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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

Philippe Gilbert Takes Lead in Tour of Beijing

Philippe Gilbert is leading the Tour of Beijing.

This happy note came from his BMC team:

BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert timed his sprint to perfection Saturday, coming around Janse Van Rensburg (Team Giant-Shimano) on the final curve of a shortened Stage 2 of the Tour of Beijing to take the win and move into the overall lead.

Inside of 100 meters to go, Van Rensburg took the lead. But Gilbert and his BMC teammachine SLR01 overtook him with 25 meters to go and the past world road champion still had time to thrust his arm in the air as he won his team-best sixth race of the season. "I was waiting because I knew in a finish like this that I am really strong," Gilbert said. "So I was just waiting for someone else to take the lead. I did not want to go first. So when Van Rensburg went, it was perfect. I think he wanted me to go on the inside and close me out. But I just went on the corner on the left. There was a lot of space and I didn't take any risks." Gilbert's win help him also take the lead in the sprint classification and added to back-to-back victories in April at Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race and two stages and the overall of the Ster ZLM Toer in June.

Gilbert was part of a large group that was shoulder-to-shoulder across the road leading into the final kilometers of the uphill finish of the 111-km race that was shortened by 36 km due to poor air quality at the original finish city of Yanqing. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said the change meant a switch of tactics. "We spoke in our meeting this morning that if we had the opportunity for Philippe, we would take it," Ledanois said. "The guys did a very good job for him." Gilbert, who is racing the Tour of Beijing for the first time, said it was confusing hearing of last-minute changes, but they were in his favor. "It is always better for me when it is an uphill finish," he said. "I was focused on the race and I got some good help from teammates, which was important for the position at the end. And then I was feeling good in the last kilometer."

In the overall standings, Gilbert leads Van Rensburg by five seconds and third-place finisher Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) by seven. BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez was 14th on the stage – in the same time as Gilbert – and is one of 21 riders who are 11 seconds off the lead with three days to go. "This was a good result for the team and Philippe has good legs after the world championships," Ledanois said. "Philippe is very motivated and Samuel is there, too, and also motivated. So it is perfect for us at the moment." Gilbert said he will take a wait-and-see approach to hang onto the leader's red jersey during Sunday's mountainous stage, which features seven categorized climbs. "Everyone is saying the long climb of 12 kilometers is very hard," he said. "But I don't know. I have never done it. We will take things day-by-day and see for the GC (general classification)."

BMC sent this release after Stage 3:

On a stage featuring seven categorized climbs, the BMC Racing Team successfully defended the overall lead of Philippe Gilbert Sunday at the Tour of Beijing.

Gilbert finished 37th and in the same time as stage winner Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), who won a bunch sprint at the end of the 176-kilometer race. Heading into Monday's queen stage that finishes on Miaofeng Mountain, Gilbert leads Janse Van Rensburg (Team Giant-Shimano) by five seconds and Rui Da Costa (Lampre-Merida) by seven seconds. Another 33 riders are within 25 seconds of the lead. Gilbert said he is up to the task of holding onto  the leader's red jersey earned from his victory Saturday on Stage 2. "I was feeling good the whole day and this gives me confidence for tomorrow," the past world road champion said. "For me, this last climb is the last of the season, so you can go even deeper because you have added motivation." Teammate Samuel Sánchez, who finished 31st on the stage and placed 12th overall here in 2012, is in 20th place and one of 19 riders who are 11 seconds behind Gilbert.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said he was pleased to see the squad's six other riders step up to the challenge of protecting Gilbert's lead. "When you have the jersey, you know it is always going to be hard for the guys – and it was a hard stage today," Ledanois said. "But the guys did a good job: first, with Yannick Eijssen, Rick Zabel and Martin Kohler, and later with Dominik Nerz and Tejay van Garderen working for Philippe and Samuel Sánchez. Tomorrow will be hard and is one for the general classification. I hope Philippe and Samuel have good legs." Kohler, a past Swiss national road and time trial champion, said another challenging day lies ahead after working to keep a six-man breakaway from never gaining more than four-minute advantage. "It is going to be pretty much the same as today – but with a bit more climbing – so it will be really tough again," Kohler said. "After two days of riding in the front, the legs will not be any fresher. So it will be one more tough day to go."

