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Echoes

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Tour of Belgium
« on: May 24, 2017, 20:19 »
THE Tour has now started and there aren't any preview threads yet  ;)

So first insignificant stage has been won by Bryan Coquard in Knokke after a mighty crash.

The first key stage will be the 13.4km ITT in Beveren. Let us remember that World Champion Cyclocross Wout Van Aert surprised current ITT World Champion Tony Martin last year in that event. The two protagonists are now back in the peloton, Wout with short-shaved hair! :facepalm So is Mathieu Van der Poel, Wout's arch-rival in the cross Mathieu Van der Poel is back at the Tour of Belgium after his failed mountainbike campaign last year. Two years ago Mathieu, aged 20, defied André Greipel in an uphill sprint around the Lakes of "Eau d'heure". :)

The Saturday stage should be the queen stage around Ans with the Côte de la Vecquée (shamefully dropped from Liège-Bastogne-Liège while it's iconic climb of the said classic, Jacques Anquetil's favourite, that's where he based his own win there, just like Dietrich Thurau) and the Thier de Forges. The finale is still heavy though without classified climbs. Good for Philippe Gilbert, Oliver Naesen or Tiesj Benoot.

The Tour of Belgium is a historical race in cycling, starting in 1908 but still it has never reached its pre World War I standard when most of the big French stars (Lucien Petit-Breton, Henri Pélissier, Jean Alavoine or Gustave Garrigou came to defy the best Belgians of the time when most of the present-day classics were in their infancy (did not have quite the same field). In the seventies, it was held in the week of Paris-Roubaix and was an ideal build-up to the Queen of the Classics. In the late eighties, it was held in August. In search of new sponsors they made an improbable alliance with the Torhout-Werchter International Rock Festival (the most famous rock festival in Belgium where many big stars have come). It didn't last long and 1990 saw its last edition in the 20th century before it phenixed in 2002.



(Today's Le Soir)

Marc Sergeant: "The Lights Are Green

At the start of the Tour of Belgium the Lotto manager is addressing criticism against his team.

For many riders, classic riders in particular, the Tour of Belgium is a restart and for Belgian teams it's a priority before sending their riders to the build-up races for the Tour of France: Dauphiné & Tour of Switzerland.

For Lotto - by the way co-sponsor of the race - it's a first-rate window in order to balance back, one month after disappointing classics. Sending Tony Gallopin back to the Flemish classics where he was revealed when aiding Cancellara was meant to strengthen his group in support of Tiesj Benoot but it was a fiasco. "With only an asterisk, Tony got injured at the GPE3. I can guarantee that Tony did everything to be ready for the Tour of Flanders. He stayed in Belgium in order to be cared for by our doctors. His family joined him. I appreciated his professionalism, also the way he showed he did not want to drop anything.", says Sergeant.

The Belgian team did not win anything between the Paris-Nice stage 5 and the Tour of Italy stage 2, both won by André Greipel. Their unbudgeable German sprinter is still the best object to display in the shop window. But a Belgian sponsor cannot contend with that. Tim Wellens did not match the expectations after a good season start in Mallorca and the Tour of Andalucia. Let us hope that Tiesj Benoot has now got to the bottom of bad luck: crashes, mechanicals on the races he likes best.

Marc Sergeant is not panicking with his nine victories. As usual, the Brabantian is defending and supporting the riders:
Quote
We had to cope with a lot of criticism in the press and I can accept them but generally speaking I think my team has done the job. even though it's less media-friendly, Sander Armee fetched the mountain classification at the Tour of Romandy before coming 2nd at the Four Days of Dunkirk. Then Greipel won a stage at the Tour of Italy and wore the pink jersey. Monfort is doing his job. Tosh Van der Sande was also good at the Tour of  Norway [sic]. All the lights are green and as most of my colleagues would say. You only draw conclusions at the end of the season.

It is also often forgotten that the Lotto Soudal budget cannot compete with Quick Step, Sky or BMC The "good family father" management is more topical than ever for a team that will see the appointment of a CEO (who will cover the sport section) late June (after a request for proposal). 

Within a month negociations for transfers and extensions will already have started. Tony Gallopin is very coveted notably in France but he prefers Lotto. 14 riders are end of contract. Sergeant needs to give a priority to extensions before thinking about recruiting. Only a green light from the management and a good result at the Tour of Belgium is needed to give the whole process a push.
Quote
Tiesj Benoot came second to Van Avermaet in 2015. A nice performance I hope he can reiterate this year.
The rider of Ghent will be back from a training session in the Sierra Nevada and will be the leader for the general classification.

