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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, February 16, 2015

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Alberto Contador Plans Career End

Juan Gutierrez of the Spanish paper AS reported that Alberto Contador will most likely retire at the end of the 2016 racing season. "I recover well physically and I'm excited about the team, but the years pass. The next year I'll be in the squad, but it will be the last year," Contador said. He also said that the Grand Tours are the only races that really interest him at this point in his career

Contador left the door open, though, saying that if some mishap keeps him from racing well in 2016, he might continue racing for yet another year.

Contador's contract with Saxo-Tinkoff end in 2015, so who knows what team he'll end his career with?

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador won the 2014 Vuelta a España

Tour of Oman Next Big Race

Starting tomorrow, the 17th, the "HC" ranked Tour of Oman is the next big race. Two teams have sent me their rosters and other news regarding the race.

First, here's the Tinkoff-Saxo release:

"Tinkoff-Saxo joins the clash between grand tour favorites and classics riders at Tour of Oman, the third and final Middle Eastern race of the early season covering six stages. Tinkoff-Saxo is looking to reap the benefits from a thorough early season build-up as the strong squad aims for both GC and stage wins in the bumpy desert of Oman.

"Proven climber and stage-race talent Rafal Majka will lead the team’s efforts in the general classification, while Peter Sagan, will aim for stage wins coming straight off the back of Tour of Qatar. The prominent squad is completed by Daniele Bennati, Matti Breschel, Roman Kreuziger, Edward Beltran, Ivan Rovny and Pawel Poljanski.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka won the 2014 Tour de France climbers' classification

“We’re sending a strong team to Oman with some big names on the roster. Rafal Majka will be our team captain aiming for at least the top-5 in the GC. Sagan has shown in Qatar that he’s, where he should be at this time of the season, and he’ll be targeting stage wins. We have some hilly stages in Oman that will suit him better than the pancake flat sprinter stages in the Qatari desert”, says Sean Yates, the team’s sport director at Tour of Oman, who is leading his first race for Tinkoff-Saxo.

“I’m truly excited about this race. I’ve been away from World Tour cycling for a couple of years, so it’s great to be back in the fold – especially on an ambitious team with some serious contenders. I’ve seen how people work together in this team and combined with the key players we have, also here in Oman, makes it exciting”.

"Sean Yates joined Tinkoff-Saxo ahead of 2015 and will be in charge of the team's effort in Oman

"Tour of Oman has become one of the first meetings between major stage-race favorites and riders aiming for the cobbled classics. Oman presents the peloton with a versatile route featuring flat sprinter’s stages, days in hilly terrain and the traditional stage to Green Mountain featuring a 5.7km climb of 10.6 percent. Sean Yates is certain that this is where the climbers will decide, who wins the race.

“The GC will be decided on stage four, as 5.7 kilometers of 10.6 percent is undoubtedly enough to shake things up. It’s an important year for Rafal to continue building his career and to improve on the great results he had last year. It’s early in the season, so there’s no reason to get carried away. But he has shown good signs at our training camps and it will be an important test against the likes of Nibali, Rodriguez and Valverde”, comments Sean Yates.

"Rafal Majka returns to racing after a winter season of multiple training camps. And the 25-year old Pole is ready to take on the role as team captain.

“I’m really excited to begin the season and to be racing with my teammates. I think we have a very strong team for Oman and it’s a privilege to have this kind of support from big riders like Bennati, Kreuziger and Breschel”, tells Rafal Majka. “My goal is right on top of Green Mountain. Of course, it’s my first race of the season, so it’s impossible to know exactly where I am but I have a good feeling”.

"Rafal’s co-captain Peter Sagan has already seen action at the Tour of Qatar, where the Slovak conquered the white jersey in his first race for Tinkoff-Saxo. He’s now on the lookout for stage wins in Oman

Peter Sagan

And Peter Sagan won the 2014 Tour de France points classification

“I’m ready for Oman. I had a good build up in Qatar and now it’s important for me to recover from my efforts, as it was really windy with some tough stages. It will for sure become a very exciting race with some interesting stage profiles”, comments Sagan, whose big aim of the season is the cobbled classics in March and April.

