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Sittard-Geleen - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Max WALSCHEID (Germany / Team Sunweb) - Team SKY pictured during Hammer Sportzone Limburg - stage - 3 - The Hammer Chase - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Another busy weekend – Team Sky won the complicated Hammer Series, Greg Van Avermaet won in Luxembourg, Jasper De Buyst in the Heistse Pijl and Thomas De Gendt took stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. All the results, reports and video. In other cycling news: Sky go white for the Tour de France, Giovanni Visconti injured, Bahrain-Merida bikes stolen in Limburg and Movistar have some podium fun. Coffee EUROTRASH Monday!

TOP STORY: The Hammer Series?
Change can be a good thing, but you have to understand the rules. The new Hammer Series took place last weekend and to say it was a little confusing is an understatement. OK, there were three races on a short circuit; the first was hilly, the second flat and the third was a team time trial. That’s the simple bit. Points and time was won throughout the first two events, but the winner at the end of the event didn’t count as it is a team race. The time taken went towards the start times for the team time trial final event and the first team to cross the line won. I think. They also start in two groups, the second group can’t win.

It wasn’t only the fans, teams and just about everyone else, who didn’t quite understand as the organizers had amend the result from Saturday, issuing this press release:

(3 June) Limburg, NL. The results from today’s Hammer Sprint have been amended following the application of the race rules and the deduction of the points awarded to Ramon Sinkeldam, Team Sunweb, before he crashed and was unable to complete the eight laps of the race.

The reduction of the points awarded to Team Sunweb means that Team Sky move to the top of the overall standings and will start the Hammer Chase on Sunday as leaders.

The Hammer Chase is a team time trial taking place over three laps of a 14.9km course. Teams are ranked by adding together their positions in the first two races, the Hammer Climb on Friday and today’s Hammer Sprint, the lowest total being the top team.

Teams are then split into two groups: the top eight go into Group 1 and bottom eight in Group 2. Teams in Group 1 can challenge for both victory in the Hammer Chase and overall Hammer Series. Teams in Group 2 can challenge for the Hammer Chase win, but not for overall victory.

Teams in each group set off at fixed time intervals dictated by their ranking, plus the time bonuses they picked up.”

Hammer Series – The format explained. Does this make it any clearer?:

Critérium du Dauphiné 2017
Thomas De Gendt has added another memorable victory to his palmarès. The Lotto Soudal rider arrived solo in Saint-Étienne at the finish of Stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. A successful end of an early breakaway. Thanks to his stage win De Gendt leads the overall classification. Tomorrow, he will be racing in the yellow jersey. During the stage he had already secured the KOM jersey. And the Belgian is also first in the points classification.

Immediately after the start of this 170.5 kilometers long stage with start and finish in Saint-Étienne, the road ran uphill towards the first of eight official climbs. Thomas De Gendt had set his mind on the KOM jersey. He formed a break with the following six riders: Axel Domont, Delio Fernandez, Silvio Herklotz, Angel Madrazo, Antonio Nibali and Romain Sicard. A strong De Gendt was always the first to reach the top of the climbs. Mission accomplished.

But it wasn’t over yet. The front group had a maximal lead of six and a half minutes. With 25 kilometers to go three minutes advantage were still left. The peloton wouldn’t close the gap anymore. In the finale the riders had to cover three laps of fifteen kilometers, containing a third category climb. De Gendt raised the pace in the second lap and he remained only in front with Axel Domont. In the last lap De Gendt also got rid of his last opponent and soloed to victory.

De Gendt leads the GC with an advantage of 48 seconds on Axel Domont and 1:03 on Diego Ulissi.

Saint Etienne - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Thomas DE GENDT (Belgium / 
Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during stage - 1 of the 69th Critérium du Dauphiné - from Saint Etienne to Saint Etienne (170 km) - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner and overall leader, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “Before the start of this Dauphiné I had marked a few stages to battle for the KOM jersey. It was my goal to conquer it today and to wear the polka dot jersey the next days, but it will be a different shirt. Quite soon I noticed that I was the strongest man in the front group. Of course you need to make sure to eat sufficiently and to save as much energy as possible. To catch the KOM points I needed to go full gas each time, but at the end of the stage I still had enough power in my legs to attack. When we had four minutes advantage left at the start of the local laps I understood that we had a huge chance of winning the stage. From then on I fully focussed on that goal. At one and a half kilometers from the last top, I dropped Domont. I knew that if I had about fifteen seconds lead at the top, I would win the stage. Then I tried to gain as much seconds on GC as possible. In 2011 I wore the yellow jersey three days at Paris-Nice. That was a wonderful experience. I am very much looking forward to the next days. I must be able to keep the jersey till the time trial. I am now 1:09 ahead of the GC riders. When Froome is in shape, he can definitely ride one minute faster than me on such a time trial course, so we’ll see if I can keep the jersey on Wednesday. Maybe by a few seconds. The stage over Mont du Chat on Friday will be too hard for me. Then I can collect more KOM points though. I now have sixteen and next weekend there are a lot more to conquer.”

3rd, Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates): “My performance was a great surprise for me too because we did and intensive altitude training camp period, it means we worked really well without losing rhythm. It’s a pity for the victory but we’ll have others opportunities. The most important thing is to feel good.”

