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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, June 13, 2015

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Today's Racing

Stage seven of Critérium du Dauphiné is today. This is a beast! The riders will cover 155 kilometers starting at Montmélian and climb four first-category climbs (with the third cat Aravis thrown in for fun) before confronting the seven-kilometer ascent to the hilltop finish at Mont Blanc.

The Tour de Suisse starts Saturday, the 13th. First stage is a 5.1 km time trial.

Critérium du Dauphiné

We'll start with team reports from the Critérium du Dauphiné's rainy sixth stage.

Lotto-Soudal sent this report to me:

The sixth stage of the Dauphiné was very spectacular. The riders had to cover the stage in the pouring rain. Immediately after the start there were a lot of attacks. Small and large groups tried to get away. Also the favourites had a go. Tim Wellens was the most active of the Lotto Soudal riders, but he got caught. When halfway in the stage sixteen riders were left in front, including all team leaders, Tony Martin, Rui Costa, Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Tony Gallopin took off. Team Sky let riders return to the first peloton and when it counted about 50 riders they organized the chase, but in the meantime the gap with the leaders was more than three minutes. Bart De Clercq, Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens were all part of the first peloton.

The finale was a battle between the big guys. In front for the stage win and yellow jersey, a few minutes behind to limit the time gap and to bridge. Nibali tried to leave his companions behind, but it was Gallopin who got away with four kilometres to go. The last two kilometres were uphill and the others came back. Rui Costa beat Nibali and won stage six; Valverde was third, ahead of Gallopin. In the background a strong Tiesj Benoot reacted to a counterattack of Daniel Martin and John Gadret. Benoot was eighth.

In the overall classification Gallopin jumps to the eighth place. Bart De Clercq did well today and is seventeenth.

Topny Gallopin

Tony Gallopin leads the break in today's stage 6.

Tony Gallopin: “I had marked today’s stage. Depending on the circumstances I knew it had to suit me. It went really fast right from the beginning, there were a lot of attacks and also the top riders wanted to make something of the stage. Before the decisive breakaway was formed, we had been ahead with twenty riders, without Froome or one of his teammates. The groups came back together and then I got away with Nibali, Rui Costa, Valverde and Tony Martin; some big names. We took a few minutes, but uphill I soon realized Nibali was the strongest. On the first category climb Martin and I were dropped, but we could rejoin the others in the descent.  I knew there was a possibility to get away four kilometres before the finish, but on the climb to the finish I couldn’t stay ahead. Such a stage is good for the confidence. This are only my first race days since Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

Tiesj Benoot: “This was without any doubt the hardest day of my career. Yesterday I let go, also because I knew today’s rainy weather would suit me better then the warmth yesterday. But I had marked today, possibly to join a breakaway and see how far I could get. And that was pretty far, indeed. First I was part of a group of 50 riders behind the five leaders, with Tony in that front group. When the group fell apart because of the tempo of Sky, I could hang on. In the last phase I responded to an attack of Daniel Martin and John Gadret. Because I’m not playing a role in the overall classification they let me go easier than a favourite. I did well today in a medium mountain stage, but that doesn’t mean I’m a GC rider (laughs).”

Here's BMC's Dauphiné news:

Villard-de-Lans/Côte 2000, France - BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen slipped out of the overall lead Friday at the Critérium du Dauphiné on a fast, rainy stage that saw the peloton split early, a breakaway survive to the finish and the overall standings shuffle.

Van Garderen finished 11th, 2:14 behind stage winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), who out-sprinted Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) on the mountain-top finish. Nibali became the race's third leader in as many days, Costa climbed into second, 29 seconds back, and van Garderen slipped to fifth, 42 seconds off the lead.

Abysmal weather conditions contributed to major splits in the peloton only 15 kilometers into the race. From there, the attacks continued and ultimately, five riders shook free of the rapidly dwindling peloton: Costa, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step), Nibali and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

"It was a rainy day, it was up and down and really technical - so it was just the perfect storm," van Garderen said. "Any stage hunter was going to be looking at today for a breakaway. Everybody knew the breakaway had a good chance to win, so that meant everyone wanted to be in it. That meant the guys who got in it were really strong."

Van Garderen said at the moment the decisive breakaway shook free, the peloton was down to about a dozen riders.

