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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, July 9, 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.

Thomas De Gendt racing with broken rib

Lotto-Soudal rider Thomas de Gendt was one of those who fell hard during Wednesday's fifth stage in the Tour de France. He broke a rib, but decided to start the sixth stage. His team has had no little success so far in this Tour with André Greipel winning two stages.

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt

Other riders on the team have also suffered injuries in the crash-strewn Tour. Adam Hansen dislocated his shoulder, Greg Henderson broke two ribs and Jens Debusschere injured his hand. Tough men all, to the best of my knowledge, they all started today's stage.

Tour de France team reports

Today was the Tour de France's fifth stage.

This came from a very happy Lotto-Soudal:

The fifth Tour stage was announced as a sprint stage. The peloton had to cover 189.5 kilometres between Arras and Amiens on a course without any hills. The wind could be an extra factor in that region. It did play its role, but eventually the stage ended with a bunch sprint. André Greipel won the stage and reinforced his lead of the points classification. It’s already the second stage win for the Gorilla this Tour.

Two riders attacked in the beginning of the stage. Edet and Périchon joined forces at first. But not much later Edet waited for the peloton. Périchon continued on his own. The Frenchman got caught in the middle of the stage, just after the intermediate sprint. Greipel won the sprint of the peloton and gained seventeen points. After that the peloton split in two due to the wind. The first group consisted of about one hundred riders, the second group never returned. In the first group nobody tried to get away and the teams could prepare for a bunch sprint. Greipel was the strongest. With 350 metres to go he was a bit boxed in, but could still make his way to the front. Because of the victory he got another fifty points and tomorrow he’ll wear the green jersey for the fourth day in a row. Tony Gallopin falls back one place on GC and is now fifth at 38 seconds of leader Tony Martin.

Andre Greipel wins Tour de France stage 5

André Greipel wins Tour de France stage 5

André Greipel: “With 350 metres to go I didn’t look so good, I was a bit boxed in. But when I got more space, I gave all I got. It was a tough finish, the kilometre before the last five hundred metres wasn’t completely flat and there was a headwind. I think it was a pure sprint. There was no lead-out for any of us, it was man to man. Sagan moved up quickly at the left, I hadn’t seen him, but it’s the result at the finish line that counts.”

“I could count on a strong Marcel Sieberg again, who perfectly led me to the front; he is in the shape of his life. Also Tony Gallopin and Lars Bak did more than just their job. Because of the injuries of Adam and Greg we had to change our strategy, but the team was strong as always. As a sprinter it’s a luxury to have such a dedicated team.”

“Because of my result at the intermediate sprint and the stage win I took important points for the green jersey classification. It’s the first time I’m in this situation, but on the moments that I can I will fight for the points. We always said that green could only be an option after a stage win. Tomorrow the wind will make it another nervous stage and the finish in Le Havre is probably too hard for sprinters. But I won’t worry about that until tomorrow!”

Medical bulletin: After twelve kilometres Thomas De Gendt crashed. He has a broken rib and a bruised shoulder. For Lotto Soudal this is the third rider with a severe injury. Tomorrow morning will be decided if De Gendt starts or not. Adam Hansen felt a bit better today after the dislocation of the AC joint between his shoulder and collarbone which he incurred on Sunday. For Greg it was another day of suffering at the back of the bunch.

Tinkoff-Saxo also had a good day at the Tour:

Tinkoff-Saxo managed to protect team leader Alberto Contador on the nervous stage 5 of Tour de France, where several crosswind sections made for a stage affected by several crashes. Peter Sagan notes that he is happy with the fact that Contador finished unscathed, while the white jersey himself was able to grab 2nd place in the final sprint behind André Greipel.

Peter Sagan missed the victory by a slim margin after coming fast from behind. He took his third top-three at Tour de France and voiced that the outcome of the day was very positive.

“Today the team did a nice race and Alberto finished safely and I got 2nd place just missing a little bit. I was too far back in the last hundred meters and I was just a little bit late but overall it was good. I was simply too far back in 10th position with a hundred meters to go and I couldn’t catch Greipel. It’s hard to beat a rider like him and I’m happy with my 2nd place. I was free to do my own race in the last five kilometers and I tried to position myself but a lot of riders came from behind and I had too many meters to make up in the final hundred meters”, says Peter Sagan, who adds that the wind and rain made for a tough stage.

