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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We've got five road races going on right now:

First, the 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal continues through August 9th.

Then there is the World-Tour ranked Tour of Poland, and in the U.S.the Tour of Utah will have it's third stage.

Two other stage races started yesterday and both run through Saturday, August 8. In Denmark, there is the Post Danmark Rundt and in Spain, the Vuelta a Burgos.

Laurens ten Dam hit by car

Laurens ten Dam was hit by a car today while training. The 34-year old Dutchman went to the hospital where it was determined he had problems with his back and elbow.

Ten Dam is preparing for the Vuelta a Espana, which starts August 22. He wants to make up for his Tour de France, where he crashed in the third stage and dislocated his shoulder. Being Laurens ten Dam, he did not withdraw from the race.

Laurens ten dam

Ten Dam at the 2015 Tour de France

In the 2011 Tour, he crashed headfirst on the descent of the Col d’Agnes. With a bandage wrapped around his bloodied and torn face he finished the stage, received eight stitches to repair the damage, then lined up the next day saying, “You don’t quit the Tour because of a thick lip.”

He rides for LottoNL-Jumbo. His best Tour de France performance was in 2014, where he came in ninth.

Kristof Vandewalle withdraws from Tour of Poland

This has been a tough day for Dutch bike racers. Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) did not start the Tour of Poland's fourth stage today. Vandewalle is suffering from a knee injury incurred during the Giro d'Italia's individual time trial stage. He smacked his knee and broke his finger in a fall, yet continued on to finish 12th that day. He later abandoned the Giro.

Kristof Vandewalle

Kristof Vandewalle time trialing at the 2014 Tour of Poland

Last year Vandewalle broke a rib while riding the time time trial in the Vuelta, but went on to finish the Spanish national tour. In early October of last year he was hit while out training and suffered a cracked spaphoid (a bone in the wrist) and then, as I noted earlier, in this year's Giro he again crashed.

Tired of the bad luck, Vandewalle said, "The breakdown should stop once," he says. "Since the Vuelta last year, I had not even two months of carefree cycling. My back is still not fully recovered since the [Giro] crash," said Vandewalle. "That's a long process to get the back into order and apparently I'm still not fully recovered."

Tour of Denmark team news

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Denmark report:

Team captain Chris Juul-Jensen gained 37 seconds on the majority of his GC rivals in Tour of Denmark after having initiated an attack in the finale. Finishing 2 seconds behind stage winner Lars Boom, Juul-Jensen notes that he is pleased with the time gained on the opening day.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Chris Juul-Jensen grasped the opportunity to get a good start in the fight for the overall victory, as the Dane detached from the main bunch on the opening day of Tour of Denmark.

“I think we stayed ahead of the events on this opening stage. It’s quite typical for the first stage of Tour of Denmark that there are gaps already after ten kilometers and this also showed that the bunch is ready to ride for real. It was a very fast start, where we averaged 49km/h. I think we took the right amount of responsibility and in the finale, where everything was back together, we first attacked with Breschel and then finally I went clear with a group of strong riders”, tells Juul-Jensen, who now sits sixth in the GC, before elaborating on the result:

“The final circuit was very technical and with the unpredictable Danish summer weather we had to stay alert in the corners. Lars Bak was obviously very strong and we had some riders in the group that had plenty to attend to in just staying with the group. I’m glad that I took some time on several other favorites - then I’m not a natural born sprinter, so I’m pleased with the result”.

The riders encountered rain on the opening stage of Tour of Denmark, which consisted of 180 potentially windy kilometers. However, the crosswinds failed to materialize and Tinkoff-Saxo shifted its focus to controlling the stage, tells team sports director Lars Michaelsen.

