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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, August 31, 2015

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

Today's racing:

One race today. The Vuelta a España's tenth stage

Yesterday was the French World Tour race, GP Ouest France-Plouay. We've got compelte results posted.

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Boonen will stay with Etixx-Quick Step another year

Nieuwsblad.be reports that Tom Boonen will sign a contract with his current team, Etixx-Quick Step, for another year.

"The final talks did not last very long," Boonen said. "In two weeks we were done. I'm glad it's behind us. I'll be under contract for one year, as I actually always wanted. I still really like the bike, but it's better to decide at [my] age year by year. When this new contract expires, I'm 36 years old."

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen wins the second stage of the 2015 Belgian Tour

Team reports from GP Ouest France-Plouay

Here's the news from Lotto-Soudal with a Kris Boeckmans update:

Jürgen Roelandts did it again, for the fourth consecutive year the Belgian finished in the top ten at the Grand Prix Plouay. It was an attractive finale, with attacks of Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot, but still it ended with a sprint.

Backaert, Beppu, Delaplace, Jaurégui and Pichot all chose to join the early breakaway. The peloton gave them a lead of up to eleven minutes, but they didn’t stand a chance. In the seventh lap, 44.4 kilometres from the end, it was over for them. After Stig Broeckx had a go chasing down the escapees, Tim Wellens attacked at the start of the last lap of 26.9 kilometres. Six others joined him: Bono, Clarke, Deignan, Dillier, Lutsenko and Rogers. They didn’t get much space, maximally half a minute. Uphill Wellens, Dillier and Lutsenko left their companions behind and the trio entered the final lap together, that was a smaller one of 13.9 kilometres.

During the last ascent of the Côte de Ty-Marrec, when the riders only had five kilometres left to cover, Tiesj Benoot bridged to the front. The Lotto Soudal rider got ahead with Breschel, Dillier, Lutsenko and Van Avermaet. Van Avermaet did an ultimate jump, but with one kilometre to go the reduced peloton had reeled them all in. Alexander Kristoff crossed the finish line first, ahead of Simone Ponzi and Ramunas Navardauskas. Jürgen Roelandts sprinted to the fifth place and reached the goal he had set for himself.

Jurgen Roelandts

Jurgen Roelandts

Jürgen Roelandts: “I am satisfied with this result. I started the sprint on the wheel of Ponzi, who got second. I possibly started sprinting too early, that was with three hundred metres to go, because I wanted to anticipate the jump of Kristoff. On the other hand I could have gotten boxed in if I hadn’t begun my sprint already. Anyway, Kristoff was the fastest of the pack. It’s a nice performance to end up in the top ten here for the fourth time in a row, although I gladly would have changed these results for one victory.”

“There was a headwind after the Côte de Ty-Marrec, so the escapees hardly had any chance to make it to the finish line. I decided to wait for the sprint. I was on the wheel of Jens Debusschere towards the corner at one and a half kilometres of the finish. The sprint in Plouay is always hectic and it’s difficult to stay together. But I managed to maintain a good position.”

“Of course I would love to be part of the Belgian selection for the road race at the World Championships. This is a good sign, my condition keeps going upwards and I hope the coach notices that. My next races are the WorldTour races in Canada: Québec and Montréal (on 11 and 13 September respectively, LTS). In theory Québec should suit me better, but I set the best results in Montréal where I already finished in top ten twice. I don’t know the reason, it might be the jetlag. I hope to be close to the victory in at least one of the two races.”

Update on Kris Boeckmans: More than 24 hours after the severe crash of Kris Boeckmans in yesterday’s Vuelta stage, further tests showed that the serious injuries are under control and that there is a small positive evolution.

Kris boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans

Team doctor Servaas Bingé: “A new CT scan showed that Kris didn’t have any brain injuries other than the severe concussion he incurred yesterday. Further tests showed that apart from a lung bleeding Kris also had a pneumothorax, next to the facial fractures and three rib fractures that already were reported yesterday. To keep the lung injury under control a drain was introduced in the thorax yesterday evening. At the moment Kris is still in an induced coma. From now on the sedative medication will be reduced gradually, so we can expect he’ll wake up within 24 to 48 hours. It’s too early to predict anything regarding the repatriation or any surgery. We assess the situation day by day.”

