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At the teams’ press conference, just one day before the Grand Départ in Noirmoutier, hansgrohe announced the extension of its title sponsorship with BORA - hansgrohe until 2020. This means that both naming sponsors already prolonged their sponsorships with Ralph Denk, after BORA announced its extension until 2021 already in April. For the upcoming Tour de France, the team seems to be ready to go for stage wins and a top spot at the GC with the two leaders Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka. 


“It’s always nice and something special, to announce such good news at a press conference. For our team this means a confirmation of all the hard work we put into day by day, to build the best possible environment for our riders, but also for our sponsors. That’s the basis for reaching our common goals. This long-term commitment of our two main sponsors also gives us planning security. We’ll keep on progressing, because we still have ambitous goals in the WorldTour.
For this Tour de France, our goals are clear since the beginning of the season: we want to win a stage and the Green Jersey with Peter and aim for a top five in the GC with Rafal. We saw last year how fast all the hard work, all the efforts over month, can be lost within a second. But we did our homework, again we worked very hard and we are well prepared, there is nothing more that could have been done. All our guys are in shape on time.” – Ralph Denk, Team Manager


“I am very happy that after BORA also hansgrohe has extended its sponsorship early. We all share the same vision and therefore we’ll keep on working side by side to reach our goals. I have great respect for what Ralph Denk established over the last years. And I want to thank hansgorhe and BORA for their trust in us.
Our goals for the Tour are always the same, there is no surprise. But the Tour is a complicated race. Everybody is extremely motivated; all eyes are on this race in July. We need a little bit of luck to achieve our goals; without luck, everything can be lost in one moment. But we have a very strong team going into this Tour de France, and there will be some opportunities for us for sure. My preparations went well, and I feel I am ready. The stage to Roubaix will be special, for me as well, now that I have these good memories about this place and the sectors. However, the race will be different then April, with all the GC guys fighting at the front as well.” – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

“My preparations went well over the last weeks and I was able to put in some decent work at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada. I crashed at the Tour of Slovenia, that was a little setback, but in the last stages a could feel my legs got better and better day by day. I think I am ready for the Tour now. Now we just need a little bit of luck to get through the first ten stages. The Roubaix stage will be special, but on that day, I’ll have the strongest guys from the whole peloton next to me.” – Rafal Majka

“After almost two seasons working with the BORA-hansgrohe cycling team and its incredible riders, we are delighted to announce the extension of our sponsorship engagement. The results, in terms of brand impact and awareness, we received to date, affirm this decision. Our primary goal has been to increase the global consumer awareness for our premium brand hansgrohe and its products. The successful 2017 advertising campaign “Shower like a pro” enabled us to boost our emotional branding, and to increase our presence in major markets, such as France or Germany. In 1.5 years, we launched a dedicated app, started a hansgrohe employee cycling team, hosted dozens of client events all around the global cycling calendar, and we even designed a Special Edition Peter Sagan hand-held shower. With our 2018 follow-up campaign “Your daily dose of energy” we are bound to continue the success story! Our sponsorship vision for the next season is modern, premium and proactive; we can’t wait to continue sharing our values and common goals”. Philippe Harinck, Sponsoring Project Manager of the Hansgrohe Group

“I’m pleased that hansgrohe have extended their sponsorship deal and reaffirmed their commitment to our joint project. BORA decided in April to prolong our sponsorship for two more years until 2021. Our aim is to build a solid base to enable the team to plan for the long-term. We wanted to provide a stable environment that allows the team to concentrate on sporting goals and successes. hansgrohe are a perfect partner for us and numerous synergies result from our highly successful cycling sponsorship cooperation. All involved benefit from shared knowledge and experiences in the kitchen environment. At BORA we continue to revolutionise behaviour and interior design in the kitchen with innovative products, driven by our vision of “the end of the extractorhood.”– Willi Bruckbauer, Owner BORA

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale is excited to announce the mid-season signing of Julius van den Berg. The 21-year-old’s two-year neo-pro contract begins with immediate effect as he makes the leap up to the WorldTour with #PinkArgyle. 


