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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, April 2, 2015

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Today's Racing

Thursday will have the two concluding stages of the HC ranked 3 Days of De Panne-Koksijde. A road race will be run in the morning and the afternoon will see a time trial.

In France, the single-day Route Adélie de Vitré will be run on Friday, the third. We'll post complete results for this 1.1 rated event.

Sunday, April 5 is the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). Hot Diggity!

Shimano Bets on E-Bikes

The cycling trade web site Bike Europe noted that Shimano is betting ever more heavily on e-Bikes. As well they should, in Europe sales of the electic-motor assisted bikes are soaring.

Shimano's 2106 product line will include software updates for existing systems as well as a new rollerbrake for heavier bikes like e-Bikes.

Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde

This from Lampre-Merida:

The Three Days of De Panne second stage [Wednesday, April 1] started in Zottegem and finished in Koksijde after 217.2 km that were characterized by the passages on five hills, namely the Mesenberg, the Montenberg, the Kemmelberg, the Rodeberg and the Vidaigneberg (at 91 km to go).

Behind the 12-rider breakaway that led the race from the early kilometers, the main bunch split in two parts, also because of the wind, after the passage on the hills, and Cimolai, Modolo and Richeze gave Lampre-Merida the opportunity of being in the first of the two groups. The peloton return to be united at 60 km to go after and the breakaway was neutralized after in the approach to Koksijde.

In view of the final sprint, Lampre-Merida’s's lead-out train prepared the sprint in a good way, giving Sacha Modolo a considerable support: Ferrari conquered for the blue-fuchsia-green train the front positions in the bunch at 2500 mt to the arrival and it was Richeze's task to defend the places with his grind; Cimolai launched in the final 500 meters the sprint of Modolo, who was followed at 170 mt by Kristoff.
The Norwegian rider is probably the strongest sprinter in the race, so he could overtake Modolo and he obtained the victory. Lampre-Merida obtained the 5th place thanks to Modolo.

Stage finish

3 Days of De Panne stage 2 finish. Alexander Kristoff wins again.

"We're very satisfied for what the team realized in trying to be always in the front of the bunch, in avoiding the negative effect of the wind, in supporting Modolo in view of the sprint - sport director Scirea explained - Sacha battled fiercely in the sprint, he has such a great desire to be protagonist, but today Kristoff was once again the fastest rider. However, Sacha is going better and better and he'll soon will have the opportunity of being protagonist".

Here's Cult Energy's De Panne stage 2 report:

Once again, Cult Energy Pro Cycling was represented in the long-lasting breakaway on today’s 217 kilometer long second stage of Three Days at Panne from Zottegem to Koksijde. Martin Mortensen truly animated the front group insisting on maintaining the gap but eventually, the stage was decided in a bunch sprint where 19 year-old Mads Pedersen finished 15th.

The breakaway including Martin Mortensen managed to work up a lead of 7.30 minutes before the pack with Trek Factory Racing as the main engine started reeling in the front group. Soon, the peloton exploded and a select chase group of approximately 50 riders minimized the gap significantly before stabilizing the gap to about one minute. Entering the first of 3 laps on the local circuit in Koksijde, the gap was down to 30 seconds and the escapees started testing each other and Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Martin Mortensen was especially eager.

However, a group of nine riders including Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) managed to bridge across to the front group with Mortensen and boosted the breakaway’s time in the sun but with 19 kilometers to go, it seemed to be all over. However, just as the peloton made contact, Mortensen launched a new surprise attack and two riders came through to form yet a new front trio.

Rushing into the final 4 kilometers, Mortensen was finally swept up after a tenacious effort in the headwind throughout the day and the stage was concluded in a frantic bunch sprint where race leader, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took another stunning win to retain the overall lead.

DS, André Steensen says: "I can only be happy about the boys' effort out there today. Our plan was to hit the right break and Martin succeeded beautifully and hattack upon attack he extended his time in the front until the final 4 kilometers where he ultimately had to give up. In the bunch sprint, Troels (Vinther) and Michael (Reihs) put Mads (Pedersen) in a great position on Greipel's wheel and made it to 15th. Most of the contenders here are preparing for Ronde van Vlaanderen and being able to compete for the stage win is all I could have hoped for."

