Road Team Bulletin
This is the place. This is where you'll find the latest road racing news, editorial, behind-the-scenes coverage, videos—every conceivable gram of content from our professional racing teams, Boels-Dolmans, Quick-Step–Floors, Bora-Hansgrohe, and Axeon Hagens Berman. We'll be updating this page throughout the 2017 season, so come back and come often. Happy racing.
May 15, 2017
Giro d'Italia: Pass the Pink
Like some impromptu game of Italian hot potato, the Maglia Rosa is punted from rider to rider during the first four days of the Giro d’Italia. This isn't unusual—not really—but with three of those riders being Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe, it was starting to look like sweaty jersey swapsies between Specialized-sponsored teams. Right up until Jungels decided he quite liked the hot potato in his hands, that is.
The first week of any Grand Tour is nutso. A slow-burn of riders settling in, tamping down nerves day-by-day, and avoiding those dumb, Giro-ending crashes caused, most often, by unbridled exuberance. One jittery misstep can end it all—but week one is also the chance to snag those early wins and make a name for yourself. Riders are as excited as spectators for the show, with the allure of pink flashing before them like some neon sign in Vegas. “Who wants to wear me?” it taunts. “Do you dare to think you can hold on to me?”
The first week, it’s anyone’s guess.
Day one and BOOM! Right out of the Giro gate and young gun, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), surprises everyone by stealing first and sliding on the Pink Jersey. Twenty-five years old with a victory smile so wide it barely fits in the picture frame. This unbridled joy, this moment of unexpected brilliance—this is what the Giro is all about. And while he does lose the jersey the next day, there’s one thing no-one can take away from him—he will always be the first in pink at the 2017 Giro.
On Stage Three, Quick-Step’s Gaviria pops out at the right time to stomp across the line in a display of pure power, securing not only the victory but also slipping on the Pink Jersey for himself. He'll go on to win another stage two days later, but this will be the only day he dons pink. That's because, here comes Bob Jungels and his five-chapter Jungel Book. And while he may not know a jovial talking or have been raised by wolves, he certainly knows how to run with them, snagging the pink on Stage Four and not letting go until Stage Nine.
But we move on now to week two. What will it hold—more hot potato hijinks with the jersey, or a long stint in pink for someone ready to crush all comers? We're as excited as anyone to find out.
April 23, 2017
While the win for Anna van der Breggan did end up being dessert—a deliciously sweet end to the Ardennes Classics— Liège-Bastogne-Liège proved that, for Boels-Dolmans, the week was actually more like a choreographed dance routine. Podium step 1-2, step 1-2, step 1-2. Anna van de Breggan and Lizzie Deignan—in the end, it seemed they only wanted to dance with each other.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège began like most awkward school dances—a bunch of people, shyly scoping each other out and wondering who’ll make the first move. But everyone knows wallflowers get no action, so it didn’t take long for the pace to pick up. With each climb came another move, another breakdance, and another quickstep, but all were soon absorbed back to the fray. The band—a strong team fielded by Boels-Dolmans—played on as Christine Majerus, Megan Guarnier, and Karol-Ann Canuel kept the tempo high. It was a beat that not everyone could keep up with.
Cliques formed, and when a select group of five drove forward, Van der Breggan and Deignan tapped their toes patiently to this new move. Soon after it was “So you think you can dance” time for the group—now four—and with a glance back from Van der Breggan, and a small nod from Deignan, the Olympic Champion was off. You can talk fancy footwork all you like, but Anna simply throttled and surged from the front with a smooth, watts-charged rhythm. From there, it was pure interpretive dance all the way to the finish, four kilometres later.
The clean sweep for Anna van der Breggan—Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallone, Liège-Bastogne-Liège—was more than just a hat trick for one rider. Fun fact: no team has ever put two riders on the podium of every Ardennes race in the 1-2 position every race. And we can only talk the men’s teams here, because until this week, the women’s pro peloton had never had the opportunity to race all three races of the Ardennes Classics. Which just goes to show that, although we all love a good slow dance, there’s nothing better than that moment everyone’s invited on to the dance floor to strut their stuff.
April 21, 2017
Ardennes Classics Week
Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege—a veritable three-course meal of single-day races making up the Ardennes Classics menu. This year, for the first time ever, the women of the pro peloton are sitting down at the table, tucking their napkins into the front of their jerseys, and dining like Queens on all three races. And with the first two courses already down and only the dessert of Liege-Bastogne-Liege to be served, it’s plain to see that Boels-Dolmans's Anna van der Breggen has worked up a bit of an appetite.
First came Amstel Gold. While the name may suggest a beer-themed appetizer, it’s actually more an expensive caviar of a race: rich, intense, and lumpy, with 17 climbs to pop a little “pain flavour” on your tongue. The Olympic champion, Anna van Breggen, was just 12 years old the last time women lined up for this race in 2003, and on Sunday, she broke away from a group of six—including teammate Lizzie Deignan, who claimed second—to clean everybody’s plates for the win. A Dutch winner on a Dutch team in a Dutch race? Mmmmm, as delicious as a hot, fresh stroopwafel.
The second course, La Flèche Wallonne Feminine, arrived a few days later. Like a favourite dish, the flavours were familiar and comforting to van de Breggen—they tasted like victory. Attacking in almost identical fashion to the year previously, Anna launched herself between the final two climbs, finding herself alone for the final push up the Mur de Huy to win by 16 seconds. Ardennes victory #2 for the Olympic champion (and 2nd again for Lizzie), but even more impressively, the third year in a row that Anna van de Breggen has won this race. With the most wins of any woman in this race ever, she is a true “Queen of the Mur.”
