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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, August 9, 2015

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

Today's Racing

First off, three big races finished yesterday. I've got complete results posted for them: in Denmark, the Post Danmark Rundt, in Spain, the Vuelta a Burgos, and the World-Tour ranked Tour of Poland.

Finishing today are the 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal and the Tour of Utah.

Starting today and continuing through the 16th is women's 2.1-ranked La Route de France.

Giant USA considers on-line sales in U.S.

A few days ago we reported that Trek Bicycle Company was going to initiate a program of selling bikes online in partnership with Trek dealers. Now Giant USA is thinking about the same sort of program. This update on Giant's plans was posted online at bicycleretailer.com:

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. (BRAIN) — Days after Trek Bicycle announced a plan to sell bikes online, Giant USA told dealers that it is studying a similar "Click and Collect" program in the U.S., but said it has not made a decision about going forward with the plan.

Giant Bicycle already has Click and Connect sales in other markets, including the U.K., where it has operated the system for two years.

"Yes, Giant USA is studying the 'Click and Collect' business model that is working very well for Giant retailers and consumers in other countries – so in a way, we already have a good head start in this arena. The way consumers buy bikes and gear is rapidly advancing and we want our retailers to win as the environment changes here in the USA," read a letter to U.S. retailers signed by Giant USA's general manager, Elysa Walk, and its executive director, John "JT" Thompson.

"Our decision will be based on whether this model can enhance the strength of our retailer's business in an evolving marketplace, as well as better serve consumers with access to world-leading products," the letter continued.

The letter said Giant USA has not employed Click and Collect to date because of significant differences between e-commerce in the U.S. and our other markets.

"Among those differences are the size of our country and the sizeable number of Giant retailers in the USA. The success of such a strategy is in the details and high level of execution. If we embrace this opportunity, it will be done at a super high level, supporting our investment in your brick and mortar," the letter said.

The letter contained a special email address allowing Giant dealers to contact the company with feedback regarding the program.

Tour of Denmark final team reports

Tinkoff-Saxo just about owned the 2015 Tour of Denmark:

Tinkoff-Saxo sealed a memorable edition of Tour of Denmark, as Chris Juul-Jensen crossed the finish line in Frederiksberg as the overall winner. Meanwhile, Michael Mørkøv reigned supreme on the stage after a convincing lead-out. Winner of the points classification Matti Breschel took 2nd place behind to make it a 1-2 for Tinkoff-Saxo that tops off the race with the overall team classification.

Standing at the podium on home soil looking down the final finishing straight, overall winner Chris Juul-Jensen underlines that the final outcome is overwhelming

“It’s difficult to describe this. On top of the overall win, we finish off with a very well deserved stage win for Michael Mørkøv. It was something special to enter the laps and streets here in Copenhagen that I know so well with this huge turnout. It was a mixture of being focused on making it to the finish line to secure the lead and enjoying it but I must admit that I was confident all because of this group of riders that I have around me. We’ve targeted multiple goals during Tour of Denmark and this time everything played out just right. I’m overwhelmed by this experience and the support I have received from my teammates and people at the side of the road. Before the season I had two main goals – to win the national TT championship and to win the Tour of Denmark. And yesterday at the time trial, I was able to establish my overall win in this race wearing the red and white national TT jersey. I have a new team next year but it’s very special to conclude four amazing years like this. I turned pro here on Tinkoff-Saxo and I’m glad that I can pay back my teammates and everybody with this win”, tells Chris Juul-Jensen, who wins the race by 45 seconds.

Road captain Michael Mørkøv entered the final sprint as the last lead-out for Matti Breschel, who claimed stage 3 and 4, but crossed the line first after a big acceleration and great show of camaraderie.

Michael Morkov

Michael Mørkøv wins Tour of Denmark stage 6

“I’m very proud of the way we rode today and how we took control on the final laps and in the sprint. Valgren in particular did a very impressive and long lead-out for Matti and me. We knew what we wanted to do in the final sprint and how to time our effort. We were riding for Matti in the finale but he noticed that we had a big gap and he eased up the speed a bit to let me take the win. It was a great gesture. I haven’t won since my stage win in the 2013 Vuelta, so it’s a special day for me. It has been a sublime effort by the team as I see it - we’ve taken three stage wins and the overall, points and team classification. I’ve witnessed a strong feeling of unity on the team and it’s special to see good friends succeed like the entire team, Chris Juul and Matti have done here”, says Michael Mørkøv, who’s backed by team sports director Lars Michaelsen:

“I think that winning the team competition on top of our other results exemplifies my overall evaluation very well. Everybody has contributed with everything they had to secure the stage wins and Chris Juul’s overall victory. Riders like Juraj Sagan and Michael Kolar have been putting in many kilometers at the front and they’ve been the real heroes during the part of the race, where the TV coverage hasn’t started. Mørkøv has been a pivotal strategic force on the team and I am very happy to see him win today. The final kilometer speaks for itself - it was a spotless lead-out. We have to remember that we’ve competed in one of the strongest fields that this race has seen. Mørkøv today and Breschel during the two previous days have been up against fast sprinters like Boasson Hagen and Ciolek. But the lead-outs have been very dedicated and especially Breschel of course has been a really fast tip of the spear - and in a sharp state. Now, we will all try to take this day with us to the next races and let the motivation propagate into the team, as we have some big races coming up”, finishes Lars Michaelsen.

Cult Energy was at the Tour of Denmark and sent this final news:

Today, the 25th anniversary edition of Tour of Denmark was concluded with a 150 kilometer long flat stage between Hillerød and the traditionally well-dressed Frederiksberg Allé in Copenhagen and the sprinters’ feast of a bunch sprint decision. And the spectators weren't disappointed. By concluding the stage with the favorites, Rasmus Guldhammer finished 4th overall.

Naturally, the stage was dominated by different breakaways but the longest-lasting front group contained four ambitious riders including Pim Ligthart who secured the mountain jersey by picking up the points along the way. In the peloton, Cult Energy Pro Cycling were focusing on protecting Rasmus Guldhammer in order to bring home his overall 4th position.

Entering the circuit in Frederiksberg, there was a crash including Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) and the fast German never saw the front of the pack again leaving his captain, Edvard Bassoon-Hagen. On the penultimate lap, the front group exploded and Brian van Goethem launched a solo attack while Bardiani and Tinkoff-Saxo were in control of the pace-making in the field while Cult Energy Pro Cycling were hiding in the slipstream with MTN-Qhubeka squad with Edvald Boasson-Hagen.

In the final corner before the finish line, a gap opens up behind Tinkoff-Saxo and no one seemed to be able to close it leaving the final bit of asphalt Michael Mørkøv who took the stage ahead of Matti Breschel.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Guldhammer retained fourth overall while teammate, Troels Vinther made it to 11th in the GC.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

DS, Michael Skelde is overall content with the team effort: "I think we can be happy with our overall effort in the race. The riders have been in the crucial moves in the finales. Mads Pedersen finished 4th in the initial stage, Guldhammer finished second on home ground in Vejle after a strong effort from him and not least Troels Vinther who supported him through a finale where the field exploded with 40 kilometers to go. Naturally, it's always a little frustrating finishing just outside the podium but Rasmus has been riding excellently and he will be back even stronger next year. Besides, we saw Martin Mortensen delivering a countless number of fierce attacks during the 235 kilometer long second stage so we have definitely made our mark the race and we took our chances," Skelde concludes.

Overall 4th, Rasmus Guldhammer says:

"Honestly, I'm disappointed right now. Being able to smell the podium is naturally frustrating but at the end of the day, finishing 4th overall is a very good result considering the quality riders in the field. Both big international names and the broad mass of Danish talents emerging here in Tour of Denmark who put the pressure on and lift the standards of the race to a new level including Mads Pedersen who really had a national breakthrough in this race. Surely, I owe this personal result to my teammates who sacrificed themselves along the way to put me in this position and I'm truly grateful. I'm coming back next year for more action and with the same ambitions," states Guldhammer.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling's next race is the stage race, Arctic race of Norway before setting south for Vattenfall Classics in Hamburg.

Tour of Poland team reports

This came to me from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Rick Flens ensured that Team LottoNL-Jumbo will travel home with a laugh after the Tour de Pologne. The big man from Zaandam finished third in Saturday’s final stage time trial. He completed the 24-kilometre course in 29-43. Flens was 58 seconds slower than winner Marcin Bialoblocki of One Pro Cycling.

Marcin Bialoblocki

Marcin Bialoblocki winning the Tour of Poland's final stage

“This is really great,” Flens said immediately after the trial. “After my second place in the National Championships, my confidence has grown a lot, but this, I did not expect. I really suffered over the last few days, but I think it has done me well.”

Flens was the third rider to roll off the start ramp in the middle of day. “It was around 35 degrees at the time and towards the evening it cooled down, but I don’t know if it was an advantage or a disadvantage. I followed the remainder of the race in the bus. At one point, I started believing in a top five, but none of the late starters was able to beat my time, which was fantastic.”