“Julius is one of the top U23 riders in the world,” said team co-founder and CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He’s won a few impressive races and finished second at the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. As we look forward to reinforcing our cobbles squad and strengthening our TTT operation, Julius is a natural pick.

“We expect Julian to be most useful this summer at the Binck Bank Tour and Worlds TTT,” Vaughters added. “We anticipate successfully racing him in those two events. If he were a stagiaire with us first, we wouldn’t be able to have him in either race, so this is a better way for us to approach his contract.”

Van den Berg comes to the American-registered squad from the Dutch development program SEG Racing Academy. Asked what he considers his specialty, Van der Berg simply notes: “Attacking!” He came to cycling due to his father’s love for riding.

“I’m really excited to race with such a great team,” said Van den Berg. “It’s crazy how fast it all went. It's a dream come true, and it is really special for me. I strongly believe this is the best step I can do in my cycling career right now. The team environment is great, so it will be easy to fit in and be useful on the road, especially in the classics.”

Notable results for the young rider include a victory in the U23 Dutch national time trial championships, a stage win at Tour de Normandie, along with best young rider and fourth overall, and wins at lesser-known one-day classics, including Ronde van Noord-Holland and Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop.

Van den Berg dreams of winning Omloop het Nieuwsblad.

“He seems to have a really good nose for getting into breaks,” said Vaughters. “He’s not a pure time triallist. He’s a good one, but he’s also a great attacker. There was a stage of the Tour de Bretagne where he single-handedly disassembled a bunch of French Pro Conti teams that were trying to bring him back. It was really impressive.”

“I consider myself really lucky to have close to four years within the SEG Racing Academy’s development program,” said Van den Berg. “That allowed me to grow as a rider and keep improving each year. This season has been the confirmation of all the hard work.

“Now it is time to move on, and I’m really looking forward to starting my run with the team,” Van den Berg continued. “With high profile riders like Sep Vanmarcke and Sebastian Langeveld in the classics team, it will be nothing but helpful for me. I want to learn a lot from them and be a better rider in the future, so I can target goals like Flanders or Roubaix for myself.”

Van den Berg joins Kim Magnusson and Logan Owen on #PinkArgyle’s 2018 neo-pro roster and Cyrus Monk and Jimmy Whelan, both from Drapac-EF p/b Cannondale Holistic Development Team, as late-season additions. While it’s unusual for a U23 rider to jump straight into the WorldTour deep end mid-season, Van den Berg has what it takes to swim.

“He’s ready,” said Vaughters. “A lot of U23 kids, you have to bring them along slowly, but we expect Van den Berg to make quick work of the acclimatizing to the WorldTour.”

“I can’t wait to get started with EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale,” said Van den Berg. “It is a very unique opportunity to start in this way, and I will work really hard in order to make the most of it.”

After a tremendous ride, the 29-year-old earned the right to wear the tricolore for the next 12 months.

30-Jun-2018: Elia Viviani's dream season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey continued in Darfo Boario, where the Italian crowned himself National Champion for the first time in his career, after claiming his 14th victory of the year, one that came just one month from Elia's triumph in the maglia ciclamino classification at the Giro d'Italia.

"It's a dream come true and I am extremely proud and honored to show the beautiful colors of Italy in in the peloton over the next 12 months. On the podium I cried because I was overcome with emotion once things started to sink in. I can't wait for my first race with this superb jersey", an over the moon Elia said after his brilliant performance, which netted the 45th UCI win of Quick-Step Floors in 2018.

Lining out at the start of the 233km-long event after a perfect outing at the newly-created Adriatica Ionica race, Viviani counted on three Quick-Step Floors teammates - Eros Capecchi, Davide Martinelli and Fabio Sabatini - who kept the five-man breakaway in check and protected Elia until the final two laps, when several surges split the peloton on the hilly and fast circuit around Darfo Boario.

As soon as the escapees got caught, eight riders emerged from the peloton and opened a gap on another group who eventually managed to rejoin them. Among the 16 men in the lead was also Elia Viviani, who didn't wait for the race to follow its natural pattern, but instead decided to shape it, with a couple of probing attacks, which caught many off guard and thinned out the group.

