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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, July 6, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Both the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) continue

The Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) is also being raced.

Tour de France team reports

Lotto-Soudal was very happy with stage 2:

The second stage of the 102nd Tour de France really was spectacular, at the end André Greipel was the one who could triumph. The peloton left Utrecht this afternoon for a ride of 166 kilometres to Zealand. The finish was located on the artificial island Neeltje Jans. The rain and wind made the race hard.

Immediately after the official start four riders attacked, the rest of the peloton didn’t react and let them go. The four were Jan Barta, Stef Clement, Armindo Fonseca and Perrig Quéméneur. Etixx – QuickStep controlled the bunch, the escapees never got more than three minutes lead. With more than sixty kilometres to go echelons were formed a first time. Also in front the situation changed, Barta left the others behind. Later Clement and Fonseca would rejoin him. In the back the peloton came back together.

During the stage there were several crashes, also three Lotto Soudal riders hit the ground: Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere and Adam Hansen. All three could continue. With about fifty kilometres to go a crash split the peloton in two. This was the decisive moment, Lotto Soudal raised the pace. Eventually a group of 25 riders would enter the finale together; Tony Gallopin, André Greipel and Marcel Sieberg were part of it! In the last kilometres Marcel and Tony made sure their teammate was in a good position to start the sprint. The Gorilla beat Peter Sagan. Fabian Cancellara, who was third, is the new owner of the yellow jersey. The green jersey will be worn by Greipel tomorrow. Today it was the tenth victory of the season for the German, the 25th of this year for Lotto Soudal!

Andre Greipel

Big André has won another race.

André Greipel: “This was the first stage I could win, it’s magnificent that I did. This is a fantastic reward for the team and me. In the Tour everyone starts from zero, it are the results here that count. This determines if your season is successful or not. A victory at the Tour is at least as double important as anywhere else.”

“In our echelon were six riders of Etixx – QuickStep and strong riders like Cancellara and Dumoulin. We tried to stay a bit under the radar, but did our bit when the echelons were formed. The first time eight of us were part of the first group. The second time the selection was bigger and we were with three in a group of twenty-five. I considered Cavendish and Sagan to be my main opponents for the sprint. I’m happy I could stay ahead of them.”

“We had a plan before the start and did a recon last Wednesday. We were focused today, but not stressed. I finished it off, but this victory one is of the entire team. I win a Tour stage for the fifth year in a row, but it’s the first time my wife is here so that makes it even more special. I’m wearing the green jersey for the first time in my career, that’s a nice extra. Tonight I will enjoy this victory and then we’ll see what happens the next days.”

Tinkoff-Saxo sent in this report:

Tinkoff-Saxo and team captain Alberto Contador took 1’24” on many GC rivals, as stage 2 turned into a proper chase after several splits in the peloton had caught many favorites behind. After having pulled the front group in support of Contador, Peter Sagan sprinted to 2nd place, one inch off stage winner André Greipel.

Le Tour de France maintained its tempo after yesterday’s Grand Depart, as things heated up in the treacherous conditions near the Dutch coastline. Team leader Contador gained 1’24” on several competitors including Quintana and last year’s winner Nibali. Following the stage, Contador notes that he is satisfied with the outcome.

“I'm happy with the way we raced today. It was a day where one could build time advantages. It's a pity there was number of teams such as BMC or Sky that didn't start working until late in the stage. However, at the end they gave us a hand and I'm satisfied with the result. In what regards myself, it wasn't very tiring and in addition we avoided having any crashes”, says Alberto Contador, who had Sagan, Bennati, Rogers and Kreuziger alongside him in the diminished front group:

“I would like to thank my teammates for their work and the focus is now on recovering tonight as we have another difficult stage ahead of us tomorrow. It's always good to have a few of the main rivals behind me in the GC than at the front but we still have a long way ahead of us and I think the advantage I have today will mean nothing by the end of the Tour”, adds Alberto Contador.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador rode a good time trial in stage 1.

Stage 2 of Tour de France took the riders from Utrecht to the windswept Dutch coastal line. Within the final part of the 166km stage, the peloton broke up in pieces, as the riders entered difficult weather and high pace in the run in towards the finish line. Steven de Jongh, Head Sports Director, assesses that Tinkoff-Saxo’s positioning at the front of the field was vital, as crashes and wind created splits and gaps.