Gilbert's Come Back

As planned Philippe Gilbert resume competition with dossard #1 at a race he won in 2011, his best year until ... 2017. Held off by an injury at Amstel Gold, the rider of Remouchamps comes on a terrain he dots on: 5 stages, 2 in Flanders (needless to say now they suit them), then an ITT in Beveren, a decider in the Ardennes Ans-Ans and a final stage in Limburg (Tienen-Tongeren). A major opponent stands out: Tony Martin, three-time winner, thanks to the ITT. We should also notice a peculiar national team around Oliver Naesen & Jan Bakelants since AG2R declined the invitation.

(by Stéphane Thirion, well-known cycling journalist in Wallonia)
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  • "Paris-Roubaix is the biggest cycling race in the world, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than any other bike race" (Sir Bradley Wiggins)

    AG

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #1 on: May 25, 2017, 09:35 »
    I did check the results this morning - and saw Gilbert is 7th ...

    its not being televised here, and I couldnt seem to find a stream last night either ... but it does look interesting (for me anyway - especially last night whent he giro was so meh)

    anyway - go Phil !!!
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 11:04 »
    I tried to look for streams but they all seem geo-restricted apparently: http://www.cyclingfans.com/tour-of-belgium/live

    But you never know. Just have a look.  ;)


    Anyway full coverage of Stage 1 is on Youtube (without commentaries  :-x)



    Is it possible that you can follow it on Youtube thanks to "Cycling HD"? I wasn't home yesterday, so I cannot tell. Today being Ascension Thursday, I'm gonna watch on TV. Shame it's not a key stage but let's see what it delivers.

    Moorslede where the stage finishes today is a very cycling-oriented town. Cyriel Van Houwaert the first Belgian to gain international fame in cycling (winner of Bordeaux-Paris 1907 & 1909, of Paris-Roubaix & Milan-Sanremo both in 1908) is  a former farm hand from Moorslede, just like his main domestique Jules Masselis. Briek Schotte won his 2nd World Title in Moorslede in 1950! More recently Moorslede produced an infamous team director with the name Patrick Lefevere  :D.
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  • Not My Circus

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #3 on: May 25, 2017, 16:54 »
    I've really enjoyed these first two stages and thanks for the thread Echoes  :cool

    I can watch on UK Eurosport player as an extra channel without commentary so all good. In fact I've been pretty much captured by it, and have forsaken the Giro to see the finishes.

    It was a nasty little kicker into the finish for stage one, made nastier by an almighty crash that took out or held up everyone bar the first 20 or idso riders. Edward Theuns said on Twitter that he went down first and he was carrying a lot of road rash as walked over the line. I haven't heard that there are any serious injuries, so I hope all involved are relatively OK.

    Stage two went over the Kemmelberg and even though it was a long way from the finish (50K??) it didn't stop Phil Gil from attacking and taking a group with him that eventually included Tiesj Benoot, Wout van Aert, Tony Martin and Mathieu van der Poel. Honestly if it hadn't been for the brilliant sunshine it could have been winter or spring again.

    The chase was hard, but the break made it by the skin of their teeth. Wout opened the sprint but too early. Mathieu van der Poel caught him, passed him and then held off a fast finishing Phil Gil... LOVED IT...

    https://twitter.com/wcstats/status/867752918526676993
    It's even better in the overhead shots but I can't find that yet



    Leader's jersey for Phil
    https://twitter.com/quickstepteam/status/867771309752713219
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  • « Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 17:14 by Not My Circus »

    Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #4 on: May 25, 2017, 19:07 »
    What a race that was. I honestly did not know it took the Ghent-Wevelgem climbs, with the Kemmel roughly as far from Wevelgem as it is from Moorslede. Of course the field is not quite the same as at the said classic and so the breakaway could prevail. At the end I really thought that they would be caught. Since most of my favourites were in the group, I'm glad they could hold off the peloton.

    Great to see all these cyclocrossers. Besides Van Aert and Van der Poel, also Corné Van Kessel and Philip Walsleben showed up. Walsleben is always good in road races while he's every year more disappointing in cross.

    Van Aert started the sprint early but I guess it was his only chance being the more powerful rider but in cross it's been clear these last few years that even in the sprint Mathieu can handle him, so it's no surprise there.

