Diego Rosa: It’s another level at Team Sky compared to Astana

The Italian is set to support Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa at the upcoming 100th Giro d’Italia

Italian Diego Rosa says that compared to previous teams Astana and Androni Giocattoli he found new level of training and race preparation when he joined Team Sky this winter.

Rosa will help Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa try to win the win the Giro d’Italia over the next three weeks, May 5 to 28. The race starts Friday in Sardinia, but already he has been impressed by the British team’s setup.

>>> Team Sky suspend Gianni Moscon over ‘racist comments’ made to Kevin Reza

“They looked after us closely in Astana, but it’s another level in Sky,” Rosa told Cycling Weekly.

“Sky is very organised. They don’t leave you without anything, they look after every small detail. The cyclists can just think about riding 100%.

“For example, we have the team house in Monaco. There are 12 of us that live around Monaco and Nice, so it’s good to have masseur or storage and supplies available. Everything is there, it’s a point of reference. That makes a difference.”

The 28-year-old from Italy’s northwest Piedmont region raced the last two years with team Astana working in support of Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali.

Aru relied on Rosa for his Giro d’Italia second place and Vuelta a España victory. Last year, he soloed 100km to victory in the Tour of the Basque Country’s Arrante stage.

Those races meant Rosa spent weeks at altitude on the Teide volcano in Tenerife. He would typically take his road bike only.

“When I looked at my time trial bike and thought about taking it to Tenerife, I didn’t know what to do. In Astana, we just went with one bike. [Team Sky] said, ‘No, it’s not a problem, you’ll have three bikes in Tenerife. You already have your time trial bike there.’ In Teide, I had two road bikes and one time trial bike, already planned to be there for me,” Rosa added.

“In Astana, we had two time trial bikes, but I didn’t always have one at home to train with. Here, I always have a time trial bike at home. Small things, but who knows, maybe I’ll go slower this year in the time trails!”

Rosa laughed and said that Dario Cioni, the team’s Italian sports director, has become top in his mobile phone’s call log.

Watch: Giro d’Italia essential guide

“It was a new world, I have to understand who does what here. I knew that already in Astana, who to call for equipment and everything. Now, every time, I have to call Cioni and ask who to call.”

Rosa raced mountain bikes and slotted well into professional continental team Androni. The second division team allowed him to race the Giro d’Italia twice in 2013 and 2014 before he left for Astana.

“It was a perfect team to start a professional career. I am happy I began there, I had my space, I could do my races and I didn’t stress. I had much fun in that team always on the attack,” he added.

“There was a big difference, for sure, and that’s largely due to the budget. You can’t have all those services like we have. Here, when we go to the hotels, the team brings the mattress, pillow and everything. You need people and equipment to do that.

“Every two years, it seems as though I change. I try to improve. Sky offered me a spot and an opportunity to develop more, I accepted it.

“Astana changed completely this year, new staff, riders and bikes. Every now and then you need to change and it’ll serve them well. It’s the same for the cyclists, to get a new motivation and learn from new sports directors, etcetera. It’s good for your head.”

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Giro d’Italia’s best descender prize causes controversy

New competition to award prizes to the fastest descenders in the 2017 Giro d’Italia attracts criticism from riders

Controversy has surrounded the decision by Giro d’Italia race organiser RCS Sport to introduce a competition for the best descender in this year’s race.

The ‘Pirelli Premio Miglior Discesista’ consists of a cash prize of €500 awarded to the quickest rider on 10 timed downhill segments of the 100th edition of the Giro.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2017: Latest news and race info

In addition, prize money will also be awarded at the end of the race to the quickest riders down all 10 segments overall. The overall winner will receive €5,000 from a total prize pot of €15,000 for the competition, sponsored by tyre manufacturer Pirelli.

Some riders have condemned the prize, branding it as a “life threatening idea”, particularly in the light of the recent death of 21-year-old American rider Chad Young, who crashed on a descent in the Tour of the Gila.

Young suffered a severe head injury and died in hospital five days after the incident.

Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt died after crashing on a descent during the 2011 Giro d’Italia. The race number 108 has been permanently retired from the race in his memory.

Many see the descending prize as an enticement for riders to take unnecessary risks during the race, endangering themselves and possibly others.

Trek-Segafredo rider Jasper Stuyven said on Twitter: “@giroditalia seriously?! If this true you should be ashamed… aren’t there already enough crashes? Clearly you only care about sensation.”

Team Sky’s Wout Poels said: “Life threatening idea to give a prize to the best descender in Giro? I hope this is a joke? What about safety?”

Jos Van Emden of LottoNL-Jumbo added: “Please don’t do this @giroditalia. A 3 week race through Italy is enough spettacolo!”

According to the Giro d’Italia race regulations the following 10 descents will be included in the best descender competition: Monte Sant’Angelo (stage 8), Chieti (stage 9), Monte Fumaiolo (stage 11), Colla di Cassaglia (stage 12), Selvino (stage 15), Passo dello Stelvio (stage 16), Passo del Tonale (stage 17), Passo Pordoi (stage 18), Sella Chianzutan (stage 19) and Monte Grappa (stage 20).

The 2017 Giro d’Italia starts in Sardinia on Friday, May 5, and concludes three weeks later in Milan on Sunday, May 28.

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Third Eschborn-Frankfurt victory for Kristoff

Following an underwhelming classics campaign, Alexander Kristoff bounced back in Germany with his third career Eschborn-Frankfurt victory. The Norwegian was assisted by German teammate Rick Zabel in the finale with the duo recording a one-two finish for Katusha-Alpecin in the wet and cold conditions.

“This was the coldest one I can remember. It was quite cold with the rain all day. I took off my jacket and rode the last three laps without it, but I was regretting it the whole way. It was very cold today, but the same guys as usual were still there fighting for victory,” said Kristoff who previously won the race in 2014 and 2016.

Although the win was Kristoff’s first at WorldTour level since the 2015 edition of GP Ouest France-Plouay, it was his seventh of the season. While Kristoff had an edge over his sprint rivals at the race knowing how to win, he explained that he though his race could be over

“I was a little bit dropped on the last climb but I had a strong team around me to pull me back. Without them I would have had no chance. We came back just before the laps and Rick was guiding me through the corners at the end and he did a perfect lead out for me and ended up second himself,” he explained.

“Luckily he was my teammate in those last few k’s because otherwise I think he would have won the race! Earlier Tony Martin and Angel Vicioso and also team Bora Hansgrohe were working with us. Then at the end Nils Politt and Zabel took over. It was a big team effort to get back on the front that enabled me to sprint for the victory. We are really happy and it was a great performance.”

For Zabel, it was his best result yet since making the move across from BMC to Katusha.

“This was a great day. I am really happy with how the team did today and mine and Alex’s performances,” said Zabel. “Second in a WorldTour race is also super, a very good result for me. It was a great day for us and we can be super happy.” 

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Alex Dowsett misses out on Giro d’Italia as Movistar name squad to back Quintana

Movistar leader Nairo Quintana to be backed by strong team of domestiques as he tackles the 2017 Giro d’Italia (May 5-28)

British time trial national champion Alex Dowsett has not been named as one of the nine riders taking part in the 2017 Giro d’Italia (May 5-28) for the Spanish Movistar team.

The 28-year-old from Essex had featured on the provisional roster for the opening Grand Tour of the season, but was not named in the final line-up revealed on Monday.

Despite a strong performance in the Tour de Romandie last week, where the 2013 Giro stage winner placed second in the prologue and went on a long-range solo attack on stage three, Dowsett will sit out the Italian Grand Tour.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2017 full route details

Movistar’s squad has been wholly built around the general classification aspirations of leader Nairo Quintana. The Colombian is attempting the ‘double’ of contesting the Giro and then the Tour de France in July.

Perhaps seeing Team Sky’s recently-announced line-up to back co-leaders Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, where Italian sprinter Elia Viviani was a surprise omission in favour of domestiques, Movistar appear to have followed suit.

