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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, April 30, 2015

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Today's Racing

Two races today, the fifth stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey and the third stage of the Tour of Romandie.

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Tour of Turkey News

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

It was almost but not quite there for McCarthy, who showed great legs for the second day in a row in Tour of Turkey. The 22-year old, who is fourth in the GC, took off with a small group on the last hill of stage 4. However, he was swept up by the speeding bunch in the final sprint, which was won by André Greipel with Daniele Bennati finishing 9th.

According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Nicki Sørensen, McCarthy’s near miss run-in towards the finish line once again consolidates the shape of the young GC-captain. “We had a short climb with 10k to go, where Jay went away with a dangerous group with several GC-competitors as they crested the top. Together with another rider, he kept the peloton at bay at a time, where the speed was really high. Unfortunately, they were caught with 500m to go, but Jay told me that it was really close and that he had a very good feeling out on the stage”, says Nicki Sørensen and adds: “He’s optimistic for his chances and so are the entire team. He still has possibilities, especially on stage 6, which has a very interesting profile from his perspective”.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy

Stage 4 of Tour of Turkey took the riders 132km from Fethiye to the costal town of Marmaris, where the stage finish was made tricky by the final climb, which took out many of the teams’ sprinters. Tinkoff-Saxo’s fast man Michael Kolar had to let go of the decimating main bunch just 400m from the top and ultimately it was Lotto-Soudal’s André Greipel that proved the fastest.

“Kolar came really close to making it over the top but was dropped just before the summit, however we hadn’t expected him to be there either. So Bennati participated in the sprint and was 9th. All in all, the riders are satisfied and I’m satisfied with their performance. Right now, we have a team that performs well in all sorts of terrain and tomorrow we’re planning to support Kolar in the sprint once more. Also Pavel Brutt is fielding a very strong shape at the moment, so I believe that it’s just a matter of time before he hits the right breakaway. No matter what, he’s a very important piece in the Tinkoff-Saxo puzzle right now”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

Jay McCarthy still sits 4th in the overall classification going into stage 5, which will send the peloton barreling down towards Pamukkale after having stayed in above 800m altitude during most of the day.

And of course, after André Greipel won the stage, Lotto-Soudal sent a report:

André Greipel has won the fourth stage in the Tour of Turkey with finish in Marmaris. It’s the tenth victory ever of Greipel in this stage race. It was a short stage in Turkey today of about 132 kilometres. It was a nervous day with lots of attacks. Lotto Soudal, and especially Kris Boeckmans, did lots of work in the peloton, chasing down the leaders. In the final there was a climb which wasn’t part of the KOM classification, but the peloton was reduced considerably there. The riders that attacked there didn’t make it till the end and a group of about 55 riders sprinted for the victory. André Greipel was the fastest. The German champion beat Daniele Colli and Daniele Ratto. Now Greipel will leave the Tour of Turkey to do his final preparation for the Giro, which starts on Saturday 9th May, at home.

Andre Greipel wins Tour of Turkey stage 4

André Greipel wins Tour of Turkey stage four.

André Greipel: “As always it’s nice to win, especially because it didn’t work out in the first two sprints. I did get my win here after all. The climb in the final was crucial, that made the difference. We got over the top with about 35 riders. It was a really good team effort today, my teammates tried to hang on as well to make the sprint possible for me. With 300 metres to go I started sprinting and I won.”

“I like to race in Turkey, I love the country. The Tour of Turkey is a beautiful race, that grows every year and the organization keeps getting better. This was the ideal race to get back in competition after my break after the spring races. It was planned to be my last stage today. Tomorrow I’ll fly home and on Wednesday I’ll leave for the Giro. I will do some endurance rides in the following days, but it’s important to get fresh at the start. It’s always good to win just before a Grand Tour. I’m looking forward to the Giro.”