LottoNL-Jumbo on Volta Limburg Classic

The Volta Limburg Classic will always be a special race for Limburg-born Frans Maassen. In 2014, Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sports director was over the moon with Moreno Hofland’s victory.

“I would have liked to have Moreno Hofland at the start again, but he isn’t fit enough,” said Maassen. “We have Barry Markus, who’s quick, but he is obviously a different type of sprinter. It would be great if he survives the final, but that’s a difficult and exciting challenge.”

The Volta Limburg Classic organisation has slightly modified this year’s course. The final climb is much closer to the finish line than in previous years.

“In the past, the several groups came together in the final. Thanks to the adjustments, a break now stands a bigger chance, which doesn’t has to be a disadvantage for us.”

Bert-Jan Lindemann

Bert-Jan Lindemann will be at the Volta Limburg Calssic riding for LottoNL-Jumbo

Martijn Keizer agrees. The Dutchman finished 11th in the Volta Limburg Classic in 2013 and fought for victory until very late in the race in 2014. “But on the local laps, the sprinters came back. The new course is an advantage for me, though,” said Keizer, who is very content about his form. “I’m one-hundred per cent fit at the moment. I rode Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Catalonia, two tough WorldTour races, so my racing level should be all right. I expect an elimination race on Saturday if the weather remains stormy like the last few days."

Team line-up: Brian Bulgac, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Bert-Jan Lindeman & Barry Markus.

Sports Directors: Louis Delahaije & Frans Maassen

Lotto-Soudal on Tour of Flanders

This release just came in from Lotto-Soudal:

Three Lotto Soudal riders that are selected for the Tour of Flanders did a reconnaissance of the course this afternoon. Jürgen Roelandts, Stig Broeckx and Tiesj Benoot started in Oudenaarde and covered the first two loops. They rode over the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Paddestraat and Haaghoek.

These are the eight riders that will defend Lotto Soudal’s honour on Sunday: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Lars Ytting Bak

Lars Ytting Bak at this year's 3 Days of De Panne

Herman Frison, sports director: “It’s a logical selection, with Jürgen as the leader. The eight riders have all proven to be ready, also the youngsters. The team is confident and they all support each other. Results don’t lie. We did set nice results the past weeks, with beautiful victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. The icing on the cake, a high result in a Flemish spring race, is still missing and we will strive for that on Sunday. We want to continue this positive vibe.”

“There are so many different possible scenarios for the Ronde. It could be that a large group gets away pretty early in the race and that one of those escapees wins. A breakaway can always be dangerous. It’s a game between the different teams. The question is if all teams are happy with how the group is composed. It’s important to have at least one guy in the break, that will be a role for the young riders in our team.”

Cult Energy on Route Adélie de Vitré

Today not only concludes the 3 Days of De Panne-Koksijde, in France the Route Adélie de Vitré is being held.

Here's Cult Energy's news:

Friday April 3rd, Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be participating in the French 197 kilometer long one-day race, Route Adelie. The hilly course has throughout the history of the race been dominated by highly motivated home turf favorites and 8 times a Frenchman has conquered the top spot of the podium. Cult Energy Pro Cycling are allowed to participate with 8 but are down to six riders due to illness. However DS, Luke Roberts reveals a proper solution:

“Route Adelie is round four of the PMU French Cup, and as with all French Cup races we can expect a very fast and uncontrolled race. It is an undulating circuit race where a very small group sprint is the likeliest outcome. Unfortunately due to illness we only have six riders but luckily, Michael Skelde has been training hard in the last few months and has agreed to fill in for one of our missing riders so we’re now counting seven riders. We have the cards we need to gamble on any outcome. Our sprinters Michael Carbel and Russell Downing will be among the fastest there and with Romain racing on home soil he’ll be motivated to cover any groups that try to slip away. With Skelde in the mix, anything can happen,” concludes Roberts.

The complete line-up: Russell Downing, Michael Carbel, Christian Mager, Karel Hnik, Romain Lemarchand, Gustav Larsson and Michael Skelde.

Russell Downing

Russell Downing at this year's Nokere Koerse

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