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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, August 30, 2015

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Today's racing:

Two races today. The Vuelta a España's ninth stage plus the French World Tour race, GP Ouest France-Plouay

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Updates: Peter Sagan, Jasper Stuyven out of Vuelta

This release came from Tinkoff-Saxo Sunday morning:

Tinkoff-Saxo announces that, unfortunately, the team's co-leader at the Vuelta a España cannot safely continue to race and will instead return home to recover from the injuries he suffered after he was hit by a motorbike at the finale of stage 8 on Saturday afternoon.

Sagan was hit by a reckless auxiliary motorbike in the final kilometers of stage 8 and suffered wounds and burns of first and second degree on the left side of his body, from the hip to the lower leg. In addition, he has a contusion on his left forearm with an intra-muscular hematoma. The team doctor, together with the sport directors at the Vuelta, decided that Sagan cannot safely continue the race with the injuries he suffered. As a result, he will fly back home as soon as possible.

The entire Tinkoff-Saxo team is disappointed and upset that Sagan's participation in the race comes to such an abrupt end. The Vuelta a España is one of the season's most important races and both Sagan and the team had high expectations. At the moment of the incident, Sagan was wearing the green jersey, he had won one stage, was set to target stage 8, while being in serious contention for later stage wins.

Despite this important loss, Tinkoff-Saxo will keep its remaining goals intact and the entire squad will support team leader Rafal Majka in his fight for wins in the mountain stages as well as a top position in the general classification.

Stage 8 winner Jasper Stuyven has to abandon Vuelta:

Just hours after winning Vuelta stage 8 on Saturday, Trek rider Jasper Stuyven was forced to withdraw from the Spanish race because of a fractured left scaphoid suffered in a crashed earlier in the stage.

About fifty kilometers from the stage end, a big crash brought down a lot of riders, among them Stuyven. Stuyven remounted, regained the peloton and went on to win the stage, his first professional win.

Jasper Stuyven wins Vuelta stage 8

Jasper Stuyven wins Vuelta stage 8

After the stage, Stuyven explained, "As I said immediately after the finish, I felt a pain in my wrist and it was getting more and more painful, so I requested a hospital checkup. I was already afraid that it could be the scaphoid because I know from friends who are cyclists what this type of injury feels like and where it's located. Unfortunately, the X-rays confirmed that my left scaphoid is broken. Therefore, my Vuelta ends today.

"At first I was of course really disappointed, but then I realized that I really have to enjoy this moment because now is the time to enjoy my first professional win. What's yet to come, I will find out when I return home for the surgery."

Trek team doctor Nino Daniele said, "The fracture is not dislocated, so in fact it won't be difficult to resolve it, but it goes without saying that Jasper cannot ride his bike for now. First of all, it would be very painful, but additionally it's also possible that the broken bones move and we absolutely want to avoid that. If everything goes well, like I hope, in a couple of weeks, he should be back on his bike and probably even sooner on the rollers while wearing his cast."

Stuyven is on his way home to Leuven, Belgium, for possible surgery.

Vuelta a España team reports

We send our hopes that all the riders hurt today have a speedy recovery. All the best to you.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this angry release:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s co-team leader Peter Sagan was hit by a motorbike deep into the stage 8 finale of Vuelta a España. The reckless collision caused Sagan to crash at speed, effectively ending his chances on the stage, while causing extensive superficial wounds.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan finishes Vuelta stage 8 with torn shorts and jersey

Tinkoff-Saxo announced after stage 8 of Vuelta a España that the team considers legal actions against the person or persons responsible for crashing into Peter Sagan with 8.2km to go on the stage. A Shimano auxiliary motorbike recklessly and dangerously drove into the peloton at high speed hitting Peter Sagan in his rear wheel. The unacceptable collision caused Peter Sagan to crash and left the rider with extensive superficial wounds on the left buttocks and leg. Sagan was fortunately able to finish the stage but a final medical examination is yet to be made.

Tinkoff-Saxo believes that such accidents caused by reckless human error, regardless of whether they affect Tinkoff-Saxo’s riders or riders of other teams, are unacceptable at the top level of the sport of cycling. Peter Sagan was wearing the green jersey, he had won one stage, was set to target the stage win of today, while being in serious contention for later stage wins. Tinkoff-Saxo finds it intolerable that an incident like today’s can occur and potentially send the ambitions of a rider and a full season of planning astray. Meanwhile, today’s accident doesn’t only affect Sagan and Tinkoff-Saxo but the race as a whole and its fans, since Peter Sagan is one of the most popular riders drawing attention to both the race and the sport in general. 