Tour de Romandie Team Reports

Orica-GreenEdge was justifiably happy with Stage two:

Three-time 2014 stage winner Michael Albasini has once again shown his strength at the Tour de Romandie, claiming the second stage in Saint-Imier today. Despite some struggles earlier in the day, the 34-year-old crested the final climb alongside Orica-GreenEDGE teammates Simon Yates and Ivan Santaromita in a group of around 40 riders and was too strong in the final sprint, finishing ahead of Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quickstep).

The victory also moved the Suisse, who showed his current form with a third place at La Fleche Wallonne last week, into the race lead. “I actually was hurting a lot on the second last climb out here in Saint-Imier,” Albasini said. “But (the final climb) was quite a regular climb. After a really fast first part, the second part was more regular and I could stay in the bunch so I knew I had a good chance in the sprint.”

“I placed myself well, I always like a little fight going on and I was maybe a little bit too far in the front too early so I was happy the guys from Garmin camearound me and I could jump on them. Still I had to do a long long sprint so I was happy to keep (the lead).”

The victory was a sweetener for the Australian outfit who narrowly missed out on the first stage team time trial victory yesterday, beaten by the day’s final finishers, Team Sky, by less than one second.

“It was disappointing yesterday so I am super happy that we can have the first win today,” Albasini said. “It makes it a little bit better for the 0.63 of a second we lost yesterday.”

Asked after the win if he can back it up like last year’s effort of three stage wins, Albasini was content with enjoying the days efforts for now. “Last year was the first time I won a stage at Tour of Romandie and I thought winning three, I am fine for the next two years,” he joked. “But I am happy to win again, it’s my first win this season so it’s great and especially to win in Switzerland, it’s always nice.”

Michel Albasini wins the stage

Michael Albasini wins Romandie stage two.

With memories of last year’s opening stage victory in mind, the team knew Albasini was a real chance going into today’s stage, and if not, ably backed up by British climber Yates.

“The stage finish was a similar terrain to the first stage he won last year,” sport director Neil Stephens noted. “Once he forced himself over the climb with that group, there was no one that could beat him. Michael put in some great preparation for the Ardennes so he is in great shape and everyone has their good races, ones that suit them well, and his just happens to be in his home country as well so that makes it even more special.”

As the action got underway at the start of the day there was no reaction from the peloton as Jonathon Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) and Maxim Belkov (Team Katusha) worked off the front from the flag, the duo rapidly gaining almost four minutes advantage in the first ten kilometres of racing.

They remained in front for much of the day, albeit closely monitored by Team Sky who managed the head of the peloton in defence of the leader’s jersey worn by Geraint Thomas.

As they tackled the final climb of the stage, the duo’s time in front came to a close as a number of attacks, including one involving Orica-GreenEDGE’s Santaromita, on the ascent with 22km to ride saw the peloton break into pieces.

Over the descent and into the finish, a group of 40riders came together for a sprint finish, Albasini perfectly placed and too crafty for the group that consisted mainly of general classification contenders.

Tomorrow’s stage three is another punchy day with riders to negotiate four classified climbs on the 173.2km journey from Moutier to Porrentruy.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Romandie report:

Tinkoff-Saxo regained momentum on stage 2 of Tour de Romandie after yesterday’s disappointing result in the team time trial. According to the team sports director, team captain Rafal Majka tackled the four categorized climbs with relative ease and finished 14th in the decimated bunch sprint.

After the stage finish, Tinkoff-Saxo DS Bruno Cenghialta notes that the squad put the team strategy into effect on the 166km stage. “After yesterday's negative race, the guys raced very well today and executed the plan we had. To be honest, we thought the climbs would have been tougher in order to be able to achieve more. However, in the final climb a leading group was formed with the best 20 riders and Rafal Majka was easily there in the front”, says Bruno Cenghialta.

Team leader Rafal Majka confirms that he is optimistic after the stage. “I felt good during the whole stage, also on the last climb through the Col La Vue des Alpes, where I was pedaling in the front of the group and won the mountain sprint. The finish was difficult, but I had some energy and finished in 14th position from a 50-person group. I am optimistic before the following stages”, says Majka.