Cult Energy was at the race and sent this report:

The 229 kilometer long French World Tour one-day race, GP Ouest France Plouay was dominated by several breakaway attempts but the race was concluded in a frantic bunch gallop where Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Guldhammer demonstrated great form and finished 9th.

The initial breakaway quintet never had a really big gap to the field in spite of the length of the race. With 60 kilometers to go, the gap was under 3 minutes and several attempts of bridging the gap were made from single riders in the pack. Simultaneously, the break started speeding up and because of that, the riders in the front group were dropped one by one.

With 46 kilometers to go, the front group was neutralized and instantly, new attacks flew in both left and right. The animated pace on long climb divided the field in numerous groups and Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer found a good spot in the first group of 35 riders.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

However, as they were caught, a new front group was established with most of the World Tour teams represented including Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) but Etixx-Quick Step missed the boat and were now on the chase with the French team Europcar. On the penultimate climb, the group exploded and a trio consisting of Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) were now alone in the front of the race.

With 13 kilometers remaining, Team Sky and Katusha took control of the chase and it became clear, that the race were to be concluded in a bunch sprint. Just like in Vattenfall Cyclasics, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer demonstrated terrific form and claimed 9th on the finish line. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the race.

However, the ambitious Cult Energy talent was happy and content but wasn't thrilled with the result. But he praises the team effort: "Entering the final loop, I was in a perfect position thanks to Michael Reihs and Fabian Wegmann and in the bunch sprint, I hesitated for a second and missed a top position having to settle with 9th. But the entire team supported me throughout the race and they were constantly there for me shielding me from the wind and bringing me in this excellent position. However, the team goal was a top-10 result and we made it. Now, I'm going to do the Tour of Britain next week and that's a race, I'm looking forward to. It's a great race and a perfect build-up for the World Championships. It's no secret that I'm hoping for a spot in the line-up there," says Rasmus Guldhammer.

Vuelta a España team reports

Here's the Giant-Alpecin news:

Tom Dumoulin won stage 9 of La Vuelta a España, a 168.3km stage from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol. Benitatxell that finished atop of the Alto de Puig Llorença. With this win, Dumoulin takes over the lead in the GC and now has a 57" advantage on the runner-up.

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "I felt very good during the stage, unlike yesterday when I did not have the best day, so I wasn’t really expecting it. But the stage worked out surprisingly well. My tactic for the final climb was to attack on the flatter part and hang on on the steeper part. I could never have imagined that I could win a stage like this, but I’m in the form of my life.

"I’m really happy with the first week and my form, as I didn’t know exactly what to expect at this Vuelta. I’m proud to be back in the leader’s jersey now, and I will see day by day how it goes from here. We are not on the big climbs yet, but my climbing is improving and I’m climbing well." 

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin wins Vuelta stage 9

Christian Guiberteau (FRA): "It is an amazing win. This is really unbelievable. Yesterday he didn’t have his best day and had some doubts as well, which is normal after a week of racing in a Grand Tour. We talked to him this morning and he was really motivated again to redeem himself.

"During the stage he was strong and had great support from the team. After the first climb there were still three guys left to help him. On the final climb he attacked three or four times and eventually won the stage.

"It’s a great feeling having the leader’s jersey back in the team. It’s fantastic that we can defend it in a Grand Tour. There are some hard mountain stages coming up, and we’ll have to see what we can achieve and take it day by day, just as we’ve done so far.” 

Here's the report I got from lottoNL-Jumbo:

Maarten Tjallingii showed Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s offensive ambitions in the Vuelta a España, and the veteran Dutchman was part of the main breakaway in the ninth stage. In the end, George Bennett was the first man in black and yellow at the line, and the New Zealander came in 21st on top of the Alto de Puig Llorença.

Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin won the stage, and the Dutchman also regained the overall lead with his victory.