And then a little while later Tinkoff-Saxo sent this release:

Tinkoff-Saxo and team co-leader Peter Sagan missed out on an opportunity to make a mark on stage 8 of La Vuelta a España, as Sagan was struck by an in-race motorcycle trying to pass the main group in the stage finale. The reckless incident emphasizes the importance of rider safety, while a decision on whether Sagan will start stage 9 is yet to be made.

Jasper Stuyven took the win on stage 8 of La Vuelta a España in a select front group sprint. Tinkoff-Saxo had targeted the stage with Peter Sagan but dropped out of contention as Sagan was hit by a motorcycle with 8.2k to go. Following medical examinations at the team hotel, Sagan comments on the incident:

“Unfortunately, it isn't the first time such an incident happens. Even if motorbikes are forced to go through a group of riders, they should do it very carefully and not recklessly. In my opinion, motorbike drivers don't take the safety of the riders in consideration seriously. Fortunately, my injuries aren't very serious but can you imagine what would have happened if he had ran over me?” asks Peter Sagan before adding: “If I had crashed alone or with another rider, I would have considered that to be part of the sport. However, being hit by a motorbike of the race organization shouldn't be acceptable. The safety of the riders should be an absolute priority and all vehicle drivers involved in a race must be more attentive. I really hope this incident is the start of a series of necessary changes in the way races are organized”.

A Shimano auxiliary motorbike recklessly and dangerously drove into the peloton at high speed hitting Peter Sagan in his rear wheel deep into the race finale. About the accident, Sagan explains what he experienced: “There was a breakaway in front and, together with a rider from Lotto-Soudal, I was attacking to bridge the gap. Then the group reached us from behind and I was sitting in second place, while another Lotto-Soudal rider came to the front to pull. So, I attacked again to reach him, as he was about ten meters ahead. When I reached him, I signaled to him to go ahead as I was staying on his wheel. I moved to the left and at that moment a motorbike hit me. There was nothing I could do”, he says and continues:

“I didn't even hear the motorbike coming. I find it unacceptable that a motorbike tries to weave its way into the group at such high speed. They accelerate and try to sneak in when they see an empty space. However, they don’t take into consideration that a rider might fall in front of them or change direction. They go extremely fast and the difference of speed compared to the riders is enormous”.

“Last but not least, I go back to the team hotel and I read I was fined 300 francs for insults and threats as well as behavior that damages the image of cycling. I will, obviously, pay it but I consider it unjust”, underlines Peter Sagan.

Tristan Hoffman, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, notes that he’s sad to see a dedicated team effort go down the drain on the 182.5km stage to Murcia.

“From the start of the day we saw possibilities with Sagan to go for the victory. It was a really tough finale but we reckoned that it suited him very well. Pavel Brutt made a fantastic effort pulling at the front of the field to reel in the breakaway and set up the stage for Peter. Despite the bad crash mid-stage that disrupted the work, we managed to keep up the chase of the breakaway. Rafal, Peter and Jesper were there after the climbs in the final part of the stage but with around 8 kilometers to go, unfortunately a motorbike wanted to pass and he took Peter down. In the end, the group was together at the finish line but Peter was far behind because of the crash and we missed out on a great possibility to convert a team effort into a good result”, says Hoffman.

According to team doctor Peter Lagrou, Peter Sagan suffered wounds and burns of first and second degree on the left side of his body, from the hip to the lower leg. In addition, he has a contusion on his left forearm with an intra-muscular hematoma.

There is no need for further medical examinations and a decision on whether Peter Sagan continues in the Vuelta a España will be taken on Sunday morning.

Orica-GreenEdge had this to report about Vuelta stage 8:

Two-time stage winner Esteban Chaves has recovered from a crash during stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana to retain the red leader’s jersey for another day. Chaves was involved in a large crash with 50km to go that saw a number of big names forced to withdraw from the race. Fortunately, the Colombian managed to escape with only minor grazes.

Many of his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates were also taken down in the same incident but recovered to wait for their leader. Damien Howson and Jens Keukeleire worked hard to pull Chaves back to the front group whilst Daryl Impey and Cameron Meyer took positioning duties over the first climb and onto the second.

“It was very stressful, everyone wanted to be at the front,” Chaves said. “Then one Lotto Soudal rider fell in front of me after a roundabout. I think this rider is really bad and I want to say to him that I hope you recover really well. After this the guys stayed with me and helped me get back to the first group. I started the climbs in the first group, the downhill was really dangerous, really small and in the final we keep the red jersey.

“I want to say again thank you to the boys and also to Neil (sport director), because Neil in the moment after the crash kept talking to me and when the big riders attacked he kept me calm.”