"I knew I couldn't mark everyone so I picked Chris Froome and Romain Bardet," he said. "Every single one of those guys (in the group) was at two minutes (off the lead) and every single one of those guys has a huge pedigree in the sport. If I follow everything, I blow up."

Tejay van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen racing in the rainy Dauphiné stage 6.

Two BMC Racing Team riders helped drive the chase for van Garderen, Rohan Dennis and Dylan Teuns. The pair worked to keep the breakaway's advantage from growing larger than three-and-a-half minutes.

"I really have to give a big shout out to those two guys," van Garderen said. "They were just incredible today. Sadly, we were just a little bit isolated. When guys like Nibali and Valvderde get up the road, it is really tough to bring them back."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it would have been better to have a few more riders with van Garderen. But two days of defending the lead for Dennis earlier this week - and the weather conditions - took their toll.

"It was really bad weather and very hard for everybody," Ledanois said. "We don't think the Dauphiné is finished. Tomorrow maybe we have another big surprise."

With two days of the race to go - and both of them including summit finishes - van Garderen said he is still feeling good. The third-place finisher here in 2010, he is one of five riders within a minute of the lead.

"I am motivated," he said. "Valverde and Nibali were both dropped yesterday on Pra-Loup. So maybe this is more of a blessing in disguise that we do not have the jersey and we do not have to defend. Maybe Astana can waste some of their bullets early on in the stage. If I have the legs on the last climb, 42 seconds isn't much."

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about the Dauphiné's sixth stage:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Robert Kiserlovski finished 12th on the tough stage 6 of Critérium du Dauphiné among the main contenders, who came in scattered after a day of attacks from afar. “I’m getting better day by day”, says Kiserlovski after the stage, which was won by Rui Costa.

Elaborating on the tiring stage in the wet, Robert Kiserlovski tells that he had intended to follow the move from the strong five-man group.

“When Nibali, Valverde, Gallopin, Costa and Martin attacked I followed but I was blocked by another rider, who unfortunately didn’t hold the wheel and created a gap. As it turned out, it was a winning move and I felt strong at that moment. However, I think it was a positive day for me personally, as I feel that I’m improving each day. And, as a team, we also had five guys in the yellow jersey group chasing the breakaway until the stage finale”, says Robert Kiserlovski, who adds that a number of riders might pay the price for the efforts made on today’s stage.

“It was a very hard stage today with attacks all the time. As everybody could see, it was very difficult to control the race, as the intensity was very high. I think we will see several of the GC riders paying the price on tomorrow’s stage, also with the weather conditions we had today”.

Stage 6 from Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur to Villard-de-Lans – Vercors consisted of 183 highly undulating kilometers with six categorized climbs and saw the leader’s jersey change hands, as Nibali took the lead. Rui Costa (LAM) took the win in the front group that had escaped far from the finish line.

Rui Costa wins stage 6

Rui Costa was in the winning move and won stage 6

“We are fairly pleased with today’s result. We know that we aren’t the favorites here in Dauphiné, but the important factor is that the guys are improving. We saw that today, as we had Kiserlovski, Chris Anker, Beltran, Pires and Petrov all in the main group. They took responsibility and Kiserlovski seemed strong on the final part, where he finished just a few seconds behind Froome and Van Garderen”, comments team sports director Bruno Cenghialta and adds: “It was a very fast stage with attacks from strong riders from the beginning of the stage. It was a solid group that ultimately got away and it proved difficult to make up time. However, Pires, Petrov, Beltran and Chris Anker did a good job, also working at the front, and we saw Kiserlovski attack on the final climb. Tomorrow is another tough stage and I hope that the guys can do another good job in the effort to bring Kiserlovski a bit further up in the GC”.

The Tour of Switzerland starts today

Here's BMC's roster for the race:

The BMC Racing Team's roster for the Tour de Suisse includes double Giro d'Italia stage winner Philippe Gilbert and Baloise Tour of Belgium champion Greg Van Avermaet. The eight-day race begins with a 5.1 kilometer prologue Saturday and concludes June 21 with a 38.4 km individual time trial.

Riders: Darwin Atapuma (COL), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Manuel Senni (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI).

Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Jackson Stewart (USA).

President/General Manager: Jim Ochowicz (USA)

Sponsor: Andy Rihs (SUI)

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert (shown at this year's Giro d'Italia) will be on the start line for the Tour of Switzerland.