After cresting the top of the final category two climb, the select bunch speeded down towards the finish line in Saint-Imier, where Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Albasini showed that he was the fastest on the day. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka was 14th and got through the stage without difficulties - a sign that pleases Cenghialta ahead of the coming stages.

Majka

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo kit)

“We will now have to see what happens on Thursday and Friday but I'm convinced it will be Saturday's climbs, and in particular the last one, that will decide the GC. Rafal is in good form and the rest of the squad is in good shape as well and if we are attentive in the next two days we can tackle Saturday successfully and achieve a good final result”, comments Bruno Cenghialta and adds: “I'm satisfied with what we achieved today and I think our performance yesterday was an exception. The guys raced according to their abilities today and I feel confident ahead of the remaining days”.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Jesper Hansen was involved in an unfortunate incident during stage 2. The Dane was hit on his left shoulder by an opening car door, as medical staff exited a race vehicle to attend to a group of riders following a crash in which Hansen was also involved. Fortunately, he was able to continue racing and finish the stage. He was examined by the team doctor and the initial assessment is positive as no serious injuries were found. His condition will be evaluated again tomorrow morning.   

Tour of Yorkshire Reports

The Tour of Yorkshire starts May 1.

Team Sky's roster for the race:

Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for Tour de Yorkshire [1- 3 May]: Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Nathan Earle, David Lopez, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Salvatore Puccio, Ben Swift and Chris Sutton

Cult Energy's Yorkshire plans:

Friday the 1st of May, Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be taking on the new British three day stage race, Tour of Yorkshire in the northeastern part of England – organized by A.S.O. who are also responsible for Tour de France. Containing three stages between 167 and 174 kilometers in difficult and surprisingly hilly terrain, the race will not be an easy one. In 2014, the Tour de France visited this area of Britain and the organizers must have liked the unpredictable and beautiful landscape enough to come back.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling have been struck by illness and a number of injuries throughout the spring campaign but without a captain for the GC, everyone in the line-up gets a chance to shine.

Cult Energy DS, Luke Roberts says: “The Tour of Yorkshire is a race we have been particularly looking forward to after seeing the way the public greeted the Tour de France last year in this region and of course we will be lining up with a home town hero, Russell Downing. Stage 1 will be tough but I think we will still see a bunch sprint from a smaller group. Russell will be super motivated to stay in the lead group and fight for the win in Scarborough. Stage 2 is definitely one for the sprinters and again Russell will be looking to put our first win on the board in his home country. The final stage is very tough and will likely sort out the GC. It will be a tactical battle and with most of our riders in top shape now we will have more than one card to play.”

Russell Downing

Russell Downing in this year's Nokere Koerse

Cult Energy Pro Cycling line-up: Russell Downing, Rasmus Quaade, Alex Kirsch, Karel Hnik, Martin Mortensen, Romain Lemarchand, Joel Zangerle and Gustav Larsson.  

May First is also the Eschborn-Frankfurt race in Germany

This from Lampre-Merida:

The first of May the Merida bikes and the blue-fuchsia-green cyclists will hurtle on the roads of Frankfurt on the 205 km course of the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt.

For the debut of the Lampre-Merida team in the German race, the sport director Scirea selected 6 riders: Mattia Cattaneo, Valerio Conti, Nelson Oliveira, Luka Pibernik, Jan Polanc and Filippo Pozzato.

Filippo Pozzato

Filippo Pozzato rides the 2015 Tour of Flanders

The 2160 meters of height difference make the course suitable for Polanc and Oliveira, who were recently protagonists in the Belgian Classics and in the Ardenne Classics.

Conti, who made his debut in top level races such as the Amstel Gold Race and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Pibernik will face the race in a lively way, while Pozzato will be the additional value of the selection. Mattia Cattaneo will come back to racing after a pause.

