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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, March 13, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We've got three ongoing stage races running today: the Tour de Langkawi stage 4 and Paris-Nice stage 5, as well as Tirreno Adriatico stage 3.

Italian Bike Show Organizers at War

Back in the '70s and '80s when I was a bicycle importer and distributor, there was one Italian bike show, held in Milan every other year. It alternated years with the Cologne show. That agreement ended somewhere in the dust bin of history. Then for a while Italy had just one yearly bike show.

Now, there are two, CosmoBike in Verona and ExpoBici in Padua.

CosmoBike is run by the former boss of the PadovaFiere, the site of ExpoBici, Ferrucio Macula. Macula and two of his employees are being investigated for  "Unauthorized access to computer systems of PadovaFiere and the disclosure of professional secrecy."

www.bike-eu.com says: "PadovaFiere SpA CEO Daniele Villa announced at a press conference last Friday, that the District Attorney authorized the disclosure of private e-mail correspondence between Paolo Coin and Diego Valsecchi, Commercial Manager of Veronafiere. Daniele Villa stated, 'These e-mails prove that Paolo Coin masterminded the launch of a competing event in Verona while he was still legally bounded to PadovaFiere as Managing Director.' Villa declared that in one of these e-mails, 'Valsecchi speaks about moving the exhibition product to Verona,' and stated that 'PadovaFiere awaits the answer from Veronafiere President Ettore Riello.' Villa invited Veronafiere to cancel the CosmoBike show and to take a stand against the three 'collaborators'."

CosmoBike looks to have taken nearly all of ExpoBici's exhibitors to Verona. Pinarello, De Rosa, Santini and Trek have stuck so far with the Padua site.

The VeronaFiera organizers flatly reject the charges, basically saying the they have competed fairly in a free market. Both shows are still scheduled to run, Expobici September 19 -21 and CosmoBike September 11-14.

Gustave Larsson World Hour Record Attempt

Cult Energy sent this note about their rider's record ambitions:

This Saturday March 14th, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Gustav Larsson will be targeting his personal dream of beating the hour record. To do so, he has to ride more than 52.491 kilometers in 60 minutes. The venue is Manchester Veldrome, which 250 meter long track formed the scene for Chris Boardman in 2000 conquering the hour record from Eddy Merckx. The Belgian icon set the long-lasting record in 1972 riding 49.931 kilometers on a traditional bike without disc wheels in the high altitudes of Mexico City.

Gustav Larsson

Gustav Larsson in the 2013 Tour of the Mediterranean

Gustav Larsson says: “This is a personal dream of mine. Whether or not I succeed, depends on how I feel Saturday. You have to be ready physically as well as mentally without losing focus at any time. It’s not going to be easy in any way. This week I have spent a couple of days on the track with Luke Roberts who has worked tirelessly testing me, supporting me and helping me with my position on the Ridley bike with CeramicSpeed bearings and InfoCrank crankset. The material will definitely take you some of the way but it’s the legs and focus that count in the end of the day,” concludes Larsson who was out half of the 2014 season due to a crash prior to the Swedish national championships breaking several of his thoracic vertebrae.

The current hour record holder is Rohan Dennis.

Paris-Nice News

Adam Hansen won’t start in the fifth stage of Paris-Nice. The Australian Lotto-Soudal rider was involved in a crash yesterday. He incurred abrasions, a hand injury and a mild concussion. He taking the doctor’s advice to abandon the race as a precaution.

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo suffered a significant setback in the team’s GC ambitions, as Rafal Majka lost time on stage 4 to the climb of Croix de Chaubouret. The team leader had to change bikes two times at the worst time possible, as the speeding peloton raced closer to the final 10km climb. However, sport director Lars Michaelsen notes that the race is not over until it reaches its final destination.

After the finish, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Lars Michaelsen was obviously not pleased with the final outcome of the stage. “It’s unfortunate, and you can say that our goal for the general classification was lost today. The guys fought bravely and Chris Anker Sørensen did a very strong and loyal job in the breakaway in an effort to set up our strategy for the final”, comments Lars Michaelsen.

Rafal Majka

A joyous Rafal Majka at the 2014 Tour of Poland

After realizing on the last climb that he would loss to much time to be competitive in the GC, Rafal Majka decreased the intensity and lost 12 minutes on the stage that was ultimately won by Richie Porte. The result effectively ends his ambitions in the general classification, however Majka notes that Paris-Nice is not finished yet.

“Today was not a good day for me, since I came here for the GC. My puncture happened at a very bad moment. After the second bike change I tried to get back into the front group again but I burnt a lot of energy in trying to do so, and I was also not at my best today. My teammates helped me a lot and we went full gas to close the gap, but the guys in the front group did the same. Now, we’ll take it day by day realizing that not all days are good and focus on our next goals”, stated Rafal Majka.

