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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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Upcoming Racing

July 3rd sees the start of the Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy).

On July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin.

Dutch Government wants to stop police protest during Tour

AMSTERDAM, June 29 (Reuters) - The Dutch government on Monday sought a court injunction to prevent police officers from blocking the route of the Tour de France to draw attention to a wage dispute.

The race starts in the Dutch university town of Utrecht on Saturday and will conclude in Paris after 21 days and 3,360 kilometres (2088 miles).

Last week the trade union for Dutch police officers said a convoy of police vehicles would block the 800 metre-long Erasmus Bridge across the Maas River in Rotterdam [that should be stage 2, Utrecht -  Zélande].

"We are going to a judge to try to stop the plan," said Dutch Justice Ministry spokesman Jean Fransman. "It's not only about safety, but also about misuse of authority."

Patrol officers have been targeting high-profile sporting events in their dispute over pay and conditions as they seek to negotiate a better collective labour agreement with the government.

Last month, a first division soccer match was cancelled after police said they could not guarantee its security.

Stage 2 map

Tour de France Stage 2 map

Lots of Britons, few Americans in 2015 Tour

A combination of circumstances including accidents and (mostly) team choices has reduced the American contingent at this year's Tour to just three, Tyler Farrar, Tejay van Gardeen and Andrew Talansky.

While American participation is at the lowest level in decades, the Britons are tying a record for the size of their contingent. BBC had this to say about the British invasion:

Chris Froome will be one of 10 Britons in this year's Tour de France, which begins on Saturday. The 2013 winner will be joined on the Team Sky roster by Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and newly crowned British champion Peter Kennaugh.

Alex Dowsett will ride for Movistar while Mark Cavendish has been named in the Etixx - Quick-Step team. Twins Adam and Simon Yates are in Orica GreenEdge's squad, with Steve Cummings riding for MTN-Qhubeka.

It equals the record for the biggest British contingent in the Tour, set in 1955, and is a big increase on the four Britons who started the 2014 race in Yorkshire.
"Last year's disappointment is this year's motivation for Team Sky," said Froome, 30. "From the moment I crashed out in 2014 I've had the burning desire to get back to this year's Tour in the best possible shape."

Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said Froome was "hitting form at just the right time. He's in good shape, he's healthy, he's relaxed, he's strong mentally as well," said Brailsford. "So I think we are happy. I don't think we could be in a better position as we are now."

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will be bringing his excellent condition to the Tour.

The Team Sky line-up is completed by Australian Richie Porte, Ireland's Nicolas Roche, Dutch rider Wout Poels and Leopold Konig of the Czech Republic.

Saturday's opening stage will see the riders take part in an individual time trial around the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Since we're on that topic, Here's Sky's TDF squad

Team Sky sent this memo:

Team Sky has selected its squad for the 102nd edition of the Tour de France, which starts in Utrecht on Saturday 4 July and concludes on Sunday 26 July in Paris. Team Sky’s leader Chris Froome is one of five British riders in the nine-man team, which also includes: Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, Nicolas Roche, Leopold König and Wout Poels.

Team Sky’s race leader Chris Froome said: "Last year’s disappointment is this year’s motivation for Team Sky. From the moment I crashed out in 2014 I’ve had the burning desire to get back to this year’s Tour in the best possible shape.

"I’m ready and I’m fortunate to have a strong team around me selected to meet the many different challenges of this year’s race – from the cobbles to the climbs. There’s a great spirit in the group and we’re ready to give our best for every kilometre of every day over the three weeks of the Tour.

"We’re counting down the days. We can’t wait to get started and we are up for the challenge ahead."

Speaking about the Tour de France line-up Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: "The Tour is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in years and we’ve chosen a team of talented riders for the race. 

"We've studied this year’s route carefully and have selected the riders who we believe will best deliver our race strategy. Inevitably it is always a difficult decision. We're all looking forward to a great race and we have a strong team – led by Chris Froome – that’s hungry for success. I’m confident that Team Sky will be competitive but of course we can take nothing for granted. One thing we can say for certain is that it’s going to be a great contest and a great three weeks of racing for the fans. That is fantastic for the sport of cycling."