Inside the last 15 kilometers, Daniel Oss (Bora-hansgrohe) powered away, but the same Elia chased him down and kept the status quo, before launching a move of his own, which saw the Quick-Step Floors rider being joined only by Oss and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida). The trio put some daylight between them and the five chasers, who bridged across only for a short moment, as Pozzovivo accelerated on the final climb, taking only Elia and teammate Giovanni Visconti with him.

In the sprint, Elia gave absolutely no chance to his rivals, winning the race by a clear margin and roaring across the line in delight after one of his finest ever displays. "I never thought I could win a race like today, on such a hard route. We were only a four-man team but we did all the right moves and I have to thank my teammates for how they rode their hearts out for me today."

"In the final, when I attacked with Oss and Pozzovivo it was the right moment, and when Pozzovivo counterattacked, opening a short 10 second gap to Visconti, who closed us just at the top, I knew I was in a good position as I just had to jump on their wheels if they tried to jump. Usually, you don't have more than one or two shots when you reach the final of such a long and tough race but today I really had the legs to do it. I am so excited for this victory!", explained Elia after becoming the first Quick-Step Floors rider in 11 years to don the iconic tricolore.

Alejandro Valverde back to Tour de France

Published in News Archives

28th June 2018

Media-first interview with Spanish allrounder, returning to 'Grande Boucle' after brutal crash on stage one of 2017 race near to putting end to Bala's sporting career

1) THE 2018 SEASON
"The season has gone extremely well so far. Not only because of the results, but also considering where I come from, after such a serious crash last year. My legs felt incredibly well already since Mallorca, and victories did not take long to start coming. I've got already 11 this year, I've won all four stageraces I've been at this season - one could say this is almost impossible to match."

2) PREPARATIONS FOR THE TOUR
"After Liège-Bastogne-Liège I needed some physical and mental rest, and stayed for seven days completely away from bikes. I then took up training once again and on May 17th, I left for Sierra Nevada. I wasn't staying in altitude, because it really doesn't make me improve my form much; it's all about riding on different roads, staying relaxed, training hard. I've got some climbs at home in Murcia, but the longer ascents are not close to where I live - I go to Sierra Nevada to be able to chain several long climbs, those that take 45-50 minutes to complete. I remained there until June 3rd - I got sort of a flu into the last days of that block, so we chose to race Occitanie instead of the Tour de Suisse.

"I'll be reaching the Tour de France in similar form to previous years, yet maybe with a bit less of racing form. That should help me get to the race fresher, especially because I raced quite less after the Ardennes. It will help me, because the second part of the season will be packed, with the Vuelta a España and a big goal for me: the World Championships."

3) GOAL
"I'm going to the Tour in good condition, just like I wanted, proven by what I did in the Route d’Occitanie. Dani Navarro and Elissonde are good climbers and were really fit in that race, and I was able to keep their pace easily, so I know I'm doing fine. Last year's crash shouldn't come across my mind in the early part of the Tour. It's not going to be special to return to the TDF because of the crash - it's special in itself to race there. I'm focused on what we want to do. I want to do well, should it be working for Nairo and Mikel or rather, if the race asks us to do so, taking on bigger responsibility and fulfilling the team's goals. I feel like my current form should be good to be up there with the top contenders."

4) RIVALS
"Of course, the top favourite will be Froome. He's won the Giro and certainly he's spent a lot of energy, yet he's got great potential and is experienced enough to keep a consistent form over two Grand Tours, just like he showed last year. Then there's some riders -Roglic, Porte, Dumoulin, NIbali, Bardet, Urán…- who will surely be near him, which we must keep under controlled. I think the race will be more open this race, because Froome wasn't as dominant as in other races at this year's Giro. You could see some weaknesses in him, and he was only able to turn things around into the final weekend."

5) TEAM AND LEADER COHABITATION
"There won't be any problems into the team, we will get on well with each other. Besides, this year's Tour route suits well our strategy of having three leaders. There are some short stages, many difficult days... Launching one of us on the attack will hurt our rivals and create some uncertainty. We have to play those cards. I don't know if we'll win, but surely we'll offer some fireworks.

"The team is everything. You can have good legs, but without strong backing, it's really difficult to achieve any results, neither at the Tour nor at any other race. I think everyone in the team is really focused on the task, trying to get to the start in the best possible form."

