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  1. Bahrain-Merida sign talented British climber Stevie Williams

    Bahrain-Merida have signed talented British climber Stevie Williams as they continue to carefully strengthen their roster for 2019.

    The 22-year-old impressed at the recent U23 Giro d’Italia, where he won a mountain stage, spent a day in the race leader's pink jersey and finished fifth overall.

    Williams will ride as a stagiaire with Bahrain-Merida from August 1 and be a neo-pro with the team in 2019. The Welshman raced with the JLT Condor team managed by John Herety in 2016 and joined the SEG Racing Academy for 2017.


    SEG started as a rider agency and works with Wout Poels, Dan Martin, Niki Terpstra, Sep Vanmarcke and Bauke Mollema. Alumni of the SEG Racing Academy include Fabio Jakobsen, who joined Quick-Step Floors for 2018, and Koen Bouwman, who won a stage at the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné.

    Williams won the Rode de L'Isard stage race in the Pyrenees in early May before his impressive ride at the Baby Giro.

    He is an aggressive climber who knows how to win races and is already being compared to UAE Team Emirates' Irishman Dan Martin. 

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  2. Tour de France contenders fight for every second in Brittany hills - Analysis

    The two stages in the heart of the Brittany hills represent a high-speed, back-to-back test of nerves and fitness for the overall contenders at this year's Tour de France, with everyone scared and determined not to lose time to their rivals so early in the race.

    Stage 5 to Quimper ended with a sprint finish and a select group of 38 riders finishing on the same time. Thursday's sixth stage is much harder, with two times up the Mur de Bretagne climb and a finish atop the two-kilometre climb that kicks up in double digits and then eases near the finish. Any tiny gaps that open between the wheels can rapidly become significant and precious time differences.

    All the overall contenders were relieved to finish together in Quimper but know that the Mur de Bretagne has always produced time gaps - in 2011 when Cadel Evans beat Alberto Contador in a photo finish, and again in 2015 when Vincenzo Nibali lost 20 seconds.


    In Quimper Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) was last in the front group in 38th place. If he or anyone else had been on the wrong side of even a one-second gap to the rider in front, their time gap would have been measured against the moment when Sagan hit the line, so they would have lost at least 14 seconds. Such are the rules on timing in Grand Tours and stage races.

    Fortunately, every overall contender made sure they were up tight and close to the riders in front in the group that followed Sagan over the line.

    Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) could have perhaps challenged for the stage win, but he sacrificed his own chances to work for Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. They were happy to avoid losing time.

    Every second counts in the virtual GC

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  3. Craddock's Tour de France fight continues to benefit Houston velodrome

    When Lawson Craddock crashed on the opening stage of the Tour de France, soldiered to the finish alone and then found out he had a fractured scapula in addition to his cut up eyebrow, he could have dropped out. Instead, the EF Education First-Drapac rider hatched a plan to add to his effort to raise money for his home velodrome in Houston.

    The Alkek velodrome, where Craddock got his start in bike racing, was badly damaged in 2017's hurricane Harvey, and even before the Tour, he announced he would auction off a pair of custom shoes with the idea of raising a few hundred dollars to help repair the venue.

    His well-publicised, painful fight to finish each stage came with a promise - he would donate $100 for each stage he finished to the Greater Houston Cycling Foundation that runs the velodrome. He also started an online fundraiser so that perhaps a few friends or fans might donate some more.


    Instead, after five stages, the total was more than $40,000 - a sum that had Craddock floored.

    "This morning I think it was close to 500 separate donations," Craddock said before getting the updated tally. "I think we're closing in on $40,000, which is absolutely mind blowing. I see that before the stage and it helps me to keep fighting for sure."

    Craddock went deep on stage 3 in the team time trial, pulling through until the final few kilometres. He paid for that effort, saying that he suffered on Tuesday's stage to Sarzeau.

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  4. Spratt: Riding this climb in training really paid off

    After her stage 6 victory at the Giro Rosa in Gerola Alta on Wednesday, Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) was a happy woman. She and teammate Annemiek van Vleuten played their cards well on the finishing climb, setting Spratt up for a solo victory and the maglia rosa.

    "We couldn't have asked for anything better from the team today," Spratt said. "They all rode so well before the climb. We wanted to see if we had an opportunity to take time, and it worked out well. It was a hard climb, and Annemiek really set me up for my attack."

    Scouting the routes of important stages before the race has become commonplace in pro cycling. Spratt and van Vleuten went up to Gerola Alta in June to see what it was like, and this knowledge was an important piece of their race strategy.


    "We came and rode this climb a couple of weeks ago, and that really paid of," Spratt said. "We knew when to attack, we knew it would get steeper and we just had to stay patient until then. I went into the big ring because I knew it flattened off after and I am so happy to take the jersey, although it still feels a bit surreal."

    Van Vleuten finished in second place after a climb where the two Mitchelton-Scott riders used their respective strengths to full effect.

    "We really wanted to win the stage today," Van Vleuten said. "I rode hard, and Spratty attacked at a really good moment just after I finished my turn; she showed that she is in really good shape. I then just had to follow the wheels and could take some bonus seconds in the end. You never know how your legs are, so today was a good test and we can go into tomorrow's stage with a lot of confidence."

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  5. UAE Team Emirates wear zipless jersey at Tour de France

    This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

    UAE Team Emirates’ clothing supplier Champion Systems has provided the WorldTour team with a zipless jersey for the riders to race in at the 2018 Tour de France.

    Designed in an effort to reduce jersey weight and improve aerodynamics, the jersey fabric has been optimised to wick away sweat and keep riders cool without the need for unzipping the jersey, which can massively increase drag while racing and lose watts to the wind.


    Essentially an aggressively cut T-shirt, the jersey appears to fit UAE Team Emirates’ riders perfectly and offers an anatomic fit while in a low riding position.

    The jersey is paired with regular bib shorts, unlike speed suits, which integrate the shorts into the jersey and do not require straps

    Speaking to BikeRadar ahead of stage two of the race, which saw temperatures at the start line of over 30°C, Darwin Atapuma praised the jersey and said he liked the lighter weight and better aerodynamic performance of it.

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