The Team Sky squad for the 2015 Tour de France:

Chris Froome – age 30 – Great Britain: The 2013 race winner will lead Team Sky’s challenge over the three weeks as he bids to recapture his Tour crown. After putting a crash in last year's event behind him, Froome will look to continue his momentum following an impressive recent win at the Criterium du Dauphine. A gifted climber and powerful time trialist, he has all the skills to win the world's biggest bike race. 

Richie Porte – age 30 – Australia: One of the finest and most feared climbers in the peloton, the Tasmanian began the year in scintillating form, winning Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino back to back. Disappointment followed in May at the Giro d’Italia, as he was forced to withdraw from the race due to injury. Now back to full fitness Porte will be raring to go heading into his fifth Tour de France.

Richie porte

Richie Porte will be part of a formidable Sky contingent.

Geraint Thomas – age 29 – Great Britain: Following the best start to a season of his career to date, Thomas lines up for his sixth Tour de France full of confidence. Whether claiming wins in tough Belgian one-day classics like E3 Harelbeke or climbing at the sharp end of mountainous stage races, 'G' can do it all. With overall victory at the Volta ao Algarve and second place at the Tour de Suisse his all-round credentials are unquestioned.

Peter Kennaugh – age 26 – Great Britain: Hailing from the Isle of Man, Kennaugh lines up for his second Tour de France appearance off the back of another strong season. After 12 eye-catching months in the British national champion’s jersey, which he successfully defended in Lincoln yesterday, Peter has various other victories on his palmares, and earned himself a stint in the leader's jersey at this year's Criterium du Dauphine.

Ian Stannard – age 28 – Great Britain: Few riders possess the combination of horsepower and heart that characterise Ian Stannard. The Brit is a huge asset on the flat but is comfortable setting a fierce pace on the climbs. With a second victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad already in his pocket this season, Stannard will be hoping to repeat his Tour outing from 2013 where he helped Froome to victory.

Luke Rowe – age 25 – Great Britain: After coming through the ranks as part of British Cycling’s Academy the talented Welshman has spent all of his four pro seasons with Team Sky. In that time he has developed into one of the finest and most respected young riders in the sport, and is rewarded with his Tour debut. This year Rowe has taken a top 10 at Paris-Roubaix and contributed to wins at both Paris-Nice and the Dauphine.

Nicolas Roche – age 30 – Ireland: Strong, accomplished and experienced at the highest level, Roche has been part of a number of high-profile victories since joining Team Sky this season. Comfortable setting tempo on the climbs, the Irishman finished fifth in his own right at the Vuelta a Espana in 2013. Roche has 13 Grand Tours starts to his name and has completed each one, including the last six editions of the Tour de France.

Leopold König – age 27 – Czech Republic: The Czech climbing star rode to a superb seventh place overall in the 2014 edition of the Tour as he made his debut in the event. He improved on that Grand Tour milestone in Team Sky colours this year with sixth place at the Giro d’Italia. Now rested ahead of the race start, König will significantly add to the team’s firepower in the mountains.

Wout Poels – age 27 – Holland: The Dutchman has impressed greatly since joining the team at the start of 2015. Elite climbing prowess makes him invaluable in the high mountains, yet Poels has also shown he is capable of winning in his own right after a classy stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. After returning from shoulder surgery Poels was a key part of the team's Dauphine success.

Europcar squad for Tour de France

Racers: Bryan COQUARD, Cyril GAUTIER, Yohann GENE, Brian NAULEAU, Perrig QUEMENEUR, Pierre ROLLAND, Romain SICARD, Angelo TULIK, Thomas VOECKLER

Manager: Jean-Rene BERNAUDEAU

Assistants: Alexandre BOUSSEAU, Mathieu CLAUDE, Valentin GAUDIN, Thierry HUMEAU, Rony MARTIAS,  Dietrich PLUMERAT

Cuisiniers: Luc BOUSSEAU, Patrick LAINE, Christophe PAJAUD

Mecaniciens: Vincent BRICHETEAU, Steven LAGET, Mickael PICHON, Nicolas SOURICE

Medecin: Hubert LONG

Osteo: Claude LEGALL (du 03 au 12/07), Thierry POUGET (du 13 au 26/07)

Marketing - RP: Corinne PASQUIER

Thomas Voeckler

Thomas Voeckler will be at the start line for the 2015 Tour

Cannondale-Garmin for the 2015 Tour

The team sent this update:

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced its 2015 Tour de France Roster. The team features U.S. National Time Trial Champion, Andrew Talansky (10th overall in the 2013 Tour de France); Dan Martin (2014 Lombardia Champion and 2013 Tour de France Stage Winner) and Ryder Hesjedal (2012 Giro d’Italia Champion).  The three powerhouses will work together as co-leaders of the argyle squad and will be supported by a strong team including Tour veterans Jack Bauer, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, road captain; and Ramunas Navardauskas, 2014 Tour de France Stage winner. Dylan Van Baarle and Nathan Hass will both be riding their inaugural Tour de France.