5th, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I had really good legs the whole day. It was our plan, that I try something and maybe surprise some of the other GC riders. I already attacked on the first climb, but Sky took control of the situation then. So it was clear that I have to wait for the final loop to go again. When the two guys attacked then I decided to jump and we went full gas to the finish. It’s just 2 seconds, but you never know how close it will be in the end. But the most important thing is that my shape is really good.”

7th, Julien Simon (Cofidis): “Yesterday at the table, we thought it was an ideal stage for a rider in the profile of Thomas de Gendt. When I saw that he had escaped and the peloton gave him so much time, I realized that we would not be back unless he was failing… I wanted to hang on and play a part. I lost to Sonny Colbrelli in the peloton. Too bad we could not get back on the counterattackers, being 3rd is always better than 7th. I had taken this stage in mind to get a result. It’s encouraging because it’s my first stage race since Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

28th, Thomas Degand (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “The first day was tough, with more than 3000 altitude meters. Certain thoughts were that it could be a sprint, but it proved to be different. In the final of the stage the triple climb strung out the peloton. We already suffered! I had some weird sensations during the stage, but I was able to hang on in the first group together with Guillaume Martin. The legs are not too bad then! It is a good sign for the rest of Dauphiné.”

Break rider, Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I had a really good preparation for the Dauphiné. Right from the start I had good legs and jumped a few times. When we were in the break then I thought already about the finale, but De Gendt was too strong in the end. But I am happy with my performance today and now look forward to the next stages.”

Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 1 Result:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:17:04
2. Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:44
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Emirates at 0:57
4. Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:59
7. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Ben Swift (GB) Team UAE Emirates
10. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana.

Critérium du Dauphiné Overall After Stage 1:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:16:54
2. Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:48
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Emirates at 1:03
4. Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:07
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:09
7. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Ben Swift (GB) Team UAE Emirates
10. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana.

Dauphiné stage 1:

Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg 2017
The leader’s jersey changed hands on the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg Stage 1 after BMC’s Jempy Drucker’s powerful sprint for the line saw him take the victory and move into the overall race lead.

After a fast opening 20km, three riders were eventually able to go clear off the front of the peloton and began to build up an advantage. The gap between the breakaway and the rest of field continued to rise over the opening kilometers of the race before settling at around five minutes after 60km, of the 172km course, and both of the day’s categorized climbs.

Heading into the second half of the stage, the advantage of the three leaders began to fall steadily with the race leader at the start of the day, Damien Gaudin’s Armee de Terre team setting the pace at the front of the bunch. As the peloton crossed the line for the first of three finishing circuits around Bascharage with 35km to go, the breakaway’s advantage had been reduced to just over two minutes.

BMC Racing Team then moved up to the front of the peloton to help with the chase and, as the bell rang to signal the beginning of the final lap, the two remaining breakaway riders were brought within sight. With the race eventually back together inside the final 10km of the day, and a bunch sprint looking inevitable, BMC Racing Team remained present at the front of the peloton with Nathan Van Hooydonk and Loïc Vliegen leading the way with 2km to go.

Positioning was key in closing meters of the race with Van Avermaet leading Drucker through the final right-hand turn before the Luxemburger launched his sprint on the 300m kick up to the line. Drucker’s explosive burst of acceleration was unmatched as he led the charge with 100m to go before punching the air with delight as he crossed the line to take the stage win and move into the leader’s yellow jersey.

Rather than sitting up after his lead-out effort, Van Avermaet continued to sprint and eventually crossed the line fourth.

Bascharage - Luxembourg  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -    Jean-Pierre DRUCKER (Luxembourg / BMC Racing  Team - Timothy DUPONT (Belgium / Team Verandas Willems - Crelan) - Aksel Nommela pictured during stage -1 of the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg form Luxembourg (Ville) to Bascharage - photo Rene Vigneron/Cor Vos © 2017

The Winner’s Interview with Jempy Drucker
Congratulations, Jempy. How are you feeling after today’s win?

“It feels really good. I’m working for the team a lot of the time and I don’t have many chances like this so, if I get the opportunity I always try to win. But, it’s not always easy. I’m a sprinter, and there are a lot of strong guys, and I’m not always as fast as the likes of [Marcel] Kittel.”

Talk us through the final sprint.
“Most of the time, I don’t have a specific sprint train, but today the guys were perfect. I had Greg as my main lead-out man and Loïc setting the pace in the last kilometer. But, everyone did a great job in the final. We came in with a plan to win this stage today so, it is perfect that it worked out.”

And looking ahead to tomorrow?
“I crashed on tomorrow’s stage last year, so I’m definitely hoping I don’t do that again. We know it will be a hard day, but now I have won a stage, it is already a good race for me. Plus, I will be wearing yellow tomorrow which is also a nice feeling. I think we are in a good position overall as we have Greg Van Avermaet up there and he is also in great shape.”

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Stage 1 Result:
1. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC in 4:06:06
2. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
3. Aksel Nommela (Est) Leopard
4. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
6. Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Den) Team Veloconcept
7. Justin Jules (Fra) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
8. Riccardo Stacchiotti (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini
9. Jelle Donders (Bel) Team Differdange-Losch
10. Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept.

