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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, August 22, 2015

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

Two races today: First of all, the Vuelta a España starts today. Plus, we've got the HC-ranked USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which runs through the 23rd.

BMC's USA Pro Cycling Challenge report:

Breckenridge, Colorado - Rohan Dennis of the BMC Racing Team increased his overall lead at the USA Pro Challenge Friday with a dominating performance in the individual time trial.

The BMC Racing Team's winningest rider on the year powered his BMC timemachine TM01 to a 27-second victory over Rob Britton (Team SmartStop). BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter finished third, 31 seconds back, and sits firmly in second place, 44 seconds ahead of third-placed Britton.

"I might have won, but I really didn't feel all that good out there," Dennis said. "That was a harder effort than yesterday, but it was again amazing to ride through all those fans who came out to watch on the climb."

Since finishing 38th on the race's opening stage that was won by teammate Taylor Phinney, Dennis has won the past two stages and was runner-up on Tuesday and Wednesday. He leads the overall classification, the sprints classification and the king of the mountain standings. Friday's victory was his fifth individual win of the season and the team's 29th, one shy of its team record, achieved in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The BMC Racing Team also leads the team classification.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis riding to a fine stage win

Bookwalter said he tried to gauge his effort in the 13.5-kilometer race that featured the climb of Moonstone Road, where Dennis made the winning attack Thursday and hundreds of fans turned out to watch and cheer.

"I knew I couldn't be red-lined on the climb," Bookwalter said. "I tried to attack the climb and sort of went over my limit a few times. So I had to back off a bit on the flatter sections and then go harder on the steep parts. On the descent, I was trying to sporadically pedal to keep my speed up. But every three pedal strokes, I thought I was going to pass out. So I ended up having to coast for a lot of it."

Phinney finished sixth, 39 seconds back, and rode his first time trial since winning the 2014 U.S. national time trial championship days before a bad crash would sideline him for the next 62 weeks.

Two days remain in the race. Saturday's 164.5 km stage starts in Loveland and ends in Fort Collins. Sunday is a 109.7 km race that starts in Golden and finishes on a circuit in Denver.

Giant-Alpecin's Vuelta team news

Team Giant-Alpecin is heading to this year’s third and final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España. The race gets underway with a 7.4km team time trial on Saturday evening. The main focus for the team will be on stage success in the sprint stages. In addition, the team remains focused on the general development process of the riders.

John Degenkolb (GER) returns to the race having won the green jersey of the points leader in 2014, and he will be looking to make the most of the sprint opportunities over the three weeks. Team Giant-Alpecin has a strong lineup to support Degenkolb, but one that is also versatile enough to challenge across other fronts. The roster will include Tom Dumoulin (NED), who will have an eye on the race’s individual time trial on stage 17 as well as the puncheur-style finishes, and Lawson Craddock (USA), who showed his progress once again at the Tour of Poland by taking third on the toughest stage of the race.

John Degenkolb (GER): "My main goal is to win at least one stage, and in doing so I hope to reach the best possible form for the world championships next month. Also, we want to develop as a team and improve further. As a leader of the team I will have an important role in that process. I hope to regain racing rhythm quickly and get the right feeling on the bike again, since my last race was some time ago.

"We will look at our chances day by day, not only for me but also for my teammates. Stage 4 might be the first sprint chance, but the finale is uphill so we will have to wait and see how it develops. The next stage, stage 5, will be an ideal course for a bunch sprint." 

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "I am at the necessary level to compete for a stage victory, and I will also help my teammates as we pursue our target of winning a stage. John has already proven that he is capable of winning stages here in Spain, so he will be our primary man.

“My personal goal is to get a good result from the time trial in the third week, as well as look for opportunities in the classics-like stages.

“I went to an altitude training camp to prepare after my crash at the Tour. The training in the last weeks went well, but we’ll have to see how the racing goes again. During the first week I will take the opportunity to get the right feeling back.” 

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin at this year's Tour of Switzerland

Lawson Craddock (USA): "Ever since I dropped out of the Vuelta last year, I’ve been looking forward to redeeming myself. I had a strong Tour de Pologne and I want to build on that. I am motivated and we will see what I can do here.

