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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, March 16, 2015

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

Today's Racing

We're covering one race today: Tirreno Adriatico stage 6, which ends Tuesday, March 17. Next race will be the Nokere Koerse on the 18th and on the 19th will be the "HC"-ranked GP Nobili Rubinetterie. We'll post complete results for them, of course.

Richie Porte Leads UCI WorldTour Rankings

The UCI posted this today:

Richie Porte (Team Sky) moved to the top of the UCI WorldTour rankings after securing overall success at Paris-Nice.

The Australian needed to pull back time on Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) on the last day, and dominated the 9.5km time trial on the Col d’Eze climb above Nice to win the stage and take the yellow jersey. He finished the week-long race 30 seconds ahead of road race World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep), with Simon Spilak (Team Katusha) third overall in the same time.

Porte scored 100 UCI WorldTour points for overall victory and so now leads the individual rankings with a total of 198 points after also performing well in the Tour Down Under in Australia in January. Fellow Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) is second with 114 points, while Kwiatkowski is third with 89 points.

Porte won Paris-Nice in 2013 but had a difficult 2014 season, with illness hampering his racing in the spring and the Tour de France. However he has shown he is back to his best for 2015.

"It’s one of the iconic races and for me I think this one feels a little bit sweeter than the last one,” Porte said of his victory. “It was hard, they threw everything they had at us yesterday and to win on the top of the Col d’Eze like the last time it’s incredible."

Porte won atop the Croix de Chaubouret on stage four but crashed on the rain-soaked sixth stage. However he is a fine time trialist and knows the Col d’Eze climb well.

“Credit to Tony (Gallopin), I was a little bit nervous going into the day,” Porte admitted. “Geraint (Thomas) and I threw time away yesterday – we were in a fantastic position, and for both of us to crash like we did wasn’t ideal. To win though, is a fantastic feeling.”

Thomas finished fifth overall and so helped boost Team Sky’s lead in the team rankings of the UCI WorldTour. The British squad now has a total of 252 points, well ahead of second placed the BMC Racing Team that has 191 points. Lampre-Merida is third overall with 96 points. Australia leads the nations rankings with 403 points.

"It’s good for our team. We had a rollercoaster season last year and I think we’re back now," Porte said of his success.

The seven days of racing at Paris-Nice produced some spectacular action as the riders headed from the winter weather of the French capital to the warmer climate of the Mediterranean coast and Nice. Kwiatkowski won the opening prologue time trial in Maurepas and tried valiantly to defend his lead as Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and then Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) dominated the sprint finishes. Porte showed his intentions in the Massif Central and then young Italian sprinter Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida) showed his talent on stage six but the race remained on a knife-edge. Gallopin gave his all to win in the cold and rain on the hilly seventh stage to Nice but he paid for his effort in the final time trial and slipped to sixth overall.

Porte did not buckle under the expectations and delivered yet another stage victory for Team Sky. For now, they are the team to beat in the 2015 UCI WorldTour.

The UCI WorldTour rankings will next be updated after the conclusion of the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy on Tuesday. The next race on the UCI WorldTour calendar is Milan-Sanremo on Sunday March 22. The one-day Italian race marks the start of the so-called spring Classics on the UCI WorldTour calendar.  

UCI WorldTour Rider Rankings, March 15, 2015:

Rank Rider Team (Code) Points
1 PORTE Richie TEAM SKY (SKY) 198
2 DENNIS Rohan BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 114
3 KWIATKOWSKI Michal ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 89
4 SPILAK Simon TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 78
5 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 76
6 FARIA DA COSTA Rui Alberto LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 64
7 DUMOULIN Tom TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 64
8 THOMAS Geraint TEAM SKY (SKY) 54
9 FERNANDEZ Ruben MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 52
10 GALLOPIN Tony LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 46
11 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 40
12 IMPEY Daryl ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 39
13 FUGLSANG Jakob ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 32
14 IZAGUIRRE Gorka MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 32
15 VALLS FERRI Rafael LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 21
16 PANTANO Jarlinson IAM CYCLING (IAM) 10
17 CIMOLAI Davide LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 10
18 MATTHEWS Michael ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 9
19 KRISTOFF Alexander TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 7
20 HAUSSLER Heinrich IAM CYCLING (IAM) 6
21 GREIPEL André LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 6
22 LOBATO Juan Jose MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 6
23 WELLENS Tim LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 4
24 BENNETT George TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 4
25 DEMARE Arnaud FDJ (FDJ) 4
26 WESTRA Lieuwe ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 4
27 MARTIN Tony ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 3
28 ROJAS Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 3
29 NIZZOLO Giacomo TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 3
30 DEGENKOLB John TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 2
31 DURBRIDGE Luke ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 2
32 VALLEE Boris LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 2
33 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 1
34 BOUET Maxime ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 1
35 BOOM Lars ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 1
36 BONIFAZIO Niccolo LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 1
37 SANCHEZ Luis Leon ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 1
38 DUMOULIN Samuel AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 1
39 ROGERS Michael TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 1
40 BRUTT Pavel TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 1
41 BELKOV Maxim TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 1

Team Rankings:

Rank Team (Code) Points
1 TEAM SKY (SKY) 252
2 BMC RACING TEAM (BMC) 191
3 LAMPRE - MERIDA (LAM) 96
4 ETIXX - QUICK STEP (EQS) 93
5 MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 93
6 TEAM KATUSHA (KAT) 86
7 TEAM GIANT - ALPECIN (TGA) 66
8 LOTTO SOUDAL (LTS) 58
9 ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 50
10 AG2R LA MONDIALE (ALM) 41
11 ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) 38
12 IAM CYCLING (IAM) 16
13 TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO (TLJ) 4
14 FDJ (FDJ) 4
15 TREK FACTORY RACING (TFR) 3
16 TINKOFF - SAXO (TCS) 2

Nation Rankings:

Rank Country Points
1 AUSTRALIA 403
2 SPAIN 114
3 POLAND 89
4 SLOVENIA 78
5 NETHERLANDS 69
6 PORTUGAL 64
7 GREAT BRITAIN 54
8 ITALY 54
9 FRANCE 52
10 SOUTH AFRICA 39
11 DENMARK 32
12 GERMANY 11
13 COLOMBIA 10
14 NORWAY 7
15 BELGIUM 6
16 NEW ZEALAND 4
17 RUSSIA 2
18 UNITED STATES 1

With all the weekend racing my inbox was pretty full with news from the teams.

We'll start with the Tour de Langkawi, which finished Sunday

This from Tinkoff Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo finished off on a positive note in Tour de Langkawi. Michael Kolar took third place in the final sprint, behind stage winner Andrea Guardini and Caleb Ewan, while Jesper Hansen moved up from seventh to sixth due to intermediate bonus seconds.

Following the 8th and final stage of the Malaysian race, Tinkoff-Saxo’s DS Tristan Hoffman noted that the riders had kept the pressure high until the final kilometer of the race.

“I’m happy with Jesper Hansen and the fact that he moved up to sixth. He advanced a single spot due to bonus seconds along the stage but it shows that he’s willing to fight for every single position. It’s a good result for him and also for Michael Kolar, who was third on the stage behind Guardini and Ewan, who have been really strong. Kolar hasn’t really had the results he had hoped for until today, where he proved to himself that he’s on the right track”, says Tristan Hoffman.

Stage 8 to Kuala Lumpur spanned 96,1 km in mainly flat terrain. Bruno Pires was a part of the 4-rider breakaway that formed early on the stage and wasn’t caught until two kilometers to the finish line

Amdrea Guardini wins stage 8

Andrea Guardini won Langkawi stage 8.

“Bruno Pires made a good effort in the break and it nearly made it to the finish line. However, the sprinter’s teams wanted to join in on the fight for the win. In the sprint, Pavel Brutt set up Kolar and I think they did well”, adds Tristan Hoffman, who was satisfied with the last effort but acknowledged the fact that the team hadn’t reached the goal of winning a stage.