Johan Esteban Chaves

Chaves is still in the leader's red jersey

Sport director Neil Stephens credited the team’s ability to use their experience, not panic and make correct decisions on the road. “The crash made a tricky finish even harder,” Stephens said. “Firstly, we lost riders out of our designated helpers and we also had to spend a lot of our energy getting him back.”

“Rightly so, the bunch was riding for the stage win. They didn’t back off the pace when he crashed but they weren’t trying to attack Esteban and that is no problem at all. The team reassessed the situation and a number of decisions were made on the road that were all right ones – firstly Mat Hayman gave Esteban his wheel, the decision to ride full gas and leave poor Simon Gerrans still on the side of the road was the right call, then Cameron Meyer radioed back from the front bunch to ask if he should wait which I said no and finally Daryl (Impey) made the call on the last climb to give it everything to put Esteban in a good position.

“A lot of the calls come from the car but I’ll say it again, a lot of important calls come from the bike and every call and question made from the bike today was a good call so the boys - physically and tactically - rode very well.”

How it happened: With the first 140km predominantly downhill, the start of stage eight was a fast one. It took over 40km for the day’s break to be allowed to ride off and again it was well managed to ensure no general classification threats were amongst it.

ORICA-GreenEDGE weren’t required to work too hard on the front as Tinkoff-Saxo and later Giant-Alpecin showed interest in the stage victory and kept the gap under five minutes. As they approached Murcia with 50km to go, ahead of the two ascents of Alto de la Cresta del Gallo, the gap was down to one and a half minutes.

Tension was high as positioning became crucial and as a result a big crash took down much of the peloton and saw four riders withdraw, including general classification riders Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing). ORICA-GreenEDGE was also involved, including the red jersey of Chaves, but the full team managed to finish the stage.

After a considerable chase effort to get Chaves back into the front group, the team used there few remaining riders to position the 25-year-old over the first climb and into the second.

Chaves was then on his own at the front, but in good position. Several attacks went on the latter part of the climb and also on the dangerous descent but in the end it regrouped on the flat section leading into the finish line.

Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) won the reduced bunch sprint, with Chaves safely in the front bunch.

Here's BMC's bad news about Tejay van Garderen:

Murcia, Spain - The BMC Racing Team lost Tejay van Garderen to a broken right shoulder Saturday at the Vuelta a España in a crash that forced the withdrawal of several others.

Van Garderen went down in a large pile-up as the peloton was chasing a breakaway inside of 50 kilometers to go in the 182.5-km race. Teammate Peter Velits said the crash was unavoidable.

"We were all around Tejay because we were close to the climb and the final circuit," Velits said. "We were trying to move up and suddenly it happened right in front of us. We did not have a chance to avoid it. That is cycling, but it is never nice to see crashes like this."

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen

Three other riders saw their Vuelta come to an end due to the crash: Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) who was in third overall, Lotto Soudal team leader Kris Boeckmans and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), who was runner-up on Stage 3.

Van Garderen was riding a second grand tour for the first time in his career. At the Tour de France last month, a respiratory problem forced his withdrawal during Stage 17.

"It is a pity. Our team has lost a fundamental man," said BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois, who directed van Garderen at both grand tours. "This Vuelta was an opportunity to do well for him and for the BMC Racing Team. I am sure he will come back stronger physically, and above all, mentally."

Jasper Stuyen (Trek Factory Racing) won Saturday's stage while Esteben Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) kept the overall lead. Samuel Sánchez is the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider overall. He sits 17th, 2:50 off the lead of Chaves.

Later, this also came from BMC:

Santa Rosa, California - Tejay van Garderen said he is fortunate he was not more seriously hurt during a crash Saturday that knocked him out of the Vuelta a España on Stage 8. Van Garderen broke his right shoulder and suffered other injuries which will prevent him from helping the BMC Racing Team defend its world team time trial championship in Richmond, Virginia, next month.

"I am really disappointed because I think I was prepared to do well in this Vuelta - and above all for my worlds preparation," he said. "But I am also thinking it could be worst. So now my thinking is to recover well and come back mentally stronger."

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said van Garderen fractured the head of his right humerus when he was involved in a large crash with about 50 kilometers to go in Saturday's race. Van Garderen also has a contusion on the right side of his chest and he bruised his right lung, Testa said.

"He did not break a rib, but in the impact, he had a high speed blow to his lung," Testa said. "The hospital will keep him overnight and Sunday morning, they will re-check if everything is good. As soon as he is able to travel, he will come back to the United States where we can make a plan for his recovery."

