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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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Today's Racing

Three races today:

The fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia the fourth stage of the Tour of California.

And, The Bayern Rundfahrt -Tour of Bavaria starts today.

Bike Business News

EU plans to make it easier for webshops: Bike.eu had a report today that outlined the European Commission's plans to help create a single digital market. Writer Jack Oortwijn wrote:

The European Commission has unveiled its detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market. It’s laid down in “The Digital Single Market Strategy” which includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of next year.

The Commission claims that the Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world and that Europe must embrace the digital revolution and open up digital opportunities for people and businesses.

“At present, barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services: only 15% shop online from another EU country; Internet companies and start-ups cannot take full advantage of growth opportunities online: only 7% of SMEs sell cross-border. Businesses and governments are not fully benefitting from digital tools.”

The aim of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy is to tear down regulatory walls and finally move from 28 national markets to a single one. “A fully functional Digital Single Market could contribute € 415 billion per year to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” says the European Commission further.

Strategy built on three pillars: The Digital Single Market Strategy which was adopted last week, includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of next year. It is built on three pillars: (1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximizing the growth potential of the digital economy.

Click here for the entire Bike-eu report

Chairman Bill's note: This will certainly have a profound affect upon bicycle retailing in Europe. Anyone with a bike shop in the U.S. knows he always has to keep looking back over his shoulder because of the omnipresent discount bicycle mail-order companies that regularly sell things for lower than the wholesale price the bike shop pays.

Fabian Cancellara returning to racing

After breaking two vertebrae at the March GP E3, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) hasn't been able to race. He announced he would ride the Tour des Fjords, a 2.1 Norwegian stage race that runs May 27 - May 31.

On the Trek website he said, "We thought a while back at the Tour of California or the Giro (two races held at this time), but in the end we opted for Norway and the Fjords Tour (from 27 to 31 May)," said Fabian Cancellara on the site of his training Wednesday. "I'm glad I made a decision. I do not like when things are not clear. I have already juggling a lot with time, to wonder where I have to go train. "

"I'm not worried about my form," said Fabian Cancellara. "It's hard to quote a percentage on the status of my condition. But most of all, it is the rhythm you lose. When I started training again, I was already really tired after 3 hours and a half drive. The next day, I drove 4 hours. It was already better. We must rediscover the habit. I have no hurt for about a week, even if I still feel after training. I have not touched the bike for three weeks. I was frustrated. When you fall because of an error, you can not take you as yourself, but the circumstances of my fall are not very clear. I do not quite remember, but I know I could not do anything. "

Welcome back Spartacus.

Fabian Cancellara after crashiong at the 2015 E3

Fabian Cancellara after crashing at the 2015 GP E3

Giro d'Italia News

Of course, the Giro d'Italia is the big dog in May. There are a lot of reports and news from the teams.

We'll start with Orica-GreenEdge, which has led the Giro from the start:

The ‘Maglia Rosa’ has once again changed hands today, Australian Simon Clarke finishing second on the fourth stage to claim the overall lead from teammate Michael Matthews. Clarke will be the third Orica-GreenEDGE rider to don the pink jersey at this year’s Giro d’Italia, following stints by Matthews and Simon Gerrans.

The 28-year-old finished at the head of a select group, 22 seconds behind solo winner Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin). He leads the general classification by ten seconds from teammate Esteban Chaves, who also finished in the small group of overall contenders.

"It's a pretty special moment,” Clarke said. “You could see the emotion on the line. I'm stoked to keep the Maglia Rosa in the team. I couldn't hold it back, keeping it at Orica-GreenEDGE. It has been an awesome start to the Giro for us.”

Simon CLarke in pink

Simon Clarke was in pink after Giro d'Italia stage 4

It was the second consecutive day in the breakaway for both Clarke and Chaves, a consideration the pair were well aware of. “Myself and Esteban Chaves really had to ride smart today because we had one day’s breakaway already in our legs and that really takes it’s toll,” Clarke said. “During the stage we missed a few small attacks because we really had to be selective of the moves we followed to conserve as much energy as possible.

“When the GC guys caught us we had managed to conserve enough that we were two of the few guys that were able to jump on the back and finish with the front group.”

On what was a day that no one could have predicted, sport director Matt White was pleased with the team’s reaction to the unexpected race outcome. “Today’s stage showed how riders make courses,” White said. “That stage could have ended up in a 50-up sprint, instead we saw the first selection for the Giro d’Italia. The team reacted perfectly. We had our three climbers in the breakaway so we were in the perfect position again. Pieter Weening got dropped because he was sick, but having Clarke and Esteban there was ideal for us.

“What many people wouldn’t have seen was the effort by all the guys to control which break went away, it was another full team effort today.”

How it unfolded: Today’s 150km stage four from Chiavari to La Spezia set off much like the day prior, a large group of around 25 riders forming at the front of proceedings. Simon Clarke and Esteban Chaves rode themselves into the move for the second consecutive day, this time joined briefly by ORICA-GreenEDGE teammate Pieter Weening.

With the pace fierce, the formation was volatile