Ryder Hesjedal

Ryder Hesjedal leads Alberto Contador across the finish line in stage 18 of the 2015 Giro. Hesjedal will start the 2015 Tour de France.

"We are going into the Tour de France with three leaders, all who have very different riding styles, and those styles compliment each other. Andrew, Dan and Ryder have shown they work well together, and that will translate to the roads of the Tour," said Charly Wegelius, Director Sportif. "Supporting them is a strong bunch. Ramunas showed his strength with a stage win last year, and Jack Bauer will be looking for redemption after coming so close to a win in 2014. Sebastian is our road captain and his leadership and experience will be invaluable in the wind in Holland, over the Cobbles and thought the entire race. Kristijan is skilled at moving around the peloton and helping riders maintain and keep their position. Dylan and Nathan will be riding their first Tour de France and will support and learn from the more senior riders on the team. Each rider is capable of stage wins, and working together we expect them to make the race exciting."

 “We have a very talented group of riders and by bringing three top guys: Andrew, Dan and Ryder, we’re going to make things very interesting. These three, and the team as whole, will work seamlessly and selflessly together to shake things up and create opportunities,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling. “You’ll see a lot of creativity from us at this Tour.”

Tinkoff-Saxo announces Tour riders

This came today from the team:

Tinkoff-Saxo has selected the nine riders that will represent the Russian team at the biggest race of the season. Team captain Alberto Contador leads a star-studded squad of proven riders in an attempt to win the Tour de France 2015 and complete the daunting Giro-Tour double.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s selection for Tour de France 2015 consists of Alberto Contador, Peter Sagan, Rafal Majka, Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso, Daniele Bennati, Michael Valgren and Matteo Tosatto.

Elaborating on the composition of the squad, Steven de Jongh, Head Sports Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, tells that the team will field a strong squad capable of supporting Alberto Contador in the difficult attempt to fight for the overall win.

“It’s pretty obvious that our chief goal is to win the Tour with Alberto. We have our full attention on pulling on the yellow jersey in Paris and we are well aware of the fact that it will be a formidable challenge against many strong rivals. Additionally we will support Peter Sagan to win stages, whenever it’s possible and that depends on the situation on each stage”, says Steven de Jongh and adds:

“Looking at the list of riders that will represent our team, I reckon that we will field a very strong squad and most importantly versatile, as the Tour will present us all with an array of different challenges. Alberto is our captain and Rafal Majka will be his key support in the high mountains, while Kreuziger, Rogers and Basso will offer experience and strong backing in the medium mountains. Then we have a lot of horsepower in Bennati, Tosatto and Valgren for the flatter stages and they will also be able to help Peter in the search for stage wins”.

Rafal Majka, last year’s winner of the polka dotted jersey, is expected to play a key role in supporting the team ambitions.

“Here, just before Tour de France I feel very good. I`m now well rested after the Tour de Suisse and ready to begin. The Grand Boucle is the most important race for Tinkoff-Saxo in the entire season and my main goal will be to help Alberto Contador in achieving the overall win. I believe we can do it and Alberto can win two Grand Tours in one year", says Rafal Majka.

Peter Sagan, green jersey winner of the last three editions, equally declares himself ready for the Tour after a great build-up that culminated with yet another national championship title.

"The Slovak Champion title makes me happy and confirms that I am in great form. I am ready for the Tour, where we have a very strong squad. I will contribute to the effort with the highest commitment and I really look forward to Saturday's start."

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador wants to add the 2015 Tour to his win list, which includes the 2015 Giro.

Despite fielding seven-time grand tour winner Alberto Contador, Steven de Jongh notes that Tinkoff-Saxo will not be favorites to take the win.