“We came here to win a stage and to do well in the GC. I think we can be happy with Hansen’s performance in the overall classification but our general performance in the sprints could have been better. However, I think that we finished on a positive note. Also, the guys got a lot of kilometers into the legs, which is a good thing for the rest of the spring season”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.

Paris - Nice News

This came from Lampre-Merida:

Rui Costa was great in the time trial climb of Col d'Aze (9,6 km) that ended the 2015 edition of Paris-Nice. Lampre-Merida's's captain covered the stage in 20'47" (average speed 27,715 km/h) and only Porte (winner, 20'23") and Spilak (2nd place, 20'36") could do better than him. The performance of Rui Costa was remarkable for the quality of the pedaling on the climb and for the managing of his energy.

In addition to the podium in the stage classification, the Portuguese rider should have deserved an additional regard, that means the podium in the overall classification, but for a matter of points it was not so.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa at the 2014 Tour of Romandie

In fact, behind Porte, winner of the Paris-Nice, three riders (Rui Costa, Kwiatkowski and Spilak) had the same gap (+30") and, as by the rules, it is taken into account the points standing: Kwiatkowski, 30 points, obtained the 2nd place, Spilak (25 points) was 3rd and Rui Costa (25 points, but worse positionings compare to the Slovenian athlete) was 4th.

The results for Lampre-Merida in Paris-Nice 2015 (one victory and one second place for Cimolai) is enriched by the 13th place of Valls in the final stage (+59") and his 8th position in the final overall classification (+1'24").

"At the end of a very demanding Paris-Nice, during which we ran in the cold and in the rain and my team and me realized good performances, it's so strange to be fourth in the overall classification with the same timing to the second and the third place - Rui Costa said - This is cycling and this is sport, so I accept it and I prefer to focus my attention on the fact that my legs are in a good shape and that I realized a positive performance in the time trial. I hope to be luckier in the next appointments, so I'll be able to give to the team and to the fans even better satisfactions".

Sport director Pedrazzini, who guided the team with his colleague Mauduit, analyzed the results of the blu-fuchsia-green group in the French race: "The performance by Rui in today stage was very good and the third place confirms it, even if it was not enough for being on the podium of the overall classification.
I can't deny it's something bitter, because it would have add an extra value to Lampre-Merida's's results in the Paris-Nice. Cimolai was great in France and Valls too could enter in the top ten despite he had started the race after having faced an illness".

Lotto-Soudal wasn't happy with the final Paris-Nice Stage:

Unfortunately Tony Gallopin didn’t succeed in defending his yellow jersey in the climb time trial on the Col d’Èze. Richie Porte was too strong. He won the stage and became the overall winner. Tim Wellens set a strong time and secured his tenth place in GC.

Before Thomas De Gendt could go on the podium to receive the polka dot jersey, he shined one more time. The winner of the KOM classification set the twelfth best time today. Then it was up to Tim Wellens to defend his tenth place in GC. He rode really well and finished as ninth in the stage, securing the tenth place in the overall standings. The big question was if Tony Gallopin could hold on to the yellow jersey. At the first intermediate point, where Richie Porte set the fastest time, it was already clear that it would be impossible to maintain the lead in the GC. Richie Porte won the stage and is the overall winner of Paris-Nice. In the final GC Kwiatkowski and Spilak are second and third respectively.  Tony Gallopin set the 29th time today and fell back to the sixth place in GC.

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin wore yellow for a while at Paris-Nice

Tony Gallopin: “I had a bad day, I knew it immediately after the start. I looked at the wattage and noticed it wasn’t sufficient to set a fast time. This is tough mentally. I was nervous because it was an important day; I had the opportunity to win Paris-Nice. But I don’t think that played a role. The legs just weren’t good enough. It’s difficult to explain, but this is cycling.”

“I am sixth overall. If you had told me this in the beginning of the week I would have been satisfied with it. It is indeed a nice result, but after yesterday I hoped for more. Now I am disappointed. Tomorrow or the day after I will probably be able to put this in perspective and look back on a great week. Then I’ll make the switch, because Sunday I’ll ride Milan-Sanremo. That’s always a special race, I love it. It’s an open race, where lots can happen. That is my next appointment before the Ardennes classics.”

With two stage wins, by André Greipel and Tony Gallopin, the sixth place of Gallopin and the tenth place of Tim Wellens in GC, Thomas De Gendt as winner of the polka dot jersey and Tim Wellens second in the young rider classification Lotto Soudal can look back on a more than successful Paris-Nice. Tim Wellens is happy that he could achieve his ambition.

Tim Wellens: “I’m satisfied with the ninth place in the time trial, especially when you see the names in front and just behind me in the ranking. I came to Paris-Nice with the ambition to finish in top ten and I succeeded. If I had become eleventh I would have been disappointed. I’m positive about the past week. Last year I couldn’t have done what I did know. In yesterday’s situation for example I would have been dropped immediately after my group had been caught by the one with Gallopin. I feel that, compared to this time last year, I have set a big step forward. I’m much stronger than last year in Paris-Nice.”

“It wasn’t planned to join an early breakaway yesterday. When I noticed that they let everyone go, I jumped away. In a stage with lots of ascents and descents and wet roads, it’s better to be in a breakaway. I could save energy, Thomas De Gendt did some of my turns at the front. That was the ideal situation. For a moment I believed we would stay in front with some riders, but soon the peloton started chasing and it was all about surviving as long as possible. I had a puncture after Tony had attacked, just like Thursday on a bad moment. But it didn’t have an influence on my result. To get back I needed to take some risks, because it was wet and I had a wheel from the neutral assistance, but I still finished on the seventh place.”

Tirreno-Adriatico Team News

This from Giant-Alpecin:

Simon Geschke (GER) crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico on the fifth day of racing today after a slow-speed collision with the team car during the race.

"Checks here at the hospital have confirmed what we suspected, that Simon has broken his right collarbone," team Physician Anko Boelens (NED) told us. "We now need to assess whether or not he will need surgery before he can head home to recover."

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke at this year's Tour Down Under

Team coach Rudi Kemna (NED) explained how it occurred in detail: "Simon came back to the team car with a mechanical and as we were stopping he hit the back of the car, but at a very slow speed.

"Sometimes you come off worse in the small, slow crashes. He felt straight away that it was broken and now that has been confirmed we can start the recovery process with him to get back in the best possible way."

Lampre-Merida sent this:

Only 1'05" after the arrival of the stage winner Quintana on the Terminillo, a blue-fuchsia-green jersey came out in the snow that was falling on the road (photo Bettini).

Niemiec

Niemiec climbs the snowy road

It was Niemiec, who obtained the 9th place in the 5th stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico (196,9 km from Esanatoglia to the summit arrival of Terminillo) at 1'05" to Quintana, obtaining the pass for the club of the best climbers of the race.

On the final climb, 16,1 km at 7,3% of average degree, the Polish rider could pedal with the top riders and only in the final sprint lost some meters that caused his to reach the finish line with 10" of late from the group of the chasers of Quintana.

Niemiec could exploit the precious support that Serpa gave him on the final climb and the work by Grmay in the approach on the climb. The Polish rider is 13th in the overall classification, at 1'23" to Quintana and at 10" to the 10th place of Poels.

"Niemiec was impressive today and he could battle against the best climbers of the group in a stage whose course was demanding and that became even tougher because of the bad weather in the final kilometers - sport director Maini explained - Despite the efforts and the good 9th place in the stage standing, Niemiec could not enter in the top ten of the overall classification: only a great performance in Tuesday time trial will grant him to enter in the top ten".

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this about the Tirreno-Adriatico stage:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finished fifth on the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. A GC-battle unfolded in the whiteout on the Apennine climb to Terminillo, where Nairo Quintana proved the fastest after breaking free with a surprise attack. Contador now sits 5th overall, with teammate Kreuziger in 11th place.

After the stage, Tinkoff-Saxo team manager Bjarne Riis told that, despite giving his best, Alberto lacked the last few percentages on the climb to Terminillo. “I think we did it as well as we could. Alberto tried his best but wasn’t quite there. He tried to make the selection several times attacking from the group behind Quintana, but he was not at his level. On the final climb, we pulled at the front and Basso did a good job, also Kreuziger who crossed the line a few seconds behind the group with Contador”.

Alberto Contador climbs during the snowy stage

Alberto Contador climbs the snowy Trirreno-Adriatico stage

Warm clothing was a must on stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico with the temperatures dropping below zero in the mountain, while the snow-capped final climb to Terminillo presented the riders with a total whiteout with visibility around 100 meters. With five kilometers to go on the final climb, Nairo Quintana made the decisive attack and took the win in front of Bauke Mollema, while Alberto Contador came in fifth with the first chasing group.

Tomorrow’s 210 km stage to Porto Sant’Elpidio features a 210km parcours, where the sprinters once again will come to the fore in an attempt to conquer the stage win.

Here's What Alberto Contador had to say about the stage:

"The fact the finish was at the top of the climb meant that it wasn't much more difficult to reach it I don't like making excuses. Yesterday was a tough day due to my crash. Today, we performed quite well overall even though at the end we didn't finish further ahead.

"Quintana's attack caught me a bit further behind in the group and I couldn't react instantly. Everybody had eyes on me today and I was unable to do much more as there was nobody that wanted to pull at the front"

And We Mustn't Forget The Netherlands' Dwars Door Drenthe

This from Cult Energy:

Cult Energy Pro Cycling truly flashed the jersey during today’s 196.8 kilometer long Dutch race, Dwars door Drenthe where first Michael Reihs participated in the first break of the day but later both Alex Kirsch and Mads Pedersen were demonstrating their will to take part of the action in the front of the race. Michael Carbel concluded a successful race for Cult Energy Pro Cycling by sprinting to third place on the finish line.

Michael Carbel

Michael Carbel

The breakaway group with the experienced Michael Reihs was working tenaciously hard through the windy Dutch landscape and later, Alex Kirsch joined the grind stone on the front. However, the peloton never let them out of reach and already hauled them back in with 50 kilometers to go. However, a counter-attack was established and 19 year-old Mads Pedersen seized the moment to get in the mix. With 5 kilometers to go, the 20 escapees still had a 25 second gap to the raging pack behind.

Nevertheless, the Mads Pedersen group was caught and CULT Energy Pro Cycling made a well-organized lead-out for Michael Carbel who sprinted across the finish line in third position.

DS, André Steensen states: “The boys were really eager to redeem themselves today after yesterday’s disappointing effort and result and the whole gang worked splendidly together and they were highly motivated to get in every move there was. We made sure that Carbel stayed behind to prepare for an eventual bunch sprint and the guys did a super job setting him up. Naturally, I’m happy and satisfied with the overall performance."

Manuele Belleti (Southeast) won the race ahead of Markus Berry (Lotto) and Michael Carbel.

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this about Dwars door Drenthe

Barry Markus finished second in Dwars door Drenthe after starting his sprint late and making a strong surge in the last 100 metres.

“A lot was happening in today’s race,” sports director, Frans Maassen said. “A leading group of ten men went free in the beginning of the stage. We had Timo Roosen in that leading group, and it was good that he was there. After that, four riders  joined the breakaway, and we should have been there too, but we weren’t. That was a mistake.

Dwars door Drenthe finish

2015 Dwars door Drenthe finish

“Another big group broke away later. We had only Nick van der Lijke with that group of 20 leaders. That was not enough. Mike Teunissen tried to reach the leaders too, but he got a puncture during his chase. Instead, we worked with some other teams who wanted to close the gap and we decided to go for Barry Markus’ chances.”

It became a bunch sprint in Drenthe and Markus, though first seeming out of the picture, fired. “I was a little too much on the outside,” the Dutchman explained. “As a result, I was only able to sprint in the last 100 metres. Fortunately, that was enough to for second place. Immediately after the finish, I was very fed up I didn’t win, but now, I feel satisfied all the same.”

It was good for Markus to grab a good result after a long period with little success in the sprints. His top form appears to be returning after some tough races in the Ardèche. “You have to do some tough races to gain some hardness,” he explained. “That pays off on moments like this. This second place gives me a lot of confidence.”

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