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert at this year's Tour of Lombardy. Photo ©Sirotti

And this on stage two from Lampre-Merida:

The second stage of Tour of Beijing should have been once again suitable for the sprinters, but the heavy pollution and the bad weather forced the organizers to shorten the course (that anyway was not long: it was initially 147 km, it became 111 km) and to fix the arrival on the last Kom of the race, in Yan Jia Ping.
The race became a very good occasion for the riders that like the arrivals on light hills, that's why Rui Costa could get on the podium, obtaining the thirs place behind the winner Gilbert and Van Rensburg.

The final act of the stage was a sprint on the short climb, that was not so difficult. At 300 meters. Ewan anticipated the other riders starting his progression and Van Rensburg reacted quickly.

Rui Costa was just behind them and he tried to compete with Gilbert when the Belgian, at 100 meters to go, overtook the opponents: the Lampre-Merida Portuguese cyclist could not demonstrate the same power as Gilbert, so he was third.

For Rui, another podium that is added to the third place he had obtained in Il Lombardia.

The Portuguese rider, who's third also in the overall classification at 7" to Gilbert, commented the stage: "It was not a simple stage, especially because of the cold: I had my legs very hard and it was difficult to be ready to sprint on the final hill at the end of a short stage. I'm now third, I aim to be competitive until the end of the race in order to maintain a place in the top positions of the ranking of the Chinese race".

Rui Costa

Rui Costa at the start of the men's world road racing championships. Photo ©Sirotti

Plus this on stage 3 from Lampre-Merida:

The Argentinian Maximiliano Richeze allowed Lampre-Merida to be for the third time in a row in the top 5 positions of Tour of Beijing's stages.

Richeze obtained the 5th place in the massive sprint of a group of 80 riders at the end of the 3rd stage of the Chinese race (Yanqing-Qiangjiadan, 176 km), showing his great skills as sprinter: he chose the good wheels to follow and he gradually moved from the center to the lest side of the road, in order to avoid the lateral wind.

These devices gave Richeze the opportunity to recover positions and to crossed the finish line in thr 5th position, at few meters to the winner Farrar.

The profile of the stage seemed to gave few chances to the sprinters (7 Kom) and to promote changes in the overall classification. On the contrary, a 6 riders breakaway that started in the early kilometers of the stage froze the situation in the race, because the bunch focused the attention on controlling the breakaway and on neutralizing the attackers'action in view of the final sprint.

Rui Costa had a calm day in this way: he maintained the 3rd place in the overall classification.

It's important to note that the favourite cyclist of Chinese fans, Xu Gang from Lampre-Merida, realized a very good performance today too, reaching the arrival for the third time in the head group and giving to the team a perfect support, as it had happened during the whole season and in all the World Tour races he had taken part.

Giro dell'Emilia

Saturday's big race was the Giro dell'Emilia.

Lampre-Merida issued this release on the Italian race:

In Giro dell'Emilia, Lampre-Merida demonstrated to be very competitive in the first half part of the race, but could not keep the same level in the final part of the course, missing a place in the top 10 of the final classification.

Despite a very fast start, 23 cyclists succeeded in escaping from the bunch after 10 km in the race: in the head group there were also blue-fucshia-green athletes Dodi and Mori.

Once their action was neutralized by the bunch at the 56th km (first hour at an average speed of more 50 km/h), other 30 riders attacked and once again Lampre-Merida had a member in the action: Niemiec could join this group.

A counter-attack allowed 3 riders to took the head of the race, while the rest of the breakaway dropped back in the bunch. The three attackers could resist to the chase of the peloton until the final passage on San Luca climb, on the summit of which there was the finish line.