6) TEAM PREVIEW
"We can't really say anything new about Nairo at this point. He's a big Tour contender. He must not get obssesed with this, yet he's got a Tour win in his legs. Landa has always ridden behind another leader's shadow, but he's already shown to be strong enough to win a Grand Tour. Erviti is extremely important for me. A great team-mate, one I always share rooms with at races - he's full of knowledge, keeps you calm when you're racing and also outside the competition itself. He studies every stage in detail, knows what to do, and makes you confident about your chances. Rojas is an excellent allrounder: he can help you into the crosswinds, lead you out, keep you at the front on the cobblestones, he stays into the bunch in the mid mountains when there's only 30 riders left at the front... Amador and Soler are riders who will have to save some energy for the end because, other than the cobblestones, they can do really well in all kinds of mountains, staying close to us when the real selection forms. And Bennati - he's 100% reliability. Having Daniele by your side makes you really calm. Those difficult, opening nine days, with strong winds, tricky flat roads, pavé - he's going to make things quite easier for us."

7) ROUTE
"I like this year's parcours. I think it's perfect for the team we'll be bringing to the race. It hasn't got much TT terrain, and the only individual time trial is quite hilly. We've got a very decent roster for the team time trial, and will try not to lose much time. Until the pavé stage, the Tour will be a race of attrition. You'll have to always keep the front, be lucky, not crash - and then, as we head into the mountains, there's basically everything you could ask for. Legendary climbs, some which we haven't tackled before, and above them all, that 65km stage where someone who doesn't go through a particularly good day can lost everything. The final TT is really demanding, it's not for a specialist by any means - the climbs who still maintain some energy and good condition could do well there.

"I've ridden through some of the routes, most importantly the pavé stage, which was important to get used to. I've also inspected the ITT and I took advantage from Occitanie to get to know some of the Pyrenees route. However, I'm not the like who tries to recon every stage. It's important, but it's also good for you to stay calm, train well and rest as much as you can."

8) THE TOUR: MEMORIES

- What the Tour means for him
"It's the most important race in the world for every rider. From all stageraces, this is the most relevant, the most famous one. Winning the Tour must be amazing."

- Earliest memories
"I remember the Val Louron stage, when Indurain got into the break as 'Perico' told him to go on the attack, then he won the stage and took the yellow jersey. I hold great memories from that day."

- His first TDF
"It was incredible. The amount of media present, the enormous crowds, everything around this race - it really caught my attention, it was spectacular."

- Courchevel
"It was a very special day for me. My legs felt great from the start of the stage and, as I saw Basso, Ullrich, Vinokourov dropping back while I stayed with Armstrong, Rasmussen and Mancebo in the lead, I realized I had a chance to win with my finishing speed. Armstrong jumped with 500 meters to go, trying to stay close to the barriers to not let me space and catch me by surprise, but I was able to measure my efforts well and beat him."

- Plumelec
"It was spectacular. I didn't even want to sprint that day, but Iván Gutiérrez told me to follow his wheel to the front of the bunch, because I had a chance. I trusted him, won the stage and put on the yellow jersey. You feel like the king of the world when you lead the Tour de France. Super happy. Wearing the jersey, even if it's only for one day, is fantastic."

- Peyragudes
"It was an unbelievable day. I was coming back to the Tour in 2012 after a year and a half's stop. I suffered many crashes during that Tour, and it was my final chance to score a win. I attacked from afar, had good help into the break and was able to finish it off on my own. The GC group never took things easy, always went chasing us, and that made it even more valuable."

- Paris podium (2015)
"It was like a victory for me. I always helped Nairo during that race, even risked my own podium for his chances by going on a long-range attack when he asked me to do so. When I got to the top of Alpe d'Huez and saw I was going to finish in 3rd, I couldn't stop crying. It was massive redemption for me. I left so out of energy that I had fever a day later and was close to abandoning the race in the Champs-Élysées. I couldn't really enjoy the feeling of being on the Paris podium."

- Düsseldorf's crash
"You go through happiness, sadness... but my worst moment was last year's crash, barely 6km after taking the start into a Tour where I was feeling great. It's over now - everyone has seen I'm doing great, and I'm happy to be back."