Van Garderen is the second BMC Racing Team rider to succumb to injury at the Vuelta. Marcus Burghardt was unable to start Monday's stage after crashing and hurting his left knee and face on Sunday's Stage 2.

Lotto-Soudal also had some bad news:

Today the eighth stage of the Vuelta was scheduled, between Puebla de Don Fadrique and Murcia. It was an emotional day for Lotto Soudal. Fifty kilometres before the finish there was a big crash in the peloton, Kris Boeckmans was one of the main victims. At that moment Jasper De Buyst was part of a breakaway of six, which would be reeled in before the second ascent of the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo (3rd category).

There were a series of attacks on the climb, with top at seventeen kilometres of the end. After some different situations Elissonde, Gonçalves and Losada were riding in front. In the chasing group Jurgen Van den Broeck was pulling together with guys of Trek and Tinkoff Saxo. With three and a half kilometres to go the leading trio got caught. One and a half kilometres further Adam Hansen took his chance, but the chasing group passed by the Australian in the last hectometres. Tosh Van der Sande then sprinted to the sixth place. The victory went to Jasper Stuyven.

Tosh Van der Sande: “After we had climbed the Cresta del Gallo for the second time I rode in the chasing group together with three teammates (Bart De Clercq, Adam Hansen and Jurgen Van den Broeck, LTS). Jurgen Van den Broeck did an excellent job chasing down the leaders. In the last kilometres Adam attacked. I already got at the head of the group about 400 metres before the finish, when Adam was still ahead of us, that turned out to be too soon. The riders behind me were racing at a higher speed. I hesitated for a moment and got boxed in. A pity, you don’t often get chances like this.”

“Congratulations to Jasper Stuyven, but I would have loved to be the one to take his first pro victory here. I am hugely disappointed, because it could have been me. I felt as strong as Jasper, this was a major opportunity. The positive thing is that I notice that I got stronger, that I can survive such a tough finale. I’m looking forward to more of this, I’m ready! Like, the stage on Monday, with a second category climb at just over fifteen kilometres of the finish.”

“Of course we are all thinking of Kris tonight. I was riding just behind him when it happened. He was drinking when he rode over a hole, tumbled over his handlebar and hit the ground very hard.”

Kris Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans winning the second stage of the World ports Classic this year.

Kris Boeckmans was taken to a hospital in Murcia, this was the diagnosis: the 28-year-old rider has a severe facial trauma with several fractures, he’ll probably need surgery. Boeckmans also has a concussion, three broken ribs and had a bleeding in his lung. The doctors will now keep him in an induced coma for a few days.

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to report about the Vuelta's eighth stage:

LottoNL-Jumbo was on the attack again in Saturday’s eighth stage in the Vuelta a España. Belgian Jesper Stuyven won the sprint of a depleted group in Murcia in a crash-filled stage. Timo Roosen brought the yellow-black of Team LottoNL-Jumbo home in 59th in Murcia.

The profile was downhill from the start, so it was fast from the gun. After one hour, the average speed was more than 51kph. It was attack upon attack to catch the right escape. Eventually six riders escaped pulled clear, with LottoNL-Jumbo rider Tom Asbroeck in the mix. The six got only a maximum of 4'40” because the sprinters teams of Giant-Alpecin and Tinkoff-Saxo controlled the race. 

"Tom was in the right break, the sprint teams controlled the race immediately,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "It was a big fight to hit the right break. We have dealt with it as a team. Everyone participated. But if Tinkoff and Giant took the control, you know the escape is doomed and actually you know that the stage is over for us. That final climb is just too difficult for our riders. I was surprised by Timo Roosen, who attacked in the final. He's already made nice progression this season as a first-year pro, and he showed it in the finale today. He should just try this and see where it ends, because you never know.“

The peloton twice climbed the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo in the closing hour of the 182.5-kilometre stage. During the first ascent, the leading group featuring Asbroeck was caught. During the second climb, Italian Gianluca Brambilla surged free, and was soon joined by Timo Roosen. The pair rode together in the lead of the race, but after a few kilometres, Roosen had to give up. 

"After the first climb, I knew how long the climb was because I didn’t know the Cresta del Gallo," Roosen said about the climb in Murcia. "I could have been dropped anonymously, but I opted for the attack because in a race you never know. It was a bit on bluff and a moment later, I had to pass. I am happy because I made progression this year, and also in the Vuelta, I’m feeling still good. But it is still a long race.“ 

On Sunday, a 168-kilometre stage will run from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol Benitatxell, arriving on a mountain of first category. 

