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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, September 15, 2014

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Gerrans First Rider to do Canadian Double

Canada's pair of late season World Tour races, the GP de Québec and GP de Montréal, are called the Laurentian Classics. Until Sunday, no rider has been able to win both races in the same year. Simon Gerrans has done it, winning both races with a impressive punch. Of course, his team is ecstatic. Here's there release:

Australian champion Simon Gerrans has become the first rider in history to complete the Canadian double today, backing up his Québec victory on Friday with another impressive win at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal today. In another inspiring team effort, the Orica-GreenEdge outfit dominated the final kilometres of the 205.7 km WorldTour race, a complete lead-out still present despite a hugely reduced field.

“I couldn’t have asked any more of the team again today,” Gerrans said. “We set out a plan at the start of the day, everyone followed it perfectly and the race unfolded exactly as we wanted. “To still have four or five teammates there coming into the final was amazing so I am just really happy to be able to finish off some great teamwork again.”

After crashing and later withdrawing from this year’s Tour de France, Gerrans has rebuilt his 2014 season hoping to continue his form into the world championships in two weeks time. “It’s only comparative to everyone else,” the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion said of his form.

“I have worked pretty hard after the Tour de France and just tried to maintain things for the last few weeks leading into these races. Hopefully I still have a little bit to find before the world championships in a couple of weeks.”

Sport director Matt Wilson said the entire team had the utmost assurance in Gerrans’ ability to finish off for his second consecutive win. “On a hard race like this with a select group he is one of the fastest guys in the world and we are all supremely confident in him,” Wilson said of Gerrans. “Even despite that, the guys we have here at the finish (Michael) Albasini, (Daryl) Impey and even (Jens) Keukeleire as well, these are all world class guys in that sort of finish so when you put them all together, it’s a pretty unbeatable combination.”

Much like Quebec, the peloton began today’s race relaxed as a four-man breakaway, including Jan Polanc (LAM), Louis Vervaeke (LTB), Ryan Roth (CAN) and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), built up a gap of almost 11minutes.

Orica-GreenEdge again took responsibility for much of the early chase, this time with Mathew Hayman for the long haul. Eventually back together for the final lap, the attacks began and Gerrans maintained his position up front.  As the front couple of groups joined together, the 34-year-old was reunited with his teammates as they began their domination on the remaining field.

“We had a really good look at how the race went the last few years and we knew that it was teams with numbers that could control it in the final and come up trumps,” Wilson said. “We gambled that it would be the case again and tried to use minimum guys all day, just wait for that last five kilometres and really take control then which is exactly what happened.

“Mat (Hayman) had the most work to do today. It fell to Christian (Meier) in Quebec but we felt Christian could possibly go a bit further into the day today being a climber and we could use him a little later on. Then it was up to the other guys in the finish.”

Simon Gerrans

Simon Gerrans wins the 2014 GP de Montréal.

Adam Blythe signs with Orica-GreenEdge

While we're on the subject of Orica-GreenEdge, they've just signed Adam Blythe, the winner of the 2014 RideLondon-Surrey race that was run in early August. Here's their press release on the recruitment:

2014 Prudential RideLondon–Surrey Classic champion Adam Blythe will join Orica-GreenEdege next season having signed with the team for one year. The 24-year-old sprinter will form a crucial part of the team’s lead-out train as they work to develop and deliver young riders Caleb Ewan and Magnus Cort who will officially join the outfit as neo-pros next season.

The move to Orica-GreenEdge will mark a return to UCI WorldTour level for Blythe, who is this year riding for Continental team NFTO Pro Cycling having previously raced for BMC Racing and Omega Pharma-Lotto. Blythe joins Adam and Simon Yates as the third British rider in the Australian outfit.

“I’m obviously super exited to join a team at this level and above all to become part of ORICA-GreenEDGE,” Blythe said. “Everyone I know there speaks extremely highly of the structure and the atmosphere and that’s something I can’t wait to become a part of.”