Andrey Amador, Winner Anacona, Daniele Bennati, Víctor de la Parte, José Herrada, Gorka Izagirre, José Joaquín Rojas and Rory Sutherland will all back Quintana.

Quintana won the Giro in 2014, and the Vuelta a España last year. He goes into the race as leading favourite alongside defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Quintana won stage two of the Vuelta a Asturias on Sunday, and finished second overall.

“This year’s route is a very tough course, a demanding one,” Quintana said of the Giro. “The last week has an impressive amount of mountains to overcome. Big gaps should be made there – I feel like this year’s course has sought for the strongest climber to win it.

Nairo Quintana. Photo: Graham Watson

“I went on a recce of some of the final week’s stages some months ago: I had a look at Piancavallo and Asiago, as well as the previous climb to Monte Grappa, who will be a hell of a climb, but also the Blockhaus and the Foligno TT.”

On the subject of his big rival, Nibali, Quintana said: “This is ‘his’ race, he’s at home, it’s the 100th Giro. Surely he’ll reach the start in very good shape, and with his team racing it together for the first time, they’ll surely want to make their mark.”

The 2017 Giro d’Italia – the 100th edition of the race – kicks off in Sardinia on Friday, May 5 and concludes three weeks later in Milan, on Sunday, May 28.

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Tao Geoghegan Hart pays tribute to former team-mate Chad Young

Tao Geoghegan Hart remembers his old team-mate on the roads of Yorkshire and says ‘it serves as a reminder to make the most of every day’
– Young Brit to lead Team Sky at Tour of California, May 11-20

Team Sky’s Tao Geoghegan Hart has described how his late team-mate Chad Young was in his thoughts during the Tour de Yorkshire. The two riders were both on the American Axeon Hagens Berman development team prior to Geoghegan Hart signing with Sky for 2017.

Young passed away on Friday after sustaining a head injury after crashing during the final stage of the Tour of the Gila the weekend before.

“I was thinking of him, and his family, and also the staff of my old team,” said Geoghegan Hart, after placing eighth overall at the Tour de Yorkshire on Sunday.

“They’re just doing their job and part of their job shouldn’t have to be with a 20-year-old guy during the last moments of his life on the side of the road,” he said.

“It’s really really sad. It reaches deep into cycling. I think the one think we can take is that it’s amazing to see the support from all of cycling for Chad and his family and everyone involved with the team.”

He added: “It definitely serves as a reminder to make the most out of every day we’re lucky enough to have and value the people around me who are giving the ability to do amazing days of racing like today where there’s just people going wild all day long.

“I think it just makes you realise that everything can disappear in an instant, and to cherish it.”

>>> Tour of California 2017: Latest news and race info

Geoghegan Hart is now readying himself for an assault on the Tour of California, starting May 11.

Speaking after the three-day Yorkshire race, the 21-year-old Londoner said: “[California’s] a different race to this – you probably couldn’t get much more different. But I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ll have a pretty young but cool team there. I think it’s going to be exciting and it’s obviously a familiar event for me and we’ll see a few faces from the past.”

Geoghegan Hart has ridden the Tour of California three times — twice for US based Axeon Hagens Berman.

Geoghegan Hart is currently beginning a short US-based training block before travelling to Sacremento to begin the Tour of California on May 11, where he has twice come second on the young rider classification, and was 12th overall last year.

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Quintana shows pre-Giro d'Italia form with Vuelta Asturias stage win

Nairo Quintana‘s successful 2017 season continued at the Vuelta Asturias with the Movistar rider winning the queen stage to confirm his form and condition ahead of the 100th Giro d’Italia. The 2014 Giro winner won the snowy stage to Alto del Acebo ahead of Raul Alacron (W52/FC Porto) and sits second overall with one stage to come.

The UCI 2.1 Spanish stage race is Quintana’s first race on European soil since a training block at home in Colombia and final preparation event for the Giro, starting Saturday in Sardinia. Quintana is aiming for a Giro/Tour de France double and already in 2017 has enjoyed general classification wins at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Tirreno-Adriatico. The 27-year-old explained that his sensations from the stage win have boosted his confidence and will aim to claim the overall Monday.