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 1:
1. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC in 4:09:00
2. Damien Gaudin (Fra) Armee de Terre at 0:06
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:07
4. Raphael Freienstein (Ger) Lotto-Kern Haus at 0:08
5. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:10
6. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Armee de Terre at 0:11
7. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect at 0:12
8. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Aksel Nommela (Est) Leopard Pro Cycling at 0:13
10. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect at 0:14.

Luxembourg stage 1:

Another day, another BMC Racing Team victory at the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg with Greg Van Avermaet taking the honors in the final sprint for the line on Stage 2 ahead of teammate Jempy Drucker, who holds onto his overall race lead.

After a fast start to the day’s proceedings, the peloton remained together heading towards the first intermediate sprint at KM 13. Van Avermaet was in the mix and sprinted for two bonus seconds and consequently moved up into second overall on the General Classification.

Just a couple of kilometers later, three riders found themselves in a position to go clear off the front of the main bunch. But, with the BMC Racing Team-led peloton keeping control of the race, their advantage never reached beyond 2:30 over the first 70km of the day.

The gap extended slightly heading into the second half of the stage and was sitting at 3:37 with 100km to go. However, the peloton quickly reacted, and soon the breakaway was being steadily reeled in. Inside the final 60km, the leaders had been brought to within one minute before the catch was made just over 10km later.

With the peloton hitting the reset button, it didn’t take long for six riders to make a move off the front and try to build up an advantage. With 24km to go, the leading group was holding onto a narrow advantage of 15 seconds, and it wasn’t allowed to extend much further with the final climb, the Côte de Bereldange, coming just 9km before the finish line.

The fast pace which had been set by BMC Racing Team saw the main bunch dramatically reduced in size with just 18 riders, including Drucker and Van Avermaet, remaining as they caught the late breakaway with 8km to go. Despite some tentative attacks, the group remained altogether heading under the flamme rouge, and soon the riders were heading towards a final sprint for the line.

With around 200m to go, Van Avermaet was powering his way through the reduced bunch, and his strength over the rest of the field was evident as he lunged for the line to secure the stage victory. Behind him, Drucker was also showing his strength, tucking neatly into Van Avermaet’s wheel to take second on the line and maintain his overall lead on the General Classification, just one second ahead of Van Avermaet.

Walferdange - Luxembourg  - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team)  pictured during stage -2 of the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg form Steinfort - Walferdange - photo Cor Vos © 2017

The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Congratulations, Greg. How are you feeling after today’s win?

“It’s always good to come back to racing with a victory. My spring was amazing, and I’m happy that I’ve started back again with some good results. Winning is always difficult, so every victory I can take, I’m happy with.”

Talk us through the final sprint.
“Jempy went with a group, so I was a bit behind, waiting a bit, but then we came back, and Jempy was riding to keep Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) close. Then I decided to go by myself in the sprint and I went from pretty far but I was able to keep it. And, then I saw that Jempy Drucker was also second in the end. It was not really the plan to go for the win with me. The race went, and I still felt fresh. I was waiting a little bit until they caught Jempy’s group back and I came in a good position. I started to sprint from far, and nobody came over me. So, that’s how it went.”

This is your first race back after the Classics, how were you feeling out on the course today?
“I felt ok on the climb. It was not super, but I’m good enough to follow. I’m not going to drop everybody, but it was good. In the end, I know I have a good sprint also, so it was a good stage for me. It was pretty hard with the climbs in the end, and only the strong guys survive. I’m one of the fastest of this group.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Jempy Drucker (BMC): “It’s always nice to have the yellow jersey on home soil in Luxembourg, so I really enjoyed my day. The team did a great job. Floris Gerts and Martin Elmiger controlled the first 130km almost and then at the end it was Loïc Vliegen doing the hard leg work with Nathan Van Hooydonck and Michael Schär. We had a nice day, we defended yellow, and Greg Van Avermaet is now sitting second on the GC, so we are in a good position. For me, an uphill finish is always difficult. Maybe I will be in the mix tomorrow but I am not expecting the victory. But, we have Greg and he is in good shape and the most important thing is that the team has yellow on Sunday afternoon.”

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Stage 2 Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 4:34:47
2. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
3. Alexander Kamp (Den) Team Veloconcept
4. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Fortuno-Vital Concept
5. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
6. Alexander Krieger (Ger) Leopard
7. Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini
8. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
9. Fabien Canal (Fra) Armée de Terre
10. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 2:
1. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC in 8:43:41
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 0:01
3. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:13
4. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect at 0:14
5. Raffael Freienstein (Ger) Lotto-Kern Haus
6. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Armée de Terre at 0:17
7. Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect at 0:20
8. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
9. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij at 0:21.

Luxembourg stage 2:

The Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg Queen Stage 3 came down to an uphill battle to the line with Greg Van Avermaet finishing a close second and taking over control of the General Classification.

Despite lots of early attacks, it took over 30km, of the 192.9km stage, for four riders to be given the freedom to build up an advantage over the rest of the field. By the time the quartet had reached KM 40, their lead had risen to over three minutes but, with BMC Racing Team controlling the bunch behind, it eventually settled at around 3:30.

