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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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Today's Racing

Two races today, the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia and the third stage of the Tour of California.

Giro d'Italia News

Domenico Pozzovivo post-crash report:

Update: The original report below was written late in the evening, Monday, May 11. Today, May 12, Domenico Pozzovivo is awake and has given an interview with the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzatta dello Sport: He told the paper, "I slept two or three hours. It was a long night. I also made plans for the future. Too bad for the Giro. The beginning of the season was great. I was in the best condition of my life. I think I will return to the Tour of Switzerland and be competitive."

Today his wife will join him at the hospital. His doctor, Dr. Paolo Moscatelli, said, "This night progressed well. There were no specific therapies. Pozzovivo was treated with only analgesics. The dressings were redone. The tissue swelling is remarkable. He also bruised his knees. During the day we will decide if we we will keep him here, because you cannot take anything for granted."

Original report: In the Giro stage three results I reported that Ag2r lead rider Domenico Pozzovivo fell hard about 26 kilometers from the finish. He was on the descent of the Barbagelata. Pozzovivo was ambulanced away. His team reports that he was taken to a hospital in Genova was was given several tests.

He suffers from severe facial trauma, but has no intercranial lesions. He is conscious and lucid but has no memory of the accident.

Get well soon, Domenico.

Domenico Pozzovivo

Domenico Pozzovivo winning 2015 Giro del Trentino stage 3

The report from stage 3 winner Michael Matthews' Orica-GreenEdge team:

Race leader Michael Matthews has capitalised on a perfect team ride by Orica-GreenEDGE to win the third stage of the Giro d’Italia in the pink jersey.

The inclusion of Simon Clarke and Esteban Chaves in a strong early breakaway of 24 riders and the gatekeeping duties of Clarke until the final three kilometres set up the finale for the Australian outfit.

Completing the effort, Pieter Weening contributed to the chase alongside Tinkoff-Saxo whilst Simon Gerrans provided the final lead out before Matthews completed the perfect day to cross the line ahead of Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing).

It was another case of déjà vu for Matthews, who also won on stage six in the Maglia Rosa last year.

“It was only a short stage but they made it quite hard for us,” Matthews said. “We were lucky we had the two guys in the break from the start so we didn’t have to chase for most of the stage. Then Simon Gerrans and the boys worked really hard to set me up perfectly for the sprint and I can’t thank them enough. The Giro d’Italia so far is a dream come true for me.”

Michael Matthews wins stage 3

Michael Matthews wins Giro stage 3

The victory was Orica-GreenEDGE’s second of the 2015 Tour, following the team time trial win on the opening stage. It ensures the race lead for another 24hours, bonus seconds giving Matthews a six second lead over teammate Clarke.

“We couldn’t imagine this Giro starting any better,” sport director Matt White said. “You come to races with plans and goals and we have achieved them so far. Our team has always been very tight, they are very well drilled and they are very loyal to each other and that’s a big factor we have. It’s one thing having a plan but you need guys with the ability and commitment to carry it out, they all should be very proud of their ride.”

The lumpy stage three was expected to be a tough one and when the strong breakaway went on a rise within the first five kilometres, there was no question that would be the case.

Amongst the lead group was Orica-GreenEDGE’s Chaves and Clarke, whilst Tinkoff-Saxo stood up for the bulk of the chasing to protect their general classification ambitions. As the gap sat under a minute both the break and the peloton dwindled from behind as the parcours took its toll on riders.

Over the final climb of the day, a category two peaking with less than 45km to go, Pavel Kochetkov (Team Katusha) led from his former breakaway companions who splintered under the pressure of the ascent.

Kochetkov led for a long time before three riders, including Clarke as the gatekeeper, bridged across to make a new group of four riders in front with ten kilometres to go. Clarke continued to follow the moves until eventually the race came back together with three kilometres to the finish for the reduced bunch sprint.

Tomorrow’s stage four begins in Chiavari before moving through three category three climbs on the 150km journey to La Spezia, the last of which peaks inside the final ten kilometres.

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about Giro stage 3:

Tinkoff-Saxo continued to make an effort to exercise control over the course of events at the Giro d’Italia, as a breakaway of more than 20 riders marked stage 3. The stage was won by Michael Matthews, while team captain Alberto Contador finished safely in the decimated bunch after a day of laborious riding at the front for Tinkoff-Saxo.

As Alberto Contador crossed the line in Sestri Levante retaining his 6th place overall, the team leader noted that it had been a surprisingly tough stage, while he stressed the importance of taking responsibility in the main bunch.

