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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Continuing through the 16th is women's 2.1-ranked La Route de France. Also the Eneco Tour is on and also runs through the 16th.

There is also the 2.1-rated Tour de l'Ain in France. It will go through the 15th.

Arctic Race of Norway starts Aug. 13

We haven't covered this race before, but starting this year we will. Here's the race's index page. I'll post more info in the next couple of days. Several teams sent me email detailing their plans regarding the Arctic race.

Here's Lampre-Merida's Arctic Norway race release:

In more than 20 years of history, Lampre-Merida has never raced so far north.

From 13 to 16 August, the blue-fuchsia-green will participate in the Arctic Race of Norway, which will take place exclusively above the Arctic Circle.

Sport director Vicino will direct six riders from five different nations (Belarus, Colombia, Ethiopia, Italy and Portugal): Niccolò Bonifazio, Davide Cimolai, Mario Costa, Tsgabu Grmay, Ilia Koshevoy and Josè Serpa Perez.

Davide Cimolai

Davide Cimolai is headed north. Here he wins stage 5 of this year's Paris-Nice

This is the schedule of the Norwegian race:
- 13 August, 1st stage, Harstad-Harstad, 213,5 km
- 14 August, 2nd stage, Evenskjer-Setermoen, 162,5 km
- 15 August, 3rd stage, Finnsen-Malselv, 183 km
- 16 August, 4th stage, Narvik-Narvik, 165 km

"The key moment for the overall classification will be the summit arrival of the third stage: our trio of climbers Grmay, Koshevoy and Serpa will have the opportunity to be protagonist and we'll check on the road who'll be the most competitive - sport director Vicino explained - The course of the race will offer one or two chances to the sprinters too and we'll be ready to exploit them thanks to Bonifazio and Cimolai. Mario Costa's role of helper will be as usual of maximum importance".

Here's the roster from BMC:

Santa Rosa, California - Ben Hermans, who finished third Saturday at the Tour de Pologne, and Swiss national time trial champion Silvan Dillier will be part of the BMC Racing Team's six-man roster for the Arctic Race of Norway.

The four-day race begins Thursday. The BMC Racing Team won the inaugural edition of the race in 2013 with then-Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd.

Ben Hermans

Ben Hermans will go to Norway. He's shown winning a stage at this year's Tour of Yorkshire.

Riders: Tom Bohli (SUI), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Campbell Flakemore (AUS), Floris Gerts (NED), Ben Hermans (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL).

Sport Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA)

Cult Energy sent me this notice:

Thursday August 13th, Cult Energy Pro Cycling participate in the Norwegian stage race covering 4 stages as near the polar circle we'll get this season. Stage one is a 213 kilometer long and quite flat course in and around the town of Harstad. On the local circuit in the finale, the peloton will be challenged with narrow roads and a short climb.

Stage two from Harstad to Setermoen will most likely be controlled by the team winning stage one as we can expect another bunch sprint decision in the Setermoen military camp. Finally, the climbers will have their chance to shine in stage three starting in Senja and holding a steep uphill finish between 6 and 10% average gradient all the way to the finish line in Målselv.

The fourth and final stage will start and finish in Narvik including a very hard final circuit that might be crucial for the overall outcome of the race.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be on the start line with this powerful line-up: Russell Downing, Rasmus Guldhammer, Linus Gerdemann, Alex Kirsch, Chrstian Mager and Fabian Wegmann.

Fabian Wegmann

Fabian Wegmann will be racing in Norway

DS, Michael Skelde says: “This is a race divided in two. The first two stages favor the sprinters while the final two days  favor the punchy climbers. I saw Rasmus Guldhammer in very good shape during Tour of Denmark and I hope he brings it along to Norway as well. The route also suits Fabian (Wegmann) and I think he’s just as motivated as Rasmus to do a good result,” concludes Skelde.

Tinkoff-Saxo will also be racing in Norway

Tinkoff-Saxo brings a squad of five riders, including two stagiaires, to Arctic Race of Norway. Without a fixed plan, road captain and team leader Michael Mørkøv will seek to put the team strategy into effect, as a stage win remains the main objective for the northernmost race in the world.

Tinkoff-Saxo is set to participate in the 3rd edition of the Arctic Race of Norway that despite its short lifespan has turned heads by sending the professional field racing north of the Arctic Circle. According to sports director Sean Yates, Tinkoff-Saxo sends an underdog team, featuring two promising stagiaires, to seek out possibilities.

