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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, June 20, 2015

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Today's Racing

There's no slowdown in the racing. Four important ones are continuing today.

First, there is the ongoing Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland). Today is stage 8, the penultimate stage. It's 152.5 kilometers going from Bern and returning to Bern. This has lots of hills along the way.

The fourth stage of Women's Tour of Britain is 103.8 kilometers starting in Waltham Cross and finishing in Stevenage. There are 1,131 meters of climbing in the stage.

The Dutch Ster ZLM Toer will have its fourth stage start at Hotel Verviers and ride to La Gileppe (Jalhay). The stage is 186.7 kilometers long.

In France, the Route du Sud will ride its third stage, 180.6 kilometers going from Izaourt and finishing in Bagneres de Luchon.

Froome can't have motorhome at Tour

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - Team Sky's plan to put Chris Froome up in a private motorhome for the Tour de France was scuppered on Friday when cycling's governing body ruled that riders must stay in official hotels during all road stage races.

The team wanted the 2013 champion to stay in a motorhome during next month's race to avoid having to adapt to different hotel conditions on a daily basis.

However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) would not sanction the proposal.

"In all road stage races on the international calendar the organisers must cover the subsistence expenses of the teams from the night before the start to the final day," the UCI's management committee said in a statement.

"Riders must stay in the hotels provided by the organiser throughout the entire duration of the race. The decision was made in order to reaffirm absolute fairness between all riders."

Sky tried out the motorhome setup with Richie Porte in last month's Giro d'Italia.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome racing at this year's Dauphiné, which he won.

Team principal Dave Brailsford feels some hotels provided this year were "not great" and says that being able to sleep in familiar surroundings would help to improve the daily recovery process as "sport science is massive on sleep at the moment".

The gruelling three-week Tour will be held from July 4-26. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Tony Jimenez)

Tour of Switzerland Team Reports

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan was half a wheel from taking another stage win in Tour de Suisse but had to settle for second after he was blocked off the wheel of his lead-out man Daniele Bennati. Although Sagan made up considerable ground on the final 100 meters, the gap to stage winner Kristoff proved too costly. “Frustrating for Peter and the team, but that's bike racing”, comments DS Sean Yates.

In the wake of stage 7, Peter Sagan says that his teammates had performed flawlessly.

“Today our team tried to control the stage. We let a group of five riders break away and then we led the peloton all day. In the final part of the stage it was up and down and we went at a high pace to tire the sprinters. In the finale, I let myself get closed in and I didn't manage to make up the meters I lost to Kristoff. I am angry and it's my fault. I must thank the team because everything went 100 percent well apart from my finish”, comments Peter Sagan.

Stage 7 from Biel to Düdingen consisted of 164.4km with the riders finishing off the stage with two longer local laps in lumpy terrain. After catching the last rider from the early breakaway within the final kilometer, Daniele Bennati went to the front in the gradual uphill finish.

Alexander kristoff wins Swiss Tour stage 7

Alexander Kristoff (right) beats Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan sat firmly in his wheel, when José Joaquín Rojas (MOV) barged in and effectively cut Sagan off from launching his sprint, as Kristoff opened up. The Tinkoff-Saxo captain managed to make up considerable ground but fell half a wheel short of the stage win. Sean Yates, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, elaborates on the stage finish.

“The boys did everything right today with Bennati starting his lead-out at the right time. Unfortunately Peter was cut off in the final sprint. There’s no doubt that Rojas’ move cost us the win. He muscled in but clearly didn’t have the legs. If a rider hasn’t got the legs, he shouldn’t barge in on a team’s lead-out. So it’s of course frustrating because we took the initiative on the whole stage with only Katusha showing interest in catching the breakaway”, says Sean Yates before concluding:

“It just didn’t pan out and Peter was naturally frustrated after the stage. He knows he shouldn’t have let him into the wheel of Bennati but there will always be cut and fuzz at the pointy end of any race. We’ll most definitely try again tomorrow, that’s bike racing and our ambition will be see same as that of today”.

