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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, July 12, 2015

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

Today's Racing

The Tour de France will have a 28 km team time trial on Sunday, and then Monday will be a rest day.

The Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) and the Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) will run their final stages today.

BMC plans to be in Yellow after team time trial.

Can BMC, the reigning team time trial world champions put Tejay van Garderen in Yellow today? He is only 13 seconds behind GC leader Chris Froome.

Questioned this morning by letour.com, BMC directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois said: "I'm glad if the others are afraid of us. I'd rather scare people than being scared. In any case, we don't fear anybody. We're aware that we have the riders to win, we're the reigning world champions. Looking at the circuit, other teams can also fare well.

"I think of Movistar, who will ride a good TT, I know it's a circuit that suits them. Obviously, Etixx is not the same team without Tony Martin. Now the level after a week in the Tour won't be the same as after three days in the Dauphiné. There's still nine of us and among those nine, our leaders have never been in trouble. I believe that if we don't have any problem, we'll be in yellow tonight. It would be a disappointment not to be. If we're not, it will mean we've been beaten by better teams and fair enough."

BMC

Can BMC put Tejay van Garderen in Yellow today?

2 Million Euros up for Grabs in Tour

There are two million Euros in the 2015 Tour de France prize pot. The overall winner will get 450,000, while 160th place will earn 400 Euros. A day in Green is worth three Euros a day. The final winner of the polka-dot jersey will get 25,000, owning the young rider's white jersey at the Tour's end is worth 20,000.

A stage win gets the winner 8,000 Euros, second is 4,000.

Generally the riders contribute their winnings to a team pot to be divided among all the riders, mechanics, doctors, etc. "Cycling is a team sport. This is only fair, " André Greipel said when asked about the money.

Vincenzo Nibali had a bad day Saturday

MUR DE BRETAGNE, France (Reuters) - Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, who was banking on the opening block of racing to make his mark on this year's Tour de France, instead showed another sign of weakness on Saturday.

The Italian, who lost ground in the second stage after being trapped in a split of the peloton, finished 10 seconds behind the big guns on stage eight as they all finished together. The Astana rider could not follow overall leader Chris Froome, Spain's Alberto Contador or Colombian Nairo Quintana in the final ascent, a two-kilometer climb at an average gradient of 6.9 percent.

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali trying to limit the damage in Saturday's 8th stage.

"In the finale I didn't have good sensations. At the beginning of the stage I was fine but then in the final climb I could not respond to the accelerations," Nibali told reporters. "It was an off day."

His sports director Giuseppe Martinelli looked worried after his protege fell one minute 48 off the pace of Froome. "I don't understand what happened. We must think this was just an off day otherwise it will be a complicated Tour," the Italian said. Martinelli is now hoping that Sunday's team time trial will give Astana the opportunity to regain some of the lost time.

"In the team time trial the team needs to be perfect," said Martinelli. "If tomorrow we are the team that we think we are we will ride a good time trial."

The team time trial is a 28-km effort that finishes up the Cote de Cadoudal, a steep 1.7-km ascent where the teams will need to stay as compact as possible as the time will be taken on the fifth rider to cross the line.

"We cannot afford any more mistakes," said Martinelli

Tour de France team news

Here's BMC's Tour news:

Mûr de Bretagne, France - Greg Van Avermaet finished sixth and Tejay van Garderen was 10th Saturday for the BMC Racing Team on the eve of the team time trial at the Tour de France.

Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked in the final 700 meters of the finish climb of the Mûr de Bretagne to win solo, five seconds in front of runner-up Daniel Martin (Team Cannondale-Garmin) and 10 seconds ahead of a reduced peloton.

Heading into Sunday's 28-kilometer team time trial, Chris Froome (Team Sky) leads Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 11 seconds overall. Van Garderen is third, at 13 seconds, and Van Avermaet is fifth, 28 seconds back.

Valverde and van garderen

Alejandro Valverde leads Tejay van Garderen

"With the team I have and what they have shown so far, I think we are pretty confident," van Garderen said. "We are just going to go out there and ride as hard as we can. We have four world champions in that discipline on the team, so we will put out the best performance that we think we can."

In addition to van Garderen, Rohan Dennis, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato were the other three members of the BMC Racing Team's winning team at the world championships last September. Dennis won the opening stage of the Tour de France one week ago and was part of the winning team time trial squad last month at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

"We are the favorites, but I don't ever look at the other teams as not challenging us," Dennis said. "If you start looking at them in that way, you get beat. Also, looking at it as you are not the favorite - that you are chasing the win - never lets you relax."

