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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Tejay Van Garderen Takes Lead at USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Tejay Van Garderen's clean win at the top of Monarch Mountain in stage three of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge gave the BMC rider the overall lead. Here's the BMC press release with rider quotes:

Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team powered ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the closing meters of Wednesday's summit finish at Monarch Mountain to win Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge and take the race lead.

When van Garderen attacked out of a small group with a kilometer left in the 154.9-km race, only Majka – a Tour de France stage winner this year – could follow. The pair finished 20 seconds ahead of third-placed Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis) as van Garderen became the first rider in the four-year history of the race to win a stage three straight years. Van Garderen said he decided to make his move when he saw Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) in difficulty. Danielson was third to van Garderen at this race a year ago and last week won the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. "I could sense Danielson's attacks were getting a little weaker and he was tired from doing so much work," van Garderen said. "I was a little worried that Majka was going to come around me at the finish, but I was just able to hold him off."

Majka's second-place finish moved him into second overall, 20 seconds back, and three seconds ahead of third-placed Ben Hermans, van Garderen's teammate who was third on Stage 1. Hermans finished fourth on the stage, 24 seconds back. "I was feeling good and responding to the attacks of Danielson until two kilometers to go, then the attitude was hard for me," Hermans said. "I suffered hard. And when Tejay attacked, I could not follow. He went away like a motorbike." In winning his second race of the season, van Garderen also took the lead in the king of the mountains classification and earned the "best Colorado rider" jersey. His other victory this year also came on a mountain-top finish, at the Volta a Catalunya, in late March. "I feel good and I have the advantage of living at altitude and being acclimated," van Garderen said. "Plus, there is the fact that I have the home crowd on my side as well as the strongest team in the race."

Like it did on Tuesday's stage, the BMC Racing Team took control of the race at its mid-point to reduce the peloton. Yannick Eijssen, Martin Kohler, Peter Stetina and Rick Zabel helped with the chase of two attacks before Brent Bookwalter and Michael Schär took over to set up van Garderen and Hermans for the finish. "We could tell Tejay was really strong right from the start, on the first climb," Bookwalter said. "That really inspired me to work hard, dig deep and go all the way to the end." Sport Director Jackson Stewart said when Garmin-Sharp was the early aggressor, the BMC Racing Team responded. "Garmin really wanted to make it a hard race – and they did – with the help of a lot of other teams," Stewart said. "We managed to take the punches and were still standing. All the guys really worked hard. Oddly enough, some of our guys actually had bad days and were still able to manage and cope with it."

Van Garderen said he is confident the team has enough horsepower to hold the lead through to Saturday's individual time trial in Vail. Last year, he won the time trial in record time en route to the overall win. "We had to control yesterday and we had to control today because both days, the yellow jersey team had no interest in defending the lead," he said. So this makes it more straightforward and we have an incredibly strong team here. So I am not worried at all." Hermans said the next two days will be important ones for him to hang onto his third place overall and help the BMC Racing Team keep its lead in the team classification. "If I have the legs I have had the first three days, then normally I am going to be good," he said. Then, for the GC (general classification), it is only the time trial that is important."

Tejay van Gardeen

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) climbing to Hautacam in stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France. Rafal Majka can be seen in his KOM polka-dot jersey. Photo ©Sirotti

Lotto-Belisol's plans for the Vuelta

Here's Lotto-Belisol's press release regarding the team's plans for the Vuelta a España, which starts Saturday:

Sports director Mario Aerts outlines his expectations for the Vuelta a España. Both Jens Debusschere and Vegard Breen will ride their first grand tour. Adam Hansen on the other hand has a lot of experience, he will ride his tenth grand tour in a row. Also Jurgen Van den Broeck will be participating in Spain. Just like Maxime Monfort and Bart De Clercq. Mario Aerts explains each rider’s role and looks at the route.

Mario Aerts: “Obviously Jurgen Van den Broeck felt the consequences of his crashes during the Tour and his illness. Between the end of the Tour and the beginning of the Vuelta there are only four weeks, not that much time. First Jurgen took some rest and then resumed his training. He travels to Spain without GC ambitions. In the mountain stages he could aim for a stage win.”

“Maxime Monfort had two main goals at the beginning of the season: the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. He will aim for a top 15 sport in the overall standings. Maxime reached the sixth sport in the GC in 2011, so the Vuelta suits him. Bart De Clercq abandoned the Tour. So there were questions marks about his selection for the Vuelta, but he is fit. In the Tour of Poland he kept progressing. If it’s possible we would like to strive for a good GC with him as well. After the first mountain stages we will see what’s possible.”

“Sander Armée didn’t race for a long time. After the Belgian Championship he had a long period without races and in the Tour of Poland he had to quit because of illness. The matter of pith is in the last week. He will be a certain help for our team captains in the final. He disposes of a great engine and won’t break that easy.”

