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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, July 27, 2015

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

Today's Racing

The Tour de France is in our rear-view mirror. As is the women's Le Course by Le Tour de France. I have complete results and lots else posted for both.

As for current, ongoing racing, the third stage of the HC-ranked Tour de Wallonie will have its third stage today.

Next race up will be the 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal, starting Wednesday, the 29th, and continuing through August 9th.

Tour de France team news

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan took his 4th green jersey in a row, as he crossed the final finish line of Tour de France on the iconic Champs Élysées. Meanwhile, Alberto Contador concluded his Tour finishing 5th in the overall classification.

Peter Sagan didn’t get the stage win that he had been on the lookout for, but underlines after pulling on the green jersey that he is pleased with his Tour de France.

“I am very happy because this year was a very hard fight from the first stages. My role in the team was different from previous years. I’m very happy that I haven’t crashed and that I can make it here in the green jersey - it’s a special feeling for me. It has been a different Tour for me but also a very big experience to ride with Alberto Contador, he is a big champion and I’ve also had a lot of fun in this year’s Tour on the road and together with my teammates”, comments Peter Sagan before adding:

“For sure it was a very big fight from the start and I knew that it wasn’t easy. There was less pressure on me to create individual results but I also had a different role. But the pressure overall has been high, we have been very concentrated but it has been a big experience for me. I’ve tried to win stages, but it was not easy. I think I can be satisfied, I have been very aggressive and I have the green jersey”.

Peter nSagan

Peter Sagan took home the Green Jersey

The Tour de France concluded with the traditional sprint burst up Champs Élysées, where Peter Sagan took 7th place. After 21 stages, Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh sums up the squad’s Tour.

“We came here for the win in the general classification but we saw a very strong Froome and Alberto was not on top of it from the first mountain stage, where he lost time. Then again, on the first stage in the Alps he had a crash and that cost a lot of energy, which also ended his chances in terms of the podium. From a team standpoint everybody did exactly what we asked and gave their best each day. I think Alberto managed the Tour well after a very hard Giro that left everybody including him really tired. I don’t think that many riders would have been able to do what he did – to win the Vuelta and then the Giro before finishing 5th in the Tour. Looking ahead, Rafal is getting better and better and he has been an important support in the high mountains. He will now take time off and prepare for the Vuelta”, comments Steven de Jongh and continues:

“I have to stress the fact that the entire team suffered a big loss, when Basso had to abandon. It was naturally a big relief to all of us, when we got the message that he had been successfully operated and didn’t need any further treatment. It was just as well a pity that we lost Bennati and Valgren but fortunately Bennati had been there in the first part of the Tour, where his help was crucial. Valgren fought hard and did a lot of work for the team but he will definitely get many more chances at Tour de France”, adds Steven de Jongh.

BMC sent this retrospective:

Paris, France - Samuel Sánchez's 12th-place finish overall capped a Tour de France that saw the BMC Racing Team win three stages and lead the race for one day.

Rohan Dennis, winner of the Stage 1 individual time trial at record speed on July 4, was part of a breakaway in the last 10 kilometers of Sunday's 109.5-km race. After wearing the "maillot jaune" for one day, he went on to help the BMC Racing Team capture the Stage 9 team time trial.

"I wanted to start good and finish good," Dennis said of his breakaway effort. "Obviously it did not work out, but you always have to try and give it your all. Going into yellow at the Tour de France was almost a daydream come true. It is the biggest race in the world and to be leading it, even for a second, is a huge privilege and a huge honor."

Greg Van Avermaet won the other stage and was one of two riders from the BMC Racing Team who did not reach the finish line in Paris. Van Avermaet beat points classification winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) to win Stage 13. But he did not start Stage 16 in order to return home in anticipation of the birth of his daughter. Team leader Tejay van Garderen, who had been sitting either second or third overall through much of the first two weeks, retired due to illness after the race's second rest day, during Stage 17.

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez was the highest placed rider on the BMC team

"As far as pride is concerned, I am proud of the whole crew here," BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said. "The staff and the riders did a tremendous job. 'Impeccable' is how I would describe this team's efforts during this Tour de France. It was a great three weeks of racing and a lot of camaraderie in the group. A lot of teamwork. A lot of good feelings. A lot of highs and a lot of lows. But that is the Tour de France. We are happy this one is over and really looking forward to getting into it again next year."