Lotto-Soudal had this to say about Tour stage 8:

One day before the team time trial there was another chance for the punchers at the Tour de France. The riders started in Rennes and finished after 181.5 kilometres on the Mûr de Bretagne. Tony Gallopin finished on the fifth place, his fellow countryman Alexis Vuillermoz won the stage.

Early in the stage two duos melted together into a front group of four: Sylvain Chavanel, Bartosz Huzarski, Romain Sicard and Pierre-Luc Périchon. Lotto Soudal took control of the peloton. Thomas De Gendt rode many kilometres at the front again. 73 kilometres before the finish lay the intermediate sprint. André Greipel won the clash in the peloton and gained eleven points. A few riders escaped the bunch after the intermediate sprint and bridged to the four leaders. A new front group was formed afterwards with Lars Bak. The Dane of Lotto Soudal was accompanied by Huzarski, member of the early breakaway, and Michal Golas. The peloton, with Cannondale - Garmin at the front, didn’t give them much space. With seven and a half kilometres to go Lars Bak and co were caught. The peloton moved quickly to the Mûr de Bretagne. Alexis Vuillermoz attacked and finished five seconds ahead of Dan Martin. Tony Gallopin was fifth. Peter Sagan, fourth in the stage, took the green jersey away from André Greipel, who is three points behind the Slovakian rider.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin riding in stage 4

Tony Gallopin: “This was a tough finish, tougher than I had hoped. I could hang on at the front of the bunch and take a nice fifth place, but I didn’t have energy left to attack. The team made sure I started the climb in a good position. The kilometres before the Mûr de Bretagne shouldn’t be underestimated either. At a high pace the peloton headed towards the climb and the bunch got reduced considerably.”

“The first kilometre of the climb was the steepest. I wanted to stay at the front and take my chance in the last kilometre if I could. It was a strong acceleration of Alexis, something that I couldn’t do. The past days I was happy with the two team victories, now I’m less happy. I had marked this stage, but after the rest day on Monday there are other stages that suit me as well and then I’ll try to join a breakaway.”

LottoNL-Jumbo had a good day at the Tour:

Robert Gesink moved up in the overall of the Tour de France on Saturday thanks to 19th place in the eighth stage of the Tour de France. The leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo is now 11th.

Alexis Vuillermoz of AG2R-La Mondiale won the stage, finishing on the Mûr-de-Bretagne. The Frenchman finished five seconds ahead of Dan Martin (Garmin-Cannondale). A group of GC riders including Gesink finished ten seconds behind the 26-year-old winner.

Gesink started the climb from a good position after being dropped off at the front by his team-mates. “We didn’t make any friends on the way to the climb, it was a real battle, but we will talk about on Tuesday,” Gesink suggested with a smile.

“I wasn’t good enough to try something else, but I’m satisfied with this result,” the Dutchman continued. “I want to keep going like this over the next two weeks and deliver a surprise on a super day,” Gesink added.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink

Nico Verhoeven looked back on a fine day on top of the Mûr-de-Bretagne. “Robert finished in the group of favourites and that was the first goal of the day. Laurens ten Dam improved and Wilco Kelderman is doing better as well, although he’s not yet fully fit. We are hopeful regarding the team time trial, however.”

Kelderman admitted his recovery is proceeding steadily after the eighth stage. “I feel a little better every day.”

On Sunday, the teams face a 28-kilometre team time trial, starting in Plumelec and finishing in Vannes. “We have some guys who are still recovering from crashes, but I think we can ride a good team time trial,” Jos van Emden said.

“My fifth place in Utrecht doesn’t create additional pressure. An individual time trial is something very different. That’s about a steady and high pace. In a TTT, you’re riding with others and you have to accelerate at certain moments. It’s like riding in a breakaway.”

Tinkoff-Saxo had a good day at the Tour as well:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan got what he had been searching for during the first week of Tour de France, as he rode his way into the green jersey on the finishing climb of Mûr de Bretagne, where he crossed the line as 4th behind stage winner Vuillermoz. Sagan, Contador and team sports director de Jongh unanimously concur that a great possibility and challenge lies ahead with tomorrow’s TTT.

After a trip to the podium atop Mûr de Bretagne claiming the white and green jersey together, Peter Sagan said that he was glad to be in green at Tour de France.