    So apparently Mathieu is leaving the race in order to race mountainbike next Sunday in Albstadt, Germany (World Cup event) :). Honestly I lost track of his mountainbike record. A few months ago he said the 2016 campaign only was with Rio in mind but apparently he's still racing mountainbike. He won the MTB stage race in La Roche en Ardenne with two stage wins and 2nd in the other one: http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/956/Meer-Sport/article/detail/3157400/2017/05/14/Geen-drie-op-drie-voor-Mathieu-van-der-Poel-in-Mountainbike-Challenge-Hans-Becking-wint-laatste-etappe.dhtml

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  • AG

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #5 on: May 26, 2017, 09:58 »


    Phil in the leaders jersey now
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  • Iceman

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #6 on: May 27, 2017, 13:02 »


    GC

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  • Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #7 on: May 27, 2017, 16:46 »
    Great stage today. I won't say anything right now in order not to play spoiler but I was a bit thrilling when Terpstra crashed head-down on the asphalt. Sometimes I guess mandatory helmets are great. Right afterwards you could already see him conscious sitting on the road, which is rather re-assuring but it still can be serious.  :(

    But let me share yesterday's Sudpresse article about the Van der Poel win. Actually it's very biased towards Gilbert. :D





    Gilbert Beaten But Leader

    (Sudpresse 26 May 2017)

    While Mathieu Van der Poel – winner last Thursday of the 2nd stage – is retiring from the Tour of Belgium in order to go to Germany where he will compete at an MTB World Cup event, Philippe Gilbert wants to keep his leader’s jersey, this Friday in Beveren against the ITT specialists.

    The growing scorching heat is desperating farmers more than holiday-goers going to the sea but it also had a considerable influence on the Tour of Belgium. Little wind, heat, the weather was not suited to offensive, while it’s Philippe Gilbert’s trademark, his only reason to exist, his only way to pierce uses and customs, the plans regulated by theory [pfew what a dithyramb :D]

    In order to establish himself already in a come-back race the Belgian champion capitalised on the freshness and youth of the two best winter riders: cyclocrossers Mathieu Van der Poel and Wout Van Aert, decisive on the Mount Kemmel which Gilbert pointed in order to shake a race destined to apathy, to camping chair and spring sunburns. [actually Mathieu attacked on the Kemmel, not Phil, if I remember correctly]

    So Gilbert is not like any other rider since he can exploit any terrain in order to annoy his opponents, Frenchman Coquard, first in line, expelled from the lead he thought he could keep.
    Quote
    I didn’t wish to take the jersey already on Thursday but okay now it’s done. I could not compete with the velocity and youth of a rider like Van der Poel in the sprint. You cannot ask too much of me but my place was in the lead whatever the obstacles of the race might be and most of all the field.

    The rider of Remouchamps seemed to warn that it was almost normal to find his dossard in the picture given the [depleted?] field. His initial difficulty was precisely the ITT.
    Quote
    With respect to the specialists, I’m not favoured. I took the jersey and I feel like keeping it. In an ideal world, I lose a second per kilometer against Tony Martin. It’s my reference. So in a bit more than 14km I should manage it to do so [eventually no]. This being said it’s not an obsession. The road is still long and has many ambushes.

    Van der Poel is not the one to annoy him. The Dutchman won his first pro race [on the road that is] and retired right away in order to compete in an MTB World Cup event in Albstadt, Germany.

    Gilbert will start the ITT as last on the Grote Markt of Beveren.
    Quote
    It is said to be an advantage but I really have no opinion on this. My bike is the same whether I start as last or before. Only the legs do the talking.Look at what happened this Thursday. Everything can happen whatever the profile. That’s the reason why I’m not planning anything. Wait & see. I’m resuming competition like many. I know there’s an ITT, an Ardenne stage and a last one in Limburg but generally speaking I would have been disappointed and worried if I were not in front on a stage like Moorslede’s.

    This stage was won by Poulidor’s grandson at the end of a breakaway that also included World Champion in the prairies Wout Van Aert, which speaks volume about the talent of these two young men about whom we are wondering if it is not high time like for so many before him to switch to the road.
    Quote
    Then we need to conform to the salaries that these riders get in their field.
    says Gérard Bulens, who knows what he’s talking about since was Nys’ team director at Landbouwkrediet. But prairies or not, the man to beat now will (again) be Gilbert.
     