The former track rider said he is looking forward to contributing to the success of the team. “I would really like to get up there in the cobbled classics, but I’m also really keen to become part of a successful team in general and I would take huge pride in helping some of the faster guys as a part of the lead-out train,” Blythe said. “If I can get a few possibilities here and there, that would be great too, but I first of all want to pay back the faith the team has shown me by working for the sprinters they’ve signed.”

Sport director Matt White welcomed Blythe on board, emphasising his importance in the team’s objectives going forward. “Adam will be a great addition to the team on several fronts,” White said. “He is certainly capable of being up and going for the win himself – especially in the cobbled races, but he will also be a very important part of our lead-out train.

“With the additions of Magnus Cort and Caleb Ewan next year, it will be even more crucial to get our lead-out right. Adam is a sprinter himself and that’s exactly would you need in that position to launch your guy for the win. Above all, Adam is still very young. He turned pro at 19 and I’m convinced we’ll be able to give the right back up and program for his further progress.”

Adam Blythe

Adam Blythe wins the 2014 RideLondon-Surrey, beating Sky rider Ben Swift and omega pharma racer Julien Alaphilippe. Orica-GreenEdge photo

Lampre-Merida on GP de Montréal

Lampre-Merida rider and World Road Champion Rui Costa wasa very busy boy at the GP de Montréal. Here's the team press relase on the race:

Rui Costa honored the rainbow jersey once again, obtaining 2nd place in the GP Montreal, 205.7 km (17 laps of 12.1 km)

The course was characterized by 3,893 mt of altitude difference, considering the two steephills of the Cote Camillien-Houde (1.8 km 2 8%) and the Cote de la Polytechnique (780 mt @ 6%), in addition to the final hill of Avenue du Parc (560 mt @ 4%). On such a course, Jan Polanc demonstrated again his qualities by pedaling for most part of the race in the main breakaway.

The 22 years old Slovenian rider, who had been in the main breakaway in GP Quebec as well, led the race with other three cyclists (Jeannesson, Roth and Vervaeke) since the early kilometers, attaining a maximum advantage of 12 minutes. After the half of the course, the bunch started the chase, but Polanc did not surrender. When there were two laps left, he was the lonely leader of the race and the bunch could neutralize him only in the final lap.

At that moment, Lampre-Merida worked at the head of the bunch to make the race more demanding, with the aim of selecting the fastest wheel and to prepare for the attack by Rui Costa. The world champion tried to escape from the group on the Cote Camillien-Houde and at 4 km to go, forced the pace in order to anticipate the sprint and to anticipate Gerrans, the favourite.

Despite a perfect race by Rui and his teammates, the Australian was able repeat the winning sprint that had given him the victory in Quebec City, obtaining the success in Gp Montreal as well. Second place went to Rui Costa, third to Gallopin.

"As in Quebec City, here in Montreal Lampre-Merida realized a perfect performance: Polanc was great in the breakaway, all my team mates supported me even better than I could have imagined, so I really want to thank them because their help allowed me to honor the race and the rainbow jersey in the best way," Rui Costa said. "My legs were good, so I wanted to make the race more demanding. I also attacked in order to try to anticipate Gerrans, but he's in a very good shape and he deserved the victory".

Jan Polanc is satisfied too: "My role, as at the GP Quebec, was to attack in the early part of the race and so I did. The cooperation among us attackers was good and it gave us the opportunity to led the race for most of it. I was in the head of the race for more than 190 km. When there were 5 laps to go, I also believed I could have managed to avoid being caught by the bunch, but the peloton intensified the chase in the final laps. I'm satisfied with my performance and I'm happy Rui could obtain a top result".

GP Montreal podium

Gp Montreal podium, from left: Rui Costa, Simon Gerrans and Tony Gallopin. Photo James Startt/GPCQM

Vuelta a España Rider and Team Comments

Lotto-Belisol looks back at the year's last Grand Tour:

The Vuelta ends today with a time trial in Santiago de Compostela. Lotto Belisol returns home with one victory, the stage win of Adam Hansen last Friday. In GC Maxime Monfort is sixteenth. Sports director Mario Aerts and Maxime look back on the past three weeks.

