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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, May 10, 2015

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Today's Racing

Another big day of racing today: First off, the second stage of the Giro d'Italia.

And, the first stage of the men's Tour of California as well as the third and final stage of the Tour of California Women's Race.

Plus, two other high-end men's races end today, the fifth and final stages of both the "HC" ranked Four Days of Dunkirk (4 Jours de Dunkerque), and the 2.1 Tour de Azerbaidjan.

Giro d'Italia Team News

BikeRaceInfo's 2015 Giro d'Italia page |

This from Saturday's stage one winner Orica-GreenEdge:

Orica-GreenEDGE has claimed the opening team time trial at the Giro d’Italia in San Remo this afternoon, seven seconds faster than nearest rivals Tinkoff-Saxo.
The Australian outfit finished the 17.6km race against the clock in 19minutes 26seconds, 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Simon Gerrans the first rider across the line to claim first honours in the pink ‘maglia rosa’ leader’s jersey.

“If I could chop the front of this jersey into nine pieces and share it amongst my teammates I would,” Gerrans said. “Then the back of the jersey needs to be chopped into about 50 pieces for everyone involved in the Orica-GreenEDGE organisation because it’s a real credit to everybody within the team that we have these successes.”

As riders negotiated the fast and flat course along the Italian coastline, much of which via a narrow bike path, a head wind assisted the strong team which included time trial specialists Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge, Sam Bewley and Brett Lancaster.

“We weren’t quite sure what to expect with the bike path but it ended up being a fantastic course, a little technical in parts but very fast,” Gerrans said. “Then with the head wind we had, it really suited the strong team we had here.”
Gerrans was thrilled to pull on the leader’s jersey to end a tough start to the season.

“I’ve had a difficult start to this year but I said all along things can change really quickly and I can’t think of a better way,” the 34-year-old said.

“I hope everyone in Australia stayed up late to watch the stage and I hope my mates in Mansfield understand the significance of this win here and why I am wearing a pink shirt.”

Orica-GreenEdge

Orica-GreenEdge on their stage-winning ride

The nine-man Orica-GreenEDGE team went out hard but with well thought out tactics was able to come home even stronger. With six teams still to ride, the outfit was leading at the intermediate time check by eight seconds and at the finish line by 13seconds.

Shortly after, Tinkoff-Saxo posted a faster intermediate check by two seconds to cause some temporary concerns but they suffered in the latter half of the race.

“It’s very gratifying,” sport director Matt White said of the victory. “We were favourites in everyone’s books and we’ve had a great track record in this discipline since we started as a team.It is a bit of pressure but the guys, they are used to it and they can handle it “Winning these events is really nice because they are team wins. We do put a lot of effort into it but it’s a sensational result.”

As Orica-GreenEDGE crossed the finish line they had six riders still together, Gerrans, Hepburn, Simon Clarke, Michael Matthews, Pieter Weening and Esteban Chaves.

Pleased that everything went to plan, White praised the efforts of the entire team. “We knew we had to go out very very fast,” White said. “We did and you pay for that. We had looked at certain parts of the course that we needed to start shedding guys and even though we had the fastest intermediate time check we knew we still had to do it.

“A couple of our big boys put in some monster turns to raise the speed again before they exited. “

Tomorrow, the Giro d’Italia road stages commence with a 177km journey from Albenga to Genova. With just one category four classified climb, over 50km from the finish, stage two is expected to come down to a bunch sprintGerrans in pink

And here's what second-place Tinkoff-Saxo had to say:

Tinkoff-Saxo delivered a strong opening team time trial in Giro d’Italia thereby ensuring an almost ideal starting position for Alberto Contador. The team leader notes that he’s pleased with the result and the team effort after the squad landed a second place finish, 7 seconds behind stage winner Orica-GreenEdge.

Upon crossing the line in Sanremo after a 17.6km flat-out effort, team leader Alberto Contador asserts that the team gave everything on the fast team time trial.

“I’m very happy. Not only for the result but also because everybody on the team gave a hundred percent during the race. In general, our performance was really good despite one moment where we lost organization. But we can be really happy about the result, as we have taken time on all our rivals. The time gaps between the favorites are not big, but I’ll for instance have some time on my direct rivals when we face the ITT. It’s always ideal to be ahead”, says Alberto Contador, who’s not surprised by the team’s performance on stage 1.

“I knew that we had a very strong team to do a good race, so finishing as we did today doesn't surprise me. From now on, we will have to take it day by day. I know that it’s something you always say, but it doesn’t make it less true, as in a grand tour you always have to be attentive on every stage. I’m already enjoying racing here in Italy with the atmosphere and fans and each moment is always very pleasant for me at Giro”, adds Alberto Contador.

Stage 1 from San Lorenzo a Mare to Sanremo presented the 22 starting teams with 17.6km of fast time trialing on a narrow bike path along the coastline. Tinkoff-Saxo finished 2nd behind Orica-GreenEdge after having led the race at the intermediate time. Head sports director Steven de Jongh underlines that the team was gunning for the win but that the result is pleasing.

“It was a good result. We all know that the specialist today was Orica and they had a good team. However, I’m pleased with our result. Of course we wanted more and to win but we took time on our rivals. It’s better to start 20 seconds in front than it is to start behind”, comments Steven de Jongh.