Now all that remains is dessert—Liege-Bastogne-Liege. What this race tastes like, no one in the women’s peloton knows, since it has never before appeared on the Women’s World Tour calendar before. And while we know victory will be sweet for whoever ends up on the top step of the podium, we can’t wait to see who’s hungriest, and who’ll get stuck with the check.
April 9, 2017
Saying goodbye is never easy, but watching Tom Boonen on Sunday as his dream of a 5th win at Paris-Roubaix slid from view brought a particular lump to the throat. As the kilometres slipped away, a singular thought hit fans of the mighty Belgian: This is the last time. This is the last time we will see him power across the Trench of Arenberg. This is the last time we will witness Tommeke gliding over cobbles at a speed that makes us breathless, his legs moving like liquid, the familiar hunch of his "Forward ever Forward" position on our screens. As he entered the velodrome for the last time—the sprint for victory decided several thrilling minutes before he arrived—we wonder if he’s thinking what we are? That this will be the last sprint of his career.
But amidst the sadness—our fairytale ending denied—we can’t help but smile. What a career. What a gift we were given. Tom Boonen has provided us with 15 years of unforgettable racing. His effortless style on the bicycle, the numerous wins and epic battles on the road, his leadership and grace—we can’t help but rise to stand on our desks and declare, “Oh, Captain, my Captain.”
April 2, 2017
Ronde van Vlaanderen
On the stones of the Kwaremont, Philippe Gilbert extricates himself from the tentacles of the group. This move is risky—just over fifty kilometres to go and a whole lot of chances to be sucked back to the hungry peloton. He surges and people cheer, from sidelines and sofas alike. We hold our collective breaths as we watch this man, head down and heart out, gun it for the finish. He is relentless, he is desperate, he is flying.
It holds. The frantic chase is a full 29-seconds back when Gilbert approaches the finish, casually steps off, and hoists his bike aloft as though pulling a sword from the very cobblestones he has conquered. We watch as he walks across the line, his smile giddy and broad at what he has just done. It is incredible. In one of those “push all your chips to the centre of the table” gambles, he has snaked the whole pot. Philippe Gilbert has just become the new hero of Flanders.
March 18, 2017
Like a sweater unraveling, Milan-San Remo begins with a casual tug as the peloton rolls out of Milan. The sweater remains a solid, recognizable form for some time as rows and rows of Italian farmland are methodically ripped from it. As they race toward the tunnel at the top of the Passo del Turchino, these disappearing stitches on the plains of Lombardia are deemed so uneventful they are rarely broadcast. But once the peloton dispatches the Turchino and descends to the coast, everyone knows threads are about to be gripped tightly, ready to be yanked. As helicopters hover along the coastline, we fans are mesmerized as miles and miles of sea-blue thread are pulled from the race. A break of 10 riders plucks away for as long as they can, but it's only a matter of time—they are never more then five minutes out. Back in the peloton, sprinters are readying themselves for one thing: to survive the Cipressa and Poggio.
With a puff of acceleration on the Cipressa, riders—some hopeful sprinters included—are blown off the back like Lycra-clad dandelion in a stiff, Mediterranean breeze. The unraveling begins in earnest. On our sofas, barstools, and beds, our hearts began crawling up our throats.
When Sagan attacks on the Poggio, it is with such violent strength it can only be read as a statement to those behind. It says: “Taste the rainbow.” Rainbow tastes like lactic acid. Two men survive this assault and join him at the front. While their hearts must surely be beating through their eyelids, our hearts are now stuck firmly in our mouths. After negotiating with those iconic hairpins on the descent, they come off the Poggio as one. The frenzy is palpable. They will not be caught. This will be our podium.
The sprint stops hearts. A finish like this—with three elite riders locked in a battle royal for the line—is everything we dream the destruction of a fine Italian sweater to be. It is beautiful obliteration. As they propel and throw and beg and urge their bodies and bikes towards the finish line on via Roma, it is obvious they are giving us everything they have. There is no more juice to be squeezed from these legs. No more air in these lungs. While our hopes were with Sagan and Alaphilippe, we are anything but heartbroken with the outcome. A finish like this? It’s what cycling dreams are made of.
March 6, 2017
In its short 10-year history, Strade Bianche has cemented itself as one of the most illustrious, picturesque one-day races on the World Tour calendar. From the white gravel of its namesake to its finish in the medieval UNESCO World Heritage site of Siena, the gran fondo turned burgeoning Spring Classic serves up everything you could want in a cycling monument on a gilded Italian platter. And this year, the heavens opened to give the typically sun-drenched, white Tuscan strade a flavour reminiscent of the northern races to come. Of course, we were routing for our protagonists, Zdeněk Štybar and Peter Sagan, the former of which narrowly missed a repeat visit to the podium's top step, but the sheer beauty of this undulating Classic-in-the-making was enough to stoke the fire of our passions. More simply, though, it was a beautiful day of bike racing.
January 3, 2017
Calling all Race Fans
If we were to define 2016 in a word, it would be "transition." We saw old friends go in new directions, crowns get heavier, legacies meet the final page of their stories, and the dawning of new eras. And while it would be easy to stay there in the past, time waits for no one, so neither should we. Walk through the thresholds of Quick-Step–Floors, Boels-Dolmans, and Bora-Hansgrohe's Team Camps with us and witness what 2017 has in store