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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today is a rest day at the Tour de France. Wednesday will take the race into the high Alps.

Here's what the riders will face in stage 17:

Stage 17 profile

Stage 17 profile

The Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen (Women's Tour of Thuringia) continues. We're posting complete results for this week-long, important stage race.

On Wednesday, the 22nd, the Grand Prix Cerami (1.1) will be run.

David L. Stanley explains Tour stage 16

Tour de France stage 16 had some serious climbs and an interesting finish. David L. Stanley tells what happened and puts it all in context.

New Les Woodland cycling book released

Triumps and TragediesLes Woodland is cycling's favorite author and we feel privileged to publish his work. His latest book, Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies: The rise and fall of bicycle racing's champions is a pleasure to read. You don't have to be a bike nut to enjoy Les' great writing.

When more than 100 men or women go racing down a road, inches away from each other, in all weather, over all kinds of roads, the opportunity for a brilliant win or a terrible accident is always there.

Les tells not only a few well known stories, such as Tom Simpson's tragic end, but he also digs deeper, going back to cycling's earlier days to find those fascinating and often forgotten tales that make his books such a joy to read.

And, the Amazon eBook is only $3.99

More info on Triumphs and Tragedies

Ivan Basso's surgery successful

This good news came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Professor Francesco Montorsi, Director of the Urology Surgery Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, issued the following statement regarding Ivan Basso's latest medical condition:

"Today, 20 July 2015, Ivan Basso underwent a post-surgery checkup. The patient has perfectly recovered from the intervention. The final histological examination shows, currently, no indication for additional treatment and the patient will be closely observed during the following months. It is recommended the patient should rest for a period of one month. Professor Montorsi and his team are absolutely optimistic on the complete healing of Ivan Basso." 

A joyful Basso commented on the encouraging news: "I am extremely happy with the outcome of the surgery and I would like to deeply thank Tinkoff-Saxo's team doctor, Piet De Moor, the doctors and medical staff of the Tour de France as well as Professor Montorsi and his team. Professor Montorsi has allowed me to travel by plane and I look forward to meeting the rest of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in Paris to celebrate the end of the Tour de France."

Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso pulling the peloton at the 2015 Giro d'Italia

Liv-Plantur will be at La Course

Liv-Plantur sent this update:

Following the success of the first edition last year, this Sunday, on the day the Tour de France 2015 finishes in the capital city of France, La Course by Le Tour found its place on the calendar once again, as the women's peloton will compete on a 89-km Parisian circuit.

It will be Team Liv-Plantur’s second participation in this race and the team can look back at a second place last year with Kirsten Wild (NED). For this year's edition, Team Liv-Plantur heads to Paris with a team that is led by sprinter Lucy Garner (GBR), who sprinted to second on stage 3 of the BeNe Ladies Tour last weekend.

Alongside the Briton, Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), who took 12th in the final GC of the Giro Rosa, as well as Amy Pieters (NED), the silver medal winner at the Dutch National Championships, and Floortje Mackaij (NED), who took second in the final GC of the BeNe Ladies Tour last weekend, will line up this Sunday. The roster of Team Liv-Plantur is completed by Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE) and Julia Soek (NED).

“The difficulty of this race is not to be underestimated. The Champs Elysees is far from flat, which will become hard towards the finale,” said coach Dirk Reuling (NED).

"We will be attentive on the escape groups with dangerous riders in it and we must not miss them. With Floortje [Mackaij] and Amy [Pieters] we have two strong riders who will have a good chance in small groups that survive until the finish. In the case of a bunch sprint we have a strong sprinter with Lucy [Garner]. Our goal is to make it on the podium.”

RACE: La Course by Le Tour (1.1)

DATE: 26/07/2015

COACH: Dirk Reuling (NED)

LINE-UP: Lucy Garner (GBR), Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), Amy Pieters (NED), Julia Soek (NED)

Amy Pieters

Amy Pieter will be on the line at La Course

Tour de France team reports

Lampre-Merida certainly had a good day at the the Tour. They sent this:

Such a perfect day for Rubén Plaza Molina and for Team Lampre-Merida at the Tour de France.