Maarten Tjallingii felt that he had to try to surprise his breakaway companions in the closing kilometres if he wanted to have a shot at success on the tough final climb.

Maarten Tjallingii

Tjallingii at last year's Giro d'Italia

“It was clear that I was going to have a hard time on the climb, so I decided to attack just before the intermediate sprint with 13 kilometres to go,” said Tjallingii. “I thought, that way I’ll at least win that sprint. With a small lead, you never know what can happen on a final climb like today’s. It also provides some extra morale. The climb turned out to be even steeper than indicated in the road book. That is often the case in Spain. All in all, it nevertheless was a nice day. Showing yourself in a grand tour always creates a kind of satisfaction. Hopefully, it’s three times lucky for me as well, just as for Bert-Jan Lindeman.”

“We were in the break again and that was the goal for today,” Sports Director Erik Dekker looked back with satisfaction. “The group was quite large and that was not in Maarten’s favour. In a big group, there is always someone who is faster uphill than Maarten. It was clear that he shouldn’t wait until the final climb, and he didn’t. It the end, we saw it was no day for a breakaway, but Bert-Jan proved that sometimes things fall into place, but sometimes they don’t. So far, we have been in the mix every day. Later in this Vuelta, when the real climbing starts, that’s going to be different.”

Erik Dekker wants to attack again on Monday with his riders. “We think a break stands a better chance tomorrow. Our goal is clear: getting in the break.”

And here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Vuelta release:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka took fifth place on stage 9 of Vuelta a España finishing atop a 4km brutal climb with sections around 20 percent under a baking sun. Despite having a tough day, Rafal Majka says that “It wasn’t the same legs as two-three days ago, but still it’s not bad”. While Brutt covered the stage from the break, Majka’s finishing performance moves him into the GC top ten.

With riders still crossing the finish line atop Cumbre del Sol hanging on for dear life after the final steep section, Rafal Majka comments after catching his breath: “Today I didn’t feel so good and I tried to attack in the finale to gain some meters before the finish. But when the climb is this steep, every hundred meters feels very long but still it’s not bad at the end and I finished fifth and move into the top ten in the general classification. We wait for Andorra and the last week, we still have many mountains with longer climbs, which are more different. I’m satisfied with this first week and my teammates have worked for me perfectly”, tells Rafal Majka, who sits 9th in the GC after the stage.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbing to the finish in the Vuelta's 9th stage.

“But we have to wait, we also have the long time trial and we have some big favorites here but I’m still there and today I tried. I had an advantage with 700 meters to go but I didn’t believe that I would take the win. I told my teammates that I was suffering a bit today and they worked to position me at the front before the final climb. Everybody has bad days and I think I had mine today. It wasn’t the same legs as two-three days ago but we have many days to go”, adds Majka.

Stage 9 from Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol took the riders 168.3km on mainly flat roads until the final part of the stage, where the riders faced two categorized climbs. Tristan Hoffman, team sports director, notes that he is satisfied with the effort and outcome of the stage, where Pavel Brutt played a part in the main breakaway before Rafal Majka was launched by his teammates on the finishing climb.

“This morning was even hotter than the other days and that of course took its toll on the entire field. Brutt was in the breakaway, which was very nice to see. He recovered from yesterday, where he was pulling for 100km and it took some of the workload of our shoulders. The other boys worked for Rafal to support him and position him before the last climb. It was a very, very tough climb, super steep and we had Rafal there with Hansen and Poljanski positioning him”, explains Tristan Hoffman before adding:

“Valverde attacked at the bottom, as the main group went into the climb at a blazing speed. Rafal had to close a gap, which put everybody in the red zone and with one kilometer to go we saw and opportunity to go with Rafal. But Froome started pulling hard, and in the end a few riders passed Rafal but he managed to keep his pace. It’s nice to see him compete against the best in the world, and I’m very happy with his effort and willpower although he says that he didn’t have his best day”, concludes Tristan Hoffman adding that stage 11 in Andorra will be the next opportunity for the GC riders to create differences.

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