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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
August 8, 2014

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We all knew it was coming...

Peter Sagan Signs with Tinkoff-Saxo

The deal has been a long time in the making, but now it's official. The extravagantly talented Peter Sagan will ride for Tinkoff-Saxo for three years. The deal's finances are a deep, dark secret, but I'm sure it is a rich one.

I'm not the first and I certainly won't be the last to question Sagan's wisdom in signing with a team that has put a bulls-eye on the Tour de France yellow jersey. With three green jerseys (2012, 2013, 2014) in his closet, Sagan will surely be looking for stage wins and the points classification in coming Tours. And new teammate Alberto Contador will scream loud and hard if his ambitions for another Tour victory do not get 100% support. Contador proved that when he rode for Astana during Lance Armstrong's return and the team shifted its support to Armstrong.

With every passing year teams get more focused on particular tasks and the ones with Tour GC ambitions build their squads and seasons around winning the Tour. Split allegiances cause difficulty. Of course the friction between Sky and Mark Cavendish in 2012 jumps to mind. Cavendish now rides for Omega Pharma in large part because he needed a team that would ride for him.

But that wasn't the first time a team with a fabulous sprinter chucked the speedster over the side of the boat to support its GC man. Telekom had a fabulous run, winning the green jersey with Erik Zabel six consecutive times starting in 1996. The team had so much horsepower, they romped away with both points and general classifications in 1996. In 2005, looking to shore up support for Jan Ullrich against a seemingly unstoppable Lance Armstrong, T-Mobile left Zabel off its Tour roster.

It will be interesting seeing how this plays out.

Erik Zabel

Erik Zabel wearing the green jersey at the 1996 Tour de France.

Here's the Tinkoff-Saxo release:

Tinkoff-Saxo is proud to officially announce that Peter Sagan will join the team in 2015. The Slovak star and Tinkoff-Saxo have signed a 3-year contract with the shared ambition of further strengthening the team and taking the career of the three-time green jersey winner to an even higher level.

Bjarne Riis tells that Sagan had many suitors but the team manager was certain that Tinkoff-Saxo and Peter Sagan was the best match.

“We are happy and proud to present and welcome Peter Sagan on the team in 2015 on a long-term 3-year contract. Peter is without doubt one of the biggest talents in cycling and one of the biggest names already. He has a winning mentality, he’s visible and active in the finales and he, without doubt, has the ability to bring home victories”, says Bjarne Riis.

The new signing equally pleases team owner Oleg Tinkov, who was one of the main driving forces behind bringing Peter Sagan to Tinkoff-Saxo.

“Peter Sagan is a great rider and it is my honor to have him on our team. I believe that Tinkoff-Saxo is the best team for Peter and I’m absolutely sure that he’ll win many races with us. I am excited”, concludes Oleg Tinkov, as he welcomes the Slovak champion.

As a combined sprinter, puncheur and classics specialist Peter Sagan has, despite his young age, emerged victorious in an array of different races including three points classifications in a row at Tour de France, seven Grand Tour stages and several one-day races. But Bjarne Riis sees further potential and room for improvement when looking at the 24-year old Slovak champion.

“It will be exciting to work with Peter also for me personally. He has a huge talent and he’s already very strong but I believe he has even more potential than what we’ve seen so far. He still has a lot to learn about the tactical aspects of cycling to fully optimize his power but I believe that we are fully able to help him improve even more. Next year, we’ll have a very strong team to support him and to aim for big wins throughout the season”, concludes Bjarne Riis.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan on the podium after Tour de France stage 15. Photo ©Sirotti

In fact, I just got another release from Tinkoff-Saxo detailing how pleased Contador is with Sagan's signing:

Tinkoff-Saxo and Peter Sagan have signed a 3-year contract with the shared ambition of further strengthening the squad and becoming a dominant team in most of the races during the season. Alberto Contador, leader of Tinkoff-Saxo, tells that he has known about the signing of Sagan for a while and that he’s excited about the news now being official.
 
“It is a very great news, and expected, but I’m happy that it’s now official. Apart from the good relationship we have between us, Peter is also a great rider and a natural born winner. I’m sure that Peter's arrival will lead to some great things on the team”, says Alberto Contador.

The signing of Peter Sagan obviously strengthens Tinkoff-Saxo by expanding the amount of races, where the team will be in direct contention for the win. And Alberto is certain that he, Sagan and the rest of the team will compliment each other well.

