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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, April 5, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today is the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). Big, fun (if you're a race fan and not trying to race on the cobbles) stuff.

Plus two other races, the French Paris-Camembert (ranked 1.1) and a race in Spain, Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja. We'll post complete results for all three competitions.

Bontrager Has Bright Tailight for Daytime

When I ride, I can't help feeling I am one distracted idiot away from getting hit by a car. I've been riding seriously for about fifty years, and have never had a car hit me. But I can't shake the worry. Maybe that's why I've been able to stay safe.

So, with that paranoia in mind, I was tickled to see that Bontrager (a division of Trek Bicycles) has released a super-bright taillight made specifically for daytime use. The company claims it can be seen from two kilometers away. As a Trek spokesman said,  "A helmet is a great thing, but not getting hit by a car is even better."

It is just 36 grams yet kicks out 65 lumens, brighter than a car's taillight according to Bontrager. It uses a rechargeable battery and depending upon the mode, the charge will last from 4 to 23 hours.

Bontrager day rear light

Called the "Bontrager Flare R" light, suggested retail is $59.95

Marcel Kittel Sidelined

This unfortunate news regarding one of the world's best road sprinters came from Giant-Alpecin:

Marcel Kittel will unfortunately not appear at the start of this Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs and next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix.

Kittel was hit by a virus that he picked up in the midst of a busy early season and decided to step off the bike for a while before starting his training again. In consultation with the performance staff and Kittel himself, the team decided that additional training is required before he returns to competition.

“I have already been back on the bike for some time, but I am not yet back to my normal performance level and that is why we decided to work back to full fitness and towards my next goals this season," said Kittel.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel at this year's Giant-Alpecin team presentation

The inability to continue his winning streak at Scheldeprijs is a disappointment for both Kittel and the team after a hat trick of wins at the Belgium one-day race in the last three years. Getting back to his normal performance level is the first priority. For now, Kittel will work closely with the team’s medical and performance staff to ensure a gradual build in the intensity of his training.  

Team Reports on the Volta Limburg Classic

Here are the Volta Limburg Classic results.

This from a very happy BMC:

Eijsden, The Netherlands - Stefan Küng led a 1-3-7 finish by the BMC Racing Team Saturday at Volta Limburg Classic while scoring his first road race victory as a professional. Two days after finishing runner-up to Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) in the final time trial of Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Küng was using his time trial talent again after slipping two others with 16 kilometers to go in the 198 km race.

"Winning solo is always the best way to win," Küng said. "When I was out there, I thought about the time trial at De Panne. In my head, I was thinking about how I did that one for training. Now I had to show that I was good."

Küng sat up and coasted his BMC teammachine SLR01 across the line with both arms in the air 27 seconds before Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) edged Dylan Teuns for runner-up honors. Amael Moinard, in seventh, was the BMC Racing Team's third rider in the top 10.

Sport Director Jackson Stewart said some course reconnaissance on Friday set the stage for the BMC Racing Team's fifth win of the season. "We rode the finishing circuit just to have a look and see if you could solo it in, plus we knew we weren't going to see it on any of the laps," he said. "We knew it would be hard to chase on the narrow roads and that there would be a tailwind in the end."

Manuel Senni represented the BMC Racing Team in the day's main breakaway of seven riders. With 40 km to go, the escapees were joined by chase groups that contained two more BMC Racing Team riders, Küng and Danilo Wyss. From there, Küng attacked with 22 km to go and only Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team Lotto NL-Jumbo) and Dimitri Claeys (Verandas Willems Cycling) could initially follow.

"There was a climb and then a headwind before a left turn into a tailwind," Küng said. "Danilo said to me, 'go' and then I just went full gas and didn't look back."

Kung file photo

Stefan Küng had a good day on Dutch roads

Küng's first professional season has already been a productive one. In February, he won the world individual pursuit championship on the track after riding on the BMC Racing Team's winning team classification squad at the Dubai Tour. That added to European Under 23 titles won in the road race and time trial last year while competing for the BMC Development Team. "Kung was so impressive today," Stewart said. "As great as our teamwork was, he really did a lot of the work himself."