“Today was most definitely a very busy day and the boys did well in maintaining a position at the front of the peloton throughout the stage - you could say that it was decisive, as the gaps were created and we still had five guys in the front group. For sure it’s better to gain time than to lose it and that’s what we did today, so in that sense we can be pleased”, comments Steven de Jongh before adding:

“It’s nice to gain time but there will be many other stages, where we will face similar situations, and a team time trial, where we could very well see big time differences. The squad did what they had to do today and everybody contributed in an effort to support Alberto. Perhaps we could have gained more time on the second group but there were periods, where nobody wanted to pull with us at the front”, says Steven de Jongh, who adds about Peter Sagan’s second place in the final sprint.

“He was helping Alberto, kept focus and played an important role. Then as we approached the finish line, he could try to go for a good result and he came very close to the win”.

Tomorrow’s stage 3 of Tour de France presents the riders, including the GC favorites, with a notable challenge, as the race will finish atop the dreaded Mur du Huy.

Here's BMC's take on the Tour's second stage:

Zélande, The Netherlands - BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen gained time on some of the overall contenders at the Tour de France Sunday while teammate Rohan Dennis slipped out of the lead as rain and strong winds split the peloton.

Van Garderen finished 11th and moved up to eighth overall, 44 seconds off the lead. He and five others from the BMC Racing Team were part of a decisive split of 26 riders that happened with less than 60 kilometers to go in the 166-km race.

"At the time, we were just focused on the wheels in front of us," van Garderen said. "We weren't really paying attention to who was behind. We just wanted to stay safe and in the front. It just so happened that a lot of leaders were caught out. That's good news for us."

Among those missing the move was Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), last year's third-place finisher, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), last year's Giro d'Italia winner, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), and BMC Racing Team's Dennis.

Working for van Garderen in the leading group, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss helped drive the pace. The gap rose from an initial 30 seconds, to 1:00 with 16 km to go, to 1:28 by the finish.

"It was a tough call to make out there with our yellow jersey (Dennis) behind," van Garderen said. "For a while, we were thinking, 'Oh, don't work, let them catch up.' But then all the other GC guys would have caught up. So it was a tough call."

Dennis, the winner of Saturday's opening stage time trial, said he saw the decisive split unfold right in front of him.

"We were going through a lot of roundabouts and I was sort of toward the back, thinking it was safe because it wasn't too hard," he said. "Then Pinot led the gap go. He swung out and basically looked at me, saying I had to close it. I looked around and saw Nibali was there as well. So I made the call not to chase because if Nibali losses time, it is better."

Dennis said the reality of losing his grip on the leader's yellow jersey after a single day sunk in while riding with the second group the last 40 kilometers.

"It was a bit hard to swallow, but I came to terms with it," he said. "I could have closed the gap and taken Nibali with me - which more than likely would have meant I would have kept the jersey. But by sitting up, Nibali lost time, which makes it better for Tejay, who is our goal for the Tour."

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis starting stage two in yellow.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it would have been a bonus to keep Dennis in the lead, but the team's primary objective remains unchanged.

"This morning, we wanted to try to keep the jersey," he said, "but our No. 1 priority is Tejay for the GC (general classification). The last 30 or 40 kilometers, we were all in for him because if he takes time on the other leaders, it is all the better. We knew today would be a crazy, windy and dangerous day. It was a hard day. But it is the Tour de France. Every day is like a classic. It was a hard day, but a good day for the team."

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took the stage win ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) as Oss and Van Avermaet finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), placed third to move into the overall lead as the race leaves The Netherlands and heads to Belgium for a day.

Giant-Alpecin rider quotes:

Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil took 8th and 10th on stage two of Le Tour de France, a hectic stage of 166km from Utrecht to the flood barrier Neeltje Jans.

Tom Dumoulin moved up to third in the general classification, as the yellow jersey changed hands, and also took over the white jersey for best young rider. Both riders were part of the first group of 24 riders that got away because of the crosswinds.

Tom Dumoulin (NED): “My day was good but not perfect. We went for the sprint opportunity for John [Degenkolb] today. He was caught up and not in the first group after the split. I only enjoyed the first 20km today, with all the amazing crowds in the Netherlands. After that, the Tour started with all its chaos and stress. I fought for my position all day, which went quite well as the split took place behind me. That was not just luck.

"I can leave the Netherlands with my head held high, as I performed well yesterday. Now I have the white jersey, which feels good and is nice, definitely more special than just wearing it. I hope I can go for yellow now, I will fight and will do my best." 

Warren Barguil (FRA): "I am happy with my result, we were strong as a team and rode together well. It was a hectic day and a big pleasure for me to start my first regular stage at the Tour de France. I was lucky because I wasn’t involved in a crash today, I was really scared of that during the race.

