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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, August 3, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Three races today, all stage races.

The 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal continues through August 9th. The World-Tour ranked Tour of Poland has its second stage. And in the U.S., the Tour of Utah begins.

Tom Danielson positive for synthetic testosterone

Update, 1 PM, August 3: This came from Danielson's team, Slipstream Sports:

Tom Danielson notified Slipstream Sports that he was informed by USADA that he has returned an adverse analytical A sample using carbon isotope testing. In accordance with Slipstream Sports' zero tolerance anti-doping policy, he has been suspended from competition, effective immediately. He awaits the results his B sample.  Slipstream respects and will adhere to the process of the anti-doping authorities and will not comment further.

Earlier post, 5AM, August 3:

This Tweet was sent by Tom Danielson: "For USADA notifying me that a out of competition test I gave July 9th has tested positive for, from what I understand, synthetic testosteron"

Here's the story from the Reuter's news service:

American Tom Danielson has revealed he failed a doping test for synthetic testosterone but the Cannondale-Garmin rider denies taking a banned substance.

"While I was eating dinner with my team the night before Tour of Utah I received a call from USADA notifying me that a out of competition test I gave July 9th has tested positive for, from what I understand, synthetic testosterone," Danielson said on Twitter.

"I have not taken this or any other banned substance."

Danielson was handed a six-month ban in 2012-13 after admitting to blood doping while riding with The Discovery Channel team.

The 37-year-old said he would skip the Tour of Utah, which starts on Monday. He won the race the last two years.

"I feel incredibly hurt, frustrated, and angry by this. I don't understand how or why this happened and still can't even accept this is true," added Danielson, who placed eighth in the 2011 Tour de France.

When I checked the Cannondale-Garmin team web site and its Facebook page at 5:45 AM Pacific time, I could find no statement regarding Danielson.

Tpm Danielson

Tom Danielson finishing the second stage of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Giant-Alpecin had good day in Poland

This came from the team:

Marcel Kittel (GER) returned to racing with a bang today, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Poland and with it assuming the overall race lead.

The win marks a successful restart after a period of training having missed out on selection for the Tour de France following illness earlier this season. The stage win is also Kittel's first win of the season and will be a timely boost to his confidence ahead of the final part of the season.

Marcel Kittel (GER): "We rode the final corner in the neutral and at first I thought it was going to be difficult but after we passed through it a few times during the race I got a better feeling. It was a tricky final so it was necessary to be in front with the whole team and we managed this in a good way. The boys were fighting hard for me and brought me into a good position, and although it wasn't easy to stay together we didn't lose faith.

"It's a very important win for me and it's too long since I last had this feeling. I had to fight back and I am happy that I never gave up and can now be racing for victory again. It's a race I've been looking forward to, and with two more days of possible sprints we can look forward to racing hard." 

Marcel Kittel wins Tour of Poland stage 1

Marcel Kittel wins Tour of Poland stage 1

Addy Engels (NED): "The scenario was perfect for us with the breakaway that was in front and we were able to control the whole race and keep to our plan of setting up a sprint for Marcel. Our target was to be in front at the corner with two kilometres to go as after this point the hill and corners would make it difficult to move up and be in control. This worked well and from here we took the lead.

"The guys stayed calm and in control to set up the lead-out and Marcel was able to come to the front in the final corner to take the win. It was a great display of teamwork, fundamental for the win today. It's good to see Marcel back winning again and it will be a boost to his confidence for the targets we have coming up over the next months."   

Barbara Guarischi wins Sparkassen Giro

Velocio Sports sent me this memo:

Bochum, Germany - 2 August, 2015 - Barbara Guarischi had the biggest win of her career today at the Sparkassen Giro UCI World Cup in Bochum, Germany. Incredibly it's the Velocio-SRAM rider's second win in less than 24 hours after Guarischi last night won the Prudential Ride London Grand Prix in central London. Today, in a very narrow sprint victory Guarischi won the World Cup ahead of Lucinda Brand (RaboLiv) and Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products). 

The 124 kilometre race had action from several teams trying to create a breakaway on the circuit. The small climb on each of the eight laps provided a launch pad for attacks, in particular from RaboLiv.

Barbara Guerischi wins Sparkassen Giro

Barbara Guerischi (left of the front two) barely wins Sparkassen Giro.

Team Director Ronny Lauke said, "After the final climb it was clear that the peloton would be going for a bunch sprint. We had planned to go for Barbara in the sprint because of the hard and fast final kilometre. We had said she must go into the last corner in only first or second position, nothing else would work. Everyone in the team worked well to make it happen and once again the girls executed the plan. They deserve the great result."