Heading into the final 90km of the day, the pace of the peloton rose quickly with the breakaway brought to within 2:50 before the gap began to fall steadily over the next 50km. Eventually, with 40km remaining, and on the first of three ascents of the Herrenberg climb, the leading group was less than 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. With the breakaway in touching distance, four riders took the opportunity to bridge the gap and, as a result of the added horsepower, the group’s advantage started to increase slightly. At the 10km to go mark, the peloton was hovering around one minute behind but, with BMC Racing Team chasing hard, the race was ultimately back together and heading for a brutal final uphill sprint to the line with 2km to go.

Going under the flamme rouge, the relentless pace at the front of the bunch saw riders drop off the back before the final sprint was launched. Van Avermaet went to the front early and was powering towards the line with his trademark grit and determination before a tight finish saw him finish second behind Anthony Perez (Cofidis), and move into the overall race lead. After two days in the yellow jersey, the steep gradient took its toll on Jempy Drucker who eventually slipped back on the final climb, crossing the line 1:21 behind the eventual winner, Perez.

Wiltz-Diekirch - Luxembourg - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Anthony Perez (FRA / COFIDIS) takes the stage, 16 VAN AVERMAET Greg (BEL / BMC RACING TEAM) finished 2nd., 57 MEURISSE Xandro (BEL / WANTY - GROUPE GOBERT)  pictured during Skoda Tour de Luxembourg stage 3 from Eschweile to Wiltz-Diekirch - photo Cor Vos © 2017

Overall leader, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC): “When you lose a race you always have to think about what you did right and what you did wrong. I am not really happy about coming second today. The only thing I can say is that maybe I went a little too early and was a bit too confident. When [Anthony] Perez came next to me, I didn’t have the power to keep him on my line. For sure I am not at 100% yet, and it is normal that sometimes you get beaten. It was a really good finish for me, and I was pretty confident that I could do it but you have to admit when someone does a better job than you.”

3rd on the stage, Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe-Gobert): “The start of the stage was very fast. It took some time before the break was established. BMC controlled and we stayed in the first rows of the pack. In the last lap Fabien Doubey went into the offensive, but BMC brought it al back together. At the foot of the final climb I still had three team mates. With 300 meter to go Van Avermaet launched his attack. I came back in the end, but I had to change my gear and because of that I lost a few meters. That is a pity, because I still believed in the victory. Anyway, a third spot isn’t bad! I suffered a bit from nerve problems at my right knee, so I am happy that they are over now. My form isn’t 100% yet, I can still grow. Sunday it is gonna be a complicated stage. We have a strong team, with four riders present in the final today. We don’t need to be afraid of the other teams. We have to give all in order to achieve a stage victory. Even the general classification is still possible. There is a bonification sprint at the beginning of the stage. That permits to take some extra seconds in the battle for podium. That is good, because I don’t think I can take 30 seconds on Van Avermaet.”

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Stage 3 Result:
1. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis in 4:58:16
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
3. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 0:01
5. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
6. Alexander Kamp (Den) Team Veloconcept
7. Rasmus Poulsen (Den) Team Veloconcept
8. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
9. Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis
10. Julien Loubet (Fra) Armée de Terre.

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Overall After Stage 3:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 13:41:52
2. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis at 0:22
3. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Armée de Terre at 0:23
4. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan at 0:26
6. Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis at 0:28
7. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Raffael Freienstein (Ger) Lotto-Kern Haus at 0:29
9. Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis at 0:30
10. Julien Loubet (Fra) Armée de Terre.

Luxembourg stage 3:

Greg Van Avermaet secured overall victory at the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg in emphatic style, winning the Final Stage 4 after an impressive show of strength on the final climb to the line.

In a change to tradition, four riders went clear within the opening kilometers of stage 4 and quickly built up an advantage that was touching seven minutes after just 20km, of the 174.6km course. With BMC Racing Team taking control and setting the pace at the front of the peloton, the gap soon started to hover around 5 minutes.

Heading into the second half of the day, the advantage of the breakaway was falling steadily and eventually, with 50km to go, there was less than one minute separating them from the rest of the field. As the gap fell to under 20 seconds, five riders accelerated off the front of the peloton and were able to make contact with the one remaining breakaway rider. This new leading group was able to put some daylight between themselves and the bunch inside the final 30km. However with three laps of the 3.8km finishing circuit to cover, all of which included the category one climb up the Pabeierbierg, riders quickly dropped back to the bunch.

Just two riders remained in front as the final bell rang and, with BMC Racing Team still setting a fierce pace, it was all back together under the flamme rouge. The riders headed onto the final climb at full speed with Van Avermaet tucked in the wheel of Loïc Vliegen before a final burst of acceleration saw him hit the front with 150m to go. In another incredible show of strength, Van Avermaet looked unstoppable as he powered his way up to the line before punching the air with delight after securing a second stage win and the overall victory.

