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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, August 31, 2014

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GP Ouest France-Plouay Today

Not only is there a Vuelta stage with a hilltop finish today, over in France we have a single-day World Tour race, the GP Ouest France-Plouay. I've got the startlist and race map posted right now. Also, here are the race's historical results. Several teams sent me releases about their plans for GP Ouest France-Plouay.

Here's Cannondale's:

Cannondale Pro Cycling will wrap up its September race schedule at one of the most historic races in France, the Grand-Prix de Plouay Ouest-France. The event, which is part of the UCI World Tour circuit, will begin in Bretagne on Sunday, August 31. The Peloton will ride for 229 km (8 circuits at 26.9km).

In 2013 Elia Viviani placed seventh after a hectic finale. The Italian sprinter will once again be at the start of this French road race. He is currently in good spirits after a positive experience at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado where he took a stage win.  In addition to Viviani, the Green Machine can count on Moreno Moser, Marco Marcato and Kristijan Koren to be among the race's main contenders to take an important result.

To complete the rest of the roster, Cannondale Pro Cycling will have four able athletes on-site to support its race leaders - Alan Marangoni, Fabio Sabatini, Jean-Marc Marino, and Michel Koch.

"I'm confident we can target a good result," said team director Gilles Pauchard. Pauchard will be in charge in France to lead the time. "The finale of the race is very unpredictable, and for us, it will be important to have more than two riders in the key moments of the race. The general form is good and I'm sure all the riders have the right motivations to stand out."

Elia viviani

Elia Viviani wins stage three of the 2014 Coppi-Bartali week. Photo ©Sirotti

And this from Lampre-Merida:

Lampre-Merida will race in France trying to extend the good tradition that has always given to blue-fuchsia-green team a role as protagonist in Gp Plouay.
The team directed by Orlando Maini will try to repeat the victories that were obtained in 2011 thanks to Bole and in 2013 thanks to Pozzato.

The rainbow jersey of Rui Costa stands out in the team selection: for the world champion, Gp Plouay will be the first race since his withdrawal from Tour de France because of an illness.
In addition to Rui Costa, Maini will direct Mattia Cattaneo, Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Manuele Mori, Nelson Oliveira, Rafael Valls and Luca Wackermann.
The team staff members will be the mechanics Possoni and Romanò, the masseur Chiodini and Santerini and the team doctor Ronchi.

In case of a massive sprint on the final straight of the race, Cimolai will be the team leader considering that he could obtain the 7th place in Vattenfall Cyclassics; on the contrary, if Gp Plouay will be demanding, Mori and Cattaneo are ready to be protagonists.
For what concerns Rui Costa, this will be the first step in this final part of the season, in which important appointments are scheduled such as Gp Quebec, Gp Montreal and, most of all, the World championship in Ponferrada.

Rui Costa

World Champion Rui Costa before the start of the 2014 Tour de France

And from Lotto-Belisol:

Next Sunday Lotto Belisol starts in the Grand Prix Ouest-France in Plouay. This WorldTour race is 229.1 kilometers long. It consists of eight laps of 26.9 kilometers and one of 13.9 kilometers. There are three climbs on the course. To begin the Côte du Lezot, not far behind the start and finish line. The Minojenn du Calvaire, with a maximal gradient of 13%, lies just before the Côte de Ty-Marrec which is situated at less than four kilometers from the end.

On the start list are riders like world champion Rui Costa, Simon Gerrans, Alexander Kristoff, Giacomo Nizzolo and Greg Van Avermaet. Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens, who recently won the Eneco Tour, are part of the Lotto Belisol selection. Marc Wauters is the sports director and he gives his preview.

Marc Wauters: “We start with a strong team, with several riders that can win. Tim Wellens showed in the Eneco Tour that he’s in an excellent shape. He rode very attentively in Plouay last year already. Then Jürgen Roelandts got fourth. Tony Gallopin will also be motivated to set a good result. Jelle Vanendert did well in Overijse on Wednesday.”

“I expect a race like the World Championships. On this course the World Chapionships of 2000 took place of course. The last laps are decisive and definitely the last lap, then it will be full gas on the last climb. Last year for example a group took off early and the peloton kept control. The last three laps the race broke loose. The riders will definitely feel the succession of climbs.”

“The riders, of all teams, will definitely want to show themselves to get a selection for the World Championships. This is a last test and that makes the race only harder. The French teams will be strong and will want to control the race.”

Selection Lotto Belisol: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Stig Broeckx, Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Marc Wauters

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens at the end of the Eneco Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

Vuelta Stage 8 Rider and Team Comments

Saturday's Vuelta stage 8 turned out to be an exciting day of racing. Tinkoff-Saxo was agressive and nearly put GC second place Nairo Quintana out the back door.

Here's the Tinkoff-Saxo release about the day:

It seemed like silence before the storm for the GC riders and for Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador on today’s 207 relatively flat kilometer long eighth stage of the Vuelta going North-East from Baeza to Albacete where a massive bunch sprint was expected while it goes on in the mountains tomorrow. But as the winds gusted up in today’s finale, the stage became a fight for position.

Two riders however wanted to spice the stage up with a breakaway but Italian Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida) and Spaniard Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros) were under strict control by the sprinter teams and never allowed a very big gap and caught before the finale.

For Tinkoff-Saxo’s come-back sensation, Alberto Contador, the stage was first and foremost about safety and he was well-protected throughout the stage by teammates and bodyguards, Matteo Tosatto and Daniele Bennati. And Tinkoff-Saxo stayed in the front of the field as crosswinds picked up entering the final 30 kilometers of the stage and split the peloton in several groups. Rocketing towards the finale, Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador kept motivating his teammates to increase the pressure causing even more riders to let go of the first select group.