Lars Michaelsen sheds light on the situation around Rafal Majka’s double bike change. “Rafal had a puncture on one of the descents towards the finishing section up to Croix de Chaubouret. He was then given Paulinho’s bike, which, naturally, didn’t suit him well. When he made contact to the rear-end of the front group he then had to stop again to get his own spare bike, which meant that he lost contact once more”, says Lars Michaelsen and adds: “Rafal fought together with his teammates to close the gaps, but it happened at a very bad moment, when the front group was going at a very high pace. On the final climb, he had burnt too much energy and didn’t have the legs. Today, he was also not at his best, as he wouldn’t have lost time or at least less time”.

Despite the setback, Lars Michaelsen underlines that Paris-Nice is not over before the race reaches the top of Col d’Èze on the finishing time trial.

“The race goes on and there’s only one thing to do and that’s to keep pedaling and to seize the opportunities we get. Rafal came here in good shape, so he’s of course not satisfied, but he’ll soon start to look ahead. We continue to race as a team and to support each other fully”, concludes the Tinkoff-Saxo DS.

Michael Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quickstep) still leads the race with 1 second to Riche Porte (Team Sky). Best placed Tinkoff-Saxo rider is Robert Kiserlovski, who sits 30th in the GC.

Tour de Langkawi News

The March 12 stage 5 of the Tour de Langkawi turned into a day of negative racing with a break of minor players romping away with the race.

Here's the Tinkoff-Saxo take on the day:

Tinkoff-Saxo put great effort into securing a spot in the breakaway group during stage 5 of Tour de Langkawi. But the effort was to no avail, as the more prominent teams looked to each other to make sure that no competing riders made it into the big break of the day, which eventually made it to the finish line 13 minutes ahead of the peloton.

Giving the lowdown on the team’s efforts on stage 5, Tinkoff-Saxo DS Tristan Hoffman says: “Today was really not a good day for us. The guys made a big effort to get into the breakaway, as we sensed that this could be one of those days, where the peloton eases up a bit and the break actually makes it to the finish line, which it did. However, our guys were unable to form a breakaway, as all the big teams - such as Sky, Astana, Orica-GreenEdge and us - were chasing down each other, because no one wanted to allow a well-placed rider to get into the break".

Langkawi stage 5 finish

Joon Yong Seo wins the stage

Instead a big breakaway consisting of riders from smaller teams created a big gap to the peloton, where none of the teams without riders in the break wanted to take up position at the front of the bunch. After 200km of riding, the breakaway reached the finish line in Kuantan, where Joon Yong Seo from Team KSPO managed to secure the win with 13 seconds down to his breakaway companions.

According to Tristan Hoffman, Tinkoff-Saxo will have to try harder on tomorrow’s stage, where the riders face a short and expectedly fast 97km stage.

“I saw that the guys tried hard to make it into the breakaway today and the tactical situation was difficult. But we will just have to try harder, as we really can’t decide how the other teams are going to ride. This is the situation, the guys are in good shape and we’ll continue to search for a great result throughout the race. The biggest opportunities will come on stage 7, but we’ll have to be attentive tomorrow as well”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 2 Notes

Lotto-Belisol has every reason to be happy today about both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico stages:

It was a successful day for Lotto Soudal. Thomas De Gendt was part of a long breakaway in Paris-Nice and will wear the KOM jersey tomorrow. In that fourth stage Tony Gallopin rode strongly on the final climb and finished on the seventh place. Thirty minutes later Jens Debusschere won the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Belgian champion could avoid a crash and took his first victory of the season. He’s the leader in the points classification in the Italian stage race.

The eight climbs in the queen stage of Paris-Nice didn’t scare off Thomas De Gendt. He attacked immediately after the start. Together with Antoine Duchesne and Chris Anker Sørensen he had a maximal lead of over eight minutes. De Gendt took the maximal points on the first seven climbs. The Canadian Duchesne had to let go of the other two with more than fifty kilometres to go. Thirteen kilometres from the end, after 190 kilometres in front, the adventure of De Gendt and Sørensen came to an end as well.

Today’s finish lay on the Croix de Chaubouret, a climb of ten kilometres. It took a while before there was a serious attack. Teammates Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas arrived together at the finish, Porte won. Tony Gallopin finished in the first chase group and was seventh, a nice result. Tim Wellens arrived in a next group as fourteenth. Thanks to his strong performance Gallopin is now sixth in GC. Thomas De Gendt is the new leader in the KOM classification. He has a total amount of 36 points, that’s fifteen more than Philippe Gilbert.

Thomas De Gendt: “I always have a nice time when I am in a breakaway. I can choose my own tempo and the climbs gave distraction in the longest stage of this week. The goal was to take over the polka dot jersey. I succeeded, unfortunately the stage win was not possible. With only three riders the group was too small to make it till the end, especially after Duchesne was dropped with fifty kilometres still to go. Of course I had to continue to pick up KOM points.”