And Cult Energy had this to say about the Volta Limburg Classic:

Today, the 198 kilometer long one-day race, Volta Limburg Classic was on the menu for Cult Energy Pro Cycling and the rest of the peloton. The Dutch race took place on an undulating course near the city of Maastricht where the Danish team will be racing again later this month in Amstel Gold Race. Several breakaways dominated the race but in the end, Stefan Küng (BMC) took a slo win while Cult Energy’s Rasmus Guldhammer demonstrated good form finishing 5th.

First seven riders without Cult Energy participation formed a longer lasting breakaway but the gap remained small enough for single riders to bridge across going into the final 80 kilometers of the race. And the attacks relentlessly kept coming throughout the entire finale splitting up both the peloton and the front group. Eventually, Stefan Küng (BMC) attacked from the front group and soloed his way towards the finish line while Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer was in the select group of riders chasing behind.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

No one was able to catch Küng who took a beautiful solo win and in in the sprint, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer finished 5th. “It was a very tough race due to the pace, the terrain and the cold but I actually felt strong throughout the day. Naturally, I was in a world of pain in the final 15 kilometers but that goes for everyone. I tried to take my turns and contributed in the chase but I didn’t have the power in the tank to finish on the podium but I’m happy about my effort today,” says Rasmus Guldhammer.

DS, Michael Skelde says: “Rasmus shows top-class riding today and I can tell that he has developed a lot this spring. It seems like he gets stronger for every race and today he not only displayed big power but he rode intelligently as well so I’m looking forward to Amstel Gold Race later this month."

Jurgen Van den Broeck Preparing for the Giro d'Italia

The Giro isn't vary far away. Lotto-Soudal sent this:

BikeRaceInfo's Giro database

It’s exactly five weeks before the start of the Giro d’Italia in Sanremo. The Lotto Soudal roster is almost ready. Jurgen Van den Broeck, André Greipel and Maxime Monfort are definitely part of the selection. Van den Broeck returns to the Grand Tour where he conquered a top ten place in GC for the very first time.

Jurgen Van den Broeck: “Of course I’m really pleased the team selected me for the Giro. It was already obvious for a while now that I won’t go to the Tour and that’s fine. Taking part in the Giro is a return to the place where it all began for me as a GC rider (in 2008 Van den Broeck finished as sixth, LTS)."

“On Wednesday I’ll head to Tenerife for two and a half weeks to optimally prepare myself. Then I’ll try to be as good as possible in the Tour de Romandie and then the Giro starts. The past few weeks I took part in two WorldTour stage races as planned: Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya. In Tirreno I was eleventh. Top ten would have been nicer, but I was close. In Catalunya the focus of the team and me changed when Bart De Clercq took the leader’s jersey.”

Jurgen VAn den Broeck

Jurgen Van de Broeck at this year's Tirreno-Adriatico

“Of course I will do everything I can to do well. I urged the team to select me and now I want to live up to the expectations. The Tour de Romandie will be a reference to see if a top ten in Giro is a realistic goal. I now feel much better than last year at this time of the year, because I had a tough winter period then due to the combination between my rehabilitation after my crash in the Tour and working on the basic condition. It was a long and hard road and I underestimated the impact.”

Manager Marc Sergeant: “I was pretty pleased with the performance of Jurgen in Tirreno. There’s not much difference between the eleventh and tenth place. He lost a few seconds in both time trials and at the summit finish, at the end that was the small difference between the sixth and eleventh place. If he had been 40th it would have been different. Jurgen let us know he really wanted to go to the Giro, we spoke about that and we all can benefit from a good result. Also mentally this is important for Jurgen, I think. He can do what he loves most, ride a Grand Tour.”

“First he’ll ride the Tour de Romandie. Two years ago he finished in top ten and we hope he can repeat that performance. If you want to be good in the Giro, you already have to be good in Romandie. That will also be the goal in the Giro. With a place in top ten I will be satisfied. That seems a correct goal to me for a rider who finished in top five of the Tour the past years and was thirteenth last year in difficult circumstances.”

LottoNL-Jumbo Going to al Pais Vasco

Monday the Spanish al Pais Vasco stage race starts.