Wiltz-Diekirch - Luxembourg - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team)  pictured during Skoda Tour de Luxembourg stage 4  - photo Rene Vigneron/Cor Vos © 2017

The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet.
Congratulations, Greg. You took two stage wins and the overall victory in Luxembourg, was this something you were expecting coming into the race?

“When I came into this race, I was just thinking about improving my form and being a little bit better every day so, I was surprised when I was second in the prologue. From there, the expectation to do well came from me. Every day was a parcours suited to me, so it became easier and easier to take a victory and I am really happy to win.”

Talk us through today’s final climb.
“I think today was a better climb for me. Yesterday was a little bit longer, and I didn’t time my sprint as well as I did today. It was much better today. It was a stage more suited to puncheurs like me but, I have to say, the team did a really good job to bring me where I wanted to be. They worked all day and even at the end of the race, we still had enough guys to put me into a good position. We only had seven riders here, but all six guys were riding really well for me today, and I only had to do the last 150m. So, it was actually pretty easy.”

Did you feel any pressure heading into today’s stage?
“I felt a little bit of pressure because I really wanted to win especially after the effort of all the guys. You have to prove that you are the leader of your team by finishing off the job. It was a good experience.”

What does this mean looking ahead to the rest of the season?
“It’s always good to start with a win again. This might not be a UCI WorldTour race but every victory counts, and it is always good to get into this mindset. But now, the main goal for me is winning a stage in the Tour de France, and that is the most important thing.”

2nd overall, Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I am for sure not disappointed about this 2nd place. Finishing second behind an olympic champion is a beautiful performance. The first spot was unreachable. I had some doubts before this race because of nerve problems in my knee, but I was able to show an excellent form. Today I tried everything I could. We were in front with the team the whole day and I started the final climb in the wheel of Van Avermaet. Vliegen perfectly launched Greg who took the win. Kirsch was able to finish before me, but he wasn’t a threat in the GC. Those climbs with a length of 2-3 kilometers perfectly suit me. Tour du Jura was my first race after a period of sleeping in an altitude tent. I had to adapt over there. In the prologue of Luxembourg I already felt good and my form kept on improving every day. I am already in a good shape, but not yet at 100 percent. My form can still improve with a final touch in the upcoming races.”

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Stage 4 Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 4:46:08
2. Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
3. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
4. Luis Ángel Maté (Spa) Cofidis at 0:03
5. Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 0:04
6. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
7. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
8. Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team Veloconcept
10. Julien Loubet (Fra) Armée de Terre.

Skoda Tour de Luxembourg Final Overall Result:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 18:27:50
2. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:29
3. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis at 0:36
4. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Armée de Terre at 0:40
5. Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda’s Willems Crelan
6. Luis Ángel Maté (Spa) Cofidis at 0:43
7. Julien Loubet (Fra) Armée de Terre at 0:44
8. Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:47
9. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 0:48
10. Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Team Veloconcept at 0:50.

Luxembourg stage 4:

Hammer Series Sportszone Limburg 2017
Carlos Betancur’s awesome power climbing achieved a dominant win for the Movistar Team in the Hammer Climb – the first event at Hammer Sportzone Limburg. The 27-year-old Colombian formed part of a strong breakaway group and went on to amass almost all Movistar’s 144.8-point total by winning seven of the 11 laps.

Team Sunweb finished second with 98.9 points largely thanks to Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin’s consistent display in the breakaway, while Team Sky were third on 84.7 points after Tao Geoghegan Hart also rode strongly in the escape.

Betancur’s brilliant performance means Movistar gain 15 bonus seconds that will contribute to their starting position in Sunday’s Hammer Chase. Team Sunweb collected 12 bonus seconds, while Team Sky gained 10.

The Hammer Climb took place over 11 laps of a 7km circuit in Vaals, in the Netherlands. The circuit contained two climbs that together amounted for 2.9km of each lap.

The attack began as early as the neutral zone and the peloton immediately began to line out and later split apart. After Daniel Oss (BMC) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) won the opening two laps, a five-man breakaway formed consisting of Betancur, Geoghegan Hart, Dumoulin, Victor Campanaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Iuri Filosi (Nippo-Vini Fantini).

Betancur used his explosiveness to win laps three and four and, despite the lead group swelling to 13 after eight chasers latched on, the Colombian was still peerless when he made it three in a row on lap six, opening up a commanding 10-point lead for Team Movistar. The Colombian duly won laps eight, nine and 10 with ease as Movistar’s lead stretched to 40 points.

Campanaerts launched a solo attack and briefly looked like he would win the final lap, which had double points on offer, but the irresistible Betancur caught him with a counter-attack on the final climb and went on to take the win with a second acceleration in the final 400m.

Vaals - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ (Columbia / Team Movistar)  pictured during Hammer Sportzone Limburg stage -1 - The Hammer Climb - photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2017

Hammer Climb winner, Carlos Betancur (Movistar): “I have trained so hard in the last couple of months, training at altitude. A team like this deserves the form I have here. It was an amazing performance by the team and we came here with the idea of winning.”

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), recorded a clutch of second and third places: “It was incredibly hard. I’m happy that it’s done. I couldn’t attack. I was happy to be there and have a little bit of a sprint. Betancur was flying. He was way move explosive than I after 21 days in the Giro. I still took some shape with me from the Giro. I went full gas and that’s all I could do today. I’m happy that we’re second.”