“Our main sprinter is going to be Jens Debusschere. The competition is strong. Among others Bouhanni, Degenkolb and Sagan will be participating. But with Greg Henderson we have a great lead-out. We go for a stage win. There are four flat stages which are suiting for bunch sprints. Besides those four, there are six stages with little climbs or slight uphill finishes. We will see where Jens can survive and strive for that stage win.”

“Vegard Breen’s first grand tour will be a discovery for him where he can grow. He did very well in the Tour of Poland. Vegard can also play a role in sprint lead-out. And who knows he could get away in a breakaway.”

“Adam Hansen and Pim Ligthart are natural born attackers. They will get several chances to participate in a breakaway and create opportunities for a stage win. Besides that they are very good at piloting the sprinters to the front of the peloton in the final. They also can stand by the climbers’ sides. True all-rounders”

The stages
“I believe we have a very good team for the team time trial. We have several fast riders. In that team time trial we aim for a good result. In the following twelve days there are three finishes uphill. The toughest part of this Vuelta are the last eight stages. Just before the second rest day there are three mountain stages, which will be deciding for the overall standings. Certainly the stage on the last Monday, the queen of all stages. En than there is another mountain stage on the penultimate day.”

“Most of the time the time differences in the Vuelta are not that big, so the time trials will be crucial. The first individual time trial is slightly uphill but the finish is located lower than the start. It will be a fairly quick time trial. The last time trial is rather short but can be important as well. Both Maxime and Bart have time trial qualities. The first individual time trial with the little climb is suited for both.”   

Maxime monfort

Maxime Monfort time trials at the seventh stage of the 2104 Tour of Poland. Photo ©Sirotti

And this from Lotto rider Jurgen Van den Broeck:

“Four weeks between the Tour and the Vuelta isn’t long. After the Tour, I left my bike in the garage for ten days, in order to recover. The following blood tests showed that all my values are decent again. After the tests I headed to Mallorca to train in good conditions. I can hardly speak of a true preparation, but of course I took good care of myself. Over the years I sometimes let things go after the Tour, but this year that wasn’t the case.”

“My role in the team will be different compared to the one I had in the Tour. I haven't raced since the Tour so I don’t know in which shape I will be in. Presumably I will have to gain strength during the Vuelta. Maxime Monfort is our team captain. If my legs are good I will definitely do whatever I can to stand by his side. But on the other hand my shape could go up and down, I’ll find out about that really quick in Spain.”

“A stage race suits better than a one day race anyway. So the choice between fall races and the Tour of Spain was pretty obvious. I will certainly give it my best shot, I don’t feel comfortable by just riding in the middle of the peloton. But like I said, it will be hard to predict my shape.”  

Tinkoff-Saxo's Vuelta Team

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's press release outlining it's team roster and plans for the Vuelta:

Tinkoff-Saxo is ready for Vuelta a España after completing the final line-up and setting up the team’s ambitions going into the 21-stages hot and mountainous Grand Tour. The nine riders representing Tinkoff-Saxo at the Vuelta are:

Alberto Contador, Chris Anker Sørensen, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto, Sergio Paulinho, Oliver Zaugg, Ivan Rovny, Jesus Hernandez and the Danish national champion, Michael Valgren.

This year’s Vuelta a Espana holds a very demanding course for the peloton and with the powerful riders on the start list, the entire field will be put under severe pressure. Team leader Alberto Contador has worked meticulously to get ready for the Vuelta following his crash and injury at Tour de France. Even though the injury set Alberto back in his preparations he’s expected to get better as the race progresses.

“With Alberto we have the chance to compete on a high level in the high mountain stage finishes and on the medium mountain stages. Alberto crashed and broke his leg during the Tour and I’m not sure of it’s plausible to aim for the overall win after only a few weeks of hard training in the mountains but we’ll flash the jersey in the race and you will notice us”, says Philippe Mauduit, leading sport director at the Vuelta.

With a total of 40 summits to crest spread over 13 mountain stages spiced up with two individual and one team time trial, this year’s overall winner will require a strong team around him to succeed. 5 stages are obvious sprinter stages so they will be nervous and very fast, as the sprinters don’t want to miss out on the opportunities in the race to prevail.

“It’s going to be a special race for us. Just like the last part of the Tour de France, we’ll take one stage at a time. Our line-up offers a number of opportunities. In the more flat terrain, we have a series of riders who will be able to nail the stage win that we are targeting in this year’s edition of the Vuelta”, concludes Philippe Mauduit.  

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador rolling to the the start of stage one of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo ©Sirotti

Europcar for Vattenfall Cyclassic

The Vattenfall Cyclassic will be run Sunday, August 24. Europcar sent me their rider list for the Hamburg, Germany race: Bryan Coquard, Antoine Duchesne, Yohann Gene, Tony Hrel, Davide Malacarne, Alexandre Pichot, Bjorn Thurau, Angelo Tulik. The director sportif is Dominique Arnould.

Bryan Coquard

Bryan Coquard. Photo ©Sirotti

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