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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, February 2, 2015

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Riders Discuss Sunday's GP La Marseillaise

L'Equipe's Monday edition ran a story on how several riders felt about Sunday's GP La Marseillaise and its final outcome, a sprint victory by Lotto-Soudal racer Pim Ligthart.

Pim Ligthart wins 2015 La Marseillaise

Pim Ligthart wins this year's La Marseillaise

Ligthart's teammate Tony Gallopin (winner of the Tour's stage 9 last year, wearng yellow for a day) was quite pleased with the day's outcome, saying "I'm glad we won, but also quite happy with my legs. I had been active all day, always in a good position. I attacked at the foot of the Gineste and Anthony Roux (FDJ) tried to make the tempo, but when we took the headwind, it became unplayable."

Gallopin plans to ride the Etoile de Besseges, which starts Wednesday and then will compete in the Tour of the Algarve, Paris-Nice and Milano-San Remo.

But FDJ's Thibaut Pinot (73rd, but with the front group) was understandably not so pleased. "Pffouhh ... It was not too bad for a first test, but I am disappointed because of the wind, which has blocked everything. In fact, there is not much to be gained. We wanted to race but there was too much wind."

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet heads to the start of this year's La Marseillaise.

Ag2r's Romain Bardet weighed in as well, "It's a little bit disappointing because the team has made its mark collectively. Everybody did a good job but there was a lot of headwind, which calmed the whims of the attackers. And as we had an offensive team ... Now I'm ready for the most rugged races: Clasica de Almeria and Ruta del Sol".

Here's Lotto-Soudal's release regarding the Grand Prix la Marseillaise:

Lotto Soudal has won for the first time this season! Pim Ligthart won the Grand Prix la Marseillaise today, a Europe Tour race. The Dutchman beat Kenneth Vanbilsen and Antoine Demoitié.

Five escapees, among them Frederik Veuchelen, were keen to start the season. They gathered up to eight minutes lead, but the bunch kept control. The entire race Lotto Soudal was positioned on the front rows of the peloton. The battle really started with about fifty kilometres to go, when counterattacks were set up. Tosh Van der Sande and Vegard Breen both jumped away in one of those attempts. This made the gap decrease and after the last climb of the day a new front group was formed. This time eight riders rode in front, Sean De Bie was one of them. The 23-year-old attacked with one kilometre to go. A few hundred metres further he was caught by a reduced peloton. Teammate Pim Ligthart sprinted to the victory, the first win for Lotto Soudal. Ligthart beat last year’s winner Kenneth Vanbilsen.

Pim Ligthart: “The season couldn’t have started better. I trained hard this winter and it’s fantastic I immediately benefit from it. Sean De Bie attacked in the final, there was headwind, and three riders joined him. Four others bridged. Our team was relaxed in the bunch and I could save my strengths. Cofidis led the chase and the escapees got caught. I was well positioned and started the sprint. I looked next to me a few times and didn’t see anyone passing by, so I started to believe in it. It’s really nice to win this way.”

“In the beginning of the race I didn’t feel very well, maybe because it were the first race kilometres of the season. The legs got better further down in the race. The team really took control. I hope to continue this way, the condition is good. This was the first victory of the season, my first win for this team. I hope that this gives a boost to the team, starting in the Etoile de Bessèges next week.”

The Challenge Mallorca ended today with the fourth and last Trofeo. A bunch sprint decided about the victory of this Trofeo de Playa de Palma. Matteo Pelucchi, winner of day one, could also raise his hands today. German champion André Greipel finished on place two. Ben Swift was the third man on the podium.

And there was also Sunday's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step), winner of Sunday's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, had this to say after the race, "We are on Australian soil for a while. At the Tour Down Under, I was a perfect conduit for the sprints, but did not have the legs to finish well." Regarding the Cadel Evans race Meersman went on, "With my teammate David de la Cruz, I managed to be in the breakaway. He did a great job. I am very proud of this first victory [of the season]. Last year I had my first success in my third race. It's good for me and for the team. This is our second victory. This motivates to work even more and makes me happy to return to Europe.

Gianni Meersman

Gianni Meersman after Stage four of the 2012 Paris-Nice

Cycling World Gettng Smaller: First Taiwan Rider on a World Tour Team

This press release came from Lampre-Merida.

Chun Kai Feng

Chun Kai Feng

There is interest in the debut in Dubai Tour of Chun Kai Feng (photo Pisoni), the first Taiwanese cyclist to race in a World Tour team. Feng will take part in the Arabian race wearing the jersey of Taiwanese national champion.

“I want to give my contribution to the team in Dubai Tour," Chun Kai Feng said. "I’ll meet again the team after the winter team meeting that took place in the early days of December, when I spent 7 days in Italy for medical checks, clothing fitting and tests with cycling equipment. I received my new bike Merida Reacto Evo and I met my new team mates, the team staff and the trainers. I’m sure the feeling with the new team is very good."

"Before I came back to Taiwan, I chose the house where I’ll live when I’ll be in Europe, I set with the training consultant the program of trainings for the winter and the nutritional programs with the team doctors. After the training camp, I flew back to Taiwan and I start training with huge enthusiasm: training is always demanding, but that's the nature of cycling!"

"Also the nutritional programs are very precise, it’s not like eating at the restaurant. Day by day I respected the training programs, I checked constantly my weight and I was always in contact with the team in Europe, so I’m confident to be ready for my debut in Dubai.

"As it will be for my Asian friend Xu Gang, my role in Dubai Tour will be as support to the team captains for achieving the top results. I want to improve my performances and I want to be a better cyclist. I’ll have the opportunity to learn from the top level riders. We’re a good team. We’ll be able to work all together to achieve the best goals: we’ll try to do it already in Dubai Tour”.

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