“We are perfectly compatible and together we can ensure that Tinkoff-Saxo plays an important and noticeable role in most of the races on the calendar. Peter is a super talent that I believe will fit very well in the team. We are all delighted to welcome him and to have him riding with us the coming years, because he will adapt very quickly to the way we work”, concludes Alberto Contador.

Tinkoff-Saxo signs other riders

Peter Sagan isn't Tinkoff-Saxo's only recent signing. Katusha rider and former Russian champion Pavel Brutt will ride for the team on a two-year contract. Tinkoff-Saxo also extended Nicolay Trusov's contract.

Pavel Brutt

Pavel Brutt wins stage five of the 2008 Giro d'Italia. Photo ©Sirotti

Lotto-Belisol for Eneco Tour

The racing will just keep coming. Lotto-Belisol sent me this release about their upcoming entry in the Eneco Tour:

The WorldTour is up and running. Two days after the end of the Tour of Poland, the Eneco Tour starts Monday 11th of August. This seven day stage race, covering Belgium and the Netherlands, is heading for its tenth edition.

Something for everyone
There is something for every type of rider. The opening stage starts and finishes in Terneuzen, a first chance for the sprinters to get their stage win. Also the day after, in the Dutch town of Heusden, the finish offers chances for the sprinters. There is a 9.6 kilometer individual time trial in Breda scheduled on Wednesday. Thursday the Eneco Tour caravan will move to Belgium. Just as last year, there is a stage from Koksijde to Ardooie. This will also be a new opportunity for the sprinters to show off.

The day after Geraardsbergen is the hosting town. There have to be covered no more than 19 climbs. After a big loop of about 110 kilometers with among others the Kruisberg, Berendries and Tenbosse, the peloton passes the finish line at the Vesten in Geraardsbergen for the first time. The last three laps are small and contain the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The penultimate stage starts in Heerlen and heads to the Belgian Ardennes. That day the peloton is served a total of 16 climbs. Among those climbs there are some of the Amstel Gold Race like the Loorberg and Eyserbosweg. The overall standings of the Eneco Tour will know their final judgement in Sittard-Geleen.

Herman Frison, sports director: “First of all we will try to win at least one stage in the Eneco Tour. Besides that we aim at a good GC. In the bunch sprints we have both André Greipel and Jens Debusschere to strive for a win. Greipel didn’t race since the Tour. We will decide who’s to be our main sprinter day by day. Concerning the overall standings we count on Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens, who showed their good shape in the Tour de Wallonie and Clasica San Sebastián. Depending on the form of Jürgen Roelandts, who also rode the Tour de France, we could have a third contester for the GC.”

“It’s difficult to estimate where the crucial moments for the overall standings will take place. The first stages in the Netherlands can also be treacherous. The time trial is less than ten kilometers, so there’s not a lot of time that can be lost, however those seconds will have their impact. After the time trial, the leader of the GC and his team will take control of the race. In the stage with start and finish in Geraardsbergen, there will be rode in another way than in the spring. In the stage to La Redoute there will be suddenly differences to be made towards the end. Also the bonifications will be important.”     

Lotto Belisol Selection: Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sport directors: Herman Frison and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stages
Stage 1: Monday 11th August: Terneuzen – Terneuzen (183.1 km)
Stage 2: Tuesday 12th August: Waalwijk – Heusden (175.8 km)
Stage 3: Wednesday 13th August: Breda – Breda (9.6 km) (ITT)
Stage 4: Thursday 14th August: Koksijde – Ardooie (179.1 km)
Stage 5: Friday 15th August: Geraardsbergen – Geraardsbergen (162.5 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 16th August: Heerlen – La Redoute (Aywaille) (173,9 km)
Stage 7: Sunday 17th August: Riemst – Sittard-Geleen (183.4 km)

Andre Greipel

Lotto-Belisol rider and German Champion André Greipel will start the Eneco Tour on Monday. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC will Participate in Prudential RideLondon

BMC Racing Team Roster For London Race

Past world road champion Philippe Gilbert headlines the BMC Racing Team's five-man roster and stagiaires Luke Davison and Loic Vliegen make their debut in Sunday's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. The one-day, 192-kilometer race will travel some of the same roads used for the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

Riders: Luke Davison (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sport Director:
Allan Peiper (AUS)

Staff:
Mechanic: Georg Van Oudenhove (BEL). Soigneurs: Antonio Marron (BEL),  Antonio, Martín Morales María Auxiliadora (ESP).

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert at 2012 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Photo ©Sirotti

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