Lotto-Soudal will be at the Tour of Switzerland and sent this release:

Tomorrow eight Lotto Soudal riders stand at the start of the nine-day race Tour de Suisse, a WorldTour race taking place from Saturday 13th June until Sunday 21st June.

The course is very selective. There are two time trial tests, starting with a prologue of 5.1 kilometres. The last stage is an individual time trial of 38.4 kilometres. The fifth stage is the longest, almost 240 kilometres. On the course that day lie two hors catégorie climbs, the finish line is drawn on the Rettenbachferner. That will be an important day for the GC riders. Mario Aerts talks about the ambitions of Lotto Soudal.

Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van den Broeck are our GC riders, we’re aiming for a top ten place. In the prologue the time gaps will be small, that will be a lot different in the time trial on the last day. Maxime and Jurgen can ride a good time trial, they proved that in the Giro. The finish on the Rettenbachferner on day five will change a lot to the classification, it’s a climb with an average gradient of ten per cent. Hopefully Maxime and Jurgen still have their Giro shape, so they can set a good result in Switzerland.”

Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van de Broeck

Maxime Monfort and Jurgen Van de Broeck climbing in the 2015 Giro d'Italia

“Jürgen Roelandts , who has just become a father, definitely has a chance to win a stage. The fourth, sixth and seventh stage definitely suit him. Jürgen is our man for the sprints, with Jasper De Buyst and Kenny Dehaes in support. We won’t get any bunch sprints, the course is too selective for that.”

“The course offers opportunities to escapees. Thomas De Gendt loves that. Also Sander Armée might join a breakaway. He won a race in Belgium last week, his first pro victory, that was after a solo ride of 20 kilometres. Sander proved his condition is good. Then we have Vegard Breen. The Tour of Norway was his first race after an elbow injury. He did well there. He will support the team’s leaders, but could attack as well. We have a strong team, hopefully we get results.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Vegard Breen, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Kenny Dehaes, Maxime Monfort, Jürgen Roelandts and Jurgen Van den Broeck.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Frederik Willems.

Stages

Orica-AIS is at the Euskal Emakumeen Bira

The team sent this note about stage 2 of the Spanish race run in the Basque country

Swedish champion Emma Johansson has gone one better than yesterday’s close finish to win today’s stage two of the Euskal Emakumeen Bira, again by the narrowest of margins.

After a finish that ‘could have gone either way’ for second on stage one, Johansson came from behind to pip Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla Pro Cycling), who prematurely sat up, in a photo finish.

Emma johansson wins

Emma Johansson (left) just barely snags the stage win.

The 31-year-old remains third overall at the Spanish race, two seconds off leader Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv Woman’s Cycling Team). “I thought it was a really close call, I really wasn’t sure at all,” Johansson said of her feelings crossing the line. “I was coming with a lot of speed and I saw that Annemiek let go of her handlebars so I thought that might be the thing to put it in my favour.”

“She didn’t know I was coming. I feel a little bit sorry for taking it away from her but after losing by so little yesterday, I sort of feel like I deserved a win today.”

ORICA-AIS finished with three riders in the top ten - Katrin Garfoot rounding up the podium in third and Amanda Spratt finishing 9th. After an active day in support of her team, Italian Valentina Scandolara was awarded most the combative rider of the stage.

“As I came around the last corner with 100m to go, Kat was up the road together with Annemiek and it was so close,” Johansson said. “I didn’t want to take it away from Kat if she had the chance to go for it but once I saw that she was behind, I hit it as hard as I could and just made it.

“The team has so much confidence after our camp and results lately. And the fact that the results are spread around the girls, everyone has stepped up and everyone is contributing to every single victory is really exciting.”

The head of the race changed shape on numerous occasions throughout the 82.2km stage but it was following a final climb in the last ten kilometres that saw a group of eight, including three ORICA-AIS riders, contest for stage honours.

“There was a climb that peaked with about eight kilometres to go and at the top of that there was still quite a big group,” Johansson explained. “But after it there was another smaller hill, about 1.5km and a lot steeper than the bigger climb, and over there we came with five riders before three more joined us before the finish.”

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage is the longest of the five-day Tour, a 112.2km journey from Iurreta to Iturmendi.

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