“We will not have set-in-stone tactics at the Arctic Race. From our point of view, everyone will have their chance to show their face, get their 15 minutes of fame and possibly get a result. From my perspective, every rider of our squad has a chance and should get out there, get in the mix, get in the breakaway and maybe get a result. We can't pretend as a team that we can win the GC but each individual rider can try”, says Sean Yates before adding about the team line-up:

“Michael Mørkøv is a respected member of the team, a good road captain, who can lead by example and can have a chance for himself.  Up to now, a lot of the time, he worked for others but he showed that he was strong in Denmark, where he took a stage win. Juraj Sagan also showed in Denmark that he was quite strong and if he gets in the right mood, he could get a stage result. I can't say we will win a bunch sprint with Michael Kolar or a stage with Juraj, we need to take our chances”.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Michael Mørkøv, Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan as well as stagiaires Michael Gogl and Antwan Tolhoek, who will race in the fluorescent team jersey for the first time. Despite being scheduled to race, Oliver Zaugg has had to withdraw from the lineup due to illness.

Michael Morkov

Michael Morkov wins a stage at the 2015 Tour of Denmark

Arctic Race of Norway features 700 kilometers spread on four diverse stages with tough competition from the local teams. Sean Yates predicts a race that will be difficult to control.

“Alexander Kristoff will try to win a couple of stages. As a result, it will be an open race with lots of attacking. That might suit us. If you make the right move you might have the chance to do a good result, as it could be difficult to control from behind. Others might not want to give too much lead because the race is only four days long and they might have a rider that could win the GC with the mountain top finish. There are 22 teams of which six are continental, nine pro-continental and seven WorldTour. For sure, all the local teams will want to show their face because the race is broadcast on TV”, comments Sean Yates.

“As far as the GC is concerned, Stage 3 with the summit finish is the decisive one. Stage 2 looks also very hard, it's very up and down. Stage 1 I think will be decided with a sprint. Stage 4 has a hard finishing circuit, but by then the GC will be more or less decided and the GC teams will try to control it. The race is only four days long, there is a mountain top finish but only 3.5km long, enough to decide the GC but not to create huge differences”.

Tinkoff-Saxo sends two stagiaires, Michael Gogl and team debutant Antwan Tolhoek, to the Arctic Race of Norway.

“In what regards the stagiaires, there are three in our team and they aren't allowed to do WorldTour races. Colorado can be a tough race and in our race program, the Arctic Race is the most suitable and, most probably, the other teams will not attend with their A-squad but with several stagiaires. For Tolhoek this will be his first race ever with Tinkoff-Saxo, while Gogl raced in Denmark, where he rode very well”, finishes Sean Yates.

Eneco Tour team news

Lotto-Soudal had a good day at the Eneco Tour:

Since this afternoon Lotto Soudal has thirty official UCI victories! André Greipel won the second stage of the Eneco Tour with start and finish in Breda. The whole team helped to prepare the sprint and Jens Debusschere was the lead-out man for the Gorilla. Greipel is now second overall, five seconds behind Jesper Asselman, who rode in front till the last fifteen kilometres together with Gijs Van Hoecke. Lotto Soudal let Stig Broeckx help in the chase and later also Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot pulled at the head of the bunch. The other five did their job perfectly as well. Tomorrow there’s another chance for the sprinters. Greipel will wear the points jersey.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel wins Eneco Tour stage 2

André Greipel: “Today’s stage was quite relaxed, with only two riders in front. We had a plan. Maybe it was a bit too early to come to the front for us, but it turned out Stig Broeckx, Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot were strong enough to keep us in front till three kilometres to go. Then we could rely on the experience of Marcel Sieberg, Greg Henderson and Jürgen Roelandts. Afterwards Jens Debusschere  took over and I finished it off. It was a great team effort, the guys nearly carried me to the line. There was a bit of a headwind and the team really made the difference, I’m grateful to the guys. As planned Jens was my lead-out man today. Hendy is not up to his best yet after his crash in the Tour. I already worked good together with Jens during the Tour.”“Yesterday we also tried to win. I didn’t need

to get back in the rhythm after the rest I took after the Tour, it just didn’t work out. The competition is really strong here at the Eneco Tour. Yesterday it was hard to stay together. Tomorrow’s another opportunity with the stage to Ardooie, where I already won in 2011 and 2010. I’m second on GC, but I don’t think about taking over the leader’s jersey. I now wear the points jersey, but there are some really hard stages still coming up, we’ll see if I can hang on to that one.”