"I was in good position when the split happened and was in the first group. At the finished I tried to sprint but that turned out too hard because of the high speed.”

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil at the 2015 Vuelta a España 

John Degenkolb (GER): "It's sad that I missed that chance today. I was behind a crash and than too far back when the split happened so I missed the first group due to that. We have to look ahead and I am actually looking forward to the days to come, as we will have new opportunities there." 

Marc Reef (NED): “I have mixed feelings about today. Too bad we missed our chance to go for John [Degenkolb], as that was our primary goal. But really strong from Tom [Dumoulin] and Warren [Barguil], they showed that they are capable of handling the highest level. It was really hectic today. We pointed out km108 as a really important moment in the race. Just before that, Koen [de Kort] and Simon [Geschke] were caught up due to a crash. When we turned left, Warren [Barguil], John [Degenkolb], Tom [Dumoulin] and Ramon [Sinkeldam] were in the front and three others took care of that, so good team work on that. Then, a second split took place as Tom [Dumoulin] and Warren [Barguil] ended up in the first group." 

LottoNL-Jumbo says the day didn't go well for them:

Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink lost time in the second stage of the Tour de France. Crashes and echelons told the story of the ride through the rain in Zeeland. Kelderman fell and lost more than five minutes. Gesink was held up by another crash and crossed the line 1-27 minutes later. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won the stage in a group with Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.

“It was a bad day,” sports director, Nico Verhoeven said. “We were proud on top of the classification yesterday, but we took a dive. We had nobody in the first group and that’s bad, especially when you’re having some ambitions in the general classification.

“It starts with Wilco’s crash. Laurens and Tom Leezer were involved in that crash too. Three men stopped to wait for them afterwards, but they left our other front man, Robert, alone. That’s a mistake. I don’t get the thing that four men waited there. It was with good intentions, for sure, because Wilco is a front man too, but it isn’t clever. We didn’t lose our ambitions in the general classification with Robert, but we did with Wilco, unfortunately.”

Kelderman agreed. “My general classification is gone,” he said. The Dutch national time trial champion was unlucky two times in the stage. “My chain was derailed the first time and I was involved in a crash afterwards. A few kilometres after that crash, the peloton split up. I was hoping that I could limit the damage, but I lost five minutes in the end. That’s a lot.”

Laurens ten Dam, who was involved in the same crash, was fed up with the outcome of the stage. “We were in charge, but today, it was the other way around. I’m fed up with that. It’s disappointing for Wilco, but for me as well.

“It was hectic. After the crash, we ended up in no man’s land. I knew that we were going to lose time at that moment, but we still have three weeks to repair this. Yesterday, we showed that it’s not about our form. We have to put ourselves back together.”

Steven Kruijswijk showed the others how to do that in the Giro d’Italia. He lost five minutes as well, so he must think about other things again. “We have to aim for other targets,” he said. “We knew that it was going to be hectic with all those passages through little villages and the crowds. The weather was turning and there was a lot of wind, so it became dangerous and there were many crashes. Unfortunately, Wilco, Laurens and Tom were involved in one. It was about chasing.”

Robert Gesink became the highlight of the day for a while, when he was part of the first echelon together with Sep Vanmarcke. “I was going quite well, actually,” he explained. “We already saw that the weather was turning and we were preparing for that. I was well placed together with Sep, but when Nibali crashed, we ended up at the wrong side of the road. We had to ride there for four kilometres even before they started riding half-road. It was unlucky.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink at the 2015 Tour de Romandie

But the general classification isn’t lost for Gesink, who is out to prove that in Monday’s stage. “That’s going to be one for the overall riders,” Verhoeven said. “I think that the stage suits Robert. He was good today and fell out of the leading group because a little bit of bad luck. I expect him to finish with the best tomorrow.”

Lampre-Merida had this to say about Tour stage 2:

The 2nd stage of the Tour de France, 166 km from Utrecht to Zéland, was heavily influenced by the weather conditions which had a double face: the sun was shining at the start, while in the approach of the feed zone in Rotterdam the wind and the rain began to rule.

This change of the conditions caused that the peloton shattered, also because some crashes. Lampre-Merida's riders succeded in pedaling united, but two of the most important helper of Rui Costa, namely Pozzato and Cimolai, were involved in some crashes (without consequences) which slowed them.

