Colbrelli and Brajkovič headline Bahrain-Merida's Criterium du Dauphine line up
Bahrain-Merida head to the key Tour de France warm up race, Criterium Du Dauphine, this week with the dual ambitions of targeting sprint wins and the general classification. Italian Sonny Colbrelli will aim to add to his Paris-Nice stage win and De Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne. It will be the first race since April's Tour de Romandie for the 27-year-old and his first time racing the Dauphine.
Janez Brajkovič also makes his return to racing after a break following the Tour de Romandie with the 2010 overall winner aiming for his best GC result yet in 2017. Brajkovič started his season with 47th overall at the Tour Down Under and Abu Dhabi Tour before more lowly results at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and Tour de Romandie. Brajkovič last raced the Dauphine in 2012 when he placed seventh overall.
"Dauphiné is a small Tour de France with hard climbs. Every year Tour de France contenders come here for the last preparation race, to test themselves and define final team strategies and precise roster for Tour de France," sports director Philippe Mauduit said. "This year, as usually, the first three stages will be suitable for a reduced bunch sprint, due to the difficult terrain, then a TT for specialists and GC contenders.
"The 5th stage will be the last chance for sprinters to jump on the podium before the mountains, where the GC riders will be in the game. We have a strong team going to Dauphiné, with riders that are here after a longer break, but with altitude training camp in their legs, and riders that are coming directly from races. Sonny Colbrelli will be our key rider for sprints and Jani Brajkovič will target the GC. Franco Pellizotti is coming directly from Giro d'Italia and will try to surf on the great views that he started there."
Ramunas Navardauskas has recovered from the illness which saw him miss the Giro d'Italia and has been named in the squad. Borut Božič, Yukiya Arashiro, Grega Bole are also selected. While brother Vincenzo Nibali is enjoying a break from his third place at the Giro d'Italia, Antonio returned from a rest period and completed the squad for Bahrain-Merida.
Ion Izagirre, who will lead Bahrain-Merida at the Tour de France has opted to race the Tour de Suisse over the Dauphine as he continues his preparation for the French Grand Tour.
Bahrain-Merida for the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine: Borut Božič, Yukiya Arashiro, Grega Bole, Janez Brajkovič, Ramunas Navardauskas, Antonio Nibali, Sonny Colbrelli and Franco Pellizotti.
Van Avermaet and Drucker go close for BMC in Tour de Luxembourg prologue
In his first race since Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Greg Van Avermaet came within one second of taking the Tour de Luxembourg prologue victory. BMC's Olympic champion covered the 2.1km course in a time of three minutes but it was former AG2R-La Mondiale rider Damien Gaudin (Armée de Terre) who took out the stage and first yellow jersey of the race.
BMC's Jempy Drucker was third while in his first race for the team, Nathan Van Hooydonck notched 11th place.
Suffering from a knee injury due to a change in shoes ahead of the race, Van Avermeat explained he was satisfied with the result which described as bittersweet.
"I am pretty happy with my ride. I was not expecting anything coming into today's race, but it is a course that really suits me. It's a bit disappointing that I am not in my best condition right now but I am happy with what I did, and we will see what happens over the next few days," sad Van Avermaet.
Last year's prologue winner Drucker explained he left it all out on the road but simply wasn't as fast as Van Avermaet or Gaudin.
"As we expected, it was hard. I gave it my all, and in the end, there were two guys better than me," Drucker said. "Every year is different here even if the conditions are the same so, I knew it would be hard to defend the win, but I am still up there. I didn't lose 20 seconds or anything. I was close in the end but, it's a pity, and I am a bit disappointed. I have nothing to blame because I made no mistakes. I went as hard as I could, and it was simply not enough."
With two riders sitting on the virtual podium, Drucker said the team will aim to claim the overall victory regardless of the rider.
"It is always nice to win on home soil, so my motivation at this race is not a problem," added Drucker. "Greg Van Avermaet is always competitive even if he is coming out of a break and I know him very well. The main goal for BMC Racing Team is to win races, and it doesn't matter who it is on the top of the podium."
Van Hooydonck, who joined from the BMC Development Squad, the race was a fast introduction to the professional ranks and hopefully a sign of the racing to come as he explained.
"I expected it to be hard today but not that hard. I went really deep, and my lungs were burning for a long time after it, but I had a lot of fun, and I bet there will be more fun waiting for us over the rest of the week," said Van Hooydonck. "You're finished before you know it. The first corners were quite tricky as you hit them with a lot of speed and it’s slightly downhill. Then, you make the turn onto the small cobbled road a bit like the Koppenberg in Flanders. It was really steep, and you have to go full gas there as I think that’s where you could really make a difference."
Stage 2 of the Tour de Luxembourg takes the peloton from Luxembourg to Bascharage over 172km.
Tour de Beauce route and teams for 2017
The organisers of the Canadian UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce stage race have announced the race route and team for its 2017 edition. Pro-Continental teams UnitedHealthcare and Novo Nordisk headline the start list with a strong contingent of America Continental teams. Continental teams from China, Ecuador, France and Canada have also been selected. 17 teams in total will line up in Saint-Georges on June 14.
The team of defending champion Greg Daniel, Trek-Segafredo, are not taking part in the race ensuring a new winner for 2017.
Fresh from two stage wins at the Tour of California, Evan Huffman will line out at the race with Rally Cycling. Francisco Mancebo of Canyon Bicycles and Canadian national champion Bruno Langlois (Garneau-Quebecor) are also confirmed for the race.
The full teams for the Tour de Beauce are Holowesko/Citadel, Team Novo Nordisk, United Healthcare, Axeon Hagens Berman, Silber Pro Cycling, Rally Cycling, Garneau - Quebecor, Canyon Bicycle, JellyBelly p/b Maxxis, Aevolo, Team Ecuador, Keyi Look Cycling Team, Inteja-Dominican Cycling Team, LowestRates.ca, Team PROBIKESHOP, Foundation Cycling and Smart Savvy + Garneau
Starting with a 185km stage around Saint-Georges, with stage two from Lac-Mégantic to the summit finish at Parc national du Mont-Mégantic the first GC test of the race. A split stage with a morning time trial in Saint-Prosper is followed by a 77km Saint-Georges stage in the afternoon.
Racing resumes Saturday, June 17 with a 70km criterium in Québec City. The Tour de Beauce then concludes with 12 laps of a 10.2-kilometre circuit race in Saint-Georges. In total, the race will cover 643 kilometres.
Tour De Beauce 2017
Stage 1: Saint-Georges-Saint-Georges (185 km)
Stage 2: Lac-Mégantic - Parc national du Mont-Mégantic (169 km)
Stage 3a: Saint-Prosper (19.4 km) [Time Trial]
Stage 3b: Saint-Georges-Saint-Georges (77km)
Stage 4: Ville de Québec (70km)
Stage 5: Ville de Saint-Georges (122.4 km)
Recon Ride: Criterium du Dauphine - Podcast
With a packed start list, the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine will again be a key indicator for the Tour de France with the yellow jersey favourites assembling in France for one final hit out before the July 1 start. Ahead of Sunday's stage 1, Dane Cash and Cosmo Catalano turn their attention to the race in the Recon Ride Cyclingnews podcast to provide you with a comprehensive preview. To subscribe to the Cyclingnews Podcast, click here.