The Cycling Race News Show: Tour Down Under, Vuelta a San Juan & Track Cycling World Cup

The Cycling Race News Show: Tour Down Under, Vuelta a San Juan & Track Cycling World Cup


What a race we were treated to for the opening WorldTour event of the year, the Tour down Under. Soaring temperatures meant there were a few
route and timing alterations, but there is no doubt that it was red hot action from start
to finish. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that
it was great to see Andre Greipel back to his best. This man pretty much made this race his own
a few years back, with 16 stage wins and two overall GC’s. And to be honest, It felt like he had never
been away despite his 4 year absence, he bookended the race with 2 stage wins, both times in
front of Caleb Ewan. The power he produced to come round Ewan on
the final day was astronomical – according to Velon, he peaked at 1903w, and averaged
1609w for the final 12s – that’s a wattage bazooka for you right there. According to teammate Thomas De Gendt, the
gorilla was happy with his two stage wins, and a banana. Greipel certainly didn’t have things all
his own way though, Ewan got his win on stage 2 to Stirling, Elia Viviani took his first
win for Quickstep on stage 3 to Victor Harbor, whilst Peter Sagan became the first ever rainbow
jersey wearer to claim a Tour Down Under stage, on day 4 to Uraidla. Which means that just 14% of you got our poll
correct last week, where we asked you how many stages Sagan would win – thankfully he
did win one as we didn’t given an option for no wins – we always had confidence in
you Peter. Incidentally, in almost direct answer to the
question we posed in last week’s GCN Show, Is Peter Sagan All Style And No Substance,
Sagan posted this video after his stage win: Style, substance, graft – he’s got it all
hasn’t he?!. Back to the race itself, and as ever, the
stage to Willunga was always going to be vital in deciding the overall classification, but
so too, it turns out, were the bonus seconds. You just can’t take anything away from Richie
Porte, he knew he was going to attack, so did we, so did his rivals, and the fact that
he still managed to pull it off, for a 5th Willunga stage victory in a row, is testament
to just how much stronger he is than that rest. In fact, his power numbers, released by Velon,
are quite staggering – 622w for a minute, 589w for 1m39s – given that he can’t weigh
much more than 60kg wet through, that’s………….well that’s another level, which is exactly what
he was on the day. However, the closest man to him on the stage
was a certain Daryl Impey of Mitchelton Scott. Impey is nothing if not versatile, and that
was certainly on display throughout the week – not only was he 2nd to Porte on the hilltop
finish of stage 5, he was 2nd to Sagan in a reduced bunch sprint the previous day, and
2nd to his own teammate Ewan on stage 2. The bonus seconds he picked up along the way
were enough to see him, on countback, take the race lead, and with Porte most certainly
not a sprinter, that didn’t change on the final day of the race. So, well done Daryl Impey. Now, I always think you get a good gauge of
a rider’s popularity within the bunch, by the subsequent reaction of other professionals
on social media, and it has been very clear that Impey is a hugely popular winner. He’s a man that tirelessly works for others,
rarely for himself, and he certainly grabbed this opportunity with both hands. And, although this is a glaringly obvious
choice to make, we have to give Impey our rider of the week award. After all, he’s just made history, as this
was not only his first WorldTour GC victory, but also Africa’s. Quite the milestone. On the subject of bonus seconds, though, we’d
like to get your thoughts. I for one think that bonus seconds make a
race like this more exciting, so I am personally in favour of them, but what do you think? Should there be bonus seconds that affect
the outcome of the GC result, or should the win simply go to the person who covers the
route in the fastest time? You can let us know using the poll above. We shall leave the Tour Down Under 2018 with
some really great news – the South Australian State Government has given the race an injection
of cash, cash that means equal prize money for the men’s and women’s race from this
point forwards, including the 2018 event. I think we can all give them a round of applause
for that. Meanwhile in Argentina, the Vuelta a San Juan
kicked off on Sunday. Unfortunately it was without Vincenzo Nibali
– he came down with a fever not long before the start of stage 1 and has therefore been
forced to delay the start of his competitive season. Not wasting any time in getting started, though,
was young Fernando Gaviria. He was delivered to the line safely and efficiently
by his Quickstep team, to repeat his stage 1 win from 12 months ago. In his wake were a quartet of Italian sprinters,
but I have a feeling they’re going to find it pretty difficult to get the better of the
Colombian in the upcoming sprint stages. The race continues this week and concludes
on Sunday. Interestingly the riders get to enjoy a rest
day on Thursday, which must be quite nice in a 7 day race. Whilst the road world begins in the warm sunny
climes of Australia and Argentina, the wet windy and muddy world of CycloCross is still
in full swing back here in Europe. The penultimate round of the Telenet UCI World
Cup was run over the weekend in Nommay, France. Katie Compton, not satisfied with dominating
the US scene, overcame jetlag and some tricky conditions to take a convincing win in the
women’s event. She rode away on lap 1, never to be seen again. With the World Champs just two weeks away,
that was a certainly a clear statement of intent to her rivals. And it wasn’t just Compton flying the stars
and stripes, Katie Keough took her 4th World Cup podium of the season with 2nd place, which
also moves her to 2nd in both the overall World Cup standings, and the UCI rankings. Home favourite Pauline Ferrand Prevot rounded
out the podium, and impressive ride since she once again had to start near the back
of the grid. It was business as usual in the men’s race
– Mathieu Van Der Poel is literally unstoppable this season. He has now won 6 of the 7 rounds of the World
Cup, and his latest win on Sunday saw him wrap up the overall honours. He was followed in by, you guessed it, Wout
Van Aert. Speaking of which, check out this video of
of Wout Van Aert training a couple of weeks ago on a beach over in Greece, on a road bike! Just goes to show you, you don’t need much
in the way of facilities to get a good cyclocross training session in, just watch out for sunbathers. The final round of the World Cup is this coming
weekend, and it will see the return of Marianne Vos. Since recovering from illness, she’s been
training in Majorca as preparation. Lastly this week, the fifth and final round
of the Track World Cup took place in Minsk, Belarus. It was double Dutch in the points race, with
Kirsten Wild and Jan Willem Van Schip winning the women’s and men’s respectively. In fact it was a pretty good three days all
round for the Netherlands, Wild also won the omnium, they won the team sprint with Beat
Cycling Club, and the keirin with Matthijs Buchli. There was a standout performance in the men’s
individual pursuit from young Charlie Tanfield. He took gold at just 21 years of age, but
the even more remarkable thing is that he was just 1.7s off the world record time of
Jack Bobridge. That was an average speed for Tanfield of
57.1kph, from a standing start. I still can’t get my head around the speeds
those guys ride. Charlie and his older brother Harry also formed
part of Team KGF, who won the team pursuit, an event once again dominated on the women’s
side by Team USA, a full 8 seconds ahead of Italy. And that brings this week’s GCN Racing News
Show to a close – pretty busy for mid January! We would still love your feedback on this
new show, which you can leave us down below. Next week we’ll be looking at the final
round of the CX World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Vuelta a San Juan, the Cadel Evans Great
Ocean Road Race, plus the opening European road races in Majorca. Don’t forget to check out our tech channel
for a whole load of content from the Tour down Under. In fact if you click down here, you’ll see
our look at new helmets, shoes, and custom tech from that very race.