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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, September 7, 2014

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It may be September, but there is lots of high-level racing racing going on. Saturday featured the Brussels Cycling Classic (formerly Paris-Brussels).

And not only does the Vuelta a España start its final week Sunday with the second of three brutal days in the mountains, both The Tour of Britain's first stage and the GP de Fourmies (in Northeast France) single-day race will be held Sunday as well.

Here's Lotto-Belisol's release after André Greipel won Saturday's Brussels Cycling Classic.

This afternoon André Greipel won the Brussels Cycling Classic for the second year in a row. Tony Gallopin brought the German champion in the right position for the sprint.

Six riders rode in front for a long time: Dernies, Ghyselinck, Koretzky, Parrinello, Rabottini and Riblon. 55 kilometers from the end the escapees were caught. Several attacks followed, also one of Lars Bak, but the race finished with a bunch sprint. Tony Gallopin led André Greipel to the front in the last hectometers and pulled the sprint for him. Greipel was faster than Elia Viviani and Arnaud Démare. Tomorrow André will start in the Grand Prix de Fourmies.

André Greipel: “The race was pretty relaxed and I felt fine. At the end we made it hard with Lars Bak who attacked. The team performed well. The guys put me in the front with about twenty kilometers to go. With Marcel Sieberg and Tony Gallopin I had two riders to set me up for the sprint. We had talked how to handle it, because there was headwind from 1500 up to 700 meters to go. It would be best if we came from the back, to have shelter.”

“It worked out really well. I was happy that Tony made such a good lead-out and I could finish it off. It’s great to win this race for the second year in a row. This victory is good for the confidence. Tomorrow’s race is always a bit tricky, we’ll see what happens. The French teams will certainly be active.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel. Photo © Sirotti

Here's what Team Belkin has to say about its plans for the Tour of Britain

Belkin Pro Cycling team hopes to light up the Tour of Britain, which runs September 7-14 across the breath of England. The race opens with a circuit course in Liverpool and ends with an individual time trial in London.

The race will also feature a short, but steep mountaintop finale that should have a major impact on how the fight for race victory shapes up. "I think if we can win a stage during the week, we would be happy with that," said Belkin Sports Director Jan Boven. "For the GC, we need to look at it day to day. It's not an easy race."

Major British stars Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and defending champion Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will be the centre of attention, but Belkin will be trying to elbow its way into the action.

"I don't expect to see sprints every day, but Cavendish and [Marcel] Kittel (Giant-Shimano) will both be there, so their teams will be working to control the stages," Boven said. "There is one day with an uphill finish, and that will be the important day for the GC, along with the final time trial. We will be looking for opportunities." Boven said the team will ride for Barry Markus in the sprints, and Lars Petter Nordhaug for the GC.

One of the key members of the team will be cagey veteran Bram Tankink, who promises the team will put up a big fight. "Everyone is excited to race in England. The sport is really growing in Britain, as we saw this summer with the Tour de France starting in Leeds," Tankink said. "The Tour of Britain is a beautiful race. We won it a few years ago with Lars Boom [in 2011]. It will be hard in the sprints, with Cavendish and Kittel there, but there are only two days for real sprints. The rest of the days are quite hard, so we will have our chances to try to win a stage."

Tankink is also hoping to use the Britain tour to earn a spot for the Holland's nine-man squad for the upcoming world road cycling championships in Spain on September 28. "I got sick last weekend, but I am feeling better now and I can train, but I don't know how it's going to affect my condition," Tankink said. "Normally, the goal would be to be strong at the Tour of Britain, and then race the worlds. I think I can still make a good British tour. You never know how your body reacts after sickness."

Belkin team line-up:
Lars Petter Nordhaug, Barry Markus, Rick Flens, Bram Tankink, Maarten Wynants and Jetse Bol.

Sports Director: Jan Boven.

Bram Tankink

Bram Tankink in the 2014 Paris-Roubaix. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC's roster for the Tour of Britain

Two-time runner-up Stephen Cummings headlines the BMC Racing Team's squad for the Friends Life Tour of Britain. Cummings finished second in his home country's tour in 2008 and 2011. The Tour Méditerranéen winner will be joined by five others for the eight-day, nine-stage race that begins Sunday in Liverpool.