“I’m really satisfied with how things went, with my preparations and this victory, too. I felt my legs responding well to all that we did before coming back to Europe – we’re on the right path to tackle that big challenge in front of us successfully,” Quintana explained. “For me, coming to Asturias has already been satisfactory. Let’s hope we can finish things off tomorrow in one piece. It was a really cold day, also a dangerous one since we had to go through all those wet descents. We all really suffered, it was tough – yet we’re sort of getting used to these days. It’s been quite a few times now where we had to finish on top of a mountain covered in snow, after getting through foul conditions.”

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Quintana, who has built a reputation as a rider for the cold and snow, added that his brother Dayer played an important role on the slopes of the climb.

“I just followed the wheels into the first part of the climb, well supported by my team, and when the real selection got formed, I sent Dayer forward to try and tear things apart a little bit more,” he added. “Once the group was all the strung out I wanted, I went on my own pace, took Alarcón on my wheel and sought for the stage win.

Despite the lack of Giro rivals at the race, Movistar are the only WorldTour team at the race, Quintana explained his bid for a third Grand Tour title of his career is on track.

I feel ready for what’s to come – let’s just hope the level I reached here is enough to do well in the beginning of the Giro,” he said.

Movistar is yet to confirm its team for the 100th Giro d’Italia although Andrey Amador, Alex Dowsett, Winner Anacona, Gorka Izagirre and Dayer Quintana are expected to be named in support of Nairo Quintana. 

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Training with power: how do you do it properly, and what mistakes should you avoid?

As cycling becomes ever more swamped by figures, stats and algorithms, we speak to some top data experts to find out how best to use digital information to boost your riding

“A lot of people are drowning in data without making any discoveries from it. Data can be so overwhelming that you don’t have the capacity to tackle its implications. You’re trying to find one key thing that can have an impact.”

Team Sky performance analyst Robby Ketchell hits the nail on the head.

He isn’t saying that the volume of data now available to riders makes it incomprehensible or necessarily confusing — it’s not a problem of too much information so much as too little interpretation. To pick the patterns that truly matter can require teamwork.

“Riders have key indicators that they are used to monitoring and believe will lead to good performance. These may not fall in line with what the coach or the team tracks. A big part of data analysis is the communication between the team and the athlete.”

>>> Cycling training plans: get fitter, ride faster and go further

This relationship between coaches and riders and the sharing of data is crucial.

Co-founder of TrainingPeaks Dirk Friel explains that performance data has become so mainstream at the highest level of the sport that teams are now allocating more of their budgets towards data analysts and backroom staff.

This allows them to analyse ride and training data, and also facilitates talent identification while monitoring up-and-coming riders. Friel believes that teams’ embracing of the best data analysis is reflected in their success.

“If you were to plot the usage of training software to a team’s WorldTour ranking, you’d probably find a very close parallel,” he says. “The days of hiring riders and just letting them decide how to train on their own are long gone.”

Data is just one ingredient in the recipe for success

Using data the right way

For some riders, average power is the be-all and end-all of data analysis. In reality, spotting trends and anomalies over time is the key to making improvements.

“Quantifying the data in a comprehensible manner, which can then be interpreted and acted upon is the goal,” says Friel.

“[Using software] we have found by plotting a Training Stress Score [TSS] of each individual workout over time can give valuable information that shows variance in overall fitness, fatigue and form.

“Taking those TSS scores, you can look at trends over the last seven to 42 days to calculate a Chronic Training Load [CTL], Acute Training Load [ATL] and finally a Training Stress Balance [TSB] (see glossary at the bottom of the page).

>>> Power meters: everything you need to know

“With these three values, an athlete can see how their training evolved and where they may have been too fatigued or not fit enough.”

Advancing the case for data has meant convincing sceptics who at first were hesitant to listen to advice from performance analysts.

Watch now: Critical power: the hardest test you can do on a bike?