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  • Iceman

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #8 on: May 28, 2017, 09:34 »
    What a great stage 4! Well deserved win for #katusha Lamertink who attacked on a very short cobbled hill 3 km. before the final and beat  #trek Ruben Guerreiro in the sprint. I expected more of the favourites, especially of Tony Martin.

    Remi Cavagna? I didn`t know who is this guy before watching this stage.

    GC:

    1. Remi Cavagna  #quickstep
    2. Jens Keukelerie #teambe +0.01
    3. Tony Martin #katusha +0.05
    4. Philippe Gilbert #quickstep +0.14

    This is more interesting than the Giro. :D Cavagna said he is affraid of the golden KM. :D I can`t wait to see what will happen. Really close race.

    Stage 5 (169.6 k) profile:
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #9 on: May 28, 2017, 12:00 »
    I personally discovered Cavagna in the ITT results last Friday, lol. But apparently he comes from the Quick Step Development Team, is that correct?

    I'm just wondering why Lammertink took his share of the workload in front when Martin was fighting for the GC and Keukeleire and Cavagna were contenders. By the way is he related to Jos Lammertink, great rider in the eighties? They're both from the same province.

    Shame for Van Aert. He seems to have had a lot of trouble with the heat. A top10 seemed guaranteed and now he's out of it.  :( But once again he proved to be a serious ITT specialist at least in short distance. In the same time as Martin. At first he was classified just before him but eventually Martin was before. A matter of 100th of a second it seems.

    Naesen fought well in the Ardennes but it was a bit hard for him. However there's work to do in the ITT.

    Benoot surprised me last Friday. He seemed very far at the first time check but eventually was top20 in the ITT and then he seemed to be the stronger rider on Saint-Nicolas.

    Also nice to see that the mighty Jürgen Roelandts was 11th at the ITT. So he's 2nd place at the Tour of Switzerland prologue last year (favoured by the weather) was no accident.  :)
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  • DJW

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #10 on: May 28, 2017, 12:12 »
    Cavagna has looked a super strong young domestique so far this season and has picked up a couple of decent ITT results, but this would be a fantastic results for him if he can keep the overall.
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 20:17 »
    The Saturday edition of Sudpresse regarding the Friday ITT stage (Monday edition about the final two stages soon to come)




    Wout Van Aert Takes the Power

    The ITT has narrowed the gaps before the Saturday Ardenne stage.

    Van Aert in power but Gilbert is only 19" behind after an ITT that has been dominated by Brändle. On a Liège-Bastogne route, the fight will be bitter.


    Youth against experience. That's how we may quickly summarise the Ardenne stage that will be the queen stage this Saturday in Ans. At the cost of an individual effort which did not surprise anybody since he had won the last year prologue on a reduced version of the same route in Beveren, Wout Van Aert disowned Philippe Gilbert of the leader's jersey. His 22 years of age, 189cm and 77kg [didn't realise he was that heavy, normally too heavy for cyclocross!!] defied the greater specialists like Brändle of Austria - former *****[1] or Tony Martin World Champion in the field. The World Champion in the underwoods was at the level of the German rider which shows how talented he is, but this we already know, and how he tends to shine on the asphalt as his shown by his third place to Mathieu Van der Poel and Philippe Gilbert the day before.

    So in two days the cyclocross "Siamese Twins" [lol] managed to annoy their road colleagues. The Dutchman retired from the race on the day of his stage win in order to compete at an MTB World Cup event, a move that hasn't been appreciated by everybody. Van Aert on the other hand has no reason to stop.
    Quote
    But my 77kg are going to make me suffer
    He laughed when watching the profile for the Saturday stage. He was 8th at the 2016 GC but then he could not mix it up with the best on the Ardenne stage after the terrible Stig Broeckx crash.
    Quote
    I often train in the Ardennes. I know their hardness but knowing is not enough. You need to overcome them. Obviously I fear Gilbert. Then guys like Tony Martin can pass climbs. My lead against a rider like Gilbert [19"] is far from sufficient but I'm going to fight.

    Gilbert in Waiting

    Quote
    I said last Thursday that it wasn't interesting to be the leader before the Ardenne stage and I stand by that opinion. Here we don't have to defend but to attack. If the field is adapting their race to mine then my teammate Cavagna, Vakoc or Vermote are also capable of taking the overall victory [almost what happened], capitalising on the marking on me. In any case a month after the frustration of the racing Liège-Bastogne, it will be my own little Liège even if there's no Redoute.