This came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

George Bennett is Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s main man for the overall in next week’s Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. The New Zealander wonders what he can pull off in the autonomous Spanish region after knee problems forced him to abandon the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

“There’s still some irritation, but my knee is OK,” Bennett said. “Since Catalunya, I passed many days trying to heal my knee, but I’m back on the bike doing easy rides. My general condition is completely unknown to me. For sure, I will know a lot more after the first days. If I don’t lose too much time there, I can be strong enough by the decisive stages.”

The 24-year-old from New Zealand is ready to fight. “It’s always a special opportunity to lead a team, and I’ll fight as much as I can for the boys,” he added. “I’ve done the training. Let’s see how much the injury has set me back.”

Frans Maassen Sports Directors Erik Dekker and Frans Maassen head to the Basque Country with a number of riders that struggled with their condition over the past few weeks. “We will find out how good we are during the week. Of course, we want to achieve results, but for some, it’s going to be too difficult.”

Team line-up: George Bennett, Brian Bulgac, Martijn Keizer, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Nick van der Lijke, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen & Kevin de Weert.

Sports Directors: Erik Dekker & Frans Maassen.

And the Circuit de La Sarthe is Almost on Top of Us

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this release regarding their Circuit de la Sarthe plans"

The 63th edition of Circuit de la Sarthe offers fast, yet versatile, terrain during the five-stage race in northwestern France. Tinkoff-Saxo aligns a team led by Manuele Boaro and Michael Valgren in an effort to claim the overall win. Having shown strong shape, Boaro looks to make the difference contre-la-montre on the short, intensive 6.8km time trial.

On Tuesday, April 7th, Tinkoff-Saxo will be at the start in Sablé-sur-Sarthe with a six-man squad consisting of Manuele Boaro, Michael Valgren, Jay McCarthy, Juraj Sagan, Jesper Hansen and Michael Kolar.

Team sports director Nicki Sørensen remains unambiguous on Tinkoff-Saxo’s race ambitions: “We will try to win the race. We believe it’s realistic with the riders we have, however, we know that the competition will be hard. We have Manuele Boaro and Michael Valgren, who are in great shape, and both of them are motivated in their attempt to create a good result. Juraj, Kolar, Hansen and McCarthy are all ready to offer their support, while a guy like McCarthy could also have a go in the bunch sprints”, says Nicki Sørensen.

Circuit de la Sarthe features five stages on four days with mainly fast-paced racing. However, the riders will have to tackle both hilly terrain and an explosive individual time trial. With a length of 6,8km, the TT on day 2 is almost identical to the recent fight against the clock at Criterium International, where Manuele Boaro claimed a close third place despite a broken arm pad. Nicki Sørensen notes that he looks forward to seeing Boaro return to his favorite discipline.

“We expect that Manuele will deliver a strong performance at the time trial, which suits him well. He is a very capable rider on short, intensive time trials and I know that he looks forward to competing. He has done well so far in 2015, and I sense that he has added another level to his performance this year”, tells Nicki Sørensen.

“Sharing the leading role with Manuele, we have Michael Valgren, who has had this race in the back of his head for quite some time now. For Valgren, as well as for Boaro, Circuit de la Sarthe offers the opportunity to create a personal result, and I believe that Michael has the power and the stability to do well in a race like this. A lot can happen and we will see how everything plays out, but we are ready to give it a go”.

According to Manuele Boaro, a top result Circuit de la Sarthe depends on staying focused and performing in the time trial. “My condition is good and I look forward to this race. I remember that I finished second overall in 2012, so I know that it’s a race that suits me well. It’s important to stay alert during all the stages, but the time trial is really an obvious possibility to gain time. I like the time trials, especially the shorter ones and I’ve trained for this during the last period. Now, we will see how it goes, but I have a good feeling and the team is focused”, comments Manuele Boaro.

Manuele Boaro

Manuele Boaro

“I want to win and perform and it’s an important moment right now. I’m a part of this team and I will try to do all I can to create results. We haven’t had the best spring, but the level of ambition is high and the moral is equally good. I look forward to getting started”, finishes Manuele Boaro.

Race details
Dates: 7 – 10 April
Number of stages: 5
Total length: 647.7 kilometers
Kind:  Fast stage race
First edition: 1953
Last year’s winner: Ramunas Navardauskas
Best GC result of Tinkoff-Saxo: 2nd  - Manuele Boaro (2012)

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