Having spent eight years within the sport homing in on which data points really matter, Ketchell believes that discovering emerging patterns helps map out training for a particular rider for a certain race.

“It comes down to managing the demands of an event, and doing so for each particular rider — not just for their target or what their job is going to be for the team but also what their capacity is. You need to discover that to plan what your strategy is.”

Comparing and amalgamating training data values with race results provides context that then informs future training.

>>> Nine ways to prepare for your best ever sportive or racing season

This detail within performance data is no longer reserved for privileged professionals teams with specialist staff. Amateurs now have greater access to data and analysis tools than ever before.

One amateur rider who used performance data to excel when it really mattered was multiple national time trial champion Matt Bottrill. Specifically, he used his TSS to accurately work out his fatigue levels and how a certain race was likely to pan out.

Matt Bottrill, National 50-mile time trial 2015

“You can never know with 100 per cent certainty what is going to actually happen, but I knew when I was at my best in a time trial,” he says.

“It was so controlled that once I factored in my aerodynamic drag, I was able to predict my time almost to the second.”

One of the risks with sharing data — for example, via Strava — is that riders can become competitive over training statistics.

>>> Former pro Phil Gaimon goes hunting for more Strava KOMs in latest ‘worst retirement ever’ video

This can be harmless but Bottrill warns against pointless heroics and urges using data strictly for the purpose of improving your performance.

“People get carried away with, ‘What is your 20-minute power? What is your FTP?’ What goes wrong for a lot of people is that they’ve got all these cracks in their training in spite of recording impressive data.

“It might be that they’ve got good threshold power but they have got a 40 or 50-watt drop-off all round.”

Strava segments – the perfect distraction from your training

It’s not all about the data

Despite many riders’ love of statistics and their implications, data shouldn’t be seen as the Holy Grail. Multiple factors come into play and tracking data is no guarantee of success, admits Friel:

“Improving as a cyclist isn’t all about numbers. This is why training is an art and a science. Each athlete and coach has their own balance of the two. There are many variables that have to be balanced, such as recovery, mood, diet, sleep, tactics, bike-fit, equipment selection, pacing.

“Training data is simply a tool to be leveraged as part of the overall development of an athlete.”

This is true in racing too, as Ketchell explains: “Sports are unpredictable, especially cycling. Data analysis is never 100 per cent correct. That is why it should never be the only consideration that goes into making a decision.

“It’s great to be evidence-based, but always challenge the evidence and look deeper into the data to discover new insights. This means accepting you’re wrong sometimes.”

Data mistakes and misuses

It can be easy to fall victim to oversights in data-processing and analysis. Rob Kitching from Cycling Power Labs highlights some of the most common data analysis mistakes he has seen.

“One of the major benefits of using power is objectivity: 200 watts is 200 watts, regardless of what a rider’s heart rate is doing or what their perception of exertion might be on a given day.

“If we’re not to lose that objectivity, and a rider’s faith in the data, then issues that can lead to misleading data need to be avoided. We don’t want a rider reverting to guesswork because the data doesn’t seem to make sense or because the level they are able to achieve isn’t consistent.

>>> Training for power with Canyon-SRAM’s Tiffany Cromwell

“Bad data could lead to over or under-training relative to what you have planned, but the real cost can be in terms of motivation.

“A moderately or well-trained cyclist, in the short term, will target levels of improvements you can measure in single-digit watts.

“Bad data can easily be misleading up to and beyond that level and could potentially lead a rider into a rollercoaster of false emotions, either with new PBs or inexplicable failures to hit targets.

“You want to avoid that at all costs in a sport where hard work that leads to improvements depends so much on motivation.”

Watt Shop was on hand to help us record and interpret the data

Data must be reliable and consistent in order to be trusted

Data mistakes to avoid

– Failing to bear in mind whether average power includes freewheeling time, which dramatically affects the number.

– Confusing simple average power with normalised power. Normalised power accounts for intervals and efforts that have occurred over the entirety of the ride. Average power will simply average out the training session as a whole, which can lead to misinterpretation of more intense sessions that may have been more fatiguing.