Hammer Series Overall After Climb Stage:
1. Movistar Team, 144.8 points, 15 bonus seconds
2. Team Sunweb, 98.9 points, 12 bonus seconds
3. Team Sky, 84.7 points, 10 bonus seconds
4. Orica-Scott, 83.3 points, 8 bonus seconds
5. BMC Racing, 75.2 points, 6 bonus seconds
6. Nippo-Vini Fantini, 53.6 points, 5 bonus seconds
7. Quick-Step Floors, 53 points, 4 bonus seconds
8. LottoNL-Jumbo, 27.7 points, 3 bonus seconds
9. Lotto Soudal, 23.7 points, 2 bonus seconds
10. Cannondale-Drapac, 2.3 points, 1 bonus second.

Hammer climb:

The Trek-Segafredo team combined impressively to claim a convincing win in the first-ever Hammer Sprint at Sportzone Limburg on Saturday. Lotto Soudal came second and Cannondale-Drapac finished third in a draining race described by one rider as ‘only attacking’. In two hours of non-stop action, Trek-Segafredo riders Jasper Stuyven, Boy Van Poppel, Giacomo Nizzolo, Matthias Brändle and Gregory Daniel worked together to amass a total of 70.7 points on eight laps of the mainly flat 12.4km circuit.

Stuyven and Brändle were especially active early on while Van Poppel and Nizzolo came to the fore later as Trek-Segafredo grabbed every point possible. Lotto Soudal scored 61.8pts with Cannondale-Drapac registering 59.6pts across eight scintillating laps of relentless attacking. Team Sky will start Sunday’s decisive Hammer Chase first, 0:32 ahead of Team Sunweb, whose points tally was reduced in accordance with race rules following Ramon Sinkeldam’s crash. Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) was first over the line on the final lap, putting his head down to beat Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) in the final sprint.

As soon as the flag dropped after a 4km neutralized start, a theme of relentless attacking was established – in keeping with Friday’s Hammer Climb. None of the teams was prepared to let a break go with so many points on offer on each lap. One-day specialist Vanmarcke stole maximum points on Lap 1, with Stuyven second for Trek-Segafredo. On Lap 2 – worth double points – it was then Brändle of Trek-Segafredo who crossed first with Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) second and Roger Kluge (Orica-Scott) third.

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) was soon forced to abandon after a heavy crash also involving Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team) while Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) was dropped from the peloton just after that crash and also abandoned. Lap 4 brought more success for Trek from a three-man break. Jelle Wallays led it out for Lotto Soudal, but Stuyven came off his wheel and had to hold off a determined charge by Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) to take maximum points. Elia Viviani (Sky) won the sprint for fourth, showing they were willing to scrap for every point. After a manic first hour the pace settled slightly but it was still full gas racing.

Viviani had warmed up and turned in a superb, long sprint to score double points for Team Sky on Lap 5. On Lap 6 – with Orica-Scott slipping down the standings after Ewan’s departure – Kluge attacked impressively and took maximum points. Canola and Vanmarcke then broke away alone with the Nippo-Vini Fantini man taking the honors on Lap 7. On the eighth and final lap Vanmarcke had time to sit up and celebrate double points with Canola second and Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal) a very handy third.

Sittard-Geleen - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Sep VANMARCKE (Belgium / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team)    pictured during Hammer Sportzone Limburg - Team Presentation- photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2017

Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo): “It was full gas immediately from the start, it was like every lap was the last lap. It was full sprinting all the time and with those laps that were double points, it was full gas!”

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo): “Today we did really good. We always had a guy in the front, so we never had to chase.”

Italian champion, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo): “It was really difficult today … all the laps were really a war. But we were racing well and we’re happy.”

Albert Timmer (Sunweb): “It was actually only attacking. It’s a nice way of racing, but it’s tough to do”

Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal): “It was a different way of racing than yesterday. Then it was soon clear which riders where the strongest. Many riders were never in the running for the points. Today the pace was very high on the first three laps. It was not easy to ride away from the bunch, but after a while some riders did. With the team we took points on almost every lap. We set a great team performance today. Tomorrow we can battle for the podium with the eight best teams and that was our goal for this Hammer Series. We will have a team in front of us and the pressure of teams wanting to catch us. We will do our very best.”

Hammer Series Sprint Stage Result:
1 Trek-Segafredo 70.7, 15 bonus seconds
2 Lotto Soudal 61.8, 12 bonus seconds
3 Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team 59.6 10 bonus seconds
4 Team Sky 50.9 8 bonus seconds
5 NIPPO Vini Fantini 40.4, 6 bonus seconds
6 Team LottoNL-Jumbo 35.4, 5 bonus seconds
7 Team Sunweb 30, 4 bonus seconds
8 Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 26.5, 3 bonus seconds
9 Quick-Step Floors 24.3, 2 bonus seconds
10 Orica-Scott 23.1 1 bonus second.

Hammer Sprint:

Team Sky have won the first-ever Hammer Series event at Sportzone Limburg, denying Team Sunweb by a single second in a captivating Hammer Chase.