Chris Juul-Jensen

Chris Juul-Jensen

“I want to praise the team for their effort today. They took initiative here in Denmark, where a big part of our squad knows the terrain and conditions very well. Michael Mørkøv is our road captain here and he showed that he is very capable of taking and managing the responsibilities of leading the team out there on the roads. Chris Juul-Jensen, our GC captain, took matters into his own hands after the team had worked together to reel in the breakaway and put him in a good position before the last laps in Holsterbro”, says Lars Michaelsen and adds:

“Chris then attacked and several strong riders like Boom and Bak followed suit. Then Boom counterattacked just before the sprint and took the win, but the team is definitely satisfied with the GC situation, as Juul gained 37 seconds on the main bunch. Now, we still have several stages before the TT, where much can happen, but we will aim to keep Chris at the front of the GC until the TT, where the riders will go toe-to-toe against each other”.

21-year old Michael Gogl got off to a good start, as the Austrian had his first race day as team stagiaire.

“It was a big experience to ride my very first stage for Tinkoff-Saxo. It’s a dedicated group of riders and the camaraderie is easy to feel. My objective was to help out to the best of my capabilities and I actually felt good and I think that I was able to contribute. It’s a big step for me and it’s exciting to team up with some of the big riders in the peloton. I’ll continue to fight and absorb as much as I can during the next stages”, finishes Michael Gogl.

Lotto-Soudal had this to report about the Tour of Denmark's first stage:

In the first stage of the Post Danmark Rundt, the riders rode from Struer to Holstebro over 177.9 kilometres in bad weather conditions. The speed was very high but a big group of about 40 riders with among others Sean De Bie, Tosh Van der Sande, Pim Ligthart and Frederik Frison could get away. They didn’t get much advantage though and they were caught by the peloton after a few kilometres. Almost immediately after that, a new break was formed with Pim Ligthart among others. This break obtained more space from the peloton and they were caught 20 kilometres before the finish. When the riders entered the three local laps, Lars Bak attacked and five other riders followed him, among them Boom and Juul-Jensen. With 1.5 kilometres to go, Boom attacked and he won the stage. He’s also the first leader in this Tour of Denmark. Lars Bak sprinted to a second place and is second in the GC at 6 seconds of Boom.

Lars BoomLars Lars Boom wins the first stage. Lars Bak, in red, can be seen chasing.

Lars Bak: “The tactic of the team was to ride fast and aggressively, the whole day long. Pim Ligthart was in the breakaway and we thought that they would make it till the end. Eventually they were caught by the peloton because of the hard work of MTN-Qhubeka among others. After that the leaders were caught, the whole team did a very good job to set a high pace. It was important to enter the local laps as first and that was the moment when I attacked. Five riders joined me and we were riding hard. I tried to get away two times but it wasn’t easy to obtain a gap. When Lars Boom attacked, the other riders in the front group were looking at me to close the gap. I tried it but Lars was really strong. At the end, I managed to get away from the others and so I finished second.”

“Tomorrow is going to be a long and hard day, we have to ride a sort of Classic. I’m certainly going to attack several times the next few days. My big dream is to win this Post Danmark Rundt of course, especially because it’s the first time that this race is broadcasted live on television. I’m really motivated and I will do my very best to obtain the overall victory. A stage win would be nice too, but we’ll have to see how this stage race will evolve.”

Cult Energy is at the Tour of Denmark and sent me this:

In pouring rain, Cult Energy Pro Cycling and the rest of the Tour of Denmark peloton took on the 180 kilometer long first stage the Danish stage race from Struer to Holstebro. In the finale, Mads Pedersen broke clear in the crucial break and the Cult Energy youngster finished 4th.

During the first hour of the race, the peloton did no less than 49.5 kilometers and aggressive riding dominated the entire first half of the stage where no one managed to create a serious break. Eventually, six riders broke clear and they worked up a gap of around three minutes before several different teams started reeling them back.

The breakaway was caught on the first of three local laps in Holstebro where a new front group was established including Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen. They kept increasing the gap thundering towards the finish line where Lars Boom (Astana) was the fastest of the group.

19 year-old Mads Pedersen finished 4th after a thrilling, wet and fast stage with an average speed of 47 kilometers an hour.