– Forgetting to ‘zero offset’ a power meter before riding and then relying on inaccurate data. Think of zero offsetting a power meter as the same process as resetting a set of measuring scales. Air pressure, ambient temperatures and other things can alter power meter readings in between rides. Therefore ‘zeroing’ your power meter before each ride clears the residual torque and sets an accurate baseline to work from.

– Failing to acknowledge the differences between indoor and outdoor riding: the former involves zero coasting and no air resistance, whereas outdoors there are many variables such as wind and drafting gains.

Training data glossary

Many power meters and training programs convert training effort into stress, load and fatigue scores. Here’s what the key metrics mean…

Training Stress Score (TSS): The number that relates to the intensity of a single training session. The higher the number the more strenuous it has been.

Acute Training Load (ATL): The short-term fatigue number that is accumulated, estimated over a seven-day period.

Chronic Training Load (CTL): The longer-term fitness accumulation rating based over a 42-day period of time. Rides that are completed more recently will be more weighted towards this number.

Training Stress Balance (TSB): This number is the difference between CTL and ATL and addresses whether a rider may be approaching top form. When this number is positive it indicates a good performance is approaching following a decent block of training combined with a low recent value of fatigue. This is where the tapering effect comes to fruition.

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Tour de Yorkshire riders united in astonishment at ‘incredible and crazy’ roadside crowds

Peloton as staggered as ever as hundreds of thousands turn out to watch the race

With hundreds of thousands of fans estimated to have lined the roads for Sunday’s queen stage, it was no surprise that riders came away from the Tour de Yorkshire as generous as ever in their praise for the fans.

Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), winner of stage three and overall, called the crowds were “maybe even better here than in Liège, the crowds here are amazing.

“I’ve ridden all around the world, and if I would make a top three of most amazing crowds I think you have the Belgian people in the Classics, you have the Basque people who are very amazing, but I think the people here in Yorkshire are for sure in the top three.

“It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back to this race. In winter normally I had the Tour de Romandie on my programme but I said no, I want to come back to the Tour de Yorkshire.”

>>> ‘I’ve always been fighting for it’: Serge Pauwels on his first ever pro victory at the Tour de Yorkshire

The fans were full of support for all comers, added Pauwels’s directeur sportif Rolf Aldag — not just the Brits, or the big stars.

“They just show a big interest in cycling and they show a lot of respect to everybody,” Aldag said. “It’s not only about the superstars, it’s about the race, the home soil.”

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” beamed Ian Stannard, who saw the front of the race more than most on the final stage in particular.

“It’s on par with Tour de France kinda stuff so it’s amazing to see. It makes you proud to ride your bike. We had loads of young kids cheering us and it’s really nice to see that younger generation getting inspired.”

His young team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart, who went on to finish a creditable eighth on GC agreed.

>>> Five things we learned from the Tour de Yorkshire

“Not meaning to sound like a stuck record, but it’s incredible,” Geoghegan Hart said.

“The amount of times I heard my name shouted, and the team shouted for, is incredible. It’s a bit crazy really, as a young guy, seeing that many people shouting for you individually.

“I just hope people watch it on TV and just acknowledge not just the racing but all those people who’ve taken the weekend off,” he added.

“Some of those towns I was riding along today wondering where all those people have come from – it’s unbelievable.”

Aqua Blue Sport rider Mark Christian, who finished seventh overall, described the carnival atmosphere.:

“The people of Yorkshire really celebrate the race coming in, they don’t just stand and watch it go by, they’re all out having barbecues, balloons, flags up, everything, they’re really taking to it which is great to see.”

>>> ‘You cannot compare the Tour de Yorkshire to any other race’

Georgia Bronzini (Wiggle-High5), who finished third in the women’s race, was also full of praise:

“They are amazing. I feel like they really love the sport, love cycling. I really hope that some of the kids that we went to visit yesterday in the schools think that one day they can be a good rider at the top level.”

Yorkshire rider Tom Stewart (One Pro), said the crowds were a unique part of racing in Yorkshire.

