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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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

One race today, the Vuelta a España's fifth stage.

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Rein Taaramäe signs with Katusha

Astana rider Rein Taaramäe, winner of the Vuelta a Burgos and the Arctic Race of Norway, will ride for Katusha in 2016. The team did not reveal how long he signed for.

Reintaaramae

Taaramäe winning this year's Vuelta a Murcia

Taaramäe said, "I am so happy to come to this strong team. What convinced me the most to make the move was the fact that the team directors and the team manager really believe in me. I will be able to obtain more results than I have so far.

"My goal is to work for guys like Joaquim Rodriguez, but also for others. As long as the team wins, it doesn't matter if it is me or another rider who wins."

Here is the Katusha press release:

Team Katusha is happy to announce the signing of an agreement with the Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe. Taaramäe (28) is a born stage tour rider being a good climber as well as a good time trial rider. Last month he won the Overall Classification in his last two stage races, the Tour of Burgos and the Arctic Race of Norway. Rein Taaramäe also has a Vuelta stage win (2011), two national road titles (2009, 2013), three national time trial titles (2009, 2011 and 2012) and the Overall Classification of the Tour de l'Ain (2009) on his palmares. Moreover, he finished on the podiums of the Tour de Romandie (2009), Tour of Catalunya (2010) and Tour of Turkey (2014).

- I am so happy to come to this strong team. Team Katusha is a winning team in 2015. You could feel this atmosphere at races when hanging around Katusha in 2015. What convinced me the most to make the move was the fact that the team directors and the team manager really believe in me. I will be able to obtain more results than I have so far. They have convinced me that I can still improve. These past years I have had so much bad luck in my career with mononucleosis, fractures and other health issues. Now I am back. I feel that I can start my second career. Katusha believes in me and I will not disappoint them. Grand Tours, smaller stage races or classics, it doesn't matter. I will be good everywhere. My goal is to work for guys like Joaquim Rodriguez, but also for others. As long as the team wins, it doesn't matter if it is me or another rider who wins, - said Rein Taaramäe.

- Rein Taaramäe is the type of rider we were looking for. The last months we worked hard on making our team stronger for the classics. We also needed to strengthen our team for the stage races. Rein has finished 11th in the Tour de France and that means a lot. His results, his power and endurance, but most of all his character match perfectly with our group. I believe we have not seen everything Rein has to give. I look forward to working with him in the near future, - said general manager of Team Katusha Viacheslav Ekimov.

Fast Growth coming to European Bike Market?

www.bike-eu.com sent this optimistic projection (I hope they're right):

DOETINCHEM, The Netherlands – What will Eurobike 2015 [the big European bike show], which is opening its doors in just a few hours, bring? Next to a very, very busy show it’s clear that the outlook for the bike sector in Europe seldom looked better. Is double digit growth ahead with e-MTBs and speed e-bikes as future trump cards?

That the bike sector is out of the crisis became evident in 2014. A year that showed recovery for production, sales and employment in Europe, according to an economic study carried out by CONEBI, the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry. The sale of new bicycles (including e-bikes) broke again the important 20 million mark in 2014.

Within that study 2014 e-bike sale is estimated at a low 1,139,000 units. In an earlier published Market Report that focused on e-bikes Bike Europe concluded that the 2014 volume of this segment of the bike market including e-MTBs and speed e-bikes stood at 1,325,000 units. And is expected to go beyond and above in 2015 as pedal assisted bikes are appealing to more and more consumers.

Continued growth of the e-bike sector with e-MTBs and speed e-bikes results also in a further up-market shift with unit prices reaching new highs. The only negative side-effect here is that it brings further strain on the financial backbone of IBDs as they need higher bank credits for being able to invest in high value stock.

e-bike

It would be great if lots more cars were replaced with e-bikes in the U.S.

More on the outlook for the bike sector in Europe was recently published by the Credit Suisse Group, a renowned name in the financial sector. One of its reports said, “The market is expanding in Europe, where many governments actively promote bicycle use for better health and to ease traffic congestion, and where cycling is a highly popular sport.”

Is the result of all this already becoming evident? In the first half of this year net income/net profit growth among bike companies was the highest of all other transport industries including automotive, trucking, aerospace and the automotive suppliers. Is this an indication of what Eurobike 2015 and the near future will bring?

Vuelta a España team reports

Here's Orica-GreenEdge's news:

Stage two winner Esteban Chaves has successfully defended the race lead on what was a dangerous day for the red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana today. The predominantly flat day featured a technical final five kilometres with a number of sharp ramps that threatened to create gaps at the head of the race.