Over in the Netherlands, the Ster ZLM Toer is going strong

This came from Lotto-Soudal:

After the second stage André Greipel has now also won the third stage of the Ster ZLM Toer. It was a stage with start and finish in Buchten, over some hills in Dutch Limburg. A front group of eight was caught in time, so the peloton could sprint for the victory. André Greipel beat Moreno Hofland, the difference was only a few millimetres. Edward Theuns was third. Greipel remains GC leader. The German champion could rely on the Lotto Soudal train again.

Andre Greipel wins stage 3

André Greipel wins Ster ZLM Toer stage 3

Marcel Sieberg: “There was a headwind in the finale. Lars Bak brought us into the last one and a half kilometres. Then I took over. Afterwards it was up to Jens Debusschere and Greg Henderson. André was a bit tired, but he won. It took about an hour before a group got away. Somebody in the break was close in GC, so we couldn’t give them much space. Dennis Vanendert immediately went to the head of the peloton, later Sean De Bie helped him pulling. Lotto NL - Jumbo and Trek helped later as well. When the best placed rider was caught, we took it easy. Other teams started to chase. The escapees were caught in time. Two weeks before the Tour it’s nice that we win here twice. Tomorrow it’s a tough stage in the Ardennes, tonight I will drink a small Belgian beer to celebrate today’s victory (laughs).”

LottoNL-Jumbo feels they missed a close one at the Ster ZLM Toer:

Moreno Hofland came within a whisker of victory in the third stage of the Ster ZLM Toer (see picture above). André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) beat the Dutch sprinter by a minimum of difference.

After Thursday’s off day, when only two riders made the front group, sports director Erik Dekker had to be strict with his men before the start of the third stage of the Ster ZLM Toer.

“Our meeting this morning was a bit heavier than usual”, Dekker said. “I criticized Moreno as well, in spite of that he was in front yesterday. In my opinion, he had to be sharper before the last turn. When you start a final sprint, two places behind André Greipel, you’re not going to beat him any way. Today, it went better. We forced it as a team today. It’s a pity that he didn't win the stage, but he didn’t allow others to run rings around us. That’s a good thing.”

Hofland agreed with the criticism from his sports director. “It felt like a missed chance for me, too”, he analysed. “I know that I wasn’t physical enough. I wanted to be in the perfect position today, no matter what. I was in the right place at the right moment, and made sure that I was able to stay there. Maybe Erik’s harsh words were necessary. You have to pump yourself up every time as a sprinter and I didn’t yesterday. I was taking it too easy. I was sharp today, and almost won. The difference is very small, I’m quite frustrated with that.”

On Saturday's fourth day of the Ster ZLM Toer, the riders are facing the toughest stage of the race.

“The finish is hard tomorrow”, Dekker said. “Moreno already indicated that he is going to try. Maarten Tjallingii and he have to be strong to stay in front of the general classification, so it’s going to be interesting.”

The French are currently running the Route du Sud

Tinkoff-Saxo is there:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Christopher Juul-Jensen made a qualified attempt to snatch the stage win in Route du Sud launching an attack in the finale. Although he was caught before the finish line, Juul-Jensen says that he’s pleased to have been given the chance. Team captain Alberto Contador finished in the first decimated group after a steep final kilometer, where Bryan Coquard took the win.

Upon crossing the finish line, Chris Juul-Jensen went into details with his attempt on stage 2.

"It feels very nice to be able to race at the front again and race aggressively in the finale. It's a smaller race compared to the ones I took part in the last few weeks and this gives me the opportunity to try and see what I can get out of myself, when the opportunity arises. Unfortunately, it would have been better if the two breakaways had held but you will never win if you never try. I'm happy to see I have digested the Giro quite well, I looked after myself back home and properly prepared for this race. I wanted to use this race to show I'm coming back into form and I'm very motivated to race”, says Chris Juul-Jensen and adds:

“Today we had a hard finale. The Route du Sud is a good training for the riders that will go on to the Tour. It's up and down all day and a good way to build your legs. In the finale, the riders in my group knew that our chances were getting thinner by the minute. I tried to attack towards the end but they were quickly coming from behind us. It was a tricky uphill finish and the final 500 meters were very hard. To have a realistic chance at winning we would have needed probably another 20 seconds of advantage in the final 2km”.