The 35 year old from Spain obtained a solo victory in Gap, at the end of a long breakaway, giving the team a success that was pursued with persistence.

This is the first victory this season for Plaza, who's the fourteenth rider from the Lampre-Merida roster who obtained success in the 2015 season, making 23 wins.

Lampre wins a stage in the Tour de France after the victories of Petacchi in 2010; first success for a Merida bike in the Grande Boucle (Plaza pedaled on a Reacto-Evo); fiftieth victory for Brent Copeland as team manager.

Ruben Plaza wins stage 16

Ruben Plaza wins stage 16

The triumph of Plaza was gained at the end of the 16th stage (Bourg de Péage-Gap, 201 km). It was approached by Lampre-Merida with a fighting mood.

The blue-fuchsia-green team smelled the battling spirit of the bunch and launched two riders into the break, Rubén Plaza, who had already been member of the main breakaway of the 14th stage, and Nelson Oliveira.

Lampre-Merida's duo led the race with other 10 riders, and they were joined after 100 km by a second group of 11 attackers.

The 24 riders in the breakaway built up a large advantage on the bunch (20'), which gave the attackers the opportunity to focus their attention on the fight for the victory, whose battlefield was the last climb of the course, the Col de Manse (summit at 12 km before the finish).

At 3 km to the summit, Rubén Plaza attacked, his action was impressive and he could complete the climb with 1' on the first chasing group.

Only two opponents were separating Plaza from the success: a 12 km descent to Gap and Peter Sagan, who covered the downhilll at a full speed and taking many risks.

Nevertheless, Lampre-Merida's Spanish rider succeded in managing his lead and he could celebrate the triumph in Gap with 30" of advantage on Sagan. Twentieth place for Oliveira.

"It's such an exciting victory, such a great success - Plaza said after the arrival - This triumph gives happiness to the team and to me. In this Tour de France, we have been unlucky and we suffered the withdrawal of our captain Rui Costa, who won here two years ago. We tried hard to hit an important target. We did not give up and we made a lot of attempts attacking or fighting in the sprints.

Today we achieved our goal.

It's always so difficult to win in the Tour de France, but today everything was in its right place and I added my good legs and my fighting spirit. I put everything in the attack on the Col de Manse and in the descent I try to keep my mind well focused on the road.

In my career I have earned 22 victories, but today the feelings are so special".

Here's BMC's Tour report:

Gap, France - Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team narrowly avoided a crash on the descent to the finish Monday at the Tour de France to remain third overall heading into the race's second rest day.

Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin) collided with Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in front of van Garderen while negotiating a right-hand turn in the final kilometers of the 201-km race. The pair was part of a group of 10 riders chasing Italian national road champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), who had attacked a kilometer from the summit of the Col de Manse.

"Some riders were definitely taking some big risks," van Garderen said. "Warren was trying to come over the top of me. I was just trying to hold my position at the front and stay safe. It was a matter of who braked the latest and he was willing to take big risks and took out Geraint Thomas and almost took out himself."

Van GArdeen and Valverde

Alejandro Valverde leads Tejay van Garderen

Ruben Molina (Lampre-Merida) soloed out of the day's breakaway to take the stage win more than 18 minutes ahead of the group containing van Garderen, who finished 30th, and in the same time as race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).

With five stages remaining, van Garderen is 3:32 behind Froome and 22 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team). Two riders are within a minute of him in the standings: Quintana's teammate, Alejandro Valverde, and past Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said Monday was another hard day for everyone in the peloton.

"A lot of riders in the bunch are tired and the weather was hot - always 35 degrees every day," he said. "I saw a good Tejay in good position on the last climb. He did not take risks on the descent. It was a good day for the team. The guys again did a very good job in the descent before the last climb for Tejay. It was a good day for us."