“Overall we did a solid time trial with only one weak spot. After 14k at full gas we had a slight gap and had to slow down. We assisted the guys a bit on the radio and they solved it straight away and did their best to get back up to top speed thereafter”, adds de Jongh.

Tinkoff-Saxo

Tinkoff-Saxo coming close to the win

First rider to take to the front of the Tinkoff-Saxo train after barreling down the start ramp was Chris Juul-Jensen, who underlines that the team remains focused on the overall objective.

“It was an almost ideal result as we took time on Alberto’s rivals such as Porte and Aru. Yesterday, we spoke about the different scenarios and it’s not as if only a victory counts. Of course we will always ride to win, but looking at and focusing on the main objective here at Giro d’Italia, which is to win overall, I think today was a fine starting scenario”, finishes Chris Juul-Jensen.

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's take on the stage:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo began the 98th Giro d'Italia today with 13th place in the team time trial. The men in black and yellow went in 20’02” in stage one in Sanremo. Orica-GreenEdge was 36 seconds faster and helped Simon Gerrans to take the first pink jersey of the race.

“We did a good team time trial given our abilities,” Steven Kruijswijk said, looking back satisfied on the 17.6-kilometre stage. “There will always be points for improvement, but everyone did what he could and we went pretty fast. The time differences with the other teams are small, as you can see in the results.”

Kruijswijk was pleased with the way his legs felt during the opening day of the first grand tour of the year. “I wanted to contribute today, but we have a couple of big engines in the team and I had to be careful not to blow up. I’m glad I was able to do my job. Everyone is fit. We can build on that.”

LottoNL-Jumbo

LottoNL-Jumbo riding the TTT

Sports Director Frans Maassen climbed out of the team car in Sanremo and shared his feeling about the first kilometres of the race. “The TT went pretty well. Everyone was focused and the men gave everything they had. We were motivated and confident thanks to the Bianchi time trial bikes. I was hoping for a place in the top ten, which would have been possible if we had started more aggressively.”

“It was a beautiful time trial. The track was fast, but not very technical. There were two difficult points, but those affected everyone, so there was little time to gain or lose there.”

Lampre-Merida wasn't happy with its Giro ride:

The start of the Giro d'Italia for Lampre-Merida was not at the same level of the high media exposure that the team had received in the days before the kick-off, thanks to the various interesting topics concerning the team (internationality of the roster, presentation of the new bike Merida Scultura, top quality Italian riders such as Modolo and Ulissi, new time trial helmets by Suomy).

In the first stage, a team time trial, the blue-fuchsia-green team covered the 17,6 km from San Lorenzo a Mare to Sanremo in 20'25" (average speed of 51,722 km/h), obtaining the 21st position, 59" more than the performance of the winning team Orica GreenEdge.

Sport director Orlando Maini analyzed the team performance: "The training, the study of the course, the setting of the details in the past days were made in the most possible accurate way, but they were not confirmed today.

The performance was not at a high level, some of our athletes could not be as competitive as we imagined, and probably emotion played a bad trick.

We were aware we would not be able to compete at the same level of the top specialist teams, but we aimed to do better than what we did: this is a spur to try to achieve a good result already in tomorrow's stage".

There were other races, including the 4 Jours de Dunkerque

This Dunkerque report came from Cult Energy:

The 178.7 kilometer long fourth queen stage of 4 Days at Dunkerque between Lestrem and Cassel was dominated by a number of attacks from a distance as well as in the finale. Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen delivered another strong effort after support from his team in the early stages of the day.

The young Cult Energy Dane was constantly visible near the front during the intensely thrilling and bumpy finale where attack upon attack threatened to ruin the Dane’s chances of an overall top result. But Pedersen kept closing gaps and staying with the strongest over the hard climbs and all the way to the uphill finish where he distances the overall leader, Bryan Coquard (Europcar).

With his impressive effort, Mads Pedersen climbed from 7t to 6th position overall. After the stage, DS, Michael Skelde praised his young talent: "There's a good reason for Mads to be very proud of his effort today. We knew that he was a fantastic talent and his way to move around in the field is simply exemplary. This year he has become stronger and more fit, which pays off on a lumpy course like today's where we didn't even dare hope for this result beforehand but Mads proved once more that he's got a promising future ahead of him if he keeps up this positive progress. Tomorrow's stage will be a flat run-in to Dunkerque where I expect a bunch sprint finish. However, if the wind picks up, it might have a devasting impact on the field but I'm rather confident that Mads will be in the finale there as well."

Mads Pedersen was happy about retaining a spot in the top-10: "Starting today's stage, I feared that I would lose my spot in the top-10 but once out there on the course and on the climbs, I felt that the hard training this spring has paid off and I'm moving faster on the slopes without putting more watts into my effort. But naturally, I couldn't have done this without support from teammates in the early part of the stage where they shielded me before the finale. Once the finale was launched, it was just every man for himself. Tomorrow, I hope for at least a top-15 result, which will mean I've in the top-15 in all stages," says Pedersen.

Omar Fraile (Caja Rural) won the stage after going solo on the final kilometer. Ignatas Konovalovas (Team Marseille) leads overall.

Omar Fraile wins Dunkerque stage 4

Omar Fraile wins Dunkerque stage 4.

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