Mario Aerts: “We came to this Vuelta with two goals: win a stage and get in the top fifteen of GC with Maxime Monfort. We had our stage win in the end, a magnificent victory of Adam. Maxime just fell out of top fifteen, he’s sixteenth in GC. He gave everything he had. In the mountains he always followed his own rhythm, so he could always catch some riders who got dropped.”

“Our riders were part of a breakaway on several occasions, but it was rare that a break made it to the end. Pim Ligthart showed himself a few times as part of a long breakaway and those three times he got the combativity award. Bart de Clercq and Adam Hansen were once together in a break that battled for the stage win. Bart became sixth. This was the first Grand Tour for Vegard Breen, that went very well. He did lots of work for among other Maxime and he joined a breakaway one time.”

“Adam Hansen rode well here from the start. In the first stages he had also tried to win a stage by jumping away at the end. He often tried to get in a break. Apart from that time with Bart he got in another one and finished eighth. Fantastic that he completed his tenth consecutive Grand Tour. I finished the three Grand Tours in one year in 2007. That’s already a strong performance, Adam does it three years in a row. That shouldn’t be underestimated. You have to be spared from bad luck, but also have the condition to finish. He’s always working for the team and doesn’t ride anonymously.”

Maxime Monfort: “When you take the circumstances into account I’m on my place. Until yesterday’s stage I thought about top fifteen, that was the goal at the start. I might not have been on my best here, but I performed on a constant level. Of course you want more, but when you look at the riders here I can be satisfied with my sixteenth place. The podium of this Vuelta is logical. The first five in GC were outstanding. I tried to get in a break, but it couldn’t be a small one. The race was also quite closed, with very few attacks that made it to the end. In the mountains I always followed my own rhythm. I’m motivated to work on some details that can improve this winter.”

Maxime Monfort

Maxime Monfort at the start of this year's Vuelta. Photo ©Sirotti

Tinkoff-Saxo couldn't be happier, of course:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was just 9.7 kilometers away from overall glory in this year’s Vuelta a Espana when he took on tonight’s individual time trial. With a lead of 1.37 minutes to second place, only accidents could get in the way of the Tinkoff-Saxo captain conquering the overall win. And the experienced Contador made no mistakes and safely crossed the finish line as winner of the Vuelta 2014.

The first half of the peloton was fortunate enough to be riding on dry roads in Santiago de Campostela while the GC contenders were sent out on a wet and treacherous surface on the technically demanding course. Contador sailed through the course having no need of taking chances unlike his rivals and had time to wave to the crowd celebrating as they saluted him across the finish line.

Alberto Contador thereby concluded a magnificent comeback since the Tour de France where he crashed out with a fractured tibia and worked the long and hard way back to top form to win his 6th Grand Tour in total:

A very happy DS, Steven De Jongh says: "It's simply as astonishing achievement by Alberto. Coming back from an injury like that after declaring himself out a couple of weeks before the Vuelta and not only rides well but takes the win, is just amazing. We entered the race hoping that we could get a stage win in the last week of the race but as the race progressed and Alberto felt stronger by the day, we had to change strategy and go for the overall classification. So, with two stage wins in the pocket, the combined jersey as well as the overall win, we couldn't be happier", said a smiling sports director after the final stage.

Alberto Contador

2014 Vuelta a España champion Alberto Contador. Photo ©Sirotti

Team Belkin on this year's Vuelta

Wilco Kelderman finished inside the top 15 of the general classification of a grand tour for the second time this year. After his seventh place in the Giro d’Italia, the Dutchman of the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM ended the Vuelta a España in 14th on Sunday.

Kelderman set the 55th time in the 9.7-kilometre final time trial in Santiago de Compostela and moved up one spot in the overall that way. “It was very wet and slippery,” said the 23-year old rider. “On the straights, I was able to go as hard as I wanted, but still, rain is never beneficial for your time.”

