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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, February 22, 2015

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Cult Energy Team Truck Robbed at Haut Var

The Cult Energy Team did not start today's stage at the Tour du Haut Var (Draguignan - Draguignan). During the night thieves cleaned out the team truck, taking all the bikes and equipment. I hope they catch the bastards.

Here's the text from Cult Energy's press release regarding the awful theft:

"Cult Energy Pro Cycling are currently participating in the French stage race, Haut Var where Fabian Wegmann took fourth place yesterday and was targeting a podium position. But the team won’t be on the start line Sunday. During the night between Saturday and Sunday, thieves broke into the team truck and left nothing behind.

“It’s just devastating. We had a car parked in front of the back of the truck, so the thieves somehow must have moved the car and then broke the lock to the truck. They stole everything. Bikes, wheels and all our equipment. Now, we’re waiting for the police to show up and start their investigation. We won’t be racing today and I reckon it’s doubtful that we will be ready for next week’s Het Nieuwsblad. I’m hoping for a miracle,” states DS, Michael Skelde Sunday morning

Cult Energy team truck

Cult Energy team truck before the theft

Chris Froome Surprised at Stage Win

L'Equipe says Chris Froome was not expecting to beat Alberto Contador at the Vuelta a Andalucia/Ruta del Sol's fourth stage, "I was not expecting that at all, I wanted to assess my level of form," said Chris Froome after finishing 29 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador. 

Chris Froome

Chris Froome wins stage 4

"I am very happy with the result and the behavior of the team, especially pleased with the integration of new [team members], including Nicolas Roche who set the tempo at the foot of the last pass. I attacked where the slope was steepest [about 20%]. Of course, it's nice to win, especially that on coming tothis race, I did not know what to expect. For me and my teammates, it's a 'plus' mentally."

BMC on Tour du Haut Var Stage 1

This just came in from BMC:

"Seillans, France - BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert finished third Saturday on the opening stage of the Tour du Haut Var as Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) soloed to the win in cold and rainy conditions.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert after Tour du Haut Var Stage 3

"Gilbert rode to his best result of the season, finishing behind Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), who won the field sprint seven seconds after the race winner. Gastauer had been part of the day's five-man breakaway before going on the attack in the final 15 kilometers of the 164.6-km race.

"I was feeling OK today in very difficult conditions," Gilbert said. "Manuel Senni and Rick Zabel were pulling to try to control the breakaway, always keeping it at three minutes. But we did not get help until late in the race. Plus, there was not a lot of information about the gap. So it was not easy to know what to do. Sometimes we went 20 kilometers without any information."

"BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said better weather is forecast for Sunday's final stage, a 194.7-km race featuring another hilly profile.

"Today was a very hard day for the riders with it being very cold, with wind and raining the entire time," he said. "Fortunately, tomorrow it will be better."

And here's Cult Energy's take on the Haut Var's first stage:

Today, Cult Energy Pro Cycling took part of stage one of the 47th edition of the two-day French stage race, Haut Var where 164.6 kilometers were to be covered on a hilly stretch between Le Cannet des Maures and the uphill finish in Seillans. Here, Fabian Wegmann finished fourth.

A handful of breakaway riders temporarily stole the limelight and as the terrain steepened, the front group started to crumble and one by one, the escapees let go of the group. With 10 kilometers to go, the advantage was shaved down to no more than one minute and the last standing escapee, Ben Gastauer (AG2R) was fighting tenaciously to keep the chasing pack behind. Even though the galloping herd of riders came close, Gastauer managed to solo his way across the finish line to take the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

Fabian Wegmann

Fabian Wegmann at the 2012 San Sebastian classic

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Fabian Wegmann demonstrated impressive form by claiming fourth position in the demanding finale, "It was a really tough day out there. It was raining cats and dogs in the first two hours of the race and the pace was intense. But we did a tremendous finale. With one kilometer to go, Rasmus went to the front to pull and with 500 meters to go, Linus took over to lead me out and I managed to finish third in the peloton. It's not a victory but I'm happy about the result and I'm especially happy about the team effort. This gives us confidence before tomorrow's stage", says Fabian Wegmann shortly after the stage.

This Came in from Tinkoff-Saxo on the Ruta Del Sol/Vuelta a Andalucia

The scene was once again set for a GC-battle on the finishing climb to Alto de Allanadas. Alberto Contador and Chris Froome once again proved the strongest of the favorites in another early-season showdown, but this time it was the Kenyan who drew the longest straw. Alberto Contador crossed the finish line 29 seconds behind Froome, who now leads the race with just two seconds, on the eve of Sunday's final stage.

Tinkoff-Saxo took control again on today’s stage 4 of Vuelta a Andalucía and rode in front, keeping the breakaway within reach and supporting team leader Alberto Contador. On the finishing climb, however, the tables had turned and it was Chris Froome’s turn to take the win. Asked if he was satisfied after the stage, Alberto replied: “I’m satisfied with this tour, and of course especially with my performance yesterday. But at this moment of the season there will always be greater variations between the daily shape on each stage. Yesterday, I had a great feeling – today, I didn’t have the same legs”.

“After the stage yesterday, people said that I was perhaps in too good a shape at this moment in my race schedule. But everything is going according to the plan and I’m on track with my preparations ahead of my season goals”, comments Alberto Contador, who sits 2nd in the GC after today’s stage, while leading the points classification.

Stage 4 from Maracena to Alto de Allanadas was marked by 202 kilometers in cold, winter temperatures with downpour on most of the stage. Judged by the grimaces pulled in the peloton, the weather made for a tough stage. Going into the final climb, Team Sky came to the fore and launched several attacks to drive up the pace. With a few kilometers to go, the last man of the early break was caught, after which Chris Froome launched his attack.

Alberto Contador attached to the wheel of the Kanyan, however, eventually had to let go and a fight for seconds began as the gap stabilized. Despite Alberto getting his second wind on the final 500 meters he passed on the leader’s jersey with just two seconds.

About the team’s overall performance, Tinkoff-Saxo DS Steven de Jongh said “the team did a fine job all day in the front of the peloton and took a lot of wind. They worked to set up the stage for Alberto, but on the last kilometers Froome was the best on the day. But I’m very positive. We all saw what Alberto did yesterday and in the early season you have good and bad days”.

“Tomorrow is the last stage. It will be a fast one but the road kicks up in the very last kilometer. Normally the GC is set by now, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

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