Sánchez, the 2008 Olympic road race champion who placed third at the Tour de France in 2010, enjoyed his 14th grand tour finish in 16 starts.  Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the overall title for the second time in three years with a 72-second margin over Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), who was the race's "best young rider." Quintana's teammate, Spanish national road champion Alejandro Valverde, finished third, 5:25 back. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won on the Champs-Élysées Sunday to earn his fourth stage win of the race.

Joining Dennis and Sánchez as finishers of the three-week grand tour for the BMC Racing Team was Damiano Caruso, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, and Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss.

"This team did a very good job all three weeks," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said. "We had good spirit with everyone and that was important. Three victories for one team is very hard. But we did it. And getting the yellow jersey was perfect. Winning the team time trial was a big highlight, too. It was a team effort, not just one by one rider."

LottoNL-Jumbo looks back at the 2015 Tour de France:

Robert Gesink placed sixth in the Tour de France, a terrific result that crowned off three good weeks. Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the overall in the race that was full of highlights and setbacks for Team LottoNL-Jumbo.

Robert Gesink: “I’m very proud of my performance. It hasn’t yet set in what I’ve done. I’m very tired. It was exciting until the stage to Alpe d’Huez. That stage was hard for me. I was exhausted after the last three weeks, but was able to hold on fortunately. I’m glad that it’s over. I have been thinking about all the setbacks I faced in the last years. Those make this result even more beautiful for me. The five riders who finished above me have won a big tour. I’m the best of the rest, and that’s amazing.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink close to the finish of Tour stage 10.

Laurens ten Dam: “The story of my Tour the France is a heavy one. I’ve had an annoying race. I’m glad that I was able to finish it, but I was hoping that I was able to recover after getting ill. That didn’t happen, unfortunately. I was barely able to breath. I dislocated my shoulder in a crash in the beginning of the Tour. I was hoping that I could play a nice role in the Alps, but I got sick afterwards. I can’t blame myself for anything, which makes it even worse. I’m glad that I made it to Paris. I’m not proud of my performance, but I can live with it.”

Steven Kruijswijk: “It has been a good Tour de France for the team. I finished it with mixed feelings. I didn’t succeed in finding the feeling I had during the Giro d’Italia, but I wasn’t in bad shape. I didn’t come through in the Pyrenees, but I was able to show something in the Alps, fortunately. I enjoyed this Tour de France, especially because of Robert’s result. The stage to the Alpe d’Huez was the highlight for me. I never climbed that mountain before and it really was special. It was great to be important for Robert in that stage.”

Tom Leezer: “I’m very glad that I don’t have to climb a mountain for a while now. The first ten days of the Tour de France went superbly for me. I clashed heavily with a car afterwards and the consequences of that crash bothered me the second part of the Tour. I was feeling well in one or two days, but I was suffering a lot. I was the hammer during the first then days, but I was the nail afterwards. That nail bent, but didn’t break. I roomed with Robert during the race, the mood was fantastic on and off the bike. I feel happy when I look back at the Tour.”

Jos van Emden: “My highlight was already on the first day. My fifth place in the opening time trial was amazing. That was the most beautiful result I’ve ever delivered in my career. It was my first Tour de France and it was a special experience. There are so many nerves in the peloton. Especially in the first week, it’s very stressful without any let up. I understand why some of the riders are saying that they’re looking forward to ride in the Tour, but that they really want to go back home once they’re there. Making it to Paris is very important for me, it gives me much satisfaction.”

Paul Martens: “I’m glad that it’s over. I reached a constant level during this Tour, but in the last Alpine stage, I had to push through my limits. I was suffering so much. I wanted to enjoy the ascent to the Alpe d’Huez, but I didn’t because my body was completely exhausted. The final of the Tour was mentally hard, but I’m satisfied with the performance I delivered. I was able to do all the assignments they gave me. Utrecht was a very big highlight. The team presentation and the opening time trial were two great experiences for our team. I don’t think I will experience something like that again.”

