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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, October 23, 2014

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More 2015 Tour de France Rider and Team Commens

2015 Tour de France page | 2015 Tour de France presentation with rider and teams comments |

More reactions to the 2015 Tour route have come in.

This from Ag2r-La Mondiale:

Vincent Lavenu: “It’s a Tour de France that I particularly appreciate. As in 2014, the first week will be dangerous with cobbles, wind and many risks. We will have to be very careful and lose as little time as possible. Then, we will arrive on mountain. With five summit finishes, the Mur de Huy or the Montée Laurent Jalabert in Mende, it’s a route that seems to be very difficult and pro climbers as Contador or Quintana. This Tour 2015 gives pride to the Alps with many stages close to home, which I find rather pleasing. There are not many time-trial kilometers and it should be rather favorable to our team, especially Romain Bardet.”

Blel Kadri: “It’s a very interesting route. We will be busy during the first week with probably windy stages in Holland. The Mur de Huy and the cobbles should also have an important role to play in the overall standings and we should not have to be trapped. The team time-trial will close the first round with a uphill finish in Plumelec. The second and the third weeks should be more suitable to the team Ag2r-La Mondiale. We should be actors on many mountain stages. And there’s a finish in La Toussuire that we know very well because we regularly go there for training camps and we know that the roads in this region are very hard!”

Christophe Riblon : “I note in particular that there will not be quiet stage and something should happen every day with much movement. No transition stages this year with stages along the sea, some hill finishes as at Huy or at Mende, and coobles. The menu will be generous in difficulties in the Pyrenees and the Alps with a lot of climbs. Once more time, it will be a tough Tour with short stages that is interesting. Those who want to play for the overall standings will have to be at their best level from start to finish.

We have always set ambitious goals. We want to be at the highest level and we work to achieve it. Ag2r-LaMondiale invests a lot in our team and it pushes us to do our best. See that we are able to get as good results as this year motivates us even more. We all want that it works well in 2015 and that our group of mates lives again great moments.”

Christophe Riblon

A happy Christophe Riblon at the 2013 Tour of Poland. Photo ©Sirotti

Joaquin Rodriguez Happy with 2015 Tour Route

Katusha climber Joaquin Rodriguez described the 2015 Tour de France route as "Spectacular".  "On paper it's a great Tour, one hundred percent for climbers, with rolling hills that come late which will suit me very well and very little time trialing, which is my weakness," he said.

The 35-year-old rider's best Tour de France was in 2013 when he finished third. His best Grand Tour was the 2012 Giro d'Italia where he came in second, just 16 seconds behind final winner Ryder Hesjedal.

Joaquin Rodriguez

Joaquin Rodriguez climbs in the 2014 Tour de France's hilly 10th stage. Photo ©Sirotti

Riders Extend with Lotto-Belisol

This news came from the Belgian team:

Lotto Belisol can announce today that three riders have extended their contract. Pim Ligthart (26), who made his debut in the team this year, signed for two more seasons. The contract of Tosh Van der Sande (23) and Dennis Vanendert (26) was extended with one year. In 2015 both will start their fourth season in the team.

Pim Ligthart: “I feel at home here in the team. It’s the first time I’m racing for a Belgian team, but there’s not much difference. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a victory this season. I did win the KOM jersey in Paris-Nice. During the season I did lots of work for the team and I showed myself many times, for example with my breakaways in the Vuelta. It’s nice that I have a contract for the next two years, that gives me peace of mind. I’ll aim for a victory in 2015.”

Tosh Van der Sande: “There are several reasons why I wanted to stay with the team. I’ve been satisfied here for the past three years. I can often have a go of my own and it’s a fun group. Of course it matters that I set the step from U23 rider to pro within the structure of this team. In my third season as U23 rider I rode in the team with Kurt Van de Wouwer as sports director, that way I got in the pro team of Lotto Belisol and that turned out to be a good choice. I have high ambitions for next season and want to take that first pro win. The last weeks of this season I came close a few times and that gives me confidence.”

Dennis Vanendert: “I love riding for this team, next year will be my fourth season. This contract extension proves the team has faith in me and respects the work I’ve done. Next year I’m coming to an age that I want to take a next step in my career by setting results myself, I feel ready for that. In tougher stage races I’d like to show myself and pick out some stages. Apart from that I want to help the team win a classic. My brother Jelle can win one of the Ardennes classics, it would be great if I could help him with that.”

Pim Ligthart

Pim Ligthart at the end of this year's Paris-Nice. Photo ©Sirotti

Karsten Kroon Retires

This release just came form Tinkoff-Saxo:

A household name in cycling takes a bow and retires definitively from his active career. Karsten Kroon has had a career covering three decades. He turned pro in 1997 and has spent seven seasons with Tinkoff-Saxo. Kroon rode his last race in Sunday’s Japan Cup and after returning home, he confirms that it was the right decision.

“I feel fortunate. I have had a great career with many defining memories. I have made many close friends in cycling, and that is something valuable for me. But I can honestly say that I’m ready to retire from racing. I’m tired after 18 seasons and I look forward to spending time with my family and kids”, says Karsten Kroon and adds, “I want to thank Bjarne Riis for believing in me during the years and giving me the opportunity to spend the best seasons of my career on this team. My two seasons on BMC in ’10 and ’11 were plagued by two potentially career-ending crashes, but the team gave me another chance to come back and to finish my career the way I had wished for”.

The 38-year old Dutchman rode his first season in what is now the WorldTour in 1999. He steadily evolved into an experienced specialist in the northern classics. In 2002, in his first Tour de France, Karsten Kroon won a stage. A victory that he describes as his biggest sporting moment.

“My stage win in the Tour is what I’m most proud of. It is something every rider dreams about. It was my first Tour de France and I remember how surreal it seemed, when I rode across the line”.

But there’s also another less known result that stands as the pinnacle of Karsten Kroon’s career.

“It might sound a bit strange, but the 2009 World Championship in Mendrisio is perhaps the greatest experience of my career. I was dropped in the final part of the race and finished 20th, but I have never had better legs than I had that day in Switzerland. It was almost mythical for me. I remember that I felt as if I could keep going on my limit for hours and hours”, he explains.

According to Karsten, he hasn’t decided on his future yet. But one thing is for sure; he will take some time off from racing, training and speculating. “I think I’ll relax with my family and wait a while before I decide, what the next chapter in my life will be”.

Karsten Kroon

Karsten Kroon checking out the course at this year's Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen). Photo ©Sirotti

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