“Personally I want to have a good first two weeks so that I can experience what it takes to be a GC rider, and after that we will see how it comes and make the most out of it.

“I am here to learn and I want to finish. I also want to help John in the sprint stages, which we were quite successful at last year, so I hope we can replicate that." 

Christian Guiberteau (FRA): "We are here at the Vuelta with the aim of winning a stage. With Koen, Luka, Zico and Tom D. we have a strong lead-out for John. With Lawson we are working toward longer-term development, so we will not target specific GC ambitions but rather aim to help him learn how to ride as GC rider.

“We have shown at the Giro and the Tour that we are ready to take any opportunities that come, and on the transition stages we will look to profit from breakaway opportunities. In addition we have Tom D. here, who will look to target the TT along with the classics-style stages.” 

Vattenfall Cyclassics team reports

The Vattenfall Classics in Hamburg, Germany will be run Sunday, the 23rd trhis year.

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

While the big general classification riders line up in Spain, many fast men and sprinting thoroughbreds embark on the German World Tour race of Vattenfall Cyclassics from Kiel to Hamburg. Tinkoff-Saxo sends team leader Matti Breschel backed by a powerful squad to play the part as underdogs.

“We don’t have a pure sprinter here to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Kristoff, Cavendish, Greipel and Kittel but we have to play our cards right and create our chances. We will support Matti Breschel fully, he’s a pretty obvious choice with the shape he has shown during the past weeks”. Such is the assessment from team sports director Nicki Sørensen, who will hold the team reins during the fast race.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel winning stage 4 of the 2015 Tour of Denmark

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Matti Breschel, Michael Mørkøv, Michael Rogers, Michael Valgren, Nikolay Trusov, Manuele Boaro, Michael Kolar and Evgeny Petrov.

Adding about the division of roles on the squad, Nicki Sørensen notes that Rogers, Valgren and Mørkøv will hold key roles alongside Breschel.

“We have Valgren and Rogers as lieutenants to play active roles in late attacks and moves in the finale. There’s a very big chance that this race will end in a pure bunch sprint as it has during so many previous editions. If so, we know that Matti is fast but we have to be ready if an opening comes. To direct the squad and take the decision on the road, Mørkøv will play the part as road captain. It’s a role that he handles very well and he’ll also be important for Matti’s chances, if it all ends in a sprint”, comments Nicki Sørensen before adding:

“Trusov, Boaro and Kolar are equally powerful and quite fast and together with Petrov, who’s a lighter rider, they will cover the different sections of the race and ride in support of Matti. It’s almost written in the stars that this race will end in a classical bunch sprint - if so we are outsiders and underdogs. But it’s a WorldTour race and the team is motivated so we will do our outmost to get a good result”.

A route change for this year’s edition means that the riders will head out into the mainly flat parcours from the new start in Kiel before making their way towards Hamburg and the finishing circuits.

“We have approximately 100km from Kiel to Hamburg and unless we face crosswinds, I don’t think that it will affect the outcome of the race too much. However, into the final part of the race, we encounter a short but punchy climb three times, the last time with only 15km to go. Here, it will be possible to create a selection and stretch out the bunch, which could put riders under pressure. We will see how it turns out come Sunday afternoon”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

Here's Lotto-Soudal's news about the German race:

This year it’s the 20th anniversary of the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg. This German WorldTour race was organized for the first time in 1996 and will now take place on Sunday 23 August. No doubt lots of people will want to see André Greipel race in his home country. The start takes place in Kiel, this year the riders have to cover 221.3 kilometres. With  53 kilometres to go the peloton – with apart from eight Lotto Soudal riders also Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Démare, Marcel Kittel, Alexander Kristoff and Elia Viviani – will cross the finish line a first time. Fifteen kilometres before that they will have done the first of three ascents of the Waseberg. The peloton will reach the top of that climb again at 28.3 and 15.5 kilometres from the end. The past years the Waseberg had to be climbed four times, now one time less. It’s very likely that a sprinter will take the victory.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal:  “André Greipel is our leader on Sunday. His condition is very good, he proved that at the Eneco Tour last week. With Jens Debusschere we have a second fast man in the team, in case something would happen to André, like a crash or mechanical problem. We aim for a sprint, no one of us will join an early breakaway, unless it’s a really large group that could be dangerous.”

