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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, July 3, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

Today is the start of the Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy). The start list was posted July 2.

On July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin. Official Tour de France start list with back numbers is posted.

Lotto-Soudal rider plans

This came from the team today:

Tonight it’s the official team presentation of the 102nd Tour de France in Utrecht. The nine Lotto Soudal riders talk about their role and ambitions for this edition.

Lars Bak (35) – 5th Tour: “I’m starting my fifth Tour de France and it’s still something unique, even if you take part seven team times as Jens Voigt did I imagine. Just like last year my job starts at kilometer zero in the flat stages where I have to pull at the head of the peloton to chase down the breakaway. Si I’m going to the Tour to support André, but when you go to that race you dream of a stage win of course. We can ride aggressively now we don’t have a GC rider. For a rider like me there might be two to three chances to win, then you need to have good legs and be in the break. There are several riders in our team that want to join breakaways, we need to motivate each other and try to win as many stages as possible. I already won a stage in the Giro, so why wouldn’t it be possible in the Tour.”

Thomas De Gendt (28) – 3rd Tour: “This will be my third Tour. I’m really happy the team selected me. I specifically prepared for it and would have been disappointed if I couldn’t have come to Utrecht. I hope to show myself, like I already did a few times this year, but of course it’s the goal to get to the finish in a breakaway. Winning a stage would be a dream. But don’t win a stage wouldn’t be a drama. It would be fantastic to wear the polka-dot jersey during the Tour. I will also help the team in the sprint stages. I think it’s good we go to the Tour with a lot of riders that have a free role. That was the same at Vacansoleil and worked well. Riders motivate each other that way.”

Jens Debusschere (25) – 1st Tour: “Of course I’ll mostly work for André. I will take over the role of Jürgen Roelandts in the train. And if there are opportunities to try something myself, I’m keen of course. In the cobblestone stage I will probably get a free role. I know the cobblestone sections and probably I have more feeling with the cobbles than a lot of riders in the Tour. We had a good preparation at the Ster ZLM Toer and Tour de Luxembourg, but it’s dangerous to conclude anything. Those races were of course good for the sprint mechanism. It’s fantastic for me to make my Tour début in such an experienced team. I’m looking forward to the biggest cycling event in the world.”

Tony Gallopin (27) – 5th Tour: “The Tour is the biggest race of the year, especially for a Frenchman. Because of my performances of last year cycling fans will forever remember my name. It will be very difficult to repeat that scenario. I definitely want to win another stage. To wear the yellow jersey everything has to fall into place, just like last year. I don’t want to choose between both; it’s a different feeling. There are a few stages that suit a rider like me, but first we’ll try to get through the first week and I will work together with the others for a good team result.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin at the Dauphiné this year

André Greipel (32) – 5th Tour: "It’s a cliché to say that we want to win a stage. People expect that a sprinter who always won a stage the previous editions will do it this year as well. It’s not that easy, but we have a team to make it happen. We trust each other implicitly, we have lots of experience and riders who want to do everything for each other. That gives some pressure, but that’s normal in a race like the Tour de France. The sooner we win, the better, but we’ll focus on what we have to do. Not only me, but all teammates have the capacities to aim for a stage win. We push each other to the highest level, we motivate each other and together with the whole staff we have a strong team to perform as good as possible during these three weeks.”

Adam Hansen (34) – 6th Tour: “It was a relief that the injuries after my crash at the Ster ZLM Toer weren’t too severe, so there wasn’t any danger I’d miss the Tour because of it. Because of the visit to Belgium this is a special edition for the team and I’m happy to be here. Of course I’ll do everything I can to lead André to the victory. I also hope to get in a breakaway that can fight for the stage win. I already won a stage at the Giro and Vuelta and I would like to add a Tour stage to my victories. We have a dynamic team, with lots of riders who love to race aggressively and we’ll help each other when we can.”

Greg Henderson (38) – 4th Tour: “The Tour is the most important race of the year, with the best riders at the start and everyone is in top shape. On top of that there is a lot of media attention and lots of spectators. I’ll take on my role as lead-out of André. That train, which already led André to a number of victories, is as good as the same, only Jens takes the place of Jürgen Roelandts. Jens and Jürgen are similar riders, it won’t change a lot. Boht are strong, fast and good at their job. I like to share my experience with a young guy like Jens. My job is also to make sure everyone is calm in the finale, so we can take the right decision on a crucial moment. Last year I had to abandon after a crash, that can always happen, the first week is dangerous again. That’s why I don’t ask for luck, but for no bad luck.”

Marcel Sieberg (33) - 6th Tour: “I’m here to do my job for the team and André. I’m probably one of the few riders who doesn’t immediately think of joining a breakaway. I’ll have do to my job in the flat stages and get the train running on the right moment. I’m also looking forward to the cobblestone stage. We have a team with several riders who love to ride the classics and I think we’ll perform very well that day. The mountain stages aren’t my cup of tea. With my length and weight it’s not easy to survive, but I definitely want to get to Paris. Three years ago we finished with nine riders on the Champs Elysées; I want that again.”

Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador talk before the Tour

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan attended Tinkoff-Saxo’s press conference, where a big crowd of journalists covering the Tour de France asked the two stars to elaborate on their view of Tour de France 2015 and the team chances. Team captain Contador noted that “I have done everything in my power to face the Tour in the best shape possible.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at the 2015 Tour de France teams presentation ceremony

With just two days to the start of the 2015-edition of the worlds biggest cycling race and sporting event, Tinkoff-Saxo is gearing up to embark on the main goal of the season. After a group training session (find full press gallery here), where the team fielded the brand new team colors, Alberto Contador responded to the hot topics ahead of the start in Utrecht:

Q: What was the first moment, where you started thinking about the Giro-Tour double?

A: “It was before the last Vuelta a España because I arrived there without the best preparations and with a lot of doubt about the race and my chances. And there I started thinking about trying the double this year, if I were able to do a good Vuelta”.

Q: In which condition do you arrive at the Tour after the last race? Have you recovered?

A: “I arrive in good shape. I have planned my training and rest and followed it very carefully and at this moment I think I have recovered well physically and also mentally, which could also be even more important”.

Q: Would you say that there are four favorites for this year’s Tour de France?

A: “I want to have the same approach as in previous years. I have prepared well and I have been focused on this for the last many months. But if we should evaluate the favorites, I would say that there are four favorites that everybody talks about but I think that there could probably be more riders like Bardet, Purito and Valverde. However, right now the most important is to focus on the Tour day by day”.

Q: Other teams like Astana and Sky have made a lot of changes from their Giro squads to their Tour squads, while Tinkoff-Saxo has selected many riders that also rode the Giro. What is the reason behind this?

A: "Each team has its own planning and it’s true that we have five riders in our squad, who also did the Giro. But each of these riders has a lot of experience and much strength and I think that they have the capacity to recover well from the Giro. I have a lot of confidence in them and hope that the level of the team will be even better than that of the Giro”.

Q: If you look back on the period from the Giro to the Tour, would you say that the period of rest was too short and do you think that you can be physically fit and rested enough to win?

A: “This is something new for me, we will see how I have recovered, but I knew that I had 33-34 days to the Tour and I have sacrificed everything to make sure that I would be here in the best shape possible. Every minute, every day I have been working for this objective with rest, with food, without any celebration – I have been absolutely focused on the bike. I hope that everything will come together. Mentally I’m fine and about my body, we will have to wait and see, but I’m happy with my condition at this moment”.

Q: How do you see this Tour and especially the first week with a lot of difficult stages? How do you prefer to finish this first week?

A: “Of course I would prefer to have a 20-minute advantage over the second rider after the first week but that could be very complicated (Laughs). No, the first objective is to try and avoid crashes and this is the most important because the first week could prove very complicated. We have an opening time trial, then we could have wind on the second day and then we have the Mur du Huy and the cobbles, which will all be difficult days. The main goal will be not to lose the Tour during the first week”.

Q: Can you tell us why you want to win the Giro-Tour double?

A: I think the most important thing - in life, not only in cycling – is motivation, so for me it’s my own motivation that is the reason I want to try and win the Giro-Tour double. But also, if I win another Tour it is not something that will let alone change my career but if I can win the double it will be something that people will remember easily and that is motivation for me as well”.

Q: Last year you stated that you started the Tour with the best sensations in your life, can you compare last year with this year?

A: “If I have to choose between the sensations I had in my legs last year and this year, I think I would choose last year’s. It’s because I had done a very intensive and focused preparation and training leading up to the Tour and I didn’t have any doubts about my recovery. I come here with a very clear objective and that is to win the Tour. But I know that it is really difficult, as this Tour is very open and now we have to take it day by day and we will see the final result in more or less 25 days”.

Q: What are you most worried about; your rivals or your recovery after the Giro?

A: “The thing I think mostly about is my recovery and how my body will respond to this challenge, when we are in the middle of the Tour, since this Tour could perhaps be my last Tour with a lot of mountains and a very hard first week. The last week is very tough and the final six days are very intensive. So it will be a quest and constancy will be the most important factor”, finishes Alberto Contador.

Peter Sagan, who enters the Tour de France in shape after multiple stage wins in the last races, adds that he is excited to face the Tour as part of a team gunning for the overall win:

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan at the 2015 Tour de France teams presentation ceremony

Q: Do you think that it’s possible for the team to support both Alberto’s and your ambitions?

A: “Yes, I’m not a sidekick on the team and I will not ride my own race. I’m a part of the team and I want to pursue the team goals. It’s also a pleasure for me to ride on the same team as Alberto and for sure we can do a very nice Tour de France. I hope that we can battle for the yellow jersey and I think that we have a very strong team here and a good group.

Q: What are your goals?

A: “For sure it depends on the stage and we will have to look at each day and try to get the maximum out of each situation but my goals are to do my very best for Alberto and for my team”.

Q: How do you think that the rule changes in the point’s classification will affect your chances and ambitions in the fight for the green jersey?

A: “Yes, we will see because maybe the changes they’ve made to the regulations could be better for me because the difference is not that much and perhaps you can take more points for the green jersey on the mountain stages. But now, with my ambitions to help the team and Alberto, we will see how it goes each day and maybe it will be different, more hard or maybe an advantage for me”.

Q: Do you think it’s important to win both the yellow and green jersey at this year’s Tour de France?

A: “The most important thing this year at the Tour is to win the yellow jersey. This is something that everybody knows and for me it’s also very nice to be a part of this team fighting for the yellow jersey. Then, if I get the chance to fight for the green jersey, if it comes easily or along the way, it will be great. But the yellow jersey is the most important”.

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