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet, who won Stage 13 last Friday, withdrew from the race before the start. His partner is expecting the couple's first baby.

"I wanted to leave tomorrow morning, but a phone call asked me to go earlier," Van Avermaet said. "I hope to be there on time. It is always hard to leave the tour. It is the greatest race in the world. But the team can perform as well without me. I am pretty sure they will keep riding a great tour and hopefully get a great place in Paris. It is my best tour ever, winning the prologue with Rohan Dennis and the team time trial, winning a stage and putting Tejay in a podium position. It couldn't go any better. It is normal to go home. She has been supporting me for 10 years riding my bike. It is time for me to give something back."

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to report about Tour stage 16:

Robert Gesink maintained his place in the yellow jersey group and maintained his seventh place overall when the Tour de France finished in Gap today.

After the tricky descent of the Col de Manse, he placed 31st in stage 16. The stage was won by Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida). After the peloton gave the breakaway enough space to go for the stage victory, the overall riders turned up the pace on the Col de Manse.

“We had headwind on that climb,” Robert Gesink said after the race. “But the pace was high, especially at the beginning of the climb. They slowed down a little bit afterwards so I came through it. When Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked, I tried to follow him for a while, but I had others with me immediately. It also seemed a little meaningless to me to keep trying because there was a descent still to come.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink in Tour stage 3

“Now it’s rest day. Everyone’s legs are hurting, so it’s nice to recover a little bit at the moment.”

Gesink’s result accomplished one of Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s targets on Monday, but they wanted Steven Kruijswijk to be part of the breakaway.

“It’s setback that Steven wasn’t able to escape,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “That was also one of our priorities today. You are left to focus on your other plans afterwards and bring Robert as well as possible to foot of the last climb. That went well and we are satisfied with his effort.”

The front man of Team LottoNL-Jumbo has to maintain his level on the high Alpine passes starting on Wednesday. “We have to be there with Robert,” Verhoeven continued. “That should be possible. Robert has a high level at the moment and we are very confident in him.”

Here's what Tinkoff-Saxo had to say about stage 16:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan once again delivered plenty of action in a dedicated effort at the front of the race. Following a blazing descent, Sagan took 2nd place behind stage winner Plaza and extended his green jersey lead to 94 points. Meanwhile, team captain Contador notes that he felt much better in the tough finale going into gap.

After crossing the finish line of stage 16 to Gap, Peter Sagan notes that he found it difficult to establish common ground in the effort to bridge the gap to the eventual stage winner Rubén Plaza but that he remains fairly content with the outcome of the stage.

“If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort. I might have some bad luck because everybody is looking at me in the race and follows me, when I try. Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open. Well, I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and everyday something can happen and I have to make it to Paris”, says Peter Sagan before adding about the impressive support on the French roads:

“I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on - it’s really nice. Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan finishes stage 16, his 5th second place this Tour

Stage 16 from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap took the riders 201km into the Alps with two cat. 2 climbs on the final part of the stage. As Peter Sagan crossed the line in Gap as part of the breakaway, Alberto Contador and the rest of the squad embarked on the finishing climb Col de Manse followed by its fast descent towards the line, where the GC favorites tested each other.

“Today has been much better, but there was a lot of wind on the climb, which made it complicated. I think that when I attacked, some people had a little trouble but it was complicated to continue alone. Now I have a day of rest to recover and then we face the Alps, where we will see how it goes. In the Alps, I have to look for opportunities – this is a different Tour for me because I have big time differences to other riders and I’m not at the same strength as in other Tours so I have to look for other opportunities and if I find them I will try. Today was not a day for big opportunities, the margin was very small, just a few seconds, I tried and then Nibali tried but it was just a question of seconds. But a lot of challenges still remain in the Alps, where we will try”, comments Alberto Contador.

Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh underlines that Peter Sagan’s effort had been impressive, while the squad received great news from teammate Ivan Basso in Italy.

“First and foremost, I think it was very impressive that Peter was once again in the break on such a hard stage. Then it was naturally unfortunate that he was second once again. I don’t think that he could have tried any harder, but the problem is that he is so strong that everybody is looking to him to make a move. Additionally, he has been active or in the break on almost every stage, so with such a big group as we had today, there’s a big chance that there will be a rider, who is fresher than him”, tells Steven de Jongh before adding about the race that took place among the favorites.

“In what concerns the peloton and the race between the GC contenders, I would say that it was difficult to make any big difference on the climb. Alberto tried but there will be more terrain in the coming days. Also, we now have a good lead in the points classification, Peter indeed deserves that lead after his effort and it’s looking well at the moment. The best news of the day came from Italy, where we learnt that Ivan doesn’t need any extra treatment after the whole tumor was removed. We are all very, very happy to hear this”, finishes de Jongh.

Lotto-Soudal sent this to me regarding stage 16:

The sixteenth Tour stage took the riders from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap. As predicted the Col de Manse was a crucial point on the course. The peloton let a large front group take lots of advantage. Lotto Soudal had two riders in front: Thomas De Gendt and Adam Hansen. Rubén Plaza won today’s stage.

Soon after the start, 29 riders escaped the peloton, twelve of them left the others behind. Thomas De Gendt was one of the men in the front group. In the second group some riders were dropped and twelve others were left, among them Adam Hansen. The two groups melted together with 95 kilometres to go. Only one missed out. As expected the peloton didn’t chase and the leaders got almost twenty minutes advantage.

Adam Hansen

Adam Hansen wins a stage at this year's Tour of Norway.

With fifty kilometres to go there was no cohesion in the front group anymore, several riders tried to get away. Adam Hansen went solo when 45 kilometres were left. About ten kilometres further Marco Haller joined him. The duo started the ascent of the Col de Manse with about fifty seconds advantage and that wasn’t enough. A group caught them and then Rubén Plaza attacked. In the descent Peter Sagan, who consolidated his lead in the points classification today, went full gas but he couldn’t catch Plaza anymore. Thomas De Gendt arrived one minute after the winner and was eighth. Hansen finished on place eighteen, about four minutes after Plaza. Tony Gallopin lost contact with the yellow jersey group on the Col de Manse and has disappeared from the top ten, the Frenchman is now eleventh at just over twelve minutes.

Thomas De Gendt: “In the past the stage to Gap always was a stage for escapees. So today you needed to be in the break if you wanted to win or at least set a good result. This morning at the team meeting I told that, and together with some others we wanted to attack. In the beginning of a stage you always have to see who’s in the group and how large it is. Eventually two groups melted together and we rode in front with twenty-three riders and it was immediately clear that Sagan was the strongest. Despite my injury I felt good enough to join a breakaway already a few times this Tour. With 23 riders in front the cohesion wasn’t optimal of course. On the Col de Manse the group fell apart; Adam Hansen had already given it a try by then, I could follow the better riders, but with the descent still to come I knew I wasn’t going to take any risks to follow Sagan. I didn’t want to crash again. Much more wasn’t possible today. But normally I don’t get worse in a third week of a Grand Tour, so who knows, I might join another breakaway one of the next days.”

Adam Hansen: “It’s our goal to win stages, so we wanted to try that again today. It took a while before I and ten others joined the first group. We had to chase for about 100 kilometres because the speed was so high. Luckily some did an extra effort to close the gap. It was the intention to bring Thomas De Gendt into the finale in the best possible position. I had to respond to attacks, but because we were with so many I decided to attack to reduce the group and hoped Thomas could move along. Unfortunately only one other rider joined me, so it was hard to cover more than 40 kilometres. Because of my shoulder injury it’s hard to sprint, so if I would have gone to the finish with some others I wouldn’t have won anyway.”

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