Guarischi can hardly believe that she has won a World Cup, saying "It's unbelievable, really it's too much for me!  After we traveled from Ride London race last night and this morning, I didn't feel good in the first lap. I went to our road captain Trixi and told her but she just told me to be patient and wait until the middle of the race see what happens. But still in the middle of the race I didn't feel good! Trixi and the girls believed in me and they delivered me perfectly in the lead out. Tiff was the last person with me at 600m to go. I could see Brand try to come through the last corner fast and D'Hoore was on her wheel. Tiff and I kept our position and she gave me space to go onto Brand's wheel. It was a similar way to how I beat Brand in the Giro Rosa stage. Except this time it was really close at the end. Just before the line I wasn't sure if it would be first or second, but then I threw my bike and I said to myself, 'it's the win!' And it was!"

The team will next race in Vårgårda, Sweden on 21 and 23 August for another two UCI World Cup's, including the Team Time Trial.

RideLondon-Surrey News

BMC was certainly happy about how the RideLondon-Surrey race turned out.

London - BMC Racing Team's Jempy Drucker infiltrated a late breakaway, helped chase down a potential solo winner, then held off a late charge in the sprint to win Sunday's Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic. Drucker edged out Mike Teunissen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo on the dash to the line on The Mall in London as Ben Swift (Team Sky) took third.

"I am a fast guy, so I was pretty confident," Drucker said after winning his first race of the season. "I looked a bit to Ben Swift because I knew he was a bit nervous. He wanted to do something. I tried to keep his wheel and focus on him."

Earlier, Drucker had worked hard to bring back Teunissen's teammate, Sep Vanmarcke, who attacked with 12 km left in the 200 km race. Vanmarcke had a 20-second lead with five kilometers to go, but was brought back with two kilometers left. Into the final few hundred meters, Drucker stuck to Swift's wheel, then made his move with an attack up the left side. Teunissen followed Drucker and tried to come around him, but the gap was too much to overcome.

The victory was Drucker's first since he won the prologue of the 2010 Flèche du Sud. It was the BMC Racing Team's 22nd win of the season.

Jean-Pierre wins RideLondon

Jean-Pierre Drucker just wins RideLondon-Surrey

The BMC Racing Team was one of the primary aggressors in the second half of the race. First, stagiaire Floris Gerts attacked out of the peloton with 75 kms to go and joined four riders who part of the day's breakaway. About 10 km later, Gerts set off on his own. With 55 km to go, he was joined by six others, but the peloton was close behind approaching the last climb of the day, Box Hill.

Philippe Gilbert, runner-up at Clasica San Sebastian Saturday and winner of a stage of the Tour de Wallonie last week, drove the pace up Box Hill, helped by Tour de France Stage 1 winner Rohan Dennis. Their attack drew out a small group that was reeled in. But not long after that, with 35 km to go, Drucker worked his way into an eight-man breakaway that proved to be the decisive move.

"We needed a hard race and Philippe really wanted to try on Box Hill," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said. "It kind of broke up, but not enough. I think the pace was always high, but not on the ups and downs. Jempy ended up in a good move and was super strong and rode really smart."

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's RideLondon report:

Mike Teunissen and Sep Vanmarcke came close to the victory in the Prudential Ride London on Sunday. Vanmarcke tried to solo to the win, but three riders were able to catch him with two kilometres to go. Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing Team) prevented Teunissen from grabbing the victory for Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

“It’s a real shame that we didn’t win," Sports Director Richard Plugge said after the race. “Everything was running smoothly actually. I expected that around 50 riders would have been able to survive the hills and maybe a small group could escape out of that bunch. We had to be there afterwards.

"When you look at that, we were in the race every time. We were part of almost all the interesting breakaways and Sep and Mike were in the decisive one. Sep gave everything he had for the win, but was facing a lot of headwind during his solo. That didn’t help him. Mike did a great job. But you want to win the race, and we didn’t. That’s too bad.”

Vanmarcke, who was at the forefront of the fight, agreed. “I took the matters in my hand on the penultimate climb," he said looking back. “There were 70 kilometres to go from there. From that moment, it became a real fight. It was good to see that the whole team was attentive. In the end, a group of eight riders were able to stay in front and Mike and I were there. With 15 kilometres to go, I tried to finish it on my own. I was able to push through during the first five kilometres, but afterwards I was slowing down a little bit. It’s a pity that they caught me with two kilometres to go.”

The situation was still promising for Team LottoNL-Jumbo because Teunissen was there as well. “We had to try something because there were a lot of good sprinters in that breakaway," Teunissen said. “We did that, but it was not good enough, unfortunately. I tried to put Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Drucker under pressure. Swift chased me two times and broke himself. I was close in the end and I think that I should have waited for the sprint. I’m fed up with that.”

Tour of Denmark starts August 4

Here are Lotto-Soudal's Denmark plans:

They are busy times these days. Yesterday it was the Clásica San Sebastián, today the London Classic and the first stage of the Tour de Pologne. Tuesday 4 August the Post Danmark Rundt starts, a race that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It’s a five-day stage race from the Europe Tour which ends on Saturday 8 August.

