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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, March 15, 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 final stages of Tour de Langkawi, Paris-Nice, and Tirreno Adriatico stage 5. There is a Dutch single-day race as well, the Dwars door Drenthe.

My Apologies

Sometime things get away from me. I have links to archived races and historical results done two ways. First BikeRaceInfo has a set of listings by race type and race. I also keep yearly calenders with links so you can look for races during a particular year and period of time during that year. I forgot to keep this second set of links updated for the last month. I've got it caught up now and this aging brain will do its best to keep it up to date in the future.

Race News from the Teams:

First, Le Tour de Langkawi

This Came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Jesper Hansen moves into 7th place overall after finishing with the front group of ten riders on top of Fraser’s Hill in Tour de Langkawi. The last climb to Fraser’s Hill acted as a stand in for Genting Highlands and featured a shorter and more gradual climb. But it was enough to create a selection, which settled the general classification before tomorrow’s final, flat stage.

About the GC battle on the final climb, Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Tristan Hoffman noted: “After catching the breakaway that consisted of four riders, we went into this fall's flat section with around 25km to go, where many riders were dropped from the front group. On the last climb especially within the 5km marker, the real GC battle between the favorites started and Jesper Hansen finished together with the front group. The group went full gas but the final climb wasn’t steep or long enough to create differences between the best climbers. Edward Beltran was also up there but couldn’t quite hang on in the last part and he finished 44 seconds behind”, says Tristan Hoffman.

Stage 7 ran 181 km from Shal Alam to Fraser’s Hill and presented the riders with the final chance to settle the general classification. On top of the final climb it was MTN-Qhubeka’s Youcef Reguigui who won the sprint in the decimated group of favorites, while Tinkoff-Saxo’s Jesper Hansen finished 9th.

Youcef Reguigui wins stage 7

Youcef Reguigui wins Tour de Langkawi stage 7

The result effectively closes the general classification, as tomorrow’s final 96km stage to Kuala Lumpur will be another chance for the sprinters to fight for the stage win.

“The GC is highly unlikely to change tomorrow. Hansen followed the group today and made a good performance. We are in the top-ten now with 6 seconds up to second place, but it’s unlikely that there’ll be any time gaps tomorrow”, concludes Tristan Hoffman.

Here's News from Paris-Nice

This Happy Note Came from Lotto-Soudal:

What a day for Lotto Soudal in Paris-Nice. Tony Gallopin won the sixth stage, with finish in Nice, and is the new GC leader. Thomas De Gendt secured the polka dot jersey and Tim Wellens was part of a long breakaway.

Immediately after the official start fourteen riders took off. For the third day in a row Thomas De Gendt was one of the escapees. Lots of attacks followed and fifteen riders bridged to the front, among them André Greipel and Tim Wellens. That’s how a front group of 29 was formed. The goal of De Gendt was to secure his polka dot jersey. The Belgian arrived first at the top of the first two climbs: mission accomplished.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin enjoys his Paris-Nice stage win and GC leadership

After the Col Saint-Roch (1st category) the front group had been reduced considerably. Tim Wellens was still one of the leaders. In the descent about six riders rode away from the peloton, a move initiated by the team of yellow jersey Kwiatkowski. Tony Gallopin joined this group. They bridged to the leaders. On the Côte de Peille (1st category), the last climb of the day, Gallopin attacked and could stay away. The last 26 kilometres, from the top of the climb on, he held on to his advantage. At the finish he even had a sufficient lead to take over the yellow jersey. On the eve of the climb time trial of 9.5 kilometres Gallopin has 36 seconds lead on Richie Porte and 37 seconds on Michal Kwiatkowski. Tim Wellens had a puncture in the final, but still finished as seventh. In GC he moves up from the eighteenth to the tenth place, at two minutes of his teammate.

Tony Gallopin: “I’m really happy with this stage win. It’s an incredible victory, I didn’t expect this scenario. Before the start I thought we would go to the finish line with a group of about fifteen riders and sprint for the win. The weather conditions made the race harder than expected and then there was the big break with Tim. That made the peloton nervous. It rained and it was very cold, but that didn’t bother me. In the descent of the Col Saint-Roch I followed Kwiatkowski and his teammates and we bridged to the leaders.”

“Paris-Nice is my first goal this season and it’s marvellous that I win a stage here. It has been a successful stage race so far for the whole team with two stage wins, the polka dot jersey and me in the running for the overall victory. The legs felt great today. With five kilometres to go I realized that I was close to the stage win. I gave all I got till the end to have as much lead in the GC as possible. The people in the team car motivated me. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. It will be difficult against those specialists, but I’ll do my best that’s for sure.”

Tirreno-Adriatico News

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger finished in the first chasing group on stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico. Contador crashed with 50km to go, but didn’t lose time to his GC rivals except Wout Poels, who won the stage with 14 seconds. Peter Sagan showed great signs as he nearly made the cut on the final climb.

Following the stage finish, team manager Bjarne Riis comments that he was satisfied with the team performance and the fact that Peter Sagan showed good signs on the final climb.

"It was a pretty demanding and tough stage and a hard climb in the finale. Alberto was hit a little bit from the crash he had and felt he wasn't there to attack. I think we did okay today and Peter was almost there in the end. I consider this to be very positive and I feel he has made good progression. It was a difficult stage for a rider like him. He almost managed to stay there in the climbs and this is a good sign for the upcoming Classics”, said Bjarne Riis.

