climb that La Vuelta is already very familiar with. This year, we will climb the Leon summit for the third time in the Spanish tour, after the 2014 and 2016 editions, where victories were obtained by Canadian rider Ryder Hesjedal and Russian rider Sergey Lagutin, respectively.

The Sabero Valley summit is one of the most spectacular high-altitude finales in La Vuelta 2018. Along its 8.5 km route, the average inclination is around 7.4%, with slopes reaching a maximum of 25%. This year, La Camperona is well within the Asturias-Leon triptych that it forms with the Lagos de Covadonga and Les Praeres de Nava, in three consecutive stage finales, just before the second rest day.

The essentials:
· La Camperona has won the competition organized by Unipublic to determine “The most viral high-altitude finale’ of La Vuelta 18, beating Les Praeres, Nava, in the final.
· Two VIP access bracelets to see the 13th stage of La Vuelta, to be held on the 7th of September, will be raffled among all those who participated.
· 6500 users have voted through La Vuelta’s Facebook page.

Further information regarding La Vuelta 2018 on

Pieter Vanspeybrouck Fractures Left Collarbone
After a difficult spring Pieter Vanspeybrouck was working on a revival. In Eschborn-Frankfurt (1.WT) our 31-year-old West-Flemish rider achieved an 11th place. With confidence he headed to Tour of Norway (2.HC), where he rode top 5 twice. He started the penultimate stage as fourth in the general classification, only 17 seconds down to leader Groenewegen. In the final he unfortunately crashed.

Team doc Joost De Maeseneer: “Pieter Vanspeybrouck fractured his left collarbone last Saturday in a crash in the final of the fourth stage in Tour of Norway. For this it was necessary to attach the bone parts to each other by means of osteosynthesis. On Monday he was successfully operated by Dr. Toon Claes in AZ Herentals. Pieter would be able to resume training within seven-ten days.”

Pieter Vanspeybrouck: “The arrival was in a descent, so we knew in advance that it would be dangerous. The crash happened at 800 meters from the finish. I remember that I was hit from behind and then me and four other riders crashed.”

“We then had a CT scan taken at the hospital in Norway. Based on this we decided in consultation with Toon Claes to have the operation done in Belgium. Then two more rough days and nights followed. Your whole body is in a cramp to suffer as little pain as possible. I was relieved that we were in Belgium on Monday and the operation could take place. The operation went well. I still had some pain, but that makes sense because it was not a simple procedure. I can only improve from now on.”

“After a failed spring that was determined by a lot of bad luck, I was full of motivation again. I started again from scratch and trained very hard. I already felt good in Frankfurt. I was able to continue that form in a few smaller Belgian races before riding top 5 twice in Norway. I felt very well and knew that my shape was still growing. I looked forward to Tour of Belgium and Luxembourg with high expectations, two races where I already performed well in the past. ”

“Toon Claes told me that, with some luck, I can resume on the rollers this weekend. But he said that it is quite heavy fracture, so it could be that the revalidation lasts a bit longer. The moment will mainly depend on my feeling day by day. Fortunately I have the full support of my German girlfriend, who immediately came to Belgium.”

Pieter Vanspeybrouck:

#InsideOut at the Final GC Battle
Team Sunweb round up their Giro d’Italia #InsideOut series with an exclusive fly on the wall documentary following the team through the final GC deciding stages of the race.

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