“It should be possible to keep this jersey. The stage on Saturday is the most dangerous one,  there are many points to gain. If I can join a breakaway again then, I can’t lose the jersey anymore.  Tomorrow’s stage starts with a first category climb. If the situation is good, I’ll aim for the points but afterwards I’ll take it easy to save energy for the next day.”

Seven riders escaped already early in the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. It was only when the peloton reached the two local laps of more than twenty kilometres in Cascina the race got exciting. The front group split in two and three riders were left in front. Jelle Vanendert crashed at the beginning of the last lap, but could continue without too many problems.

The sprint teams led their leaders to the final kilometres. Thanks to the perfect timing of a strong Jürgen Roelandts Belgian champion Jens Debusschere was well positioned. In the wheel of Tyler Farrar he could avoid a crash and took his first win of the season. Debusschere is the first leader in the points classification.

Jens Bebusschere

Jens Debusschere wins Tirreno-Adriatico stage 2

Jens Debusschere: “The last kilometres were really hectic. We were racing at a really high speed and, just like the others, I was looking for my teammates. I knew Jürgen Roelandts had to be close to me, but didn’t notice him immediately. It was only with eight hundred metres to go I saw him next to me. He perfectly led me to the front and then I knew a good result was possible. The condition is good, so I thought of a top five place, I didn’t expect to beat the top sprinters in this race. Because of the circumstances it worked out for me and I take my first win of the season.”

“I’m wearing the points jersey now, but it will be difficult to keep it with Peter Sagan in the peloton. Tomorrow he has a big chance of winning. We’ll see if I’m the leader in the team tomorrow or Pim Ligthart or Jürgen Roelandts. In the weekend I’ll try to assist our climbers as good as possible for as long as I can and on Monday there’s another opportunity for a bunch sprint.”

This came from BMC:

Cascina, Italy - BMC Racing Team's Danilo Wyss donned the King of the Mountains jersey Thursday at Tirreno-Adriatico after figuring in an early seven-man breakaway. Wyss earned the green jersey by winning both mountain sprints along the 153-kilometer route.

"The climbs were not so hard," Wyss said. "It was a few hard kilometers at the beginning of the stage - two times on the same climb. It was more of a sprint than a real mountain, I would say. I had to fight with Carlos Quintero (Colombia), but I got it."

Danilo Wyss

Danilo Wyss in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana

The stage ended in a bunch won by Belgian national road champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) while Adriano Malori (Movistar Team) held onto the overall lead he earned by winning Wednesday's Stage 1 individual time trial.

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet and Daniel Oss stayed in the top 10, but each slipped one place - to fourth and seventh, respectively. Wyss said this is the first time he has earned a mountains classification jersey in a professional career which started in 2008. He has been with the BMC Racing Team the entire time.

"It is a WorldTour race, so there is a good level here," Wyss said. "It is nice to have a jersey and go on the podium."

And this note about the Tirreno-Adriatico stage came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo got very close to the overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico, as Peter Sagan placed second in the final burst for the line and at the same time advanced to second overall due to the six bonus seconds gained in the sprint.

After crossing the line in Cascina, Sagan noted that he was happy with the overall performance of the team as well as his improving shape.

"I would like to thank the rest of my teammates because we showed we had a strong squad today. The peloton was nervous so we all stayed at the front for the last 40 kilometers of the stage”, says Peter Sagan, who remains positive ahead of the coming stages:

“Unfortunately, I finished second in the sprint but I feel my form is getting better. I think my stage could come tomorrow. Today, it was very important to stay out of trouble and we had to be very attentive to avoid crashes and injuries. I will go into the third stage standing second overall and we will see what happens”.

Stage 2 featured a 153km parcours from Camariore to Cascina that presented the riders with predominantly flat terrain except two hills early on. A group of seven riders formed today’s breakaway, but it was kept under strict control by Tinkoff-Saxo and Etixx-Quickstep throughout the stage.

In the finale, several crashes made for a hectic finish, where Tinkoff-Saxo managed to stay safe despite a final crash within sight of the finish line that blocked a big part of the field preventing several riders from participating in the sprint. In the end, it was Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), who won the sprint, while Peter Sagan placed second just behind.

The peloton climbs Monte Pitoro

Scene fromTirenno-Adriatico stage 2; the peloton climbs Monte Pitoro


Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Steven de Jongh told after the stage that he was happy with the team performance.

“I think we can be very happy today, as we managed to stay out of trouble and avoid the crashes in the final lap. Unfortunately we missed the stage win but Peter was up to the task today and he feels better every day. That is a positive and encouraging point. The other positive thing is that, as a group, our guys stayed well together and kept Alberto out of trouble”, comments de Jongh.

Peter Sagan took six bonus seconds on the line, which brings him within plain sight of the overall leader’s jersey, as he trails with less than a second up to Adriano Malori (Movistar). Maciej Bodnar sits 6th still two seconds off the lead.

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