“I’ve just looked at my SRM power meter and I can see that I have raced at a very high power output throughout the stage with nearly no moments of rest. The team worked at the front all day to avoid surprises and crashes. And the stage profile also made for a good day to sit at the front of the peloton. With almost no flat terrain, a lot of cornering and accelerations, we decided to stay at the front, as it was equally hard for those behind us”, says Alberto Contador, who adds: “I have to say thanks to all of my teammates. Today, they were simply exceptional and they give me a lot of confidence. Today’s tactic was the best to avoid losing many minutes and perhaps the victory. We put Boaro in the big breakaway, while we rode in the peloton to control the race, as we didn’t want to see a situation, where nobody took responsibility and the break could take 15 minutes. But thanks to my team, today passed without problems and my sensations were good”

Stage 3 of Giro d’Italia from Rapallo to Sestri Levante featured no less than 2300 altitude meters during the course of just 136 kilometers. Unfortunately, the day was marked by the serious crash of pre-race contender Domenico Pozzovivo, who had to abandon the Giro – a great misfortune for the AG2R rider and the race, notes Contador.

“I just heard about it after the finish and it’s a real pity. We tried to avoid risks today but it is true that the descent was quite dangerous. I want to send my best wishes to Domenico with hopes of a swift recovery. At the same time it’s also a pity for the race that he has to abandon, as he was one of the big GC contenders”, comments Contador.

Tinkoff-Saxo

Tinkoff-Saxo did a lot of work in Giro stage three.

One of the big pacesetters during stage 3 was Chris Juul-Jensen, who together with Ivan Rovny and Matteo Tosatto took to the front of the bunch until the start of the 2nd category climb. Juul-Jensen tells that he drew motivation from the overall team objective.

“In the first big chunk of the stage, I pulled at the front with Matteo and Ivan and in the second part our team climbers took over. Sure it was hard but it really boosts my motivation thinking about the reason why we are here. When you’re up there at the front of the main bunch of the Giro and you think about the guys you have on your wheel, you get an additional level of energy. I’m proud to do my job and we have many days ahead of us, where we have to think ahead everyday and use our energy at important moments like today”, says Christopher Juul-Jensen.

“Perhaps, some might say that we took too much responsibility today, but the twisty roads with constant up and down meant that the effort made is somewhat more consistent and controlled at the front. I, of course, have to make sure that I can perform within the third week as well, but the overall ambition, for me, is to make sure that Alberto saves energy”, adds the 25-year old Dane.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Manuele Boaro participated in the big 26-man breakaway that broke clear in the opening kilometers. According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Steven de Jongh, the strategy was to have a team rider controlling the race from the front.

“The strategy was the same of yesterday’s stage, which was not to lose time and to keep the entire team safe. It was a technical parcours with terrain suited for a breakaway. When the big breakaway formed, we asserted that it would be better to have a rider, in this case Manuele, positioned up there so we knew what the situation was at the front”, concludes Steven de Jongh.

Tinkoff-Saxo has three riders in the top ten of the GC. Roman Kreuziger, Alberto Contador and Michael Rogers sit 5th, 6th and 7th going into the hilly stage 4 to La Spezia.

And Phillpe Gilbert's BMC team sent this to me:

Sestri Levante, Italy - Philippe Gilbert of the BMC Racing Team sprinted to a third-place finish Monday at the Giro d'Italia after spending much of the short, fast-starting stage in a breakaway with two other teammates. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) took the win ahead of Fabio Feline (Trek Factory Racing) and Gilbert to retain the leader's maglia rosa jersey. It was Gilbert's fifth top-three result of the season and his best since also placing third at Brabantse Pijl last month.

"It is good to have a third place," Gilbert said, "but I was really coming fast at the end so it is possible to have a bigger result. The win was possible today, so it is a bit of a disappointment."

Gilbert, Silvan Dillier and Marcus Burghardt were part of a group of more than two dozen riders that was continually splitting up and re-grouping in the first two-thirds of the 136-kilometer, lumpy stage toward the coastal town of Sestri Levante.

Dillier, who is riding his first grand tour, said he did a lot of work to help put the pressure on the teams that missed the move. "Tactically, this was good for us," Dillier said. "Tinkoff-Saxo was chasing pretty hard. We never had a big advantage, so it was hard to stay away to the end. But when we have a smaller bunch coming to the finish, for sure we have a better chance to win the sprint with Philippe."