Flens, who recorded his only individual professional victory in 2007 in a time trial in the Tour of Denmark, acknowledged performance coach Mathieu Heijboer afterwards. “I have to hand Mathieu a big compliment. Within our team, he’s really on top of things concerning time trialling. I feel like  the time trialist I once was. I dare to dream of a victory again thanks to Mathieu.”

Heijboer in turn, was impressed by Flens’ performance. “A third place in a World Tour race is very good. As a team we have approached this last day very seriously. Right after yesterday’s stage we started working towards today. All of us, including the mechanics and the soigneurs, worked hard to end the week in good fashion. Rick is heading in the right direction at the moment and he told me that he wants to ride as many time trials as possible, as he knows that he’s able to bag a good result.”

BMC was at the Tour of Poland and sent this final report:

Krakow, Poland - Ben Hermans enjoyed his best career finish in a WorldTour stage race Saturday by finishing third at the Tour de Pologne for the BMC Racing Team.

Hermans placed 11th in the 25-kilometer individual time trial that capped the seven-stage race. More importantly, he was only three seconds off the time of overall winner Jon Izagirre, (Movistar Team), who was two seconds faster than runner-up Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal).

"Finally, I am on the podium at a WorldTour race," Hermans said, "but it is disappointing because I was only three seconds from the victory. But that is racing."

Hermans climbed into fourth overall on Thursday on the strength of a fifth-place result in an uphill finish. Friday, he finished seventh and was within 14 seconds of the overnight race leader, Sergio Henao (Team Sky). Henao finished 48th in Saturday's time trial and dropped to eighth overall. Polish national team member Marcin Bialoblocki took the time trial stage win.

Tour of Poland final podium

Tour of Poland final podium, from left: Bart de Clercq (2nd), Jon Izaguirre (1st) and Ben Hermans (3rd)

Sport Director Fabio Baldato said Hermans's result brought a mix of emotions.

"On one hand, we are really disappointed to lose a really hard race by three seconds," he said. "To watch the time trial today and only be three seconds behind was really hard. But we are also happy for Ben. Our objective going in was a top five finish because we knew Ben was good. So we are satisfied enough. We had strong teamwork all week and the guys were good."

Hermans has enjoyed a wide range of success in his second season with the BMC Racing Team. In April, he soloed to victory at Brabantse Pijl, then repeated that feat on the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire in May. Last month, he was runner-up at the Tour of Austria after finishing second on one stage and third on another.

"I am going to keep trying to get better from here," Hermans said. "I would still like to do a big victory. But winning two races and then having the podium in Austria and now being on the podium here is not so bad."

Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Poland final report:

The Tour de Pologne ended today with a time trial of 25 kilometres in Krakow. A spectacle was promised and we got one! It became a game of seconds, as well for the stage win as for the overall victory. The Polish rider Marcin Bialoblocki was the best in the individual time trial, he was one second faster than Vasil Kiryienka. Jon Izaguirre is first in the GC and wins this Tour of Poland,  two seconds ahead on Bart De Clercq and three seconds on Ben Hermans. Lotto Soudal is going home with one stage win, a day in the yellow jersey and a few nice places of honour. In that way, this Tour de Pologne may be considered as a success. De Clercq obtained a win in the fifth stage. Lotto Soudal is also first in the team classification. Sports director Mario Aerts and Bart De Clercq give a review of this successful but tough week in Poland.

Bart de Clercq wins Tour of Poland stage 5

Bart de Clercq wins 2015 Tour of Poland stage 5

Mario Aerts: “Of course we are going home with a satisfied feeling. A sixth and fourth place for Kris Boeckmans, Bart De Clercq who won a stage and obtained the yellow jersey and Jurgen Van den Broeck who finishes fifth in the closing time trial. All great results where we’re really proud of as team.”

“Yesterday, I saw a very strong team. Sander, Maxime, Vegard and Jurgen all did their best to surround Bart and to defend the jersey in a tough stage. It wasn’t certain what it was going to be, because for most of the riders in this race it was their first race after the training camping. But they all did more than a great job.”

Bart De Clercq: “I didn’t dare to dream beforehand to become second in this Tour de Pologne, I’m tremendously happy. Although it’s a bit of a double feeling because I finished at two seconds of the overall victory, but I’m not complaining. I can look back to this stage race with a positive feeling.”

“I had some confidence that the legs and the condition would be good; I had trained a lot and had a good feeling after the training camp in Livigno as well. But I didn’t expect to perform like this. That stage win and the second place in the GC please me a lot.”

“The run-up in this Tour of Poland wasn’t tough, but the final stages were the opposite. The two penultimate stages were very hard, also the closing time trial was tough. I’m happy with the end result and I hope to hold that shape till the Vuelta. But first of all, I’m going to rest two weeks and I will enjoy the good results.”

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