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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today the Tour de France hits the Pyrenees. We'll have three category 4 climbs to warm up the legs before the riders ascend the Hors-Category Col de Soudet for a stage finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin. It should be a race-transforming day. We'll have complete results, stage story and lots of photos.

Next up, along with the Tour, on the 19th, will be the Italian Trofeo Matteotti (1.1) and then on the 22nd the Grand Prix Cerami (1.1) will be run. We'll post complete results for both.

Lars Boom did not start Tour stage 10

Dutchman Lars Boom (Astana) did not start Tour stage 10, the Tours' first day in the Pyrenees. During the rest day in Pau he became ill and his condition did not improve during the night. Sitting in 159th place, the decision was taken for him to abandon the race.

Boom has been the center of no small amount of controversy with his low level of cortisol, which should have triggered his suspension for racing according to the the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC). But, Boom was not in violation of UCI or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules. Boom started the Tour and Astana was suspended from the MPCC.

Lars Boom

Lars Boom at the pre-Tour press conference

Team statement about Ivan Basso

Yesterday we reported that Ivan Basso has testicular cancer and has withdrawn from the Tour. Today I received this statement from his team, Tinkoff-Saxo:

Ivan Basso was diagnosed with a tumor in his left testicle and has to undergo operation for its removal. According to Tinkoff-Saxo doctor, Piet De Moor, "on stage 5 of the Tour de France, Basso suffered from a minor crash in which his left testicle was slightly injured. As the pain persisted, a lump was discovered and following further examination on Monday morning at the hospital in Pau, the presence of a tumor was confirmed."

Further treatment will be decided, depending on the final diagnosis. As a result, Basso will not continue racing in the Tour de France and will return home as soon as possible.

Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo commented: "As everybody understands, today is not a day to speak about the Tour de France, the days ahead or Alberto's main rivals on the mount stages. All that is irrelevant and we are all here solely to support Ivan. The entire team hopes to meet him again in Paris and hand him the yellow jersey."

Team Leader, Alberto Contador, stated on the news: "On behalf of the entire team I'd like to say that it has been a blow to all of us. We never imagined such a thing would happen. Ivan's health is the absolute priority and he has to undergo all the necessary tests to find the best solution. I'd like to stress that the entire team will give its best in order to get the yellow jersey and enjoy it in Paris with him.

"During the 120 days that Ivan and I spent together, over the last 180 days, I was able to see what a great champion he is. I'm sure he will overcome this and we will see him in two weeks in Paris."

Here is his press conference announcing his cancer and race withdrawal:

Get well soon Ivan!

Terrific bike advocacy web site

A friend sent me the link to the Atlanta Bike Coalition's site. I think you'll like it:

http://www.atlantabike.org/

Jens Debusschere signs with Lotto-Soudal for another three years

The team sent me this announcement:

Lotto Soudal and Jens Debusschere have come to a new agreement. Jens signed a contract for three seasons and stays with the team till the end of 2018. The Belgian rider already is part of the team since 2011 and developed as a classical rider with fast legs. His Belgian title in 2014 is the highlight of his career until now. On 28 August he turns 26.

Marc Sergeant, the manager of Lotto Soudal is very happy with this contract extension. “Jens is already part of this team since he was 21. We gave him the time to learn and grow in the shadow of other riders. At the end of 2013 he set the next step and started to win races. At first Europe Tour races, but last year the Belgian title gave him a boost of confidence. In that Belgian jersey he became even better and won a sprint at Tirreno-Adriatico and he set a step forward during the spring, where he was always in the top fifteen.”

Jens Deusschere

Jens Debusschere wins 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico stage 2

“He’ll keep combining the classics and sprinting, but he needs to use his fast legs even more. Jens is a rider who fits in the team. But I want to see him make more progression, see him challenge himself, search his limits. In the current cycling world it’s not an option to make no evolution. He’s in the most beautiful years of his career, I’m happy he chose to ride for Lotto Soudal those years.”

After his strong performances of the previous months several teams were interested to sign Jens Debusschere, but he chose to stay with Lotto Soudal. “I chose to stay because of the team’s faith in me and the faith I have in the team, and because of the opportunities I get. I know everybody, the way of working, I have a strong bond with Marc Sergeant and the atmosphere is optimal. The past years I had a chance to grow in the shadow of riders like André Greipel and Jürgen Roelandts. In another team you need to start a bit from scratch.”

“The most important years of my career are coming up and I hope to add more victories in the next three years. Winning a classic is high on my list, but that won’t be easy. Apart from that I want to use my speed. There aren’t much sprinters like André, but with some less fast legs you can win nice races as well. I hope to finish the Tour with a good condition and show some nice things at the end of the season. There are some nice races in the WorldTour and there are other races in which I can have a go.”

Giant-Alpecin rider views

This came from the team:

Warren Barguil (FRA): "I am satisfied with my first week in the Tour de France, as I have learned a lot already and am getting wiser by the day. I am also satisfied with my 14th position in the GC, which is positive.

“Racing in echelons and on cobblestones was new for me and went well. It’s a special experience for me riding the Tour in my own country and my own region, Brittany. The crowds are impressive and the support is really great.

“The GC is not a goal for me. Primarily I am here to learn and gain experience, as it is all new for me. After Paris we will make an assessment, and everything we achieve until then is extra, without pressure. When a GC position is not within reach anymore, I will go for a stage win together with my teammates, which is the main goal for the team.

“I am enjoying my time here and I am looking forward to starting the climbing stages.” 

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil climbs in stage 14 of the 2014 Vuelta

John Degenkolb (GER): “It was a nice first rest day. We had a one-hour ride and we filled the day with interviews, a massage, lunch, dinner and trying to get as much rest as possible.

“We have tried already a few times to go for victory, which didn’t happen, unfortunately. The team is in good spirits, though, which is a good thing, and we are looking forward to the climbing stages – some guys more than others, but I think we have really good opportunities there.

“Personally I hope that after the Pyrenees there will be a chance for me to get my first Tour de France stage victory.

“There is still a possibility for the green jersey as well. I have a lot of points but the other guys have 50 points more than me. We will see. I am not letting it go yet! With a bit of luck everything is still possible.” 

Iwan Spekenbrink (NED): "So far we have seen cycling at its most beautiful. It was an incredible Grand Départ in Utrecht, with massive crowds for the prologue and the second stage to Neeltje Jans. It was a cycling festival.

"For the team it is the best Tour de France we have had so far. How we operate as a team and the way we are active in the finales of all the stages is impressive. We have had different chances for stage success and we have been competitive in the time trial, in the cobblestone stage, in sprints and even in difficult finishes like, for example, the Mûr de Bretagne.

"For the upcoming stages, I expect that the GC teams will take over and the stages will develop differently from what we have seen so far. There will be space for the escapees, and we have to benefit from that too. With John Degenkolb we will get one or two more chances in the sprints, and we have a young rider in Warren Barguil who is developing well. He has been very strong so far. We have set our real target over three years, so a good GC result now will be difficult, and he will have the opportunity to keep learning and growing this year and maybe go on the attack as well.” 

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