Mads PEdersen

Mads Pedersen

Pedersen says: "Everyone is always eager to get away and highly motivated to be a part of the break during a first stage in a stage race and that caused an intensely high speed all day but most significantly in the first hour. Normally, once the break is established, the peloton would sit up and start the chase later but not today. Entering the final loop, some of the race favorites jumped and I went with them. Unfortunately, Boom succeeded in breaking clear and I had to settle with fourth. Even though it's a good result, I'm in the break race to win," Pedersen concludes.

LottoNL-Jumbo is at the Tour of Poland

Here is their report:

Tom Van Asbroeck took his revenge on Tuesday after his crash yesterday. The Belgian sprinter placed third in the third stage of the Tour de Pologne, just short  of Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) grabbing his second win.

“I was glad that I was able to deliver, again,” Van Asbroeck said after the stage. “Everything went well today. I lost my self-confidence a little bit after yesterday’s crash. The team helped me with that. They were good today. Rick Flens took the initiative as the team’s captain, and he did that perfectly. Dennis van Winden’s lead-out was superb afterwards. I thought that I was going to win for a while, but then Pelucchi moved up suddenly. I doubted that I could hold him off. That moment of doubt was the reason that Giacomo Nizzolo [Trek Factory] was able to stay in front of me.”

Tour of Poland stage 3 finish

Tour of Poland stage 3 finish. Matteo Pelucchi wins and Van Abroeck is in the yellow jersey to the right.

“This was a good moment after yesterday’s crash,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. “You always want to win, of course, eventually, but we took another step in the right direction. "We had a good meeting this morning. We changed a little bit of our sprint preparation and made some other agreements. We were struggling with our timing, but that went a lot better today.”

On Wednesday the first hilly stage is on the program. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s plans changed after Robert Gesink’s withdrawal. “With Robert, we had a plan,” Boven continued. “Now, we have more freedom in the way we approach the race. Martijn Keizer and Bert-Jan Lindeman can do their things.”

And finally, here is BMC's Tour of Utah news

Ogden, Utah (USA) - Brent Bookwalter sprinted to a season-best third place finish Tuesday at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah to deliver the BMC Racing Team its second straight podium finish of the race.

Bookwalter first made a bid for the win by breaking away over the top of the day's major climb. When the peloton caught him and breakaway companion Daniel Eaton (Axeon Cycling Team), he enlisted the help of teammate Joey Rosskopf for a lead out. Bookwalter went on to finish behind Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop) and Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team) in the sprint and move into sixth overall.

"I told Joey if he covered some moves and I could recover, I would go for the sprint," Bookwalter said. "He did a phenomenal job for me. He took me to about 400 meters to go, then one of the SmartStop guys - Travis McCabe - came up on the right and I jumped on his wheel. I know he has a really good kick, so I thought he was a good wheel to have. I tried to go over him with 200 meters to go, but Jure was right on my wheel and made pretty quick work of me."

Bookwalter said his breakaway earlier was the result of feeling good as the field crested the North Ogden Divide, 31 kilometers from the end of the 159.7-km race.

"I thought I could pull some of the strong guys with me, and ideally, we would have gone away with four or five guys," he said. "But no one came with me so I bridged up to the Axeon guy (Eaton). But we were no match for a big, chasing group."

Monday's Stage 1 winner, Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team), kept the overall lead while Bookwalter is 10 seconds back.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said everything is on track through the first two days of the seven-day race.

"We are looking for a stage win and we have been close two days in a row, so that is a good sign," Stewart said. "We have spread it across the team, too - yesterday with Taylor Phinney and today with Brent. The climb at the end was a little harder than we thought. We thought Taylor could get over it. But it was not actually harder than we thought, we just didn't know what the pace would be.

"It was good to see Brent give it a go and to see him so strong at the end and to see the guys rally behind him for the sprint was really a good thing. All the guys are good. Now it is just a matter of getting all the pieces to fall together."

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