“After Alberto conquered the Giro, he spent time in Livigno resting and training, he showed good signs at Route du Sud followed by some days of concentrated training and then a short period of rest before the start in Utrecht. We know how much class Alberto has, but we don’t enter the Tour as the main favorites. His form will, despite a very meticulous effort, be a question mark compared to the form of Froome, Nibali and Quintana”, comments de Jongh, who remains assured that not only the mountains will prove decisive:

“We’ve been studying the parcours closely and there are many stages, where you can’t win the Tour but you can lose it. The flat stages of the first week with possible crosswinds, steep finishes such as Mur du Huy and cobbles will make for a tough start to the race. So we took the decision to bring one more guy for the flat stages in exchange for a climber. In the end, what matters the most is that we send a committed squad that comes fully prepared to support Alberto”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

Team Captain Alberto Contador will comment in detail on his expectations and challenges later this week.

And here's the Lampre-Merida Tour lineup

The Italian team sent this news to me:

The technical staff of Team Lampre-Merida selected 9 cyclists who’ll participate in the 2015 edition of the Tour de France (4-26 July).

These are the names of the 9 riders who’ll be at the start from Utrecht:

Jose Serpa

The old pro José Serpa will be on the start line in the Netherlands for another Tour. Glad to see him still turning the pedals at this level.

Cyclists from Team Lampre-Merida will represent 5 different Nations (Colombia, Croatia, Italy, Portugal and Spain) and 2 Continents (Europe and South America).
Their average age is 30.

The team will be directed by Philippe Mauduit and Simone Pedrazzini, who’ll receive assistance from Marco Marzano.

In the operative staff there will be the doctors Luca Pollastri and Matteo Beltemacchi, the masseurs Capelli, Del Gallo, Lima, Napolitano and Redaelli, the mechanics Baron, Bortoluzzo, Coelho and Romanò and the driver Bozzolo.
The press office will be represented by Andrea Appiani

Giro Rosa news:

The Tour de France isn't the only big race coming. There is also the Giro Rosa, or the Giro Ciclistico d'Italia Femminile (Women's Tour of Italy, previously called the Giro Donne). It will start July 3 and end July 12.

This is from Velocio-SRAM

Matera, Italy - 29 June, 2015 - Velocio-SRAM are ready to race in the 26th edition of the Giro Rosa, the longest women's stage race on the calendar. The ten-day stage race from 3-12 July starts with a prologue and opening road stage in Slovenia, before moving to the roads of northern Italy for what is set to be a great race. With flat stages, hilly stages, a penultimate individual time trial stage, and a mountain summit finish as the final stage, the 2015 Giro Rosa will have action aplenty right down to the last minute.

Alena Amialisuik, winner of the gold medal at the European Games in Baku, and who recently successfully defended her Belarus national titles in the road race and the time trial, says she is looking forward to the Giro Rosa. "Our team is racing strong at the moment, with winning the Aviva Women's Tour of Britain and now so many great rides at the national championships. I think we have a lot of cards to play for the Giro Rosa and it will be an exciting stage race. I have seen the stages and it looks very open this year. With the individual time trial being so late in the race, it also has the opportunity to change the overall classification a lot. I think we can expect a very exciting race!"

Amialisuik will be joined by newly crowned German time trial champion Mieke Kröger, new Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel, along with Italian sprinter Barbara Guarischi, Frenchwoman Elise Delzenne, American Tayler Wiles, and two Australian riders in Tiffany Cromwell and Loren Rowney for a strong international squad representing Velocio-SRAM.

Alenas Amialiusik

Alena Amialisuik will be on the start line of this year's Giro Rosa

Here's Orica-AIS's news about the Women's Giro:

Orica-AIS has named the eight riders to line up for the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, the only women’s Grand Tour of the season, starting on Friday. The Australian outfit will field a team that features four ‘Giro Rosa’ debutants as they attempt to continue the form that has delivered them six victories in the past month.

“The first goal is to gain experience in a stage race such as the Giro,” sport director Gene Bates said. “For the women, it’s the biggest race of the year and there is a lot of hype with that. It’s a great race and this year it’s all in the north of Italy so we are really excited that we will be racing pretty much in our back yard.”