For the first time since its inception, the team has reached this milestone before the National Championships

21-Jun-2018: Elia Viviani didn’t lose any time in making Adriatica Ionica the fifth different stage race in which he scored a win this season, after Tour Down Under, Dubai Tour, Abu Dhabi Tour and the Giro d’Italia, dashing to a clear victory in Maser, where the 152.5km-long stage which started from Lido di Jesolo’s Piazza Brescia concluded after an action-packed final.

Only three riders – Matteo Draperi (Sangemini-MG.Kvis), Enrico Logica (Biesse Carrera) and Javier Montoya (Trevigiani Phonix) – decided to spend the day in the breakaway and it didn’t took too long before they carved out a hefty lead of four minutes, that the trio managed to keep intact even after cresting Montello (2.8km, 6.5%), the first climb on the route, which came 70 kilometers into the stage.

Victorious on the opening stage, Quick-Step Floors marshaled the front of the peloton and began chewing into the leaders’ advantage, clawing back considerable ground by the time they left behind the second classified ascent. The escapees were pegged back before the hilly circuit revolving around the Asolo hill and attacks came with ten kilometers to go, when Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) and Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) opened a ten-second gap which they carried onto the fast descent to Maser.

Unfortunately for our team, the stage wasn’t an incident-free one, as neo-pros Kasper Asgreen, James Knox – best young rider at the start of the day – and Jhonatan Narvaez crashed and lost minutes, dropping from the top 10 overall. The Dane finished the stage with few bruises on the elbow and shoulder and a wound on the chin, which needed a few stitches, but the strong 22-year-old neo-pro will start on Friday despite this setback.

The catch was made under the flamme rouge arch, thanks also to a superb effort of Niki Terpstra, and Elia Viviani measured his sprint perfectly and put in a rapid acceleration, beating Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) and Mihkel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy) for Quick-Step Floors’ 40th victory since the start of the season. Thursday’s result helped the Italian maintain his leadership in the general classification, while at the same time netting him the points jersey ahead of the race’s queen stage, to Passo Giau.

“We got the best possible start in Adriatica Ionica! Yesterday we were really flying, close to averaging 55km/h on the TTT. The guys have done an amazing job in Lido di Jesolo and today was the same story. There was a question mark tagged to this stage, as we weren’t sure I would be there after the final 1.7km climb, but in the end I survived and was felt well enough to do the sprint.”

Viviani, who has amassed 11 victories since joining Quick-Step Floors before the start of the season, was full of praise for his teammates: “Asgreen and Martinelli did an amazing job pulling all day in the front and keeping things under control. Then, in the final kilometers, Niki supported me perfectly and in the sprint I just jumped on the wheel of Consonni and used him to launch my sprint.”

“I have recovered well after the Giro d’Italia and am really pleased with my season and this 11th victory. Every next win is a personal record and I have no intention of stopping here. Also for the team it’s been a fantastic season, with 40 UCI victories in total, and we are keen on keeping the focus in the second part of the year and continue adding more wins to this extraordinary tally”, Viviani concluded after becoming the most successful rider of the season.

17 June, 2018, Bellinzona (SUI)

The most successful Tour de Suisse in BMC Racing Team's history came to an end with Richie Porte sealing the overall victory in his debut at the race, and Swiss time trial champion Stefan Küng smashing the individual time trial to take the stage win.

In an historic race for the team, BMC Racing Team started with the win in the team time trial last Saturday, finished things off with the individual time trial win today, and in an incredible display of teamwork, led the race from start to finish, first with Küng in yellow for four days and then Porte.

After eight stages, the General Classification battle came down to the 34.1km race against the clock with Porte starting the day with a 17-second lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and 52 seconds in front of Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb).

Küng started the day as one of the stage favorites and made his intentions clear by setting the second-fastest time at the 19.7km intermediate time check, one second behind teammate Tejay van Garderen, before coming home to smash the previous best time by 19 seconds to stop the clock with 39'44".

Küng had time in the hot seat to cool down and with it becoming unlikely that anyone would better his time, the Swiss champion was able to sit back and watch the General Classification battle unfold out on the road.