In the furious bunch sprint, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) took the stage win. Tinkofff-Saxo's Alberto Contador is still third overall before tomorrow's crucial mountain stage.

"Well, to be honest - the first part of the stage was a little less than exciting but when the wind finally picked up and we started going, it turned into a rather thrilling finale. The boys were riding another fantastic stage in terms of staying in the front, being very alert and simply supporting Alberto. I'm in awe of Michael Valgren's performance. Considering this is his first pro season and his first Grand Tour, he's riding unbelievably well but all the boys worked hard and well out there. Now, we're looking forward to tomorrow's mountain challenge and we're hoping that Alberto can hang on to the favorites of the race," says DS, Steven De Jongh after the stage.

Alberto Cpontador

Alberto Contador heads to the start of stage 8. Photo ©Sirotti

And here is what Belkin had to say about stage 8:

The Belkin Pro Cycling team had a key role in the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España today. The peloton split several times in the final thirty kilometres in crosswinds, but the team's overall riders Robert Gesink and Wilco Kelderman were partly responsible for the cracks. They ended up 21st and 20th, and remain seventh and tenth overall.

Laurens ten Dam also finished in the first group and moved up to 18th in the general classification. The stage was won by FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni. Robert Wagner sprinted to sixth.

When the peloton broke for the first time, Gesink and Kelderman were partly in charge. With solid turns in the front, they truly contributed to the splits. “We knew it was going to happen and in the end, we were in the right spot,” said Gesink afterwards.

The second time they managed to get in the front group thanks to another effort. “We had to fight for it, but eventually Wilco and I were up there again,” continued Gesink. “We were able to connect at the very last moment. We’re looking very strong. This was a good final test for tomorrow.”

Sports Director Erik Dekker prepared the team well. “We knew that the area was open and that there would be wind, and we informed the men as good as possible. We were not the only ones who knew about the cross-winds and so things got pretty hectic. A few of our men were eventually dropped, but that was after they had dropped off our overall men. The team performed really well today.”

Tomorrow’s stage [Sunday's stage 9] starts in Carboneras the Guadazón and ends 185 kilometres later on the Aramón Valdelinares, a first category climb. On the way to the finish, the peloton also needs to tackle climbs of the third and second category. “Tomorrow is going to be totally different than today,” said Dekker.

Wilco kelderman

Wilco Kelderman heads to the start of stage 8. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC on Vuelta stage 8:

The BMC Racing Team helped push the pace in the final 30 kilometers Saturday at the Vuelta a España when strong crosswinds sliced the peloton into pieces.

'Riders Were in Trouble'
On the longest stage of this year's Vuelta, an open landscape, a straight road and a strong wind provided the ingredients to throw chaos into the 207-kilometer race. "We were prepared for it, so all day we stayed quiet,"  BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "Then I asked the guys to pull full gas. Cadel was fantastic and strong, as was Manuel Quinziato and Steve Morabito. And Philippe Gilbert did a good job in bringing Samuel Sánchez up since he was not in a good position in the beginning." Evans and Quinziato were initially the instigators in the front group. They were eventually joined by the group containing Sánchez and that 54-rider bunch arrived at the finish 53 seconds ahead of the next substantial group. Quinziato said it was good to see the team's pre-race plan play out. "Some of the GC (general classification) riders were in trouble and we tried to make them more in trouble," he said. "In the end, it was just four of us who were pulling, so the second group came back. But we tried."

Mountain-Top Finish Sunday
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won his second stage of the three-week race by edging out Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) while Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) was third. Danilo Wyss, who was one of six BMC Racing Team riders in the front group, finished 12th. "I fought really hard for everybody," Wyss said. "The objective was to keep Samuel in the first group and we pulled really hard. I went for the sprint at the end, but I didn't have much energy left. I gave everything before to pull for Samuel." Sánchez held onto his 12th place overall and remained the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider, 1:11 back of race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), on the eve of the race's second mountain-top finish. Piva said changing weather conditions could play a significant factor, in addition to the challenging terrain of the 185-km stage. "Tomorrow will be hard," he said. "I am hearing the final will be with rain and 16 degrees (Celsius) temperatures, compared to the 40 degrees of the past few days."

Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans finishes stage 8. Photo ©Sirotti

Here's the Lampre-Merida take on stage 8:

It was to be a stage of relative tranquility, from Baeza to Albacete 207 km, but thanks to the courage of Favilli and Aramendia the race had two men in front of the race from the first ride.

The rider of Team Lampre Merida has in fact started an action immediately after the start, managing to resist the return of the group of up to 40 km from the finish. Decidedly courageous action that gave a signal of liveliness from the Team directed by the pair Vicino, Matxin.

The calm in the group after the finish of the escape was really short, a strong side wind has indeed broken then the group into 3 sections under the pressure of  Saxo Tinkoff and BMC. For Team Lampre Merida only Ferrari and Serpa were able to manage the situation well, but remained only 2 in the group of the best to work for the upcoming sprint with semi-compact ranks. Ferrari has once again shown great tenacity, jostling against the teams of sprinters all alone and positioning himself in good position until the last km. Launched the sprint, the rider of Lampre Merida, seemed to have found the right timing to express his potential to the sprint, but a detour (regular) by Boonen has closed the gap on the hurdles and then he had to settle for 8th position.

Negative stage for Niemiec and Anacona, men of the standings for the Lampre Merida, who had to give up in the wind, respectively 2'23" and 53". Just as bad as the race of the remaining companions that were out of the competition in the final kilometers.

 

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