“This is how it went today and each stage has its own story. It was also very crazy today with rain, wind and a lot of crashes and I’m happy with how we finished. Everybody wants to be at the front on a day like this to protect their team leaders and that creates tension in the group. We will see what happens tomorrow, it will depend on the conditions and if there is wind, because I want to help and protect Alberto but maybe I can do a good result in the finale”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan signs autographs before the beginning of stage 5

Stage 5 of Tour de France consisted of 189.5 windy and wet kilometers from Arras to Amiens. Despite several accelerations at the front of the bunch that created gaps and echelons in the crosswind, a big selection failed to materialize. However, the touch-and-go racing resulted in several crashes, tells Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh.

“All in all, it went well today and we managed to keep Alberto and Peter out of trouble and without any problems during the stage. Unfortunately there were many crashes today and we had Matteo Tosatto, Ivan Basso and Michael Rogers, who all went down during the stage. Rogers and Basso escaped unharmed but Tosatto suffered a blow to the knee. However, he made it to the finish line, he is in a bit of pain but he will be able to continue and I don’t think it will be a big problem”, says Steven de Jongh before adding about Sagan’s second place.

“Peter was 2nd in the sprint and it shows that he is strong. We are not here with a lead-out train and Peter also plays an important role during the stage. However, in the sprints he can do his thing and today he came really close. Tomorrow the weather should be a bit better without rain, which is good and hopefully we will also have less wind than today, as it always makes for a hard stage”.

BMC sent me this Tour report:

Amiens, France - BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished 10th Wednesday at the Tour de France to remain sixth overall while teammate Tejay van Garderen kept his hold on third place, 25 seconds off the lead.

Van Avermaet was involved in one of several crashes that plagued the 189.5-kilometer race through intermittent rain and strong winds.

"A Garmin-Cannondale guy slipped away just in front of me and I went down with two guys," Van Avermaet said. "Today was really dangerous with the wet roads and the wind. Knowing how quickly you can go down in the Tour, I hope this is my only time. It was not such a hard fall, so I think I will be 100 percent for tomorrow."

Van Garderen said the weather conditions made it far from a relaxing ride on stage that featured only one bonus sprint and no categorized climbs.

"Everyone thought today was going to be the relaxed day of the tour," van Garderen said. "But the wind and the rain made it anything but relaxed. Luckily, I have one of the strongest teams here. All the guys just sat on the front all day. I never had to leave third position. It costs a bit of energy, but it is worth it to stay ahead of the splits and the crashes."

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) earned his second stage win by out-sprinting Slovakian national road champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step). Cavendish's teammate, Tony Martin, remains the race leader 12 seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky).

BMC Racing Team's Manuel Quinziato said many riders were physically and mentally tired a day after the longest stage of the race, which included seven sections of cobblestone roads.

"It was a really hard race," Quinziato said. "A lot of guys were hoping to have an easy day. But it was exactly the opposite: strong wind all day, rain and slippery roads. You had to race in the front, so that is what we did. The team rode great - every guy, starting from Rohan Dennis, who did an amazing job. And Damiano Caruso before the rouleurs like me, Michi Schär, Daniel Oss and Greg. Everybody did a big contribution to keep Tejay safe."

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to say about the fifth stage:

Sep Vanmarcke showed character in Wednesday’s fifth stage of the Tour de France. The Belgian classic specialist from Team LottoNL-Jumbo tried to wash away the sour taste of his result in the cobbled stage on Tuesday by getting involved in the bunch sprint in Amiens. Vanmarcke, whose chances on Tuesday were ruined by bad luck in the final kilometres, placed 15th.

André Greipel won the stage. The German Lotto-Soudal rider outsprinted Peter Sagan (Cannondale-Garmin) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep). Tony Martin is still in yellow.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo leader Robert Gesink managed to stay upright on the wet roads in the north of France. With help of Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink and Vanmarcke, the Dutchman was on the first few rows of the pack all day.

“For me, days like today could be done by bus,” Gesink said with a smile. “But actually, it went quite well. The roads were slippery, but fortunately, I wasn’t bothered because we have good tyres. As a team, we worked hard to be in a good position, but that was even harder than it perhaps looks on television. We had to fight for every inch all day long.”

“Robert was able to maintain himself at the front thanks to his team-mates and rolled through the stage well,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “We had expected a harder race. The pace was high, but there never really was a true intention to drop riders. Five trains were constantly leading the pack, helping the other riders to stay out of the wind.”

Steven Kruijswijk was less fortunate than Gesink. In the final hour, he was involved in a nasty crash caused by the wet roads. “I thought I was in the safe zone at the back, but still we hit the tarmac with about 20 men,” Kruijswijk said. He suffered a bruised knee and abrasions.