Despite the flat terrain, Porte quickly settled into a good rhythm and by the second intermediate check point the Australian had already put 38 seconds into Quintana and 14 seconds into Kelderman.

Like Küng, Porte came home strong and crossed the line in Bellizona with 40'48" on the clock, finishing in 14th place on the day, which was more than enough to secure his maiden Tour de Suisse overall victory.

The time trial reshuffled the podium with Porte eventually finishing 1'02" over Jacob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) and 1'12" in front of Quintana.

Van Garderen's performance showed the depth of BMC Racing Team in the time trial discipline, with third place on the day, 23 seconds behind Küng.

The Winner's Interview with Richie Porte

Richie, congratulations! Is this the biggest win of your career?

"I'd say so. I've won at races like Paris-Nice, Volta Catalunya and Tour de Romandie but this race is so special and to come here after the passing of Andy Rihs earlier in the season and win his home Tour is a massive satisfaction. I dedicate this win to Andy."

What does your performance here mean for you?

"This was a big goal. Let's not beat around the bush. It's a very important race and I think it's disrespectful to say it's a 'lead in' race for the Tour de France as it means a lot to win it. It's such a prestigious race. So, I think going forward into the Tour de France, it's a good sign to win here. It would have been nice to have won a stage here and maybe if the breakaway hadn't stayed away on Thursday's stage, I would have won one but, at the end of the day, to win the General Classification was the big goal and I'm still happy with the victory. I'm ready for the Tour de France. I did a good race here. I'm not at the top of my form just yet so I am excited for July."

What was the week like for the team defending the race lead from start to finish?

"It hasn't been an easy week but the guys did a fantastic job. We really had our work cut out for us and we didn't get a lot of help from the other teams. I was a little bit worried coming into today about guys like Kelderman but I'm happy with the time we put into them at the start of the race. I think it was a fantastic week."

And what's next after this race?

"Before this race, I hadn't raced since Tour de Romandie. I was at home for the birth of my son two weeks ago and I've only had one night at home with him so, I think it's great for me to get to go home for a bit of time before a training camp and then hopefully I'll be better at the Tour de France."

The Winner's Interview with Stefan Küng

Stefan, congratulations! Talk us through the time trial course and how you are feeling after it?

"It wasn't an easy course. It had some quite technical bits and a bit of up and down so, you had to pace it really well. I was saving a little bit for the end because I knew that you could make up or lose a lot of time there. I'm pretty happy with how I paced it. Obviously, it was a hard one for everyone after a hard Tour de Suisse in hot conditions but I am happy with my ride and it's nice to take the win at home."

Can it get any better than being the Swiss National TT champion winning a time trial at the Tour de Suisse?

"No, I don't think so. I'm really proud to wear this jersey here at home. The guys from ASSOS have done a good job designing it so, winning at home is special. It can't get any better and I think this Tour de Suisse as a whole, couldn't have been better for our team with the TTT win at the beginning and spending the whole week in yellow with Richie pulling off the overall win. It makes us really proud. It's a pity that Andy isn't with us to experience this moment but he was here in our hearts throughout the whole week and maybe that is what made the difference."

Race Profile
Tour de Suisse
Stage 9 Bellinzona > Bellinzona (34.1km)
Top 3: 1. Stefan Küng (BMC Racing Team), 2. Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), 3. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 1. Stefan Küng, 3. Tejay van Garderen, 14. Richie Porte.

Valverde grabs GC in Occitanie

Published in News Archives

17th June 2018 - Pictures: Route d'Occitanie / Aubin Lipke

Movistar Team leader caught just 10 meters from stage four finish in Cazouls-lès-Béziers by Roux (GFC) after 70km break with Sánchez (AST); equals eleven victories from 2017, improves Blues' account to 22
Alejandro Valverde left a brilliant impression in the 2018 Route d'Occitanie, where the Blues' legend was an absolute protagonist during a final weekend full of mountains in the French event. The last 70 kilometers of Sunday's stage four -including the Pic de Nore (Cat-1) midway through, with only ten riders together at its top- were a celebration of Murcia's finest, with 'Bala' in a breakaway with neighbour and friend Luis León Sánchez (AST) which lasted until the very finishing straight.

