Race Rhetoric

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 29, 2017

Giro d’Italia: Maglia Madness

After the shouts and murmurs fade, and after the relentless meme-ification of “the squat heard ‘round the world” has finally died down, it all comes to this—the Giro d’Italia is in league of its own when it comes to good old fashioned dramatics. Each stage in this final week was like some wild gesticulation of an Italian cycling tifoso, containing the emotion of the world and signifying, well, everything.

One question dominated all as the week began. Could a guy like Dumoulin, whose hopes looked to live or die with the final stage's time trial, hold off three GC contenders and maintain his slim lead, or would he swirl backwards down the mountains like water draining from an alpine sink? As we woke up for the final stage, only two jerseys hung in the balance—the White and the Pink. Gaviria had practically sewn the Maglia Ciclamino jersey on his back the previous week, so that was done, but White and Pink? That’s two-thirds of a Neapolitan ice cream and you can bet we were all screaming for it. We dream of this: a tight race decided on the last day, and the hope that some hero will rise—from a time deficit, a saddle on a mountainside, or even a roadside ditch (sorry)—to take it all.

A bad wheel, a bad meal, or a raw deal—that's all it takes. Fortune dictates that you can lose the Giro d’Italia in the blink of an eye, but flip that fortune over and you can just as easily win. And that’s what keeps us going. All those weeks of pink confetti and Italians yelling from their terraces or from the edges of neck-swiveling switchbacks; all those seconds calculated, with GC leapfrogs and nights spent sweating the time differences—it can all evaporate in the final kilometer on the final stage on the final day of the Giro d’Italia, when one rider defies the odds and grabs it all. Honestly, 3,612 kilometers had never seemed so short.

They’ll say the 2017 Giro was one to remember, and it’ll certainly be hard to forget. We had he first Dutchman to win the GC; the memory of Quick-Step running riot all over the race and claiming the team classification; Fernando Gaviria sprinting like a man possessed in his first Grand Tour; and let’s not forget Bob Jungels sneaking up on that last day to lay claim to the Maglia Bianca, making it two years running as best young rider. And there’s the rub. For as much as it’s the thrill and drama of this year’s hard-fought overall that’s forever branded in our minds, it’s the tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come when our current crop of legends depart. That’s what lifts our spirits, and it’s clear from one Giro to the next, the tifosi will never run short of idols.

MAY 24, 2017

Giro d’Italia: Electric Youth

Week two of the Giro begins with a Pink Jersey shuffle. It falls from the shoulders of one who's held it for days, and onto another’s whose goal is to fight to hold it until the end. Others are still hungry for it, of course, and their stomachs growl at the chance to taste victory in it. But after Stage Nine, the time gap is significant, and it will be a challenge to pull it back. There is still time—it’s only the start of week two and this is the always unpredictable Giro. Who knows what polémica will occur in the coming days? This is Italy, and mountain stages often come with a side of crazy.

While the GC is the only thing that some riders are thinking about, others know on which side their bread is buttered. Throw it in the air and when it lands, it’ll always be “stage win” side up. This week, it is the young ones—and one in particular—who are the opportunists. Brash and bold, audacious and daring, Quick-Step’s Fernando Gaviria throws these marks of youth into his fire pit and propels himself to a dramatic win on Stage 12. Twenty-two years old and it seems he’s collecting sprint points as easily as postage stamps. Is he the New Hope? The force is obviously strong with this one—so much so that he goes again and wins Stage 13 the very next day, bringing his stage win tally to an impressive four. He pledges to defend the “Maglia Ciclamino” from this point on to the finish, in Milan, and with the mountains looming and nice flat sprints pretty much off the table from this point on, it seems set.

But the week isn’t done for Quick-Step, and we close it out with 24-year-old Bob Jungels deciding that it wasn’t enough to wear the pink jersey for five days, he’d actually quite like to see what a stage win feels like, too. On Stage 15 it comes and in an all-out drag race to the line, he claims his first sprint victory and Giro stage, a feat not seen by a Luxembourgian since 1956. The week draws to a close with podium kisses and champagne showers, and the exuberance of youth romping all over the Giro. And now? The mountains are calling, and experience may yet rule the day.

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.

May 14, 2017

Women’s Tour of California

It starts on a cliché Lake Tahoe day, with the sun blaring from the bluest of skies, the lake glistening in its laid-back Californian “look at me” way, and snow sprawled across mountaintops like a lazy blanket. The riders of the Tour of California’s women’s peloton mill about at rider sign-in, waiting to be called up the stairs to make their mark on the board. Shortly after, they're taking their positions in the start corral, and shortly after that, they’re off. One lap of Lake Tahoe. 72.7 miles. They'll have no time to marvel at the glassy water, take in the snow-capped peaks, or stop for a selfie in front of a scene that looks 100% completely Photoshopped. No, they'll be too busy attacking each other, fighting for wheels and breath in the high mountain air.

It is, by all accounts, a hot lap. Attacks come fast and furious but the field holds together. Nearing the finish with the road ramping up, one rider attacks, and then another. Opportunists jump to crack the field like a California walnut, before two Boels-Dolmans riders, Anna van der Breggan and Megan Guarnier, leap off the front to attempt to put an end to the pain. At the last corner, on the climb up to the finish, the three-time US National Champ kicks past the Olympic Champ to take the win. Stage One down. She breathes a sigh of relief, stepping off the podium with a stuffed victory bear and wearing the Yellow Jersey.

Day Two misses the memo about clichéd summer days in the Sierras and turns the thermostat down and the wind up. It whips across the lake and has spectators reaching for puffy jackets and beanies. They huddle around invisible fires, shielding each other from the wind, and warming their hands on cups of hot coffee. When the riders show up to sign-in, today, many are wrapped like burritos and will only strip down moments before the start. By the time they return to this start line, several hours later, the sun is out in force and Megan gives up the Yellow Jersey. But Olympic champion Anna van de Breggan is hot on the trail of the GC title, a mere three seconds off the leader. That afternoon, the peloton moves their race-hungry caravan downhill thousands of feet to warmer climates, and spectators break out the shorts and sunscreen, ready for Stage Three in Sacramento.

Three seconds. It’s all that stands between Anna and yellow, and on this, the third day, the Boels-Dolmans power house scramble and drive the train on a mostly tortilla-flat course. In an intermediate sprint, they crank the dial and Anna does the rest. Despite not being known for her sprinting, she nabs second and pulls back within one second of the leader. One thing’s for sure—the final stage is going to cook.

It takes a second to gain a second. For Stage Four, Anna van der Breggan embraces the California lifestyle and it’s “surfs up” as she grabs the wheels of her teammates. They're working for her and only her right now. Two seconds—it’s all she needs to leapfrog past the leader—and although she doesn’t win the sprint, it's enough. The second place has put her one-second in front. Later, as she pulls on the Yellow Jersey on the top step of the podium, securing the 2017 Women’s Tour of California overall, it’s plain to see that every second—both in time and your position in a bike race—counts.

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 kilometers 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 flavor” 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 favorite dish, the flavors 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 kilometers 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 less than 20 seconds 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 kilometers to go and a whole lot of chances to be sucked back to the hungry peloton. He surges and people cheer, from sidelines and couches 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 center of the table” gambles, he has snaked the whole pot. Philippe Gilbert has just become the new hero of Flanders.

March 18, 2017

Milan-San Remo

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 couches, 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

Strade Bianche

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 flavor 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.

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