Race Preview

Number of stages: 6
Total length: 989 kilometers
Kind:  Versatile stage race with a mountain top finish
First edition: 2010
Last year’s winner: Chris Froome
Best GC result of Tinkoff-Saxo: 2nd – Alberto Contador (2013)

"Race Route: Before the GC and Classics riders come to the fore, the sprinters will most likely get a chance to fight for a stage win, as stage 1 of 161 flat kilometers to Al Wutayah looks certain to end in a bunch sprint finish. Flat roads characterize the 195 kilometers of stage 2 to Al Bustan, but more difficult terrain awaits in the final 25km of the stage. Depending on the toughness of the race, the pure sprinters might not survive the last undulating part. Stage 3 again favors the sprinters, as the peloton endeavors on a flat circuit beginning and ending at the Al Mussanah Sports City.

"Stage 4 is the pivotal point of Tour of Oman, as the race will be decided among the light climbers atop the Green Mountain at Jabal Al Akhdar. The finishing climb challenges the riders with 5.7km of 10.6% in average incline. Stage 5 again provides the opportunity to shake up whatever hasn’t been settled in the GC. The riders will climb the shorter Bousher Alamrat climb four times in the second part of the stage. Finally, Tour of Oman is concluded on stage 6 to Muttrah Promenade, which is inevitably set for a bunch sprint decision.

Here's the BMC roster for Oman:

Rider Roster: Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Ben Hermans (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Peter Velits (SVK)

Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

Doctor: Roger Palfreeman (GBR)

Staff: Mechanics: Aaron Fairley (USA), Kevin Grove (USA). Press Officer: Sean Weide (USA). Therapists: María Auxiliadora "Auxi" Martin (ESP), Luca Vaiente (ITA).

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet on the Paterberg in last year's Tour of Flanders.

Lotto-Soudal Plans for Volta ao Algarve

In the run-up to the classics Lotto Soudal is racing in the southern part of Europe. While a team of seven will ride the Ruta del Sol, eight others will take part in the Volta ao Algarve from Wednesday 18th until Sunday 22nd February. The Algarve is a region in the south of Portugal.

There are two sprint opportunities in the Volta ao Algarve: the first and final stage. Apart from that there are two tougher stages and a time trial. That time trial, nineteen kilometres long, is scheduled on Friday. The last five kilometres are slightly uphill.

Thursday the riders have to climb in the final, with two official climbs of third category. Between those two KOM points, spread over a distance of 55 kilometres, it goes up and down all the time. The second KOM lies at 5.4 kilometres from the finish. The last straight line is downhill.

The penultimate stage will be the toughest. The Alto do Malhão will play a crucial role. It’s on this climb of second category that the finish line is drawn. After a first passage the peloton has to cover just over forty kilometres. There’s a climb of third category before the final ascent of the Alto de Malhão, where the riders can battle for the stage win.

Herman Frison, sports director: “We aim for a stage win and a good overall classification. Tony Gallopin is our man for the GC. In the Etoile de Bessèges Tony proved that he had a good winter, just like the others, so he can set a good result in Algarve as well. Tony rode a strong time trial in Bessèges, the course in Algarve has to suit him as well. Together with the stages of Thursday and Saturday the time trial will be one of the decisive days for GC. Of course Tony could win a stage as well.”

“In theory there are two opportunities for the sprinters. We can count on Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg in that case. We do want to race offensively and Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx and Sean De Bie can do that. It’s always good to have a man in the front group and if the break makes it, they can finish it off.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel descendng during the 2014 Elite Mens' World Championship Road Race

"This season we chose to race less in the beginning of the year. We didn’t go to the Tour of Qatar or Tour of Oman and André Greipel and Jürgen Roelandts didn’t ride the Tour Down Under. Until now it turns out well, but we can only make an evaluation after the spring classics. Those three victories are great. We couldn’t have started any better.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stages

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