After consistent displays on Friday and Saturday – in the Hammer Climb and Hammer Sprint – Team Sky began the final decisive Hammer Chase first with a 32 second advantage over Team Sunweb. Their five-man line-up of Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Tao Geoghegan-Hart, Danny van Poppel and Elia Viviani had to dig incredibly deep across three full-gas laps of a 14.9km circuit – and a late tactical move proved decisive in holding off Team Sunweb.

The British team had lost time-trial specialist Dibben on the third and final lap and Team Sunweb – who were also down to four riders – caught and passed them in the closing kilometers. But Team Sky weren’t finished and when Van Poppel attacked down the inside of the final right-hand bend before the finish straight, it put the British team firmly in control. In the final straight, Tao Geoghegan Hart had to sprint to hold off three Sunweb riders – Max Walscheid was ahead of him, but Team Sky were the first team with four riders over the line.

They celebrated as they crossed the line at the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park at Sportzone Limburg, realizing they had secured success in the inaugural Hammer Series event. Giro d’Italia champion Dumoulin – who rode brilliantly for Team Sunweb in Friday’s Hammer Climb – saw his team-mates come up short by a single second after a truly thrilling three days of racing.

Earlier in the day BMC Racing Team had looked on course to win the Group 2 race before they incredibly suffered four punctures in quick succession, allowing Quick-Step Floors to come through for the win.

More than 1.5million cycling fans watched Hammer Series online over three flat-out days of racing. The race was streamed on the Velon website, YouTube, Facebook and also available via the Velon App.

It was also broadcast on TV networks across the world and the new, innovative format has proved a hit with fans and riders alike. “A great concept,” said Team Sky sports director Servais Knaven in the team car, seconds after seeing his team clinch a thrilling overall victory.

Sittard-Geleen - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Max WALSCHEID (Germany / Team Sunweb) - Team SKY pictured during Hammer Sportzone Limburg - stage - 3 - The Hammer Chase - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017

Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo): “I had to bring them to the last corner in front and it was really close. If I didn’t do that, we didn’t win.”

Owain Doull (Sky): “With those time gaps and that length of circuit, it was always going to be close… we thought just back off, recover and try and come past them in the last kilometer. I’ve actually really enjoyed watching Hammer Series in the last couple of days. Watching as a fan, I think it’s been amazing. The way it’s been broadcast, it’s so available – Facebook, YouTube, whatever. I loved watching it.”

Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal): “At the beginning of the Hammer Series we had said that we wanted to be one of the eight teams to battle for the overall victory on the last day and we achieved that. Today our goal was to finish on top five. Pretty soon we noticed that teams got together behind us. That makes it not easy to gain time on them. On such narrow roads it wasn’t possible for the jury to make the teams race next to each other. That’s something to work on for the next editions. Orica-Scott was just ahead of us, but we set a pleasing result. In general, the Hammer Series was a very positive experience. The concept of three kind of races in a three-day event is appealing. The organization here in the Netherlands was excellent. This was definitely a good start of the Hammer Series. I’d like to participate in Norway next year as well.”

Hammer Series Final Result:
1. Sky
2. Sunweb
3. Orica-SCOTT
4. Lotto Soudal
5. Movistar
6. LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Cannondale-Drapac
8. Nippo-Vini Fantini
9. Quick-Step Floors
10. Trek-Segafredo.

Hammer Series TTT:

Carrefour Market Heistse Pijl 2017
Saturday was a successful day for Lotto Soudal with a victory of Jasper De Buyst at Heistse Pijl. The 4th race in the Belgian Cycling Cup was marked by a breakaway of 17 riders which was formed in the final 80 kilometers. Kenny Dehaes and Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were part of the break and Lotto Soudal was strongly represented with Jasper De Buyst, Nikolas Maes and Rémy Mertz. A nervous final in which many riders tried to break away, but the sprint was inevitable. De Buyst was faster than Dehaes. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck remains in the lead of the Belgian Cycling Cup as Kenny Dehaes climbs to second spot. Next race in the series is Halle-Ingooigem.

Heist op den Berg  - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Jasper DE BUYST (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal)   pictured during Carrefour Market Heistse Pijl 2017 - Napoleon Games Cycling Cup - photo Tim van Wichelen/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal): “I’ve been riding well all year long. I already came a few times close to winning and I am glad I finally got my first pro victory. I am very grateful to Rémy and Nikolas. I had told them that I had faith in my sprint and it feels great that I was able to finish it off. Because we were with three riders in the front group we knew that if riders would attack we would be the ones who would need to close the gap, so we decided that nobody could ride away without us. Rémy kept the group together until we got to the hill at one and a half kilometers from the finish. I thought Van Aert would try something, but the pace was too high. Then Nikolas took me to the front and I could start the sprint in an excellent position. At first, the front group consisted of 31 riders and we were with five Lotto Soudal riders. That group was too big and after a series of attacks the group got reduced. From then on it went much smoother. The peloton wasn’t a threat anymore in the finale.”

