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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, May 3, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Four races today, all stage races that end today: The eighth stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey, the sixth stage of the Tour of Romandie, the third stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and finally, the second stage of the Vuelta a Asturias.

Late note...Oh, I forgot. There's also the single-day GP de la Somme.

Velocio-Sram Wins Two Stages at Gracia Orlova

Here's the report Velocio-Sram sent me:

Visalage, Czech Republic, 2 May 2015 - Karol-Ann Canuel has capped off an incredible day for Velocio-SRAM by taking the team's second stage win at Gracia Orlová today in Visalage. In the morning stage ITT World Champion Lisa Brennauer won Stage 3, a 13.5km ITT and the team filled the top five places. Canuel continued the run of wins by powering to a solo victory in Stage 4 this afternoon. Alena Amialisuik finished second on the stage and Eugenia Bujak rounded out the podium in third.

Karol-Ann Canuel

Karol-Ann Canuel

The afternoon was a short stage with just 63.5 kilometres from Detmarovice to Visalage, but finished with a 7 kilometre climb. There were some early attacks by the German Maxx Solar team but nothing was able to stay away. The peloton was all together when Canuel created a break with a well-timed attack. Five riders were in the initial break but Canuel felt that it wasn't going to stay away and decided to go solo. "I was feeling good and I saw an opportunity to go in the last 8 kilometres and I just went full gas. I really wanted to win and I'm happy it worked out," said Canuel.  "The team had an amazing day and it's great to be part of such a good group."

Team Director Sportif Beth Duryea was very pleased with the efforts of the team today. "The team was dominant in the time trial and to fill the top five places was pretty incredible. In the afternoon stage our goal was of course to defend the yellow jersey. Karol-Ann overcome some bad luck earlier in the tour and she did a great ride today. The break she was in would never have been the winning move if she had not attacked again. It simply would have come back together. Her move was aggressive and it's a style of racing we like to see," said Duryea

Amialiusik holds on to the leaders jersey with one stage remaining in the Gracia Orlová Tour. She has an advantage of +21 seconds over team mate Trixi Worrack, while Eugenia Bujak is +35 seconds in third position. Tomorrow is the last stage of 100.2 kilometre with 6 circuits in the town of Orlová, starting at 10:00.

Giant-Alpecin Announces Giro d'Italia Team long List

I got this note from Giant-Alpecin:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce its final nine-rider lineup for the first Grand Tour of the 2015 season, the Giro d’Italia, which starts in San Lorenzo on May 9. The team announced earlier in the month that sprinter Luka Mezgec (SLO) would definitely be lining up in San Lorenzo, and he will be joined by a strong team with lead-out capabilities and also riders who can take their chances in the breakaways if and when the opportunities arise.

Luka Mezgec

Luka Mezgec wins the second stage of the 2015 Tour du Haut-Var.

The opportunists in the lineup include Simon Geschke (GER), who will head to the Giro following a strong comeback in Liège-Bastogne-Liège after recovering from a fractured collarbone, as well as Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), who will also have the opportunity to develop his long time trial skills in stage 14 with the 59.4km individual time trial.

This will be the first appearance in the Giro d’Italia for Americans Chad Haga and Caleb Fairly. Haga rode his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, last year and Fairly did the same at the 2013 Vuelta. The first Chinese rider ever to start in the Giro d’Italia, Cheng Ji (CHN), will be present again at the starting line in San Lorenzo.

“I am in very good form at the moment. Over the last four weeks I have trained very hard, and in the Tour de Romandie I will get the chance to gain racing rhythm,” said Mezgec, the winner of the closing stage of last year’s Giro. “We are heading to the Giro with a strong and balanced team that will aim at sprint success, and I am happy to have great team support for that.”

Coach Addy Engels (NED) is looking forward to the Giro: “Our primary target will be the sprint stages with Mezgec, as we have a strong lead-out team including Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (NED) and Tom Veelers (NED). “With Simon Geschke (GER), Caleb Fairly (USA) and Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) we have riders who can aim for a good stage result from a breakaway as well. As I said earlier, we will determine our strategy from day to day.”