“It’s true,” the Colombian said of predictions. “It was a really really difficult final. You went down a big road at 60-70km per hour, then you needed to brake and then in one moment you start a 10% climb. It’s really difficult to stay in the front when it’s like this so Simon Gerrans, Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer and Mitch Docker put me in the front.  Their work is really amazing and really important for me.”

Johan Esteban Cahves

Race leader Johan Esteban Chaves heads to the start line for stage 4

Whilst the earlier work of ORICA-GreenEDGE ensured perfect position coming into the finale, Chaves played it smart to ensure he didn’t suffer any losses. The 25-year-old crossed the line in tenth place on the same time as stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar). He maintains his five-second advantage to Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on the general classification standings.

“I started (the final four kilometres) alone, because the guys used all the energy to help me before,” Chaves explained. “But I just had to follow Purito (Rodriguez), (Alejandro) Valverde and Peter Sagan to try to stay with them in the final.”

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the efforts of the team, who benefited from the ambitions of others to assist with the workload throughout the stage.

“It was also going to be a stage where there was a lot of people who had their eye on the win,” Stephens said. “We were able to put in a moderate amount of work until the people who were going for the stage took over and did the brunt of the work in the second part of the race. We also worked to look after Esteban, we had him well placed in the final and we tried to keep the stress as low as possible.

“It was basically a saved day for us. It was a day that was somewhat of a transition stage and now we look to continue protecting the jersey tomorrow.”

How it happened: A group of six riders drove off the front without too much resistence on the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana. With no general classification threat amongst them, the peloton, led by ORICA-GreenEDGE, allowed them a generous 13-minute advantage.

The intensity behind them stepped up with the Australian outfit at the fore and the margin had reduced to nine minutes after 80km of racing. Tinkoff-Saxo joined the efforts at the head of the peloton on another day that suited yesterday’s winner Peter Sagan.

With 50km to go the gap had dropped to less than three minutes and eventually the remnants of the break were swept up in the final 15km ready for the fireworks in the final five kilometres.

The solo attacks began at the bottom of the ramp with four kilometres to go but were shut down in the two kilometres to come. Then, Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) put in a dangerous move with Nicholas Roche (Team Sky) but they were too caught just ahead of the line.

Eventually it was the timing of Valverde that was too good for yesterday’s winner Sagan.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this Vuelta update:

Peter Sagan once again delivered a stunning performance spurred on by an avid effort from his teammates. Sagan finished 2nd behind Valverde after a finale peppered with steep sections. “The last climb, about 400 meters, was horrible for me”, says Sagan, who takes the lead in the points classification.

After catching his breath across the finish line in Vejer de la Frontera, Peter Sagan elaborates on the extended effort that the team and he put in on the 209km stage.

"It was a very hard day, in which I spent a lot of time at the front of the group. I approached Valverde to ask him whether Movistar could help us but they didn't seem very interested”, says Sagan and adds: “The last climb was very hard, it was 300 meters up, then a little bit down and then again up. I think I can also be satisfied with he second place as it was extremely hard. I had spent a tremendous amount of energy at the front and in the final stretch I went behind the wheel of Valverde. The last climb, about 400 meters, was horrible for me. I honestly thought that was the end for me. However, when I saw all the climbers passing me, I said to myself I should make a last effort, squeeze out all my forces and push. I stayed behind Valverde but my legs weren't there, so I finished behind him”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan has the green points jersey

“The stage was tough and if I knew beforehand the finish would be so hard, I wouldn't have tried. Still, I think second place in such a stage is good", underlines Sagan who now leads the points classification by 10 points.

Tinkoff-Saxo worked at the front throughout the stage while GC captain Rafal Majka finished off the team effort by digging deep to control the events in the finale. Tristan Hoffman, team sports director, admits that the team was aware that grabbing the stage win would be difficult but took responsibility.

"We worked very hard from the start and we put Peter in a good position at the bottom of the climb. We knew it would be extremely tough but he was our best option. We asked the other teams whether they wanted to cooperate but nobody was really interested in working. So, it was all up to us and the team did a fantastic job. Pavel Brutt pulled initially and in the last 50km, the entire squad was there, bringing Peter and Rafal in a perfect position”, explains Tristan Hoffman before concluding:

“The climb was tougher than what we had expected but Peter managed to stay there. Rafal was also there, which was good. Valverde proved faster in the sprint but, overall, today we showed excellent team performance. They all did a great job. Yesterday and today, our riders have worked extremely hard. We have done a great amount of work. We did all the work, while the rest of teams saved energy. I think that tomorrow it's up to the other teams to do the work, to keep it together and do a bunch sprint. We need to be careful with our squad because this was just the fourth stage and we have a long way ahead. We can't keep that rhythm every day”.

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about Vuelta stage 4:

Bert-Jan Lindeman was part of a breakaway during the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España on Tuesday for the second time in four days. The Dutchman of Team LottoNL-Jumbo led the race together with six others for almost 200 kilometres in the day just shy of 210  kilometres.