“I know you think crowds are crowds and you’re going to get them anywhere, but they are particularly passionate [here],” Stewart, who was born in Doncaster, explained.

“Racing on the Continent if you get chatting to the guy next to you and you say you’re from Yorkshire, England, they all know it. Even if they’ve not done the race they’ll say, ‘Oh Tour de Yorkshire, I want to come and do it one year’.

“There are not many regions, even on the Continent, that have got that kind of reputation.”

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‘I’ve always been fighting for it’: Serge Pauwels on his first ever pro victory at the Tour de Yorkshire

Dimension Data’s Serge Pauwels takes the first win of his career by winning the final stage and overall of the Tour de Yorkshire

Belgian Serge Pauwels revelled in securing the first victory of his 12-year professional career after winning the Tour de Yorkshire on Sunday, and said he hoped this would be first of many victories to come

The 33-year-old Dimension Data rider crossed the line in Sheffield just ahead of team-mate Omar Fraile after attacking solo with 11km to go on Côte de Wigtwizzle, before time trialling to the finish. Fraile bridged the gap to his team-mate in the closing stages, with the Belgian crossing the line first.

Pauwels, who has raced for Team Sky and Quick-Step Floors during his career, has come agonisingly close multiple times to a win but not managed one until now, taking both the stage three victory and overall title in Yorkshire.

Last year he was second on the Tour de France stage to Mont Ventoux after getting dropped by Thomas De Gendt in the closing kilometres, while he finished third on stage two of the 2016 Criterium du Dauphiné. He joined Dimension Data – then MTN Qhubeka – in 2014.

>>> Five things we learned from the Tour de Yorkshire

“It feels a bit strange actually, the first time I can raise my hands,” Pauwels said after his win.

“In general people will not really be surprised that I take a win because I have been quite close, for example last year on Mont Ventoux stage or the Dauphiné I’ve been second, third, fourth, everything except from winning.

“Now I get two wins at the same time so it’s special.

“I’ve been always fighting for it and I think actually these days in cycling it’s not a bad things to get older – you see [Alejandro] Valverde and other riders still performing very well at an older age.

“I think that is also the case with me, I’ve always tried to be professional through my career and I still love my sport a lot and maybe this is the start of more victories.”

>>> ‘You cannot compare the Tour de Yorkshire to any other race’

After Pauwels attacked he stretched his lead out up to 30 seconds, but with the terrain unrelenting in the final 20km taking the riders up and down constantly, the chasers at one point clawed him back to within five seconds.

He revealed his directeur sportif Roger Hammond instructed him not to turn around but concentrate on riding.

“Roger Hammond he kept telling me in my ear that I was not allowed to look back so that’s what I tried to do, just look in front and ride a 10km time trial,” Pauwels said.

“He literally told me ‘if you look back one more time that’s it for today’, so I kept looking in front.”

It was only when he spotted Fraile’s wheel did he realise someone had caught him, with the duo deciding the winner between themselves.

>>> Mark Cavendish still in doubt for Tour de France, but team ‘hopeful’ he can recover in time

“The first thing I saw was his front wheel, and I recognised the wheel because it’s and Enve wheel so it’s the same wheel I’m riding,” he continued.

“I wondered whether the whole group was there but then he took over and said ‘come on let’s go’, he said something like ‘it’s [the win] for you’. I think it’s a great gift for him to give me the victory, although I think I also deserve it.”

The 194.5km stage from Bradford to Fox Valley, Sheffield, was the toughest, and most gruelling of the race’s three stages, featuring eight classified climbs, with four coming in quick succession in the final 20km.

The final four climbs did indeed split the peloton, which had remained largely together until that point, and a select, reduced group of riders remained at the head of the race, featuring Pauwels, Fraile and another team-mate Jacques Janse Van Rensburg.

“To be honest I was expecting a harder race from the start, but because of a headwind all day the peloton was still all together towards the final circuit,” Pauwels continued.

“That actually made me a little bit nervous because I’m not really an explosive rider and I actually wanted a hard race the whole day.