    La Vecquée, les Forges, La Roche aux Faucons and the other side of Saint-Nicolas are not far from Aywailles anyway. Climbs that the rider of Remouchamps knows by heart:
    Quote
    The key is knowing where I am in terms of rhythm. I sorely missed rhythm in the ITT. Right from the start I knew it was reserved only for specialists.
    The narrow gaps between the first 20 riders at the GC will allow for a nice battle. With elements like Gilbert, Chavanel or Benoot, you shouldn't wait for the final kilometers to get excitement under the expected 30°C. 
     1. says "Hour Record Holder" but actually Brändle only made an Hour performance !!!! ;)
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  • Echoes

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    Re: Tour of Belgium
    « Reply #12 on: May 30, 2017, 20:35 »





    Sudpresse 29 May 2017

    Jens Keukeleire Black –Yellow-Red Version

    The Belgian of Orica convinced the national coach Kevin De Weert to line up a national team

    Engaged for the occasion in the national team, Belgian Jens Keukeleire won the Tour of Belgium at the end of the 5th stage which crowned fellow countryman Jens Debusschere (Lotto), last Sunday in Tongeren. Keukeleire capitalised on the Golden Kilometer with 27km to go to make up the gap to Frenchman Rémi Cavagna (Quick Step-Floors).

    The Tour of Belgium won by a Belgian is always more eloquent [lol]. It is even more so when he does it wearing the national team jersey, a great inspiration from the Federation and the organizer. Just like what had already been tested at the Wallonia GP [win for Bakelants in 2013], the national coach Kevin De Weert managed to gather together elements from teams who couldn’t come.
    Quote
    Already last winter I phoned Kevin to suggest that. After Amstel Gold we got the confirmation that it could. Since my debut I’ve always had a nice feeling with the national team but winning the Tour of Belgium with it is another step.

    Since it was an unprecedented formulae the deal was to take U23 riders next to confirmed pros such as Jens Keukeleire, Jan Bakelants, Maarten Wijnants and Oliver Naesen. That is how young Walloon Julien Mortier (AGO-Aqua Service, 9th at the U23 Liège-Bastogne) was chosen to back up the World Tour leaders.
    Quote
    These are U23 riders who deserve to move up in status. They readily got integrated in the team. They did not need any schooling and did a fantastic job.
    said Jens Keukeleire.

    It is a nice way to show brand teams that the national spirit still exists, in particular within the Belgian selection. In order to reach that level, the sprinter [sic] of the Australian team Orica – hoping for a selection at the Tour of France – simply showed up as the most consistent.
    Quote
    At my debut I was labeled as a sprinter but I progressed in the other sectors. What made the difference was my ITT in which I usually am average and of course this breakaway to Ans last Saturday. Whether or not I benefitted from the neutralization between the leaders (Tony Martin, Philippe Gilbert, Tiesj Benoot, etc.), history won’t remember that. Besides if I hadn’t underrated Cavagna could have taken the lead on Saturday.
    The Frenchman (21 years old) of Quick Step Floors who was leader for one second was under the threat of the Golden Kilometer, an invention of the organizers of the Tour of Belgium. The rule is sprinting three times in a row over a kilometer, with roughly 25km to go. Each mini sprint gives 3 seconds. Only one of them was sufficient for Jens Keukeleire to make up the gap despite Philippe Gilbert’s determination to thwart his plans. The rider of Remouchamps sacrificed himself to enable his teammate Rémi Cavagna to keep his one-second lead by winning the two other sprints.
    Quote
    It was mission impossible against guys like Jens
    Said the Walloon rider in an unusually defensive position.
    Quote
    Quick Step had the power to win the race but comes out of it without any stage win. It’s unusual for us. Circumstances were favourable to the breakaway last Saturday in which all major teams were represented. It doesn’t change anything for me. I was resuming but I’m already glad with my standard because there was some racing. Rémi Cavagna is young and has a lot to learn but his podium is already a great result for him.

    In order to make the Belgian day complete, Jens Debusschere (Lotto) won the final stage.
    ----

    And so Sergeant has what he needed. And finally a non-Greipel win for Lotto-Soudal. :cool

    I really find this idea of national teams picturesque and nicely retro. However the Golden K, no comment. In my opinion Cavagna is the winner (in that he was the fastest in the race). Also De Weert now has 2 wins/3, doesn’t he? Oh well only if you scrap ITT's I guess.
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