2nd, Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “A group of 31 riders was quickly formed. But the cooperation didn’t go smooth. In the local laps the group was reduced to 17 riders. I thought Wout Van Aert or Jasper De Buyst would attack on the final climb, but that wasn’t the case. I spilled too much energy during the final to do a perfect final sprint. I am a friend of De Buyst, so if someone else had to win besides me it should be him… But still I am disappointed! It is interesting to grab points at the finish line with an eye on the general classification. The GC is nog big goal, but is always good to take these points.”

Carrefour Market Heistse Pijl Result:
1. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:08:59
2. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
3. Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Cibel-Cebon
4. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions
5. Lawrence Naesen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
6. Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia
7. Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Era-Circus
8. Lars Van DEer Haar (NED) Telenet Fidea Lions
9. August Jensen (Nor) Team Coop
10. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus.

Heistse Pijl 2017:

Team Sky reveal special edition jersey for 2017 Tour de France
Fans are being given the opportunity to be right behind Chris Froome and his teammates at this summer’s Tour de France, where riders will be wearing a special white jersey edition of the Team Sky kit.

The new design, which has been produced in partnership with Castelli, will still feature all of the elements which have made Team Sky riders so recognizable in the peloton, but with the traditional black jerseys swapped for a new, white design. The jersey will continue to carry the distinctive data pattern featured on the 2017 Team Sky kit.

And fans will have the chance to see their name featured on the jerseys worn by Team Sky at the Tour de France team presentation in Dusseldorf on Thursday 29th June.

A selection of lucky fans will see their names printed into the blue line on the back of jerseys which will be worn by riders as they are introduced to the crowds.

Speaking about the new Team Sky Tour de France jersey, Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: “We have always admired Castelli given their heritage and our shared passion for innovation. That’s why our kit this season reflects our history as a team and our ambitions for the future – with Italian flair and design. And our riders love it. Castelli also looked at different colors during the design process last year. We all loved the white. We are always up for doing things differently and decided the best time to unveil it would be at the Tour – the world’s biggest bike race. We can’t wait to get racing wearing it.”

Steve Smith, Brand Manager at Castelli, said: “One of the designs we looked at for the 2017 season was a white version of what eventually became the 2017 Team Sky kit. We all knew that we wanted to use the new design, and the Tour is the perfect opportunity to do that. The kit looks so modern, and yet classic at the same time. We can’t wait to see it being worn by Team Sky.”

Fans who want to apply for the chance to see their name featured on the back of the presentation jersey have until the 13th June to enter their details at teamskypromotions.com/whitejersey.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome, who this year will be targeting a fourth Tour de France victory, said: “The backing we get from Team Sky fans means so much to the riders, and it really makes a big difference to us wherever we are racing. Giving fans an opportunity to be right there with us as we kick off this year’s Tour de France is just a small way for us to say thank you for that support.”

Chris Froome and the Special Tour de France kit for the Tour’17:

Giovanni Visconti to miss Tour de Suisse
Giovanni Visconti from Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team won’t be joining his teammates on Tour de Suisse because of a tendinitis that appeared in the last stages of Giro d’Italia.

“Unfortunately I will be forced to skip Tour de Suisse in order to undergo some therapies, needed for the improvement of my condition. If everything will go as expected, I will be able to ride on Tour of Slovenia or some Italian Championships,” stated Giovanni Visconti after his diagnosis.

Emilio Magni Bahrain-Merida Team Medical Doctor, confirmed Visconti’s words: “Yesterday Visconti underwent an ultrasound and a specialist examination at Florence Hospital, that diagnosed a tenosynovitis (tendinitis) of the long perennial tendons of the left ankle. We will observe the situation in the next eight days and he will undergo a regional anti-inflammatory treatment together with physio-kinesiotherapy. After that his condition will be re-evaluated.”

All of the riders and members of staff wish him a quick recovery and are looking forward to see him riding again on the upcoming races.

Giovanni Visconti:
Giro d'Italia 2017 - 100th Edition - 11th stage Firenze - Bagno di Romagna 161 km - 17/05/2017 - Giovanni Visconti (ITA - Bahrain - Merida) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2017

Bahrain-Merida bikes stolen in Limburg
During the night of the 31st of May/1st of June 2017, 10 bikes of the Bahrain-Merida Team were stolen from the team truck, which was parked in the hotel parking area near Limburg, where the team is staying during for the first Hammer Series Sportzone Limburg race. In the morning, team Bahrain-Merida were faced with an unpleasant surprise; nine time trial bikes and one road bike were stolen from the team truck some time during the night. Despite this unfortunate event the team is ready for tomorrow’s race. Rider’s morale and motivation is high, although they will probably have to use road bikes for the Time Trial on Sunday.

The details of the stolen bikes are as follows:
9 x Merida Warm TT complete bike with Fulcrum Disc wheel speed 360T and Dura ace Di2 Groupset including SRM Power meter system
1 Merida Reacto complete road bike with Dura Ace Di2 Groupset including SRM Power meter system

If anyone reading this sees Bahrain-Merida team bikes anywhere near Limburg, where they were stolen from, please contact the team on [email protected] or the local police.

Merida Warm TT complete bike with Fulcrum Disc wheel speed 360T and Dura ace Di2 Groupset:

Movistar Just Want To Have Fun!
Carlos Betancur and the boys have a bit of slow-mo fun at the Hammer Series:

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