“I was not really thinking I could finish it off, I was thinking that Omar Fraile had better cards for us, but I think I chose my right moment to go and luckily I still had two team-mates behind to control the rest of the chasers.”

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Five things we learned from the Tour de Yorkshire

What conclusions can we draw from three days of racing in God’s Own Country?

Dimension Data deliver the perfect team performance

Serge Pauwels and Omar Fraile celebrate at the Tour de Yorkshire (Credit: Tour de Yorkshire)

It only happens once in a blue moon, but Dimension Data managed to deliver a famous 1-2 result on the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, providing the sort of finish line photo that team sponsors drool over.

What was most impressive about Dimension Data’s performance was that they managed to pull it off on what must be one of the toughest finishing circuits in world cycling.

>>> Dimension Data take famous 1-2 at Tour de Yorkshire as Serge Pauwels wins overall title

First of all they  put three riders in the front group, something that only BMC Racing also managed, before Jacques Janse Van Rensburg raised the pace three climbs from home.

He didn’t open a gap, but provided the launching pad for Pauwels to attack, quickly opening an advantage of 30 seconds.

Behind, Fraile was able to disrupt the chase, before making an opportunist move in the final kilometres, jumping across to his team-mate who he then ushered across the line to take the glory.

Lizzie Deignan puts her difficult start to the season behind her

Lizzie Deignan wins Women’s Tour de Yorkshire 2017 (Credit: Andy Jones)

After enduring a difficult start to the year, Lizzie Deignan couldn’t have hoped for a better way to take her first win of the season than a solo victory in the most lucrative race in women’s cycling.

This was the furthest into a season that Deignan had gone without a win since 2013, but she certainly wasn’t short of confident as she moved clear with team-mate Anna Van der Breggen and Dani King (Cylance) on the race’s only classified climb, before attacking in the final 10km to take a solo victory.

>>> Lizzie Deignan enjoys ‘special and surreal’ victory at the Tour de Yorkshire

Deignan was clearly in good form after a succession of second places (all behind Van der Breggen) in the Ardennes Classics, but look exceptionally strong as she powered along on home roads to put the disappointment of the early season, and last year’s race, well and truly behind her.

British fans might be disappointed with Sky’s showing

Jon Dibben, Tour de Yorkshire 2017, stage one (Credit: Andy Jones)

We’re sure there are reasons for Team Sky only taking six riders to the Tour de Yorkshire rather than the maximum number of eight, but surely British fans deserve more from their premier team.

Sky will only ride four races on British soil this year, so fans might hope that Britain best team could enter a full team at every event.

The team have managed to put out a full team at both of the previous editions of the Tour de Yorkshire (where they also achieved better results), and also managed to field a full team at the Tour de Romandie this week, so you can’t blame fans for being a little disappointed with their showing this time round.

Domestic teams hold their own

Lowsley Williams, Tour de Yorkshire 2017, stage one (Credit: Andy Jones)

Despite the presence of seven WorldTour teams in the race, the British domestic teams more than managed to hold their own at the Tour de Yorkshire.

Madison Genesis, Bike Channel-Canyon, One Pro Cycling, Raleigh GAC, and JLT Condor all managed to make it into the various breaks over the course of the three days, while there were also good results at the finish too.

>>> Bike Channel-Canyon ‘showing what they’re capable of’ at Tour de Yorkshire

Chris Opie (Bike Channel-Canyon) took third on stage one, Chris Lawless (Great Britian) took fifth on stage two, and Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) produced a superb ride on the final day to finish fifth overall.

Yorkshire knows how to support a bike race

Tour de Yorkshire 2017, stage one (Credit: Andy Jones)

Ok, we knew this one already from previous editions of the Tour de Yorkshire and the 2014 Tour de France, but the Yorkshire fans really know how to get out at the side of the road and cheer on a bike race.

The fans by the side of the road, especially during stages two and three, must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with some crowds in the middle of towns being 10-15 deep.

The only way the organisers could have hoped for better crowds was to start the race on the Saturday and run it for three days over the bank holiday weekend, ensuring no one has to miss the action for less important things like work.

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