"Tomorrow is the final climb is very steep and difficult. We will not wait. We'll just attack again, and we'll see how a cow catches a hare,” concluded Sports Director Merijn Zeeman.

Cult Energy , Tinkoff-Saxo will be at GP Ouest France-Plouay

Cult Energy sent this release:

Sunday 30th, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s delegation consisting of Rasmus Quaade, Martin Mortensen, Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Karel Hnik, Alex Kirsch, Michael Reihs and Fabian Wegmann will take on the World Tour race, GP Ouest France - Plouay.

Alex kirsch

Alex Kirsch will be at Plouay.

The French one-day race unfolds on two different circuits of 26 kilometers and 13 kilometers. In total, the race covers 229 kilometers of undulating terrain. Historically, Frenchmen have dominated the final podium just like last year’s edition of the race where Sylvain Chavanel claimed the title after a late breakaway campaign. Other big names taking victory in the race are Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Gerrans, Thomas Voeckler, Michele Bartoli and Edvard Boasson-Hagen. However, DS, Luke Roberts expects Danish and German activities in the race finale.

DS, Luke Roberts says: "Tomorrow, we are lining up in GP Ouest France, a World Tour late Summer classic held at the site of the 2000 UCI World Championships. It's a great spectacle with many thousands of spectators lining the circuit. Coming off the back of last week’s top 10 in Vattenfall Cyclassics, Rasmus Guldhammer will be eyeing off a big result in this race, alongside Fabian Wegmann who himself has ridden Top 10 on more than one occasion here. I’m confident we’ll see them both well amongst the action in the final."

And Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's update:

Matti Breschel is set to lead Tinkoff-Saxo in the French World Tour one-day race GP Ouest-France Plouay marked by an always hectic finale suited for fast finishers and puncheurs. Tinkoff-Saxo aims for a spot on the Breton podium Sunday, as a powerful line-up provides backing for Breschel in the unpredictable race.

Raced concurrently with the eclipsing Vuelta a España, GP Plouay marks the second of two French World Tour one-day races on the calendar. The Breton race is held one week after the sprinter’s race of Vattenfall Cyclassics and continues the series of autumn classics. According to Sean Yates, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, the team will field a strong line-up headed by Matti Breschel in search for a podium place.

“Matti has good form and our goal is a top three. Perhaps the race will come down to a sprint, something Matti is well capable of and he also showed that recently in Vattenfall, where he held his own against top sprinters with lead-out trains. But the race is fairly lumpy with a short but steep climb that we will do nine times. Matti can also go uphill but we got guys like Juul-Jensen and Valgren as well. In general, we line up at GP Plouay with a strong squad but we will have to stay attentive as the race has several opportunistic scenarios”, says Sean Yates.

Martri Breschel

Matti Breschel having a good stage finish at this year's Tour of Denmark

To support team captain Matti Breschel, Tinkoff-Saxo sends Michael Valgren, Michael Rogers, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Matteo Tosatto, Nikolay Trusov, Michael Kolar and Manuele Boaro.

Matti Breschel last saw action at the Vattenfall Cyclassics, where he finished 7th against pure sprinters to continue a string of strong results. Breschel notes that he eyes opportunities at the GP Plouay.

“The route is very similar to that of the 2000 World Championships and although the race is in a fairly remote region, the GP Plouay is marked by a certain World’s feeling with many thousands of passionate spectators along the circuit. I want to do well here - it’s no secret that the last five kilometers will be decisive with a climb and a hectic finish. It’s not a race for the pure sprinters, but there’s a big chance that the race will be decided in a decimated group sprint. I will have to be ready there, while we have strong guys to cover the earlier moves as well”, comments Matti Breschel.

GP Ouest-France Plouay is held on a hilly 27km course totaling 229km of undulating racing marked by the often numerous attacks that turn the race into an unpredictable affair, where both strong sprinters and puncheurs can turn the tide and come out victorious.

“It suits both the fast men like Alexander Kristoff that can hang on and the more punchy riders, who will most likely have a dig on the final time up the climb with 5km to go. The climb starts with a 500m steeper section, which then meets up with the main road and turns into a false flat for another 500m. The pack will be lined out with everybody hanging on for dear life. It’s up to Valgren and Juul-Jensen to take the chance, while keeping an eye on Breschel, who shall be there in the finale”, explains Sean Yates before finishing:

“There are no real favorites other than Kristoff and it will be interesting to see, which teams will take the front to control the events. Of course we will see a break that can go a long way and if we have no one in it, we will have to take our fair share to ensure a stage finish, where our three-four guys in the finale can take a chance or set up the sprint for Matti”.

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