“After the last ascent of the Waseberg there are mostly forty to fifty riders left in front. When the pace is not too high, others can still join afterwards. If the race would get tough in the finale right from the first ascent of the Waseberg Tiesj Benoot is an extra card to play for us. He has the advantage that he’s fast enough for a sprint with up to five riders. Because the Waseberg has to be climbed one time less than previous years it’s possible that we get a battle right from the first ascent, but on the other hand it’s good for the sprinters; André has a much bigger chance to win now. According to the weather forecast  there won’t be much wind and it’s going to be a headwind, so it’s not encouraging for riders who want to attack quite early. On top of that, many teams will want to see the race end with a sprint, that can be allies.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel at the recently completed Eneco Tour

André Greipel: “The shape was not top at the Eneco Tour, but it’s certainly good enough to get a good result in Hamburg. The preparation was better than last year, when I got ill during the Eneco Tour and had to abandon. The Vattenfall Cyclassics is the biggest race that we have in Germany, so of course I would like to add this to my list of victories. I’ve already been close a few times. (André Greipel was 2nd in 2013 and 2012 and 3rd in 2010, LTS). There will be a lot of family members at the race to support me, so that’s an extra motivation.”

“It doesn’t matter if the Waseberg has to be climbed four or three times, it’s all about the last ascent. There the non-sprinters will try to make the race hard. There are several other teams with a sprinter, but BMC for example has selected Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet, two dangerous guys. But I’m sure my teammates will do everything to help me win the race.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports director: Bart Leysen.

Cult Energy will be there as well:

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will participate in Sunday’s German one-day classic, Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg covering on the heavy side of 200 kilometers in Northern Germany. The prestigious race celebrates its 20th edition this year where Cult Energy Pro Cycling were given a wildcard to participate.

The line-up for the race is: Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann, Michael Carbel, Michael Reihs, Rasmus Guldhammer, Russell Downing, Martin Mortensen and Rasmus Quaade.

Linus Gerdemann

Linus Gerdemann enjoying the 2015 Tour of Luxembourg

DS, André Steensen says: "Naturally, we honored to participate in the big race and to compete with the biggest teams in the world. Our ambition is do the race the way we usually do. We’ll be opportunistic and aggressive . We hope the race will be concluded in a breakaway finale but things often end up in a bunch sprint,” says Steensen.

Here's the Lampre-Merida Vattenfall release:

In the weekend, Team Lampre-Merida won't be only in Spain for the start of the Vuelta, but on Sunday August the 23rd it will take part in the Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg.

For the German race (221.3 km), the sport director Simone Pedrazzini will rely on 8 riders who'll try to add another victory after the last blue-fuchsia-green success in the competition (2007, Alessandro Ballan).

These are the athletes in the selection of the team: Niccolò Bonifazio, Matteo Bono, Davide Cimolai, Chun Kai Feng, Manuele Mori, Luka Pibernik, Jan Polanc and Diego Ulissi.

Davide Cimolai

Davide Cimolai winning 2015 Paris-Nice stage 5

In the operative staff there will be doctor Guardascione, the mechanics Bacchion and Bortoluzzo and the masseurs Della Torre and Santerini.

"In the past editions, the victory was assigned at the end of a sprint, a solution in which we'll be competitive thanks to Cimolai and Bonifazio, who will rely on the support of Pibernik - sport director Pedrazzini explained - Probably there could be breakaway in the first part of the race and attacks in the final laps: we'll be ready thanks to Ulissi, Feng and Polanc. Mori and Bono will be key athletes for managing the various situation in the race".

Cult Energy also had this unfortunate new to relate:

Friday noon, Cult Energy Pro Cycling Dane, Troels Vinther was involved in a crash during training. His triceps was cut open and after thorough examination and 40 stitches, the doctor prescribes 3-4 weeks of recovery.

“I was out training with a friend and going through a right turn, a van was was backing up. Fortunately, my training buddy managed to go around while I was caught and crashed into the back of the van. At first, I suspected a fracture but my triceps was cut and had to be sutured up with 40 stitches. That means the end of the season for me,” says Vinther.

Troels Vinther finished 11th overall in Tour of Denmark and did 4 top-10 finishes during Tour of Austria this summer.

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