The two spaniards, which held a gap even exceeding two minutes over a disorganized peloton, full of attacks, later struggled due to the pacing by Groupama-FDJ, AG2R La Mondiale and Sky in the finale, with many little hills and strong winds becoming a serious burden. The duo's slim advantage had them taking strong turns until the sprint, where Alejandro overtook 'Luisle' and powered towards a finish line he went 10 meters short to reach ahead of eventual victor Anthony Roux (GFC).

Valverde, 2nd in the end, still took his 119th pro victory with the GC -fourth of the season, after Valencia, Abu Dhabi and Catalunya-, which improves the Movistar Team's account up to 22 and leaves Alejandro now just one success short (96 wins since joining the team in 2005) from beating the Abarca Sports organisation's record, held by Miguel Indurain.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:

"It was a very tough final stage, and we riders played a big part on it, I guess. 'Luisle' went on the attack after the descent, I followed him and in the following kilometers I kept taking turns because I couldn't let him just pull on his own if we stood a chance for the stage win. At the final little climbs he was struggling a bit and I was pulling off the gas so we could stay together for as long as possible, to have a bigger chance to win, but they really closed the gap from behind and my sprint was too late, launching it from 200 meters to go. In the end, Roux got past few meters before the end.

"We must still remain happy, because after all, we won the overall classification. That's a confirmation I did things right for the past month, even if I missed the Tour de Suisse due to illness. I feel like the whole team, as well as myself, did a brilliant job. The goals were more than accomplished - we came here just with a will to get ready for July and, after that, seeking for some wins, and we achieved both".

Uran second at Slovenia, looks to Tour

Published in News Archives

Rigoberto Uran time trialled to 15th place on the final stage of Tour of Slovenia, clocking a faster time than all but two of the riders in the general classification top 10. The performance was enough to keep Uran in second overall.

Overnight race leader Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) won the stage and the green jersey.

“I’m happy,” said Uran. “The most important for me is the Tour, but before the Tour, I have good legs to finish second, win a stage in Slovenia and also do a good time trial today. I’m so happy to know everything is where it needs to be.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale included Tour of Slovenia as a late addition to the team’s race calendar specifically with Uran’s Tour de France preparation in mind. With the Tour starting one week later than usual, neither Tour de Suisse nor Criterium du Dauphine could replicate Uran’s 2017 pre-Tour build-up.

#PinkArgyle arrived in Slovenia with the goal of winning a stage and building confidence. In each regard, it was mission accomplished.

“Everything went well in the time trial,” said DS Ken Vanmarcke. “Rigo was never in trouble and could pace the way he wanted. His main goal is in three weeks, not today, and this week was a perfect preparation.

“Rigo is healthy, had nice weather to race in, and goes home with a victory and a good feeling for the last build part towards the Tour de France. Knowing what’s coming, we can’t ask for anything more.”

Uran has spent the last two months at altitude in Colombia. He travels to his European base of Monoco from Slovenia.

“Between now and the Tour, I do more of the same,” said Uran. “I want to have good training. We have one small training camp in Girona focused on the team time trial. Then it’s Tour time.”

The 23-year-old Spaniard finishes the race in fourth place overall at his first participation

17-Jun-2018: Enric Mas capped off a strong week at the Tour de Suisse by notching up his best ever GC result since turning pro, just eight seconds off the podium of the race created back in 1933, a result that maintained Quick-Step Floors at the top of the World Tour standings, more than 2000 points clear of the closest rival.

The final day of the race consisted of a 34km-long individual time trial taking place over an undulating course in the beautiful medieval setting of Bellinzona, the perfect backdrop for one more battle between the general classification contenders at the 82nd edition of the Swiss race. Fourth in the ranking at the start of the day, Enric was among the last riders to roll down the ramp and the 23-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider got off to a solid start, passing through the first intermediate split just a handful of seconds slower than Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb), the only rider to threaten his green jersey.

As the kilometers ticked down, Mas continued to ride a steady tempo and keep his advantage over the Dutchman, cutting back the deficit and even putting time into his rival, before sealing a well-deserved victory in the best young rider classification. Bumped into fifth position in the virtual classification during the stage by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Enric bounced back to jump over Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) thanks to a strong finish and retain his fourth place on the race won by Richie Porte (BMC).