Riders:
Stephen Cummings (GBR), Martin Kohler (SUI), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sport Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Max Sciandri (ITA)

Doctor: Roger Palfreeman (GBR)

Staff: Bus Driver: Matt Rompion (FRA). Mechanics: Peter De Bleecker (BEL), Kevin Grove (USA), Ian Sherburne (USA). Soigneurs: Bernd Coutteau (BEL), Anthony Lafourte (BEL), Luca Vaiente (ITA).

Stephen Cummings with Raymond Poulidour

Stephen Cummings with cycling immortal Raymond Poulidor after winning the 2014 Tour of the Mediterranean. Photo ©Sirotti

Tinkoff-Saxo Extends Contract with Jay McCarthy

Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce that the team has extended the contract with Jay McCarthy. The 21-year old Australian has inked a one-year deal keeping him on the team ahead of the ambitious 2015-season. Team manager Bjarne Riis, who brought McCarthy to the team in 2013, is glad to keep the young talent on the squad.

"For me it was obvious Jay McCarthy should continue. He proved in the last week of the Giro that he could achieve the level we had signed him for a couple of years ago. He had a number of very good stages in the Giro, and after that he went on performing well”, says Bjarne Riis and continues:

“He is still a very young guy and has to improve on many things but he now has a chance to continue next year and work on those areas. I look forward to following his progress”.

McCarthy, who turns 22 on September 8th, was picked up by Tinkoff-Saxo ahead of the 2013-season after a very successful 2012 with 6 victories on his native Team Jayco. Jay has since then progressed steadily on WorldTour-level offering support for the team captains in various races. Among his most noticeable results is a 3rd place on a long breakaway stage in the Giro.

“I’m, of course, very excited about continuing next year. I feel that I’ve had a good development during the last two seasons and I learned a lot from racing with my teammates as well as receiving great support and guidance from the team’s staff”, says Jay McCarthy.

The young Aussie, who’s heading with the team to Canada for the two one-day WorldTour races in Montréal and Québec, is looking to finish of the season strongly while preparing for the ambitious 2015-season.

“We’re going to have a very strong team in 2015, also with the additional signings, and I look forward to helping out as much as possible. I need to continue to work hard and dedicate myself fully but it motivates me a lot being on a very aspiring team. Now I focus on performing well for the team before preparing myself for the next season”, concludes Jay McCarthy.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy

Vuelta a España Stage 14 rider and Team Comments

Tinkoff-Saxo's Oliver Zaugg came close to a stage win. Here's what his team had to say:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Sergio Paulinho and Oliver Zaugg participated in the chase group behind two leaders giving the whole team an alibi not to take charge in the field during today’s 200 kilometer long fabulously exciting 14th stage of the Vuelta a Espana. Ultimately, Oliver Zaugg came thrillingly close to the stage win while Alberto Contador beautifully defended and extended his overall lead.

21 riders chasers including Zaugg and Paulinho were breathing down two Caja Rural riders’ necks from Santander to La Camperona. On the first category 1-climb to Puerto de San Glorio 70 kilometers to go, the field was slimmed down significantly while Alberto Contador was joined by Chris Anker Sørensen in the group of favorites. Cresting the summit, the two front riders were swept up by the big chase group.

On the descent, Paulinho dropped back down to the group of favorites and took charge of the pace making along with Sørensen and Jesus Hernandez in front of their team leader. Meanwhile, Oliver Zaugg remained in the minimized front group without taking turns and with 14 kilometers remaining, the gap was still above six minutes.

Entering the uphill finish, Sky took over the reigns in the pack but it was certain that today’s stage winner were to be found in the front group of 11 riders. The gradients of up to 19% really put the hurt on the riders and the front group started to crumble. With 1.9 kilometers to go, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) launched an attack but Tinkoff-Saxo’s Oliver Zaugg bridged and launched a stinging counter-attack and was soloing his way towards the finish line. But Hesjedal refused to forfeit and worked his way back up and passed Zaugg to take stage glory ahead of the 33-year-old Swiss rider.