Stef Clement had hoped to get in the mix on Sunday but was left in the cold. Like Kelderman, he had to complete his time trial in rainy conditions, while the early starters were lucky to have dry conditions. Maarten Tjallingii was one of those riders. He finished 28th and was the fastest man in green and black. Clement ended the TT 52nd. “Ten seconds before my start, it started to rain," Clement said. "I did what I could, but already missed the first corner. On the straights I was able to push my watts, but in the corners I really lost a lot of time. It’s been dry the whole Vuelta and today, it rained. Well, things like that happen, unfortunately.”

Kelderman looked back on the tour with mixed feelings. “It’s been a slightly disappointing Vuelta. I wasn’t as good as hoped and suffered a lot. I can’t name any real highlights, but hopefully this race will make me stronger.”

Laurens ten Dam finished the race 44th overall. He had hoped for more. “It was a tough Vuelta. Just like in the Tour, I was there in the first mountain stage in, but after that I had some small problems. I’m really tired now. My season is done after today. I’ll enjoy a vacation and prepare for next year,” Ten Dam said ambitiously.

Sports Director Erik Dekker was irritated by the weather on Sunday. “That was a problem. Our strongest men rode in the rain. That’s not what you want of course. Fortunately, Wilco remained upright. It’s nice that he gained one spot. A lot has happened”, said Dekker, looking back on the Vuelta. “We’ve had some bad luck with Robert Gesink. He had to leave the race as seventh overall, but hopefully his wife is fine. That’s the most important thing. We always focused on our chances. We tried to win a stage, but unfortunately that did not work out."

Laurens ten Dam

Laurens Ten Dam climbing in Vuelta stage 6. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC on it's 2014 Vuelta:

Samuel Sánchez of the BMC Racing Team earned his fifth career top 10 finish at the Vuelta a España Sunday with sixth place, while teammate Rohan Dennis was third in the individual time trial that capped the final grand tour of the year.

Sánchez finished 48th on the final stage to wind up 9:30 behind race winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Chris Froome (Team Sky) was runner-up and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) finished third overall. Sanchez improved on his eighth place of a year ago and added to a runner-up finish in 2009 and third-place result in 2007. He was also seventh at the Vuelta in 2006. "We put on a very good race for cycling fans and I am proud to have contributed to it," Sánchez said. "As for the team and me, I can say we always worked at the top level and we fought together to get the best result possible. For sure I was a little bit step under the first five riders in the overall. But I am happy about that because my year was a bit peculiar. Now I will prepare for the world championships in Spain."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said he was pleased with the team's overall performance in the three-week race. "I am really happy with the performances, especially that of Samuel," he said. "At the end, we can say we were there, supporting our leader and trying to win stages."

Dennis and his BMC timemachine TM01 had the fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint. But the silver medalist in the Commonwealth Games time trial earlier this year was slowed by the wet and rainy conditions in the second half and crashed just after the finish on slick cobblestones. Andriano Maolori (Movistar Team) won the 9.7-kilometer race, eight seconds ahead of Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) and nine seconds ahead of Dennis. "I felt really strong," Dennis said. "It was a little bit of bad luck with the rain but that's the way it goes. Hopefully, next time, I will be a little bit more lucky."  BMC Racing Team Dr. Scott Major said Dennis was not seriously hurt when he went down, but did have some superficial abrasions.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis after crashing. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC on its 2014 Tour of Britain

BMC Racing Team's Sebastian Lander captured the sprints classification, teammates Stephen Cummings and Martin Kohler finished third and 10th, respectively, in the individual time trial, Rick Zabel was fifth in the afternoon circuit race and Dylan Teuns placed 10th overall as the Friends Life Tour of Britain concluded with two stages Sunday.