The attackers were caught ahead of the short, but steep final climb in Vejer de la Frontera, where Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde sprinted to the stage victory. Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEDGE is still leading the overall.

George Bennett led Team LottoNL-Jumbo home. The New Zealander finished 35th, 41 seconds behind Valverde.

George Bennett

George Bennett

“Every day we try to estimate if an attack has the chance to succeed,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Today, because of the tough final kilometres, we knew that the sprinters’ wouldn’t want to control. We also knew that the teams of Valverde, Rodriguez and Sagan were interested but that if they’d started looking at each other, an attacking style could be rewarded. In the end, Bert-Jan didn’t get enough space.”

Lindeman forced the break himself on Tuesday. “Already my second attempt was successful,” he said. “We worked well together and managed to take a lot of time, around 13 minutes, but in the second part of the stage, the roads were too wide. The peloton was able to speed along, and the pace went up more with the crosswinds that caused stress.I’ve been in the break twice now, but I still feel good. I trained hard for this Vuelta. I hope to actually fight for victory later on in the race.

Wednesday’s fifth stage of the Vuelta a España will start in Rota. It finishes in Ronda after 167 kilometres. From start to finish, the stage is flat, which means the team could prepare itself to sprint with Tom Van Asbroeck again.

“Tom lost his team-mates in the sprint on Sunday, I was satisfied with the preparatory work,” said Zeeman. “But we want to do better tomorrow. These things are also important for the development of young men like Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen.”

Giant-Alpecin for GP Ouest France-Plouay

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this Sunday’s GP Ouest France - Plouay, after Paris-Roubaix the second and last French one-day race on this season's WorldTour calendar. The 229.1km race in the Brittany region is made up of eight laps of 26.9km and a closing lap of 13.9km.

With a tenth place by John Degenkolb (GER) in 2013 the team aims for a strong result on Sunday. Leading the team on Sunday is German sprinter Marcel Kittel, who won the points jersey and opening stage at the Tour de Pologne. With Warren Barguil (FRA) the team has a strong rider to counter possible attacks on the ascents in the finale. Strong lead-out men to help Kittel are Roy Curvers (NED) and Bert De Backer (BEL). The roster is completed by Caleb Fairly (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Carter Jones (USA) and Tom Veelers (NED).

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil

"Marcel is our leader and Warren enjoys a free role," explained coach Marc Reef (NED). "It is a difficult course, where attacks are likely to take place in the finale, although in recent years the race has usually ended in a bunch sprint. Tom Veelers is making his return to racing on Sunday, but without expectations, as he is only recently back in training after recovering from his knee injury. He is not completely ready to play a role in the finale, but we are glad to have him back with the team."

"We aim for a good result and with this team we are prepared for several different scenarios."

RACE: GP Ouest France - Plouay (WT)

DATE: 30/08/2015

COACH: Marc Reef (NED)

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Carter Jones (USA), Marcel Kittel (GER),Tom Veelers (NED)

Adam Blythe signs with Tinkoff-Saxo

The young British rider will strengthen the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in the next season, with the main focus put on working in support of Peter Sagan in the Classics.  

Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce that Adam Blythe, 25, will form part of the team in 2016.

Blythe started his professional cycling career in 2010 at Omega Pharma-Lotto, where he stayed for two seasons, before moving to BMC for another two years. In 2014 he joined continental team NFTO and scored what he considers to be the most important victory of his career so far, the Prudential RideLondon Classic. In 2015 he rode for Orica-GreenEdge and had seven top-10 scores.

Adam Blythe

Adam Blythe wins the 2014 RideLondon race

On signing for Tinkoff-Saxo, Blythe said: "Sean Yates was a sport director at NFTO and I got on with him very well. When he mentioned to me there was an opportunity, I didn't think twice about it! I consider Tinkoff-Saxo to be the best team in the world that has the best classics rider in the world, Peter Sagan. It will be an honor for me to help him in the classics and do a great job for him. It will be a dream to me to support Peter in the best of my abilities so that he wins a classic".

Blythe considers that his biggest strengths lie in his sprint finishes and his ability to position himself when helping his leader. "Someone described me this year as the most 'economical' rider in the peloton. I'm someone who knows where to place himself, weathering the wind, always in a good position. You could call it a sneaky rider and that is, I think, important when helping a team leader", commented Blythe.

For Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, Blythe's main role in the team will be to help Peter Sagan in the next season: "The main priority for Adam will be Peter, especially in the Classics. That is where Adam will focus on, to work in support of Peter and deliver him to wins. We have been watching Adam and he has shown he can do good races. We hope he will further develop as a rider and reach his best level next year", commented de Jongh.

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