About an hour after the victory of Greipel, Kenny Dehaes won Heusden Koers.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this report about Matti Breschel's crash

Tinkoff-Saxo’s ace on stage 2 of Eneco Tour, Matti Breschel, was unfortunately brought to the ground in a high-speed crash deep into the stage finale. Breschel was dragged down going into the final kilometer, as a rider next to him clipped the barriers. Lead-out man Nikolay Trusov finished 19th, behind stage winner André Greipel.

“It’s very unfortunate, luckily Matti could finish the stage, but he will have to undergo further examinations this evening”, says team sports director Patxi Vila. Breschel was able to cross the line, whereupon the first inspection performed by the team doctor Piet Daneels revealed superficial skin wounds on his knees, hips and back.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel winning a stage at the 2015 Tour of Denmark

“Our strategy was the same as yesterday, which was to try to get a good result in the sprint with Matti, who showed very strong shape in Tour of Denmark. He’s not a pure sprinter but he is fast and we wanted to position him well. Unfortunately, a rider from Topsport Vlaanderen hit the barriers going into the final kilometer and clipped Matti”, adds Patxi Vila.

Stage 2 of Eneco Tour took the riders 180km from and to Breda. After a dedicated effort on Monday’s opening stage from Nikolay Trusov to position Breschel, who ultimately finished 23rd in a unpredictable sprint, Tinkoff-Saxo focused on improving the final outcome. However, the crash put an end to the team plans, while Lotto-Soudal’s André Greipel grabbed the sprint win.

“Generally, much of today’s stage was carried out on narrow, technical roads with a lot of left and right. The tiny roads created a lot of tension and stress for the entire peloton and the last three kilometers were equally technical. Trusov did a good job again and now we’ll wait and see how Matti is feeling later tonight and tomorrow before we decide our strategy”, says Patxi Vila before concluding:

“Our GC riders, Rogers and Boaro, will try to save as much energy as possible tomorrow, as we have the crucial time trial coming up. It’s important that they have as much energy left in the tank, when the time trial gets underway on Thursday”.

And in France there is the Tour de l'Ain

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this report:

Mike Teunissen triumphed in the prologue of the Tour de l'Ain today and is the first leader of the French stage race. On his Bianchi Aquila CV, the 22-year-old Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider was the fastest man on the 3.8-kilometer course in Bourg-en-Bresse. The difference with runner-up Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) was minimal, just six-hundredths of a second.

Teunissen was not the only Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider punching into the top of the ranking. Trainee Twan Castelijns recorded the fifth-fastest time, while Timo Roosen was good for 12th.

“I got it and nobody can take this from me now,” Teunissen said after his winning effort. “My advantage was that I started as second-to-last. The other boys had already set good times, and so I knew what I had to do.”

With a time of 4’31”, Teunissen, who finished second in the Prudential RideLondon & Surrey Classic last week, broke Wilco Kelderman’s mark set in 2011.

“I needed an average speed of more than 50 kilometres per hour, and that’s not easy on a course with two sections with tricky corners. But London went well, and I knew that my shape should still be there.”

Teunissen, still a neo pro, expects to have a good night of sleep. “After London, I made a mistake by going back to watch the final kilometres before I went to bed. That left me with the idea like I had ruined an opportunity, and that feeling kept me awake all night. This time, I think I’ll quickly fall asleep and that I’m going to have some sweet dreams.”

Mike Teunissen

Neo-pro Teunissen looks stunned to be where he is.

The yellow jersey will hang around Teunissen’s shoulders during the first road stage tomorrow, and the youngster will do everything to retain the jersey.

"I want to get involved in the sprints during the stage, and take bonus seconds. In the bunch sprints, Nacer Bouhanni will certainly be a problem, but if I’m well-placed, I can do well. And we have some guys here who know what’s required in a sprint.”

Erik Dekker was delighted with the performance of his team. “The guys really rode on their limits today. They really went for it,” the Sports Director said.

“At the start, I was able to look them in the eye, and I really saw that they wanted to fight. In the end, we did great as a team. We’ve won the team classification, just as in the prologue of the Tour de France. With the arrival of the new time trial bike, confidence has returned.”

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