Despite these troubles, Rui Costa managed to be at the head of the race until 40 km to go, when in a frantic moment 25 riders attacked on the opposite side of the road of where the Portuguese champion and other cyclists were pedaling. This was the winning attack which allowed Greipel to obtain the success in a reduced sprint.

The group of Rui Costa was later joined by another larger group with the blue-fuchsia-green Pozzato, Oliveira and Bono and all the top contenders for the overall classification except for Contador, Froom and Uranm, who were in the head group. Rui Costa crossed the finish line in 31st position at 1'28" behind Greipel.

Very unlucky day for Valls, who had to stop several times because of crashes that occurred just ahead him: he completed the stage in 134th position at 5'04" to the winner.

Rafaekl Valls

Rafael Valls earlier this year at the 2015 Tour of Oman

Cancellara, thanks to the 3rd place in the stage, is the new jellow jersey, while Rui Costa is 52nd at 2'39".

This is the comment by the sport director Mauduit: "As we expected, the race was full of difficult moments, because of the wind and the rain. We were aware of these possible problems and we were ready to face them, so our riders succeded in pedaling as an unite group. Unfortunately, some crashes broke this feeling, however Rui Costa managed to be in the front group until 40 km to go.
The result of the stage is favourable for Froome, Contador and Uran, it would have been great if we could have taken this opportunity".

Tour of Austria team reports

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Stage 1 of Tour of Austria was concluded in a bunch sprint decision, where IAM’s Sondre Holst Enger proved the fastest. Tinkoff-Saxo, with a squad of climbers, had its focus on conserving as much energy as possible for the days in the mountains that the riders will face later on in the nine-day race.

Sondre Holst Enger wins stage 1

Sondre Holst Enger wins Tour of Austria stage 1

Nicki Sørensen, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, notes that the team kept Robert Kiserlovski and Pawel Poljanski at the front going into the final sprint in order to keep the two safe.

“There’s not so much to say about today’s stage. It was a traditional sprinter’s stage and we don’t have any sprinters on our squad, so for us it was about conversing our strength and making sure that we got through the stage safely. Robert and Pawel were well positioned going into the final part and the sprint and overall I see that our team is in good shape and ready for the stages to come” says Nicki Sørensen.

Stage 1 of Tour of Austria consisted of 206.6km of fairly flat terrain, where the sprinter’s teams worked to ensure a sprint conclusion. Ultimately, it was Sondre Holst Enger (IAM), who proved the fastest in the final burst for the line, while Robert Kiserlovski finished 15th.

Meanwhile, the race jury reached a decision in relation to the complaint filed by Tinkoff-Saxo after an organizational mistake at the start of the opening TTT had delayed half of the team squad on the starting ramp with at least 15 seconds.

“The jury just reached a decision following the stage finish. We will be compensated 10 seconds due to the delay, while the jury takes full responsibility for the mistake. Our compensation is calculated from the start time of the seventh rider, so in that sense the time loss and compensation correspond. We can’t be satisfied with the time loss, as we lost more than 10 seconds, but it’s difficult to calculate. So we are satisfied with the decision but definitely not with the time loss. We will now direct our attention to the many remaining stages”, finishes Nicki Sørensen, who expects another sprint decision on Monday’s stage to Grieskirchen.

Cult Energy has a squad racing in Austria and sent this update:

Today, the Tour of Austria peloton took on the first regular stage of the Austrian stage race. 206 kilometers and 1600 meters of elevation in 36 degrees were on the menu from Mörbischer Festspiele to Scheibbs. Even though a breakaway quintet stole the picture in the first part of the stage, it all came down to a bunch sprint where Cult Energy's Troels Vinther finished 10th.

Five escapees stole some time in the limelight during the first part of today’s stage. But behind, several teams were eager to hold them within eyesight and they were never formed a real threat to the sprinters lurking behind the locomotive in the field. With 20 kilometers to go, the escapees were back in the pack and even though the sprinter teams intensified the pace, several counter-attacks were launched but no one was allowed a serious gap.

In the bunch sprint, Sondre Enger (IAM Cycling) was the fastest rider while CULT Energy Pro Cycling’s Troels Vinther was 10th across the finish line.

Vinther says: “It was 206 kilometers in undulating terrain but the thing that made it tough today was the heat. The plan was to stay focused in the final part of the stage and the boys put me in good position on the final kilometers. However, in the rather technical finish I wasn't able to get all the way to the front but finishing tenth in a bunch sprint when you're not really a sprinter is a decent result for me. Tomorrow's stage is looking pretty bumpy but I hope to be able to get in the mix again," states Troels Vinther.

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