Chris Juul-Jensen was caught going into the final part of today’s 141km stage 2 from Auch to Saint-Gaudens and now directs his attention towards supporting team captain Alberto Contador.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador is getting ready for the Tour de France after winning the Giro d'Italia

“I'm very thankful to the team and Alberto who allowed me to give it a shot if I felt I had the legs. I'm still on the hunt for my first stage win as a pro, so I appreciate it they gave me that opportunity. Tomorrow, I will be focused on giving my best for Alberto. We have to make sure he is well placed to have the best result possible and, hopefully, we will then have to defend on Sunday. I had my chance yesterday and today but on Saturday and Sunday, we will all work hard for Alberto”, adds Chris Juul-Jensen.

Patxi Vila, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, explains that Juul-Jensen’s attempt provided him with an ideal opportunity to gain experience.

"Today's stage was definitely calmer than yesterday, and shorter. With the race leader and team responsibilities better defined today, we knew we didn't have to work too hard. We stayed in the wheel and tried to finish the stage in the best way possible, in view of tomorrow 's queen stage. Just like yesterday, Juul-Jensen tried to attack for the stage win and nearly made it. He feels he has the form and Alberto Contador is well covered by the remaining six riders, so we allowed him to give it a shot and try to win the stage”, says Patxi Vila before adding:

“He tried it both days and today he commented he thought he probably made an error in choosing the moment to attack. However, he's a young rider and still lacks that kind of experience. He doesn't find himself often in situations, where he has a serious chance to win a stage, so he doesn't have the instincts. It's good though to give a young rider like him the chance to win a stage”.

Route du Sud heads into the high mountains on tomorrow’s stage to Bagneres-de-Luchon with Port de Balès as the main challenge. Vila notes that team captain Alberto Contador looks forward to the stage.

“Alberto feels in good shape after the first two days of racing and is getting back to race mode. He looks forward to Saturday's queen stage. After the initial transition stages he wants to race in what is his terrain. As I said before, one of the main goals we have in this race is tomorrow's stage, which will possibly define the GC. With Alberto having a good shape and high morale we will try to go for it. We will see how we feel tomorrow and after assessing our rivals we will set the final strategy”, concludes Patxi Vila.

Here's Cult Energy's Route du Sud report:

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen was on a roll during today’s 141 kilometer long second stage of Route du Sud from Auch to St. Gaudens where the 19-year-old Dane broke clear from the morning break targeting the finish line. But again today, the stage was wrapped up in a hectic bunch sprint where Michael Carbel dropped to 4th overall by finishing 10th.

The young Dane, Mads Pedersen was inhaled with 13 kilometers to go where he was swept up by a chase group and at the time, the gap to the field was only 56 seconds. In the pack, Europcar and Colombia took charge of the chasing while Cult Energy were lurking behind the double locomotive preparing for the eventual bunch sprint. Entering the final kilometers, Christopher Juul-Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) initiated a final attempt to outfox the bunch but it was all in vain.

Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen

On the very final meters, the bunch stampeded past the front group and in the sprint, Cult Energy’s Michael Carbel took 10th place while Bryan Coquard (Europcar) won the stage and took the overall lead.

DS, Luke Roberts had this comment after the stage: "Because of the short distance today we wanted to put a rider in the breakaway and Mads jumped head first into the very first break that went away. However, the peloton never allowed a gap bigger than 3 minutes so with 30 kilometers to go, Mads tried to go on his own but he was caught by the chasers and swept up by the pack close to the finish line as Europcar shut them down. In the meantime, we put Carbel in a favorable position and by finishing 10th, he retained his overall third position. Tomorrow, it's going to be a different kind of riders in focus. The high mountain stage will probably be an avid test area for the likes of Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador but I hope to be able to put a rider in the morning break. From the peak of the final climb, there'll be 20 kilometers of descending towards the finish line so you'll have to be really strong to make it if you solo your way on the final mountain," said Roberts.

After the stage, Mads Pedersen was on the podium to recieve the honors of being the most aggressive rider today.

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