Team Giant-Alpecin's Upcoming Race Plans

This just came from Giant-Alpecin:

RACE PREVIEW: APRIL 27 - MAY 5 

TOUR DE YORKSHIRE (2.1)

After a very successful Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014, the pro peloton returns to the UK for the first Tour de Yorkshire. The three-day race will be held on some of the same hilly roads as the first two stages of last year’s Tour de France, so bunch sprints cannot be assumed.

At the Tour de Yorkshire the team’s sprinter Marcel Kittel (GER) will return to the peloton after a period without racing due to sickness. Kittel has good memories of Yorkshire, as he was the fastest in stage 1 of last year’s Tour and consequently wore the yellow jersey on stage 2.

Team Giant-Alpecin comes to the UK with a mixed team with fast legs including Bert De Backer (BEL), Tom Stamsnijder (NED) and Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), supplemented by climbers Lawson Craddock (USA), Caleb Fairly (USA) and Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), who come fresh out of the Ardennes classics. For cyclo-cross specialist Lars van der Haar (NED), this will be the first stage race as a member of the WorldTour team.

“At first glance the stages seem relatively flat, but from last year’s Tour we know that they include some difficult categorized as well as uncategorized hills. We will start with a diverse team and aim for good stage results

“It will be Kittel’s first race back, so we need to give him the opportunity to find his race rhythm again,” explained coach Marc Reef (NED).

LINE-UP: Lawson Craddock (USA), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA)Marcel Kittel (GER), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Lars van der Haar (NED) 

RUND UM DEN FINANZPLATZ ESCHBORN-FRANKFURT (1.HC)

This Friday is the 206.8 km German one-day race Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt, which is traditionally a battle between the sprinters. The team won the race in 2011 and will be looking for another good result in Frankfurt this year.

The team will be led by John Degenkolb (GER), who returns to his home race after winning two “monument” classics. He has achieved some strong results in previous editions of the German one-day race, as he won in 2011 and was seventh, fourth and second in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb

Degenkolb will be joined by a strong team, including fellow Germans Nikias Arndt and Simon Geschke as well as Tom Dumoulin (NED), who recently took his first win of the season in the time trial at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The lineup will be completed by Roy Curvers (NED), Koen de Kort (NED), Albert Timmer (NED) and Zico Waeytens (BEL).

Coach Rudi Kemna is looking forward to Friday: “Frankfurt is a very nice race for us and we are sending a strong team to go for a good result. All the guys are well prepared, and a very motivated Degenkolb will lead the team.”

LINE-UP:Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), John Degenkolb (GER) ,Koen de Kort (NED),Tom Dumoulin (NED), Simon Geschke (GER) ,Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL) 

FESTIVAL LUXEMBOURGEOIS DU CYCLISME FÉMININ ELSY JACOBS (UCI 2.1)

This three-day race takes place on a hilly parcours in southern Luxembourg. A consistent performance by Amy Pieters (NED) in last year’s edition of the Luxembourgish stage race was rewarded with an eighth place in the general classification. Is the team capable of replicating or even improving on this result?

Pieters is included in the Team Liv-Plantur lineup again this year, and she will be supported by climber Sabrina Stultiens (NED) and classics specialist Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), who achieved a top-10 result in 2010, as well as a fast Lucy Garner (GBR). The lineup is completed by the talented Floortje Mackaij (NED) and Julia Soek (NED).

Amy Pieters

Amy Pieters

Coach Hans Timmermans said: “This race can be pretty selective. Our performance in the prologue will be decisive for our GC ambitions. I expect a strong Pieters after her top-10 result last year. In the recent Omloop van Borsele she was one of the strongest in the race, so her form is excellent at the moment.

“We chose this stage race over the Ronde van Overijssel, and that indicates that we have confidence in a good result, and it is also a good investment in the development of our young riders. Stultiens did a good performance in Flèche Wallonne, so we hope she can continue here.”

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