When the group approached the steep hill for the last time, no riders from Lampre-Merida could resist to the pace of the head of the race, so the first blue-fuchsia-green athlete to cross the finish line was Durasek, 13th at 1'55"to the winner Rebellin. Fourteenth place for Niemiec, while Cunego, at his last appearance in Italia in Lampre-Merida, did not complete the race.

Davide Rebellin

Davide Rebellin wins the 2014 Giro dell'Emilia. Photo ©Sirotti

Sunday Racing

We're closing in on the end of the European racing season. Sunday the 12th we've got the third stage of the Tour of Beijing, Paris-Tours and the GP Beghelli.

Lotto-Belisol sent this note regarding Paris-Tours:

Lotto Belisol participates in Paris-Tours tomorrow. It will be the penultimate Europe Tour race for the team this season. The race starts at a quarter past eleven in Bonneval and ends after 237.5 kilometers in Tours. There are three climbs in the final. First of all there is the Côte de Crochu, about 30 kilometers away from the finish line. Twenty kilometers further the peloton has to cover the Côte de Beau Soleil, followed by the Côte de l’Epan. This is the ultimate chance for the punchers to avoid a bunch sprint. After the final the climb there are five straight kilometers to the finish line on the Avenue de Grammont.

Last year’s top three stands at the start: John Degenkolb, Michael Mørkøv and Arnaud Démare. Other participants are Yauheni Hutarovich, Giacomo Nizzolo, Tom Van Asbroeck, Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke. Lotto Belisol has selected among other Jens Debusschere, Jonas Van Genechten and the three trainees Benoot, Meurisse and Naesen.

Bart Leysen, sports director: “Arnaud Démare is clearly in shape, he proved that with his performances in the Eurométropole Tour. At the moment he’s the strongest of the bunch. He is, moreover, national French champion and rides in a French team. He definitely will want to show himself in his home country. FDJ will have to control the race if they want to lead him to the sprint.”

“We might choose for a late attack. Our youngsters are in a good shape: Benoot, Meurisse and Naesen. They are attackers. In case of a bunch sprint Jens Debusschere and Jonas Van Genechten will be our guys.”

Lotto Belisol selection:Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Pim Ligthart, Xandro Meurisse, Oliver Naesen, Jonas Van Genechten and Dennis Vanendert.

Sports director: Bart Leysen

Jens Debusschere

Jens Debusschere at this year's Eneco Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

This release about Paris-Tours came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo sends a motivated squad to Paris-Tour as the season draws to a close. The French autumn semi-classic, which marks the end of racing in Europe for Tinkoff-Saxo and most of the peloton, is also know as the Sprinter’s Classic. Despite the lack of pure sprinters on the team, Sport Director Tristan Hoffman believes that Tinkoff-Saxo will be able to create opportunities along the 237,5 km route.

“Matti Breschel is our captain, as he’s still in really good shape. It’s a difficult race because, unlike other teams, we can’t just wait for the final sprint. So we have to create our own chances by opening the race. But I’m confident that we’ll be able to do so. The boys are all motivated and ready to fight. I went on a training ride with them this morning, and they’re looking sharp and excited even though it’s late in the season”, explains Tristan Hoffman.

The 237,5 kilometer parcours from the city of Bonneval to Tours is on paper almost totally flat. But Tristan Hoffman says that the final part of the race has several hilly parts, which will make the race difficult after 200 kilometers combined with a full season in the legs.

“In the first part of the race, we’ll have to be aware of the crosswinds, which could break the peloton but it’s also important to be well positioned so we don’t waste energy. We might try to get a man in the break, but otherwise we’ll wait for the final part, where Roman Kreuziger and Michael Mørkøv will be able to set a hard pace. Michael is of course very motivated because of his 2nd place last year”, says Tristan Hoffman and adds:

“We’ll do our best to be aggressive and create a tough race. But Matti will also be able to do a great result, if it all ends up in a bunch sprint. The entire peloton is tired, so it’s not easy to predict how the race will develop and which teams dare to take control”.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel. Photo ©Sirotti

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