Philippe Gilbert

Here's Philippe Gilbert when he was with the day's break.

After the last of the escapees was brought back inside the last 10 kilometers, a group of 70-some riders headed toward the finish. Gilbert said he spoke with teammate Damiano Caruso about helping him in the sprint.

"Caruso did a really big effort to help me," Gilbert said. "We are rooming together and yesterday he explained to me that he was doing lead outs for (Peter) Sagan in the past. So he had the experience. I told him, 'let's do it tomorrow if we can,' and that is what we did today. Maybe tomorrow, we can do it again. I hope so."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said having six riders finish in the leading group was also a good accomplishment. "We did our race and we are very satisfied with the team's performance," Baldato said. "The guys did what we asked today and it was too bad the breakaway was never let go. But that is sometimes how it goes in a race."

LottoNL-Jumbo Has serious Giro Ambitions:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished well in the first testing road stage of the 2015 Giro d’Italia. Leader Steven Kruijswijk finished in Sestri Levante in the first group with all the favourites, led by Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) for the stage win in the leader’s pink jersey. Bert-Jan Lindeman lost his blue mountain jersey and moved to sixth place in the classification.

The short stage was a hard one on paper. With a second category climb in the final, the main favourites could test their legs. Early in the stage, Lindeman attacked and was part of a large front group.

“Bert-Jan tried in the beginning of the stage to get away,” team manager, Jan Boven said. “He had that freedom, but soon a different situation emerged and the race became a knockout race on the tough course. The main task of our men was to bring Steven Kruijswijk safely to the finish and we succeeded. Martijn Keizer stayed there until the last climb with Kruijswijk, who finished in the first group.”

Kruijswijk finished 36th in Sestri Levante and lost no time in the general classification. He holds 38th spot at 46 seconds behind leader Michael Matthews.

lttoNL-Jumbo

LottoNL-Jumbo riding the Giro's first stage

“It was a good day,” said Kruijswijk. “Short and very intensive. Team Tinkoff-Saxo pushed the pace hard. My job was to follow and not to consume too much energy. Martijn guided me through all the important points and dropped me off in a good position. I’m satisfied. It was a tough stage. On Wednesday, we have our first uphill finish, so it’s nice to do well today on a hard day."

“Tuesday is another day with a lot of climbing,” Boven continued. “It will be hectic because there will be much tossing and turning. Kruijswijk is our first priority. Moreno will be free to see how far he can get on the hilly course to La Spezia.”

Lampre-Merida's Giro report:

The 3rd stage of the Giro d'Italia showed Diego Ulissi in the head of the race.

The Tuscan rider joined a 25 riders breakaway which began 3 km in the course (136 km from Rapallo to Sestri Levante). Manuele Mori was the other Lampre-Merida cyclist who supported Ulissi in the breakaway.

Diego Ulissi

Diego Ulissi leading the day's big break

Considering that high number of the attackers, the peloton did not give too much advantage to the breakaway, controlling the gap, however Ulissi (photo Bettini) had the opportunity to demonstrate that his form is improving and that his legs were competitive on the two Kom of the stage (Colle Caprile and Barbagelata).
The breakaway was definitely neutralized in the approach of Sestri Levante and Matthews could precede 73 riders in the final sprint.

In the head group there were 4 blu-fuchsia-green athletes: Polanc (22nd), Grmay (58th), Ulissi (68th) and Niemiec (69th).

Matthews is the leader of the overall classification, Polanc is 62nd at 2'18".

"My aim for today stage was to check my feelings and to evaluate how my legs would have react pedaling in a breakaway - Diego Ulissi explained - I had good feedbacks, I succeeded in approaching the climbs without too much effort, but the breakaway did not receive the necessary freedom from the bunch: 25 riders was a too large number. I thank Mori who supported me in the breakaway. My form is improving, my legs supported me in a good way in the climbs and I noticed that also the team has energies to spent in the chase of a good result".

The sport director Orlando Maini pointed out how "it is important for the Lampre-Merida having seen the improvements of Diego Ulissi: he's motivated and he will be competitive in the next stages. We received also good feedback from Grmay, Polanc and Niemiec. We also appreciated the feeling between Xu Gang and the rest of the team: he succeded in being important for the team mates and he'll have his chances soon".

Best wishes from the Team Lampre-Merida to Domenico Pozzovivo, who got involved in a crash during today stage: get well soon and see you in the next races.

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