“The finale was very hard because we did full gas from the bottom to the finish line. I took the decision to stay with Froome and in the last hundred meters I tried to accelerate but I was in the red zone and Valverde beat me, while I wasn’t fully able to do my sprint. I was hoping to take the win but the two guys up front did a strong attack and for sure, it’s nice to be back into the green jersey. It’s only with a three-point advantage but I will do my best to stay in the lead. I am very happy with the points I took and I don’t see why I should be disappointed”, comments Peter Sagan, who lead the points classification by three points.

“I would have liked to take more points but I’m satisfied and now we look forward to the team time trial, where I think we can do well. We have to do our maximum like in every time trial but I think we have a good team for this challenge. The yellow jersey is 11 seconds away, it will be difficult but we are here to try”, adds Peter Sagan.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan will ride the team time trial in green.

Stage 8 consisted of 181.5 kilometers in rolling terrain, while the undeniably biggest obstacle on the stage came with 2km to go, as both GC riders and those with stage win ambitions had to enter and cope with the punchy climb up Mûr de Bretagne. Ultimately, it was Alexis Vuillermoz (ALM), who took the win after launching an attack within the final kilometer. Team captain Alberto Contador notes that he is satisfied with the stage, while he redirects his attention towards the important TTT.

“We all finished together but I saw that Nibali lost 10 seconds, which is not irrelevant. The stage was not too hectic but the pace was high in the last part before the final climb. I was in the wheel and I tried to help Peter in the final part but it was impossible to set it up at that moment. In any case, I’m happy with the stage and I look forward to the team time trial. We have a good team, of course we have used energy in the first part of the Tour but I am optimistic”, says Alberto Contador, who sits 7th in the GC, 0’36” down on the race lead.

Despite having eyed the possibility of taking the stage win, Steven de Jongh tells that he’s happy to see Peter Sagan pulling on the green jersey.

“It’s good, we had hoped for the win today but it is very good to see Peter pulling on the green jersey. He deserves it, he has been working very hard and he is a very versatile rider, which he showed today. We obviously knew that he could potentially do well today and in the end he got the necessary points. The boys rode a good race and they were positioned well before the start of the last climb. Alberto was perhaps a bit back, but he showed that he was ready to move up”, tells de Jongh before concluding:

“We had the TTT in mind during the stage, but we’ve also had that the other days in order to conserve as much energy as possible during the Tour. We’re happy to start tomorrow with nine riders - a complete team - and we have a good group of riders for this challenge. There are many strong teams so it will be exiting to see what the outcome of tomorrow will be”.

Tour of Austria team news

BMC sent this report:

Innsbruck, Austria - BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter climbed from sixth to fourth overall Saturday at the Tour of Austria by getting into a large breakaway and finishing fourth on the penultimate stage.

Teammate Ben Hermans remains second overall, 1:21 off the lead of Victor De La Parte (Team Vorarlberg) while Bookwalter is 2:13 behind. Lukas Pöstlberger (Tirol Cycling Team) won the 124.7-kilometer stage by soloing out of Bookwalter's group, which arrived 57 seconds ahead of the peloton.

"It was really fast and chaotic right from the start," Bookwalter said. "There was a lot of desperation in the peloton because most of the results have been confined to a couple teams and even a couple riders. So I think a lot of guys saw today as their last chance to get some results with the big climbs that are to come tomorrow."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said he saw the potential to move Bookwalter or Dylan Teuns, who was 4:11 off the lead in 11th place overnight, up the overall standings.

"We told the guys this morning there might be a situation like this," Piva said. "The team of the leader is really weak and they were not able to control the attacks. So we told Brent and Dylan to watch for the attacks and to try to jump in."

Bookwalter said it was not an easy day in the breakaway despite a lack of climbing and the short distance.

Bretn Bookwalter

Brent Bookwalter

"It was hard up there being one guy in a group of about 30 because everyone knew I was the best on GC (general classification)," he said. "So they were looking for every chance they could to flick me and get me out of the group and make me work more. I was pretty empty by the end. So I was proud of myself for fighting all the way to the line to take a little time."

The escape group of more than two dozen riders gained a maximum advantage of nearly three minutes before other teams started helping with the chase. Bookwalter said De La Parte's team also received some unexpected assistance.

"Unfortunately, the race is not being officiated to the level that would allow us to capitalize on their weakness," he said. "At one point today, all of his teammates were dropped but the officials didn't barrage them when they came back. They let them come back in the cars."

Sunday's final stage is 184.3 km and includes two first category climbs.

"Tomorrow, I expect something like this again," Piva said. "With Brent close on the GC and with Ben and everybody on our team riding strongly, we will see and try again."

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