The Post Danmark Rundt consists of six stages on a flat course, where escapees definitely have a chance to survive. The stages end with local laps. On Friday there is a double programme for the riders. The day starts with a stage of 115 kilometres and in the evening there is an individual time trial of 13.6 kilometres. The final stage could still be exciting for the overall victory. The past two years Lars Bak was second on GC, can he become number one this year?

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Lars Bak is very keen to win the Post Danmark Rundt. This year he’s even stronger after the Tour than last year. The time trial suits him; flat and not too long. We definitely have a chance to win the GC with him, although it’s not that easy even though he was so close the previous years.”

Lars Yttng Bak

Lars Ytting Bak

“Apart from Lars we have several other cards to play. We have other riders who can ride a good time trial and can set a good overall result. Sean De Bie was sixth overall last year. Also our trainee, Frederik Frison, is a strong time trialist. But we don’t want to put any pressure on him, we’ll see how it goes in his first race with the pros. He can also play his role in the sprint, to help Kenny Dehaes.”

"The first stage along the coast could already cause splits. This is a stage race with many opportunities for riders who dare to attack. Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande and Dennis Vanendert will definitely want to join a breakaway. For Jelle Vanendert this is part of his preparation for the Vuelta. I have high expectations for this Post Danmark Rundt, because we have such a strong team with riders who are ambitious.”

Team selection Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Kenny Dehaes, Sean De Bie, Frederik Frison, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert and Jelle Vanendert.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.

And here is what Tinkoff-Saxo released regarding the Denmark tour:

Tinkoff-Saxo targets stage wins and the overall victory at Post Denmark Rundt, as the squad lines up for the 25th anniversary edition against a strong field of competitors. Last-minute replacement and defending champion Michael Valgren joins the team in support of team leader Chris Juul-Jensen.

“We enter the race as defending champions and it’s of course not a secret that we’re here to fight for the overall victory – whether we succeed is definitely not granted”, assesses Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Lars Michaelsen, who will direct the squad during the five days of racing in Denmark.

“Our main goal is to win the race with Chris Juul-Jensen and then we’ll be looking for stage wins with fast guys like Mørkøv and Breschel. It’s a strong field this year and the competition will be hard but I think that Chris Juul’s season has been pointing him in this direction. He has played the part as supporting rider many times during the year and we’ve witnessed how committed he has been to this role. I only think it’s natural that he gets the opportunity to lead the GC ambitions, also taking into account his current shape”, comments Lars Michaelsen.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Christopher Juul-Jensen, Matti Breschel, Michael Mørkøv, Jay McCarthy, Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan, stagiaire Michael Gogl and defending champion Michael Valgren, who has rebounded from the illness that forced him to withdraw from the Tour just before Paris.

“Michael Valgren replaces Oliver Zaugg. So far, his role is to provide strong support and to assist Chris but we will see day by day and reevaluate his condition after the first stages. Despite the fact that he won last year, we have to remember that it’s not many days since he had to withdraw from the Tour due to illness. We will see, where he is, and if he’s going well, he will naturally provide a great engine, which is important here in Denmark”, says Michaelsen before adding:

“Tour of Denmark will most likely be decided on the time trial in Helsingør, but stage 3 in Vejle will also play a crucial role, as we often see an elimination race among the favorites here. Chris Juul has to stay at the front and finish among the first on this stage, and then he must ride a fast time trial. At the same time, stage 3 that finishes on Kiddesvej is an obvious chance for Breschel to fight for the stage win, while Mørkøv will head our sprints on the flatter stages”.

Team GC captain Chris Juul-Jensen takes on the challenge of fighting for the overall classification with bolstered confidence after positive sensations from the last days of racing in Tour de Wallonie and San Sebastián.

“We want to win the race but it’s not as simple as that. There are other teams that are just as strong with favorites like Bak and Fuglsang but we enter the race after a good build-up. I think that I’ve had a great period, I trained hard in Lucca, we rode very actively in Wallonie, which is similar to this race, and I surprised myself on the climbs in Clásica San Sebastián against some big names”, says Chris Juul-Jensen, who elaborates:

“I’m confident about my current shape and I believe that I can allow myself to target the overall win, especially after working on my time trial – something that culminated with the national championship in June I’m proud to lead a team with riders like Breschel, who has won seven stages in the race so far. He matched Philippe Gilbert in Wallonie and is looking sharp at the moment. We all know what he can do on a climb like Kiddesvej. We have a strong team, Valgren is a nice addition but we know that several other teams are strong and hungry as well. On top of that, we know that the smaller teams will look to us to take control. The smaller Danish teams are seriously competitive and there is a big pool of talent ready to take up the fight”, finishes Chris Juul-Jensen.

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