Peter Sagan, who finished 26th, 23 seconds down on the chasing group, recognized that the final 4km climb of around 10% was a bit too much in the end.

“It was quite a tough and hard stage. We wanted the squad to work for Alberto and me, but at the end the climb turned out to be a bit too tough and I dropped back, crossing the finish line about 30 seconds behind the leaders. I didn't have the force to stay with the group."

With about 50km to the finish line, Alberto Contador suffered a crash on the descent of the intermediate mountain pass of the stage, losing control of his rear wheel due to a stream of water on the asphalt.

“Yes, it was unfortunate. I was braking a little and I lost the wheel on the water. Luckily it is nothing, only a superficial wound on the right hip and knee. I hope to recover quickly from this tomorrow and do well on the Terminillo stage, which suits me much better than the climb we had today”, comments Alberto Contador before adding about the stage result: “The seconds that Poels gained are always very important in a race like Tirreno-Adriatico, but it all depends on what happens on tomorrow's stage. I think some of my rivals such as Nibali lost some seconds, but the final result will depend on what happens in both the Terminillo stage and in the final time trial. We'll see tomorrow how I feel”.

Stage 4 from Indicatore to Castelraimondo featured 226 kilometers. After the first flat part of the stage, things got hectic as the riders went into more undulating terrain. Chris Juul-Jensen tells that it was around this time that Alberto crashed.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador climbs in stage 4 before he crashed.

"When Alberto had the small crash approximately 50km from the finish some of us waited and brought him back, but it was during a quite hectic part of the stage, just after the categorized long climb. We then all did our part to make sure that Peter, Alberto, Ivan and Roman were well-placed at the bottom of the first two climbs of the lap”, explains Juul-Jensen.

In the end, it was Team Sky’s Wouter Poels, who countered an attack on the last part of the final climb. And after a fast descent towards the finish in Castelraimondo, he crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of the decimated first chasing group of 17 riders. Roman Kreuziger was the first from Tinkoff-Saxo to cross the line, as he came in sixth on the stage.

Tomorrow will bring out the climbers, as the road kicks up on the final and decisive climb to Terminillo.

This came from Lampre-Merida:

The good shape moment of Niemiec goes on, so the Polish rider could realize a good performance in the 4th stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Indicatore-Castelraimondo (226 km), crossing the finish line in the group of the top riders of the Two Seas Race that was chasing the stage winner Poels.

The key moment of the race was the second passage on the climb of Crispiero, short (4 km) but selective climb: Niemiec (photo Bettini) did not get perturbed by the series of the attacks of Caruso, Pozzovivo and Poels, pedaling with the pace of the rest of the best climbers.

Tirreno-Adriatico

Przemyslaw Niemiec leads a fast group in the 4th stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

Poels could make the winning attack that allowed him to reach the arrival with 14" on the first chase group (the one with Niemiec) of 17 riders: Niemiec was 13th. For Lampre-Merida, Serpa was 42nd at 1'21" after having given the necessary support to Niemiec.

Big jump in the overall classification for Niemiec, who was 53rd and now he's 19th at 42" to the new leader Poels.

"Niemiec is pedaling well thanks a good shape and, thanks to the help by Serpa, today he could be with the top climbers - sport director Maini explained - We all hope he'll be able to exploit this situation today too, on the Terminillo summit arrival of tomorrow stage. It will be an important test in which the climbers will battle for the victory, considering also that there will be a final time trial that could redefine the overall classification".

And I Musn't Forget the Ronde van Drenthe

This from Lotto-Jumbo:

Bert-Jan Lindeman finished second in De Ronde van Drenthe. In his home region, the strong Dutchman formed a five-man lead group and rode free, but lost against Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen) in the sprint.

The one-day race in the northeast of The Netherlands crossed a couple of cobblestone sections. Lindeman knew the roads well. He rode them during some of his training this week and arrived well-prepared for the race. On the last climb of the VAM-berg, the pack fell into pieces and only five riders survived with a chance to win.

“I set the pace on the VAM-berg,” Lindeman said. “That ensured that we had a chance to ride free. I felt good today and I’m glad that I pulled off a good result. It’s a pity that I finished second, but you know when you’re in a leading group with five riders, things aren’t always predictable. I made a choice to focus on the final sprint. I thought that would be my best chance to grab the victory.”

Ronde van Drenthe podium

The podium, from left: Bert-Jan Lindeman, Edward Theuns and Joey van Rhee

Sports Director Frans Maassen was satisfied with the performance of his team, who helped Lindeman to his result. Brian Bulgac gave him his wheel in the last cobblestone section and Lindeman finished it off by reading the race perfectly.

“You always prefer to win, of course, but we didn’t finish second that often this season, so far,” Maassen said. “The fact that someone else is faster in the final sprint isn’t a shame. I’m satisfied with the way we performed today. “I can say that it was a good race with a little bit of disappointment in the end,” Lindeman added. “My tactic didn’t pay off, unfortunately. Theuns was just faster than me.” 

Lindeman gets another chance to grab a victory tomorrow, when he will start the Dwars door Drenthe. “That is going to be a very beautiful race too,” he said. “We don’t have a decider like the VAM-berg, but the profile really is interesting. I hope that I will feel as great as I did today so I can be in the final again.”

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