Wilco Kelderman: “I’m not looking back at the Tour in a good way. I crashed already in the first weekend and my back was hurting a lot afterwards. I got cold later on in the Tour. I actually didn’t feel fit during the whole race. It was about surviving for me. I was hoping that I’d be better in the end, but that wasn’t possible. I hope that I can forget this Tour de France quickly, but I realise that I made my first steps in this event. I finished the Tour the first time I was part of it, and I appreciate that. There were some beautiful moments and the team did a good job. That gave me the boost that I needed to make it to Paris.”

Sep Vanmarcke: “I was aiming for the victory in the fourth stage. I really wanted to win the stage on the cobblestones. I punctured during a decisive moment. It was just like how it was during all the spring classics. It was mentally very hard for me to recover from that setback. I was able to look ahead afterwards and did the best I could for the team. I was in the Tour to do my job for the front men and I went all the way for them. This was my third Tour, and I finished all of them. It’s wonderful to see the Eiffel Tower appear after three weeks of racing. Afterwards, you can ride around the Champs Élysées and give your girlfriend a big hug.”

Bram Tankink: “I wasn’t bad this Tour, but I didn’t feel superb either. My best part of the Tour de France was in the Pyrenees. Afterwards, I had two bad days. I was struggling with a saddle sore. That’s why I was a little skew on my bike. My left leg started to hurt because of it, my right knee as well. The last days were about survival. I never was feeling good on the bike, and that isn’t a good thing, for sure. I’m glad that I finished the Tour, though. The team worked well for Robert and delivered a beautiful result. Robert did a fantastic job.”

Nico Verhoeven: “We were handicapped already early in the Tour de France. Wilco Kelderman, Laurens ten Dam and Tom Leezer crashed heavily.  We lost two of our climbers who finished top ten in a grand tour already. That’s why everything ended up in Robert Gesink’s hands immediately. His position in the general classification was our main target during the Tour. Wilco and Laurens weren’t able to perform any more because they got sick after their crashes. That limited our ambitions to taking the initiative in the mountain stages. That was one of our goals actually. Steven Kruijswijk supported Robert perfectly. He was able to attack as well, but we couldn’t expect him to do that every day. That is the only disadvantage we faced in this Tour de France. Despite all the setbacks, we are one of the two teams that reached Paris with all the nine riders. That’s unique, and Robert’s sixth place is wonderful. The field was strong and all the top riders made it to the end. We did the maximum and this result is a wonderful one for Robert as a person.”

BMC news from Tour de Wallonie

Bassenge, Belgium - BMC Racing Team's Marcus Burghardt finished third in Sunday's bunch sprint finish at the Tour de Wallonie while teammates Jempy Drucker gained the lead in the intermediate sprint classification and Loïc Vliegen moved into seventh overall.

Burghardt was one of the first aggressors in the BMC Racing Team's plan to go on the offensive in the 171.3-kilometer race. The past Tour de France stage winner was part of a seven-man breakaway.

"We said that we wanted to go in the breaks today and make the race hard and always have someone in the mix," Burghardt said. "It was a good group. But later, Philippe Gilbert decided to open the race a bit from behind. So we put some pressure on Etixx-Quick Step. They expended a lot of energy."

Marcus Burghardt

Marcus Burghardt racing in this year's Giro d'Italia

Gilbert's attack on the peloton forced another selection. Soon, the BMC Racing Team had three riders of the 14 in front: Burghardt, Gilbert and Alessandro De Marchi. After a chase by Etixx-Quick Step and Tinkoff-Saxo brought the escapees back, five riders shook free of the peloton. This time, Drucker represented the BMC Racing Team.

"It was good Jempy was immediately in the next move because we never had to chase," Burghardt said. "The pressure was always on Etixx-Quick Step."

Drucker won both intermediate sprints to take a two-point lead in the intermediate sprints standings and the fuchsia jersey that goes with it. Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) won the stage ahead of Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo). Burghardt's third-place finish matched his best result of the season, also achieved last month at the German national road championships.

Vliegen, who won "most aggressive honors" on Saturday's opening stage, moved up from eighth in the overall standings and is 36 seconds behind Terpstra.

"It was a very hard stage with a sprint at the end, but I think tomorrow - with more than 200 kilometers and an uphill finish - that is a stage for Philippe," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said.

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