Laurens ten Dam survived on Wednesday to live another day in the Tour. “It was tough today, but I made it to the finish and tomorrow is another day. We’ll see how my recovery progresses.”

Wilco Kelderman was seriously hampered by the back injury he sustained in the third stage on Monday. “I was struggling with my back. I really couldn’t push as I wanted to. I was wrestling on my bike and felt pain all the time. I don’t hope it’s too bad, but it doesn’t feel good.”

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman riding Tour stage 4's pavé

Thursday’s stage leads the pack from Abbevile to Le Havre, along the shore of Normandy. According to Verhoeven, echelons aren’t guaranteed. “We’ll ride along the coast, but there aren’t too many open areas.”

Tour of Austria team news

BMC sent this report:

Dobratsch, Austria - Ben Hermans of the BMC Racing Team finished third on Wednesday's mountain-top finish at the Tour of Austria to ride into second place overall with four days of the race to go.

Hermans is two seconds behind new race leader Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), who was runner-up on the stage to Victor De La Parte (Team Vorarlberg). Hermans arrived nine seconds after the pair as overnight leader Angel Vicioso (Team Katusha) was dropped earlier on the 16-kilometer finishing climb.

"I did not expect there to be some flat parts on the climb," Hermans said. "Three or four times you could recover a bit. The final four kilometers, it was everybody for himself. I tried to follow the first guys but I could not close the gap."

Winner of Brabantse Pijl in April and a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire in May, Hermans said he is looking forward to more climbing, including the ascent of the Kitzbüheler Horn on Friday. The 7.7-kilometer climb averages 12 percent gradient.

Ben Hermans

Earlier this year: Ben Hermans wins Brabantse Pijl

"It is a really steep climb but I know it," he said. "I have done it two times before and I really like this climb. So I hope to be good there."

BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter finished 10th and moved up one spot to ninth overall, 47 seconds back. Hermans's performance that vaulted him from ninth to second overall followed Tuesday's stage win by teammate Rick Zabel.

Cult Energy is also racing the Tour of Austria and sent this update:

210 kilometers in the Austrian mountains were on the menu on today’s fourth stage of Tour of Austria spiced up with a grueling 14 kilometer long uphill finish to Gratwein-Dobratch.

Three riders formed the long-lasting breakaway that everyone knew wouldn’t last on today’s mountain stage and the trio was brought back in due time. Hitting the foot of the 14 kilometer long uphill finish, the pack was reduced to 30 riders and within the first few hairpins, the group exploded and the gaps kept growing between the riders until the finish line.

On the final kilometers, Victor De la Parte (Team Vorarlberg) and Jan Hirt (CCC-Sprandi Polkowice)  leaped away and on the finish line, De la Parte was the strongest while Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) is the new leader of the race.

Victor de la parte

Victor de la Parte wins Tour of Austria stage 4

After three days in the top-10, Cult Energy Pro Cycling today missed a top result. Tomorrow's stage counts 175 kilometers in rather terrain but with a slightly uphill finish.

This Austria Tour report came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Pawel Poljanski finished 4th on the first mountain stage of Tour of Austria with an uphill finish to 1650m. The young talent withstood multiple attacks before he had to let go just before the finish line, where he was 13 seconds off stage winner De La Parte.

Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Bruno Cenghialta notes that he is satisfied with the team effort, where also Robert Kiserlovski and Chris Anker Sørensen finished among the contenders as 13th and 14th on the mountainous stage 4.

“Pawel Poljanski rode a very good stage today and he showed good shape on the climb. In the final part of the stage we had a long climb with the finish line on top and this is where the stage was decided. We stayed together in the group until the last 3 kilometers, where the attacks came. Chris Anker had worked a lot and he had been pulling really hard to take back the breakaway. Kiserlovski had a bad day on the last two kilometers and he lost a bit of time. Fortunately, Poljanski was really good, as it was a very hard finale, because of the constant attacks”, says Bruno Cenghialta.

Pawel Poljanski sits 6th in the GC after stage 4, 23 seconds behind race leader Jan Hirt (CCC) but, according to Cenghialta, a lot can still change on stage 6, as the riders face the climb up the mighty Grossglockner followed by the steep uphill finish to Kitzbühler Horn.

“Now we will think about the sixth stage with Grossglockner and Kitzbühler Horn and try to save energy for this very hard stage. Poljanski is sixth in the GC but Chris Anker and Kiserlovski are not that far away considering the difficulty of the stage. We will work for Kiserlovski, Poljanski and Chris Anker and then we will see who has the best legs during the stage. Naturally it’s better to have two or three riders that can play a role in the GC than just one”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta.

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