Cummings was nine seconds off the winning time of Bradley Wiggings (Team Sky) and one second behind runner-up Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) in the 8.8-kilometer race against the clock. In the late afternoon circuit race, Cummings jumped into a breakaway and won the day's only intermediate sprint to protect Lander's lead in the sprints. "Steve was really amazing," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said. "He did a fantastic time trial and the past couple of days he has been helping Lander. He has an incredible engine and the way he pulled yesterday to get the break back, had he been in the move himself it, it would have really been amazing. It was good to see him help a young guy fight and hold onto the jersey." Kohler, a past Swiss national time trial and road champion, enjoyed his best result of the season in a time trial by finishing 25 seconds off the winning time.

Teuns was fifth heading into the time trial but finished 59 seconds back of Wiggins in 50th place and slid to ninth as Dylan Van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) held onto the overall lead by finishing 11th, 25 seconds back. "I think I did the best time trial I have ever done," Teuns said. "But when I look at the results, it is clear if I want to do a good performance on the general classification I will have to do more training on the time trial bike. The course was not so technical so it was one for the guys with power." Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished second overall, 10 seconds back of Van Baarle, while Wiggins was third, at 22 seconds. Teuns – who has only been competing as a stagiaire with the BMC Racing Team since last month – ended up 1:10 back in the final standings. But he reached one of his goals after being as high as third overall earlier in the week. "Before the time trial, I was looking at how many good time trialists were behind me only 10 or 15 seconds," Teuns said. "So I had to be realistic. I wanted to finish in the top 10 and I did it."

Lander, a past Danish national road champion, won the first jersey classification of his professional career that began in 2010. He first donned the green jersey after Stage 4 Wednesday following his second straight day in the breakaway. "I was hoping to do some good sprints here but when I realized it wasn't really a sprinter's race, I started going in the breakaways," Lander said. "Luckily I made it those two days and took the points. I am really happy about this." Past race leader Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) was the biggest threat to taking the jersey from Lander and actually got in a breakaway early on in the 88.8-km circuit race. "I tried to get to the front to chase him, but it wasn't possible," Lander said. "Fortunately, I got some great help from the team, especially Steve Cummings, who did an amazing job. He helped me chase the breakaway, then made the other break and took the points. It was really fantastic." Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano) won the final stage ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF) while Zabel earned his fifth top 10 finish of the race.

Stephen Cumming with Raymond Poulidor

Stephen Cummings with cycling legend Raymond Poulidor earlier in the year at the Tour Méditerranéen. Photo ©Sirotti

And here's Tinkoff-Saxo's take on its Tour of Britain:

Stage 8 of Tour of Britain featured two stages - an 8.8 kilometer long time trial through the streets of the great city of London and a circuit race covering 88 kilometers also in the beautiful capital of England. After the time trial, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Nicolas Roche dropped to 5th overall and wasn’t able to improve his position this afternoon. The stage was concluded in a massive bunch sprint where Nikolay Trusov finished 8th.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Manuele Boaro has played a very active role in this year’s Tour of Britain and he was in several breakaway attempts from the very beginning of the final stage. However, there were no Tinkoff-Saxo riders in the longest lasting breakaway consisting of four riders.

Eventually, the escapees were swept up and Tinkoff-Saxo went to the front of the pack and picked up the pace on the final 5 kilometers and Nikolay Trusov was in a perfect position with 500 meters to go. But in the final corner before the finish line, he lost ground to the other sprinters and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) took the stage win ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega-Pharma Quick Step).

Tinkoff-Saxo's Nicolas Roche finished 5th overall. Dylan Van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) won the race.

DS, Lars Michaelsen had these comments on the finish line. "I think overall, the team have done a great job supporting Nicolas throughout the race and finishing second in the team classification underlines the strength and effort the boys have put in to the race. Finishing fifth overall is not a bad result at all but I had hoped for more and with a little luck, Nico would have been on the podium as it was eventually only a matter of seconds. Today, we supported Nikolay for the sprint but he lost his position in the train on the final few hundred meters to finish 8th.

Nicolas Roche

Nicolas Roche rides stage four of the Tour of Britain.

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