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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

Thor Hushovd Hangs Up the Chamois

Thor Hushovd is about to call it career. Here's the release from BMC annoucning his coming retirement:

Past world road champion Thor Hushovd will close his professional cycling career Saturday in Belgium at the Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem, the BMC Racing Team announced Wednesday.

Hushovd's final race will cap 15 years in the peloton that include his world title in 2010, 10 stage wins and two points classification titles at the Tour de France and three Norwegian national road and time trial victories. "It has been a real pleasure to have Thor be a part of the BMC Racing Team in the twilight of his career," BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said. "We will not soon forget the impact he has had on the sport, especially in his home country of Norway."

Joining Hushovd on the roster for Saturday's race is Greg Van Avermaet, winner of the Grand Prix de Wallonie on Wednesday. The BMC Racing Team will also compete Sunday in France in the Grand Prix d'Isbergues.

Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem Roster (Sept. 20):
Luke Davison (AUS), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Martin Kohler (SUI), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER).

Men's 2010 world road race finish

Thor Hushovd wins the 2010 World Road Championships. Photo ©Sirotti

Thor Huschod

Thor Hushovd at the end of the 2009 Tour de France with his second green jersey. Photo ©Sirotti

Omega Pharma-Quick Step Extend Contracts

Belgian World Tour squad Omega Pharma-Quick Step extended the contracts of Slovakian rider Martin Velits (Peter Velits' twin brother) and Spaniard Carlos Verona though 2016. Martin Velits has ridden for the team since 2012 and Verona is in his second year with Patrick Lefevre's Omega Pharma organization.

Lampre-Merida Happy with Coppa Agostoni

Of course Lampre Merida is tickled with spurpise winner Niccolo Bonifazio's win at yesterday's Coppa Ugo Agostoni. Here's their press release:

Same colors as in 2013 in Coppa Agostoni: one year after the victory of Filippo Pozzato, Lampre-Merida celebrates in Lissone the success of Niccolò Bonifazio. The twenty year old Italian cyclist won the final sprint of the 68th edition of Coppa Agostoni, 199.6 km with the start and arrival in Lissone. It's on an interesting course that makes the riders cover the climb of Ello, Colle Brianza, Giovenzana and Lissolo (55 km to the arrival).

After that, 9 attackers led the race in the early part of the course. In the approach of Lissolo climb (60 km from the finish), a group of 9 counter-attackers escaped from the bunch, but these riders did not succeed in gaining more that 1'30" of anadvantage because of the chase that was led by Lampre-Merida.

The blue-fuchsia-green team completed the chase with 7 km to go and launched Bonifazio in a winning sprint (2nd place for Bole, 3rd place for Ponzi).

For Bonifazio, Coppa Agostoni is the 3rd seasonal success (he had won Sakai Criterium and the final stage of Tour of Japan), for Lampre-Merida this is the 22nd victory in 2014.

Rui Costa honored his participation to the race, the last one wearing the rainbow jersey he conquered in Florence: he gave his best for the team, especially in the approach to the sprint, and he could celebrate with his team mates the victory of Bonifazio.

Bonifacio said, "It's something special to complete a perfect performance by the team by obtaining a victory, that's why I'm so happy. The whole team supported me in an amazing way: Dodi and Cattaneo neutralized the breakaway after Lissolo, then Rui Costa led me in the approach to the sprint. You can not image what it means to receive the help by the world champion, it's such a honor and it gave me even more energies for the sprint. After the climbs, I could come back to the bunch, then I could focus my attention only on the sprint.

"I thank my team, Rui Costa and the sponsors for their support during this first year as pro.

"I'm very satisfied for the team performance and, of course, for the result," sport director Righi said, "Cimolai was active in the early part of the course, then the rest of the team managed to control in the proper way the breakaways and to support Bonifazio in the final kilometers. Niccolò was in a good condition, that allowed him in coming back in the head of the race after Lissolo climb: at 30 km to go, our riders decided that Bonifazio would have been the captain in the sprint and Rui Costa led him in an amazing way to the final kilometers".

Niccolo Bonifazio

Niccolo Bonifazio wins the 2014 Coppa Agostoni.

Greg van Avermaet Wins GP Wallonie

And in Belgium BMC could not be happier. Here's their release:

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet notched his second victory of the season Wednesday by attacking out of a small group to win Grand Prix de Wallonie.

Van Avermaet and three others – defending champion Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) – shook free of the peloton in the final 20 kilometers of the 198.2-km race. The quartet enjoyed as much as a 35-second lead approaching the final climb, the Citadelle de Namur, before Bakelants attacked unsuccessfully several times on the cobblestones. "I was pretty strong and I was confident to keep it all together for my sprint because I felt I was fastest of the group," Van Avermaet said. "But with the attacks, it always slowed down again and the peloton was coming back. So it was a little bit tricky."

Inside the final 300 meters, with Vanendert's teammate, Tony Gallopin, having bridged to the group, Van Avermaet went to his sprint entering the final right-left curve before the finish and had enough time to sit up and celebrate the BMC Racing Team's 26th win of the season. "I am really happy with this result because it gives me a good feeling going toward the worlds," Van Avermaet said. "I was already good in Canada, but my sprint was never really great there. Today, everything went perfectly." Van Avermaet was fifth and seventh, respectively, at the Grands Prix Cycliste races in Canada Friday and Sunday. His first win of the season came last month on Stage 5 of the Eneco Tour of Benelux. "It is always hard to do this race after Canada," Van Avermaet said, "but it is one of the nice races at the end of the year in Belgium. So it is always worth it."

Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) finished second, two seconds after Van Avermaet, while Bakelant was third. BMC Racing team's Dylan Teuns finished sixth and earned best young rider honors. A stagiaire who has signed with the BMC Racing Team for 2015, Teuns said he had a front-row seat to watch the chase of Van Avermaet's group, which was led by Tinkoff-Saxo. "On the last climb, I was just sitting there and making the other guys do the work. It was perfect," he said. "I was a little bit scared toward the end because there were a lot of good guys and then Gallopin attacked. I went with the counter and just followed the guys in front of me. Then I looked up ahead and saw that Greg was gone." BMC Racing Team's Steve Morabito, racing for the first time since a crash knocked him out of the Vuelta a España, finished 13th and just behind the group containing Teuns.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said the team, which started only seven riders, did a good job of monitoring two breakaways before Van Avermaet's group escaped. "Greg was really good and I thought he raced really smart today," Sciandri said. "This was not an easy race and it was a great win for the team and for Greg as he looks ahead to the worlds."

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet at the 2014 Tour of Flanders. Photo ©Sirotti

Orica-GreenEdge team For World's

Here's the Orica announcement:

Orica-Greenedge has named an ambitious lineup for the UCI Team Time Trial World Championship to be held in Ponferrada, Spain this Sunday. With proven success in the discipline, including stage wins at the 2013 Tour de France and 2014 Giro d’Italia, the goal for the outfit is direct.

“We’re going to the world championships for one reason and that is to win the gold medal,” sport director Matt White said. The six riders for the 2014 UCI Team Time Trial World Championship are: Brett Lancaster, Damien Howson, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn and Svein Tuft.

Amongst them features an under 23 individual time trial world champion in Damien Howson and two current national champions in Michael Hepburn (Australia) and Svein Tuft (Canada).

Having won bronze and silver medals in the two editions so far, Orica-GreenEDGE is searching for that elussive gold to complete their collection. “We have made good progression over the last three years,” White continued. “We finished third, a little off the pace, in our first attempt two years ago. Last year we were agonisingly close which was incredible when you think the race was over one hour and four minutes and we lost by 0.8 of a second.”

The group is well drilled, the majority have been working together in the numerous team time trial successes over the past two years and the discipline has been a major objective on their 2014 programs.

“We have three guys who have ridden all three editions,” White said. “The only new addition to the team is Damien Howson but he is no stranger to world championships as he was the world champion last year in the under 23 individual time trial. Apart from Damien, it’s a group that has worked together a fair amount over the last couple of years with guys from the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and last year’s world championships – all events that we have had success in.”

Coming from a training and selection camp in Girona, White is confident the mixed line up has the depth to deliver on the 57.1km course.

“I am happy with the group we have assembled,” White said. “It’s a good combination of youth and solid experience. Half of our team is under 23 years of age and the other half are well into the thirties. It’s a mixed group but it’s a phenomenal group, especially on this course.”

Orica-GreenEdge at the UCI Team Time Trial World Championships:
Brett Lancaster, Damien Howson, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Svein Tuft

Orica-AIS also announced a strong six-women lineup for the team time trial at the world championships yesterday. A focus in 2014, the squad is looking to capitalise on the trio of training camps assigned to the discipline this season.

The six riders for the UCI Women’s Team Time Trial World Championship are: Amanda Spratt, Annette Edmondson, Emma Johansson, Jessie MacLean, Melissa Hoskins and Valentina Scandolara.

Orica-GreenEdge

Orica-GreenEdge team time trialing at this years Giro d'Italia. Photo ©Sirotti

Belkin Announces World's team

Here's Team Belkins release for the upcoming World team time trial:

The Belkin Pro Cycling team will start the World Championships team trial Sunday in Ponferrada, Spain, with five riders who have finished the Vuelta a España. Rick Flens completes the six-headed squad for the 57-kilometre course in northwest Spain.

“A Vuelta often makes for some extras in the legs, but it’s such a hard race that you cannot think about the time trial during the tour, which we haven’t,” said Sports Director Erik Dekker.  “We deliberately decided to blow off some steam after the final stage. The wives, girlfriends and children came over on Sunday for some family time. That was necessary after such a long period. Starting Wednesday, we’ll shift our focus to the time trial.”

Dekker and the riders already know the course well. In April, after the Tour of Basque Country, the Sports Director explored the roads of Ponferrada by bike and shared his experiences. “It’s not exactly technically, there are few corners and it is almost flat. I think it’s a nice time trial course.”

He admits the team adjusted its ambitions without Lars Boom and Robert Gesink racing. “They are two really good riders, and we will miss them, but that shouldn’t distract us from the reality. We’ll be riding the most important team time trial of the year on Sunday and we’ll do everything we can to finish as high up as possible.”

Stef Clement agrees with his Sports Director. The four-time Dutch time trial champion and bronze medallist at the 2007 Worlds said the team will focus on its own performance. “We need to focus on ourselves and ride as fast as possible. The guys who have completed the Vuelta are looking strong and I think Rick has had a good Tour of Britain. “I didn’t start the Vuelta very well, but improved along the way. I’m fit and with some rest and a few solid training rides, I should be ready for Sunday.”  

Team line-up: Stef Clement, Rick Flens, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner.

Sports Director: Erik Dekker.

Belkin team

The Belkin team at this year's Vuelta. Photo ©sirotti