COACHES: Addy Engels (NED), Adriaan Helmantel (NED), Marc Reef (NED)

LONG-LIST: Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL),Caleb Fairly (USA), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Veelers (NED) 

Tinkoff-Saxo Has High Hopes for Tour of Turkey Last Stage

Tinkoff-Saxo's Tour of Turkey report:

With team sprinter Michael Kolar out of contention due to stomach issues, Tinkoff-Saxo had to settle for less on stage 7 in Tour of Turkey. However, team DS Nicki Sørensen expects a swift recovery for Kolar, who is to play a main role on the final, technical run-in towards the finish line in Istanbul, on Sunday afternoon.

Stage 7 to Izmir was decided in a bunch sprint finish, where Mark Cavendish took yet another win. Best Tinkoff-Saxo rider was Daniele Bennati, who finished 16th, while the team’s front man in the general classification Jay McCarthy retained his 4th place overall.

Jay McCarthy

Jay McCarthy is still in fourth place.

“Today, Michael Kolar still suffered from his stomach problems, which started yesterday. It’s of course not ideal and he wasn’t able to participate in the stage finale. However, Michael finished the stage and is still in contention tomorrow. So mainly Bennati but also McCarthy took part in the final sprint, but we didn’t get a noteworthy result”, says Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Nicki Sørensen after the stage.

Despite two significant lumps on the profile of stage 7, the day ended in a fast bunch sprint, where Mark Cavendish (Etixx – Quickstep) beat his rivals on the line after 165km of racing. On the eve of the race conclusion, Nicki Sørensen expects Michael Kolar to be ready for action on the final stage into Istanbul.

“It’s the last stage tomorrow and it’s going to be another quick stage, where the sprinters will come to the fore. However, unlike the previous fast finales of Tour of Turkey, tomorrow’s stage features a very technical and hectic finish with twists and turns right up until the finish line. I expect that Kolar is ready and back on top, his form is great, his motivation is high and the team is ready to support him”, concludes Nicki Sørensen.

LottoNL-Jumbo Is Happy with Tour de Yorkshire Second Stage

I expected to get a report for LottoNL-Jumbo, and here it is:

Moreno Hofland sprinted to a long anticipated first win of the season for Team LottoNL-Jumbo on Saturday, as the Dutchman was unmatched in the bunch kick of the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.

“I’m very pleased that we are now rid of the hateful nil,” Hofland said. “I had a difficult start of the season, things didn’t go as planned, but hopefully we can keep this trend going. I was already full of morale, but this gives me an extra boost in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia. It would be great if I can do something like this again over there in Italy.”

The 23-year-old Hofland started the sprint in York in fifth position. When a gap opened on the left side of the road, the Dutchman didn’t hesitate. With a mighty final jump, he beat Matteo Pelluchi (IAM Cycling) and Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) for the win.

Moreno Hofland wins Yorkshire stage 2

Moreno Hofland wins Yorkshire stage 2.

“I sat in Robert Wagner’s wheel for the final 40 kilometres. He dropped me off at the front for the sprint. After that, I chose to follow Pelluchi. I waited until the 200 metres sign and then used my speed to pass the others ,” Hofland said of the sprint.

The Dutchman enjoyed the atmosphere along the way. “It was not normal. All those fans! In some villages, people were three or four rows deep. Very cool!”

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven was very content with the victory in the 174-kilometer stage from Selby to York. “This is very nice, of course. As a team we fought really hard for this win. Initially, Timo Roosen was in a break of 16, and so we didn’t have to chase. When he and the seven other riders were caught, we still had to join the hunt though. In the final 80 kilometres we had to dig extremely deep, because Giant-Alpecin's Bert De Backer (who managed to stay ahead until the last kilometre, ed.) proved very tough to beat. The whole team has worked hard and long for this first victory. Of course there is some kind of relief.”