In her second Giro Rosa, 2015 Oceania time trial champion Katrin Garfoot will be supported to ride for a strong overall result.  The 33-year-old rode to three podium places at the recent Euskal Emakumeen Bira and Bates is confident she can continue her front at the top end of the peloton.

“We will go in with Kat trying to get a good classification result,” Bates explains. “She has been climbing really well and in Bira she really came to the front of the racing which was great to see. With her known time trialing ability, it puts her in a good place to go for the overall. We won’t put any expectations on it but we are looking forward to seeing what she can do in that area.”

Meanwhile, the remainder of the team will have some freedom to go for stage victories. Bates is confident that the ten-day Tour offers various opportunities for the Orica-AIS line up, particularly recent Giro del Trentino winner Amanda Spratt and 2015 Santos Women’s Tour champion Valentina Scandolara.

“For the rest of the girls, it really is about chasing stage opportunities,” Bates said. “Especially with Spratty and Valentina, we have really good opportunities to be aggressive, get into some breakaways and try and make the most of it. We have done some recon-ing of the Tour. There is going to be some surprises during the week so it always pays to do your homework.

“We have earmarked a couple of stages that we will focus on more so than others and try to catch some of the other teams out.”

With three and five previous Giro Rosa starts respectively, Spratt and Scandolara will provide the experienced heads in a relatively inexperienced outfit.

“Spratty has really stepped up in the leadership area in the last few races and she was really excellent at that in Trentino and managed to finish off the job as well,” Bates said.  “Well look to her to provide leadership to the group and to Valentina to keep the team motivated and alive out on the road, which she is really good at doing.”

Of the remaining five riders, all Australian, Rachel Neylan is the only other with previous experience having rode the Italian Grand Tour back in 2011.  The remaining four riders – Chloe McConville, Sarah Roy, Macey Stewart and Lizzie Williams – all in their first year with Orica-AIS, will debut.

“It’s a bit of an unknown for some of these girls but we will take it day by day,” Bates said. “I am sure they will have good days and bad days but we are just looking to have a really good positive experience with the race and try and come away with as much learning as possible for the group.”

Katrin Garfoot

Katrin Garfoot will be making her second appearance at the Giro Rosa

Oroca-AIS at the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (3-12 July):

Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile stats – Orica-AIS

Liv-Plantur Giro Rosa news:

Next on the program for Team Liv-Plantur is the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, starting this Friday with a 2 km prologue in the city of Ljubljana (SLO). The Italian race features nine stages on a mix of flat roads and rolling roads but also includes mountain stages, with distances ranging from 92.7km to 128.4km and one individual time trial of 21.7km.

It will be Team Liv-Plantur’s second participation in this race and the team can look back at a 6th place in the GC last year with Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), who won the Italian 'Grand Tour' for women in 2009. With her second place at the German Road Race Championships, Lichtenberg has shown she has come into good form on time and will be aiming for a good result once again. Alongside the German, the climbers Sabrina Stultiens (NED) and Molly Weaver (GBR) will be looking for their opportunities in the mountain stages.

With a second place at the British Time Trial Nationals and a fourth at the Road Race, Weaver seems to be on form at the moment. The same goes for Swede Sara Mustonen-Lichan, who took two silver medals at her country’s championships.  With Floortje Mackaij (NED), Team Liv-Plantur has options to go for a stage victory. The roster is completed by reliable support riders Willeke Knol (NED), Julia Soek (NED) and Kyara Stijns (NED).

“With Lichtenberg and Stultiens we have two women who belong to the best climbers in the peloton. However, Stultiens is recovering from sickness and Lichtenberg is just returned from a long period of injury absence, but her second place at the German Nationals do give confidence. But we will have to await to extend they are ready to compete for a nice GC result,” said coach Hans Timmermans (NED).

"With Mackaij, Stijns and Weaver we have three debutants. For them it will be their first experience in the Giro Rosa, which will become a nice adventure for their development at their age. For Mustonen-Lichan we must find a balance between her supporting role and going for her chance in the sprints. We will reconsider this day-by-day.”

RACE: Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (2.1)

DATE: 03-12/07/2015

COACH Hans Timmermans (NED)

LINE-UP : Willeke Knol (NED), Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), Julia Soek (NED), Kara Stijns (NED), Sabrina Stultiens (NED), Molly Weaver (GBR)

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