In the select group of favorites, Alberto Contador responded to a series of attacks on the final couple of kilometers and beautifully, not only defended, but extended his overall lead to 42 seconds to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) while Chris Froome (Sky) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) gained a few seconds.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Oliver Zaugg comments after the stage:

"I feel so tired and a bit disappointed. On the one hand I am disappointed but on the other, it wasnt a bad day after all. It was a perfect situation in the breakaway, I didn't have to work, I was feeling good and I could go for a stage win. The last two kilometers were so steep, I needed one smaller gear. It was very hard and 150 meters from the finish, Hesjedal came really fast up behind me. It was impossible to respond and I just kept my rhythm."

Oliver Zaugg

Oliver Zaugg in Vuelta Stage 11. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC had this to say about stage 14:

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez rode to limit his losses on the most difficult finish so far Saturday at the Vuelta a España.

On the leg-breaking climb to the finish that featured sections as steep as 20 percent, Sánchez found himself losing contact with the group of overall contenders early on. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said several teammates did what they could to help the 2008 Olympic road race champion. "We supported Samuel, especially Manuel Quinziato, Dominik Nerz and Rohan Dennis," he said. "They brought Samuel into good position for the last climb, which was unbelievably hard. It was honestly too hard of a climb for him."

Sánchez finished 28th on a day, 4:17 back, and slipped one spot – to seventh – in the overall standings. He conceded 94 seconds to race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), whom he now trails by 3:26. "Today was a really hard stage made harder by the warm temperatures and high pace from Omega Pharma-Quick Step on the first category climb," Sánchez said. "This final uphill did not suit my strengths, so I did what I could to defend my position." Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) emerged from a large breakaway to take the stage win about two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the group containing the top four riders in the overall standings. Piva said Sánchez should bounce back on another tough stage Sunday, which begins in Sánchez's hometown of Oviedo. "Samuel also knows the finish well," Piva said. "He is very motivated, so we will try again tomorrow."

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez wins stage 7 of the 2013 Dauphiné. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Belkin on Stage 14:
Belkin Pro Cycling team's Robert Gesink moved up to eighth overall in the steepest climb of this year's Vuelta a España.

Gesink crossed the line atop the brutally steep Camperona climb 24th on the stage, 4:02 behind stage-winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp). He climbed up one spot on GC to eighth, now 4:14 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"It was hard. It wasn't my best day, that's for sure. If this has been the worst, than I cannot be too sad about it. I was suffering all day," Gesink said. "I wasn't feeling fresh, but you never feel fresh after two weeks of racing. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. If you feel this bad every day, and you keep climbing spots on GC, it's not too bad, is it?"

Wilco Kelderman fought his way up the steep gradient of the Camperona climb, riding close to Gesink to finish 26th on the stage, slotting into 14th overall.

"It was OK in the end. I am satisfied with this result today. In the beginning, it was hard," Kelderman said. "When the group went away, with [Robert] Wagner, that was good to have him there. On the second-to-last climb, it already was hard for me. At the end, I rode my own tempo up the hill."

Belkin's Robert Wagner, a sprinter who usually rides in the "grupetto" in the big mountain stages, found himself in the day's main breakaway. He was later able to help tow Gesink and Kelderman toward the final climb.

"I found myself in the breakaway of the day after a lot of jumping. The goal was to pass the first category climb of 22km, and that was not easy," Wagner said. "I had to hang on, so I could I help them and support them, give them some water bottles. It was very hard. Usually I am in the very last group. That is no secret."

Belkin Sports Director Erik Dekker expressed satisfaction after the first of three decisive mountaintop finales at the Spanish tour. "It was really hard today. Robert wasn't feeling too good, and neither was Wilco," Dekker said. "They came together near the top, and, at the end of the day, they were OK. Maybe they were not the best in the Vuelta today, but it wasn't bad."

The 69th Vuelta continues Sunday with the 152.2km 15th stage from Oviedo to Lagos de Covadonga, featuring the longest uphill finale so far.

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman. Photo ©Sirotti

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