“I am really happy about this result. The Tour de Suisse – which was one of my goals this season – was a tough race with many great riders at the start, so to finish fourth overall, so close to the podium, and to take home a jersey gives me a huge boost of confidence for the second part of the season. I also want to thank to my teammates, because without their help it wouldn’t have been possible”, said Enric Mas after his second top 10 of the year at World Tour level.

“I know I’ve improved a lot since joining Quick-Step Floors and seeing that all the hard work paid off motivates me even more for my future appointments. We’ll see where I will go from here, but the plan is to carry this form into the next races with the hope of getting other good results for the team”, concluded Enric, one of the twelve Quick-Step Floors riders to have won a race this year.

For many riders, a time trial is the purest form of racing – no other riders to compete with, open roads and very little to slow them down, so all they have to do is ride hard and post the fastest time they can. This was especially true of today’s final stage of the Tour de Suisse – with the GC race still not settled and the time trial specialists looking to take the stage honours, it was full-on racing from the first rider out of the gate to the last. Having set the day’s provisional fastest time early on, Maciej Bodnar finished the day in fourth position. The UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, confirmed his record seventh black points jersey, and during the race took a record sixteenth stage win. The whole BORA-hansgrohe team could look back on a race where strong performances – both individual and as a team – put them in a good position to ride a strong Tour de France next month.

The Stage
34.1km was all that remained of the 2018 Tour de Suisse, and while some riders would be looking forward to a rest after a demanding nine days of racing, for many there was still everything to race for – whether for those final seconds in the GC race, or for the time trial specialists who would want to go full throttle after more than a week of waiting since the opening day’s team time trial. The course, which as on yesterday’s road stage, would start and finish in Bellinzona, would promote fast times – mostly flat and on smooth roads, although there were a few sections that could catch out the riders if they weren’t paying attention – a short uphill section a few kilometres from the finish, as well as a cobblestone section in the last kilometre among them.

The Team Tactics
With one of the best time trial riders on the BORA-hansgrohe team roster, much of the attention today would be on Maciej Bodnar. The Polish rider had put in some strong performances this season, both in time trials as well as working hard in the peloton, and this stage would give him a chance to stretch his legs. For the rest of the team, in addition to aiming to finish the stage safely, today would represent an excellent opportunity to dial in positions and equipment ahead of the Tour de France.

The Race
Today, it was all about the riders, with no breakaway to chase down and no finale to prepare for. One of the first riders out of the gate was Maciej Bodnar, who set the time to beat, posting a time of 40:10 over the 34.1km course. Taking his place on the stage’s hot seat as the day’s provisional leader, the Polish rider remained unbeaten for most of the day, in spite of others trying their best. With all of the riders home, Maciej took fourth position, while on a race where he took his sixteenth stage victory, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, confirmed his seventh Tour de Suisse points jersey. Looking back, the whole team had put in strong performances the whole race and were on track for the second Grand Tour of the season – the Tour de France.

Results
01 S.Küng 39:45
02 S.Andersen +0:19
03 T.Van Garderen +0:23
04 M.Bodnar +0:26
05 M.Matthews +0:26

From the Finish Line
"I'm happy with the result today, I feel my legs getting stronger. It was a nice time-trial with a course I liked. I was a bit more conservative in the first part and then made up, pushing harder. I’m still working hard to be in good form for the Tour de France, but first, I'll race in the Polish National Championship, next Friday." – Maciej Bodnar

"I think we can be overall satisfied with our results and performance at the Tour de Suisse. We had a goal to win at least a stage and we achieved that with Peter, who was also very close to victory in all the sprints he fought for. Today, Maciej Bodnar rode a strong individual time-trial, taking fourth against some of the world's top specialists. Gregor Mülhberger also showed a solid performance on the mountains and the team as a whole worked very well, in cohesion. Unfortunately, we weren't able to reach our GC goals with Patrick Konrad but this isn't an issue. He came straight from a very tough Giro where he contributed to the team's successes, so he wasn't at his top form. In my view, we are on the right track for the Tour de France and we look forward to it." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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