Verhoeven hopes Steven Kruijswijk can compete with the overall riders in Sunday’s third and final stage, a difficult ride with several climbs. “Steven crashed yesterday because of bad luck, but today he felt pretty good. A crash always has a negative influence. We’ll see if Steven is recovered enough to be in the mix tomorrow.”

And here's what Cult Energy had to say about the Yorkshire second stage:

The 174 kilometer long second stage of Tour of Yorkshire between Selby and York was dominated by a breakaway consisting of 8 riders and for once without Cult Energy Pro Cycling participation. But the Danish team controlled the peloton and made their mark on the events in the finale.

With 30 kilometers remaining, the gap was down to one minute and 30 seconds and the short gap motivated the escapees to start attacking each other but the field didn’t miss their target. With several teams joining forces on the front of the pack including Cult Energy Pro Cycling, all odds were against breakaway success.

The final escapee was swept up entering the final kilometer and Cult Energy Pro Cycling constantly tried to elbow their way to the front to put Russell Downing in a favorable position for the expected bunch sprint finish. BMC put a massive pressure on the pack on the final kilometers and Greg van Avermaet launched a long sprint with a face full of teeth but he was surpassed on the final meters by Moreno Hofland (Lotto-Jumbo) who took the stage.

Russell Downing finished 7th in the frantic bunch sprint: “My teammates really did an amazing job keeping me out of trouble and they put me in an excellent position in the finale and unfortunately, I could only reward them by finishing 7th. On another note, it was an amazing day with thousands and thousands of fans along the road and especially, the run-in to York was a scene to remember forever,” says Downing.

DS, Luke Roberts states: “When we didn’t have a rider in the first break, we decided to make our mark on the race by controlling and setting the pace in the pack and the boys rode really well. Especially Rasmus Quaade put in a very strong effort on the front of the field putting the pressure on. We had our hopes up for a bit of crosswind to split things up but it wasn’t to be. Tomorrow, we expect a much harder stage and we’re looking forward to putting a man in the front and it’s going to be interesting to see whether a single team will be able to control the anarchy I expect in the finale.”

And, there is the Tour de Romandie

This came from the busy press office of Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Rafal Majka finished in a select group of favorites behind stage winner Thibaut Pinot on the toughest day of Tour de Romandie. The performance sent Majka climbing in the GC, where he sits 11th going into the final TT.

After yet another wet day of racing, the favorites were set to face each other on the last of four 1st category climbs finishing atop Champex-Lac. Rafal Majka finished in the first chasing group together with pre-race favorites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana after having received support from his teammates during the mountainous stage. However, according to Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Bruno Cenghialta, Majka could have achieved more.

"Rafal didn't seem convinced he would be able to do what he wanted to do. He was strong, he had the legs but he wasn't decisive enough to take the risk when he had to. He made a small mistake, when he went behind Romain Bardet. He hesitated and didn't continue. The group then bridged the gap and when Thibaut Pinot attacked, followed by Ilnur Zakarin, he remained in the group with Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome. He hesitated for a short while and missed the chance to, possibly, achieve something better. Maybe it wasn't easy to win the stage but at least he could have, potentially, aimed at second or third place”, says Bruno Cenghialta.

Thibaut Pinot

Thibaut Pinot won the Tour de Romandie's penultimate stage.

After a dip during the early season races, Rafal Majka’s shape is on the ascendency, according to Cenghialta. “He’s in good form, he raced well in this hard stage and as we saw, only the top favorites remained at the finish. Maybe this brief moment of insecurity and hesitation was a result of him not being at 100% of the target shape. He still hasn't reached his peak form and while he's getting there, it might happen that at moments he's missing that small spark that could have allowed him to follow Pinot or Zakarin”, adds Cenghialta, who believes that entering the top 10 could be possible.

“Rafal is focused now on tomorrow's individual time-trial. He will give his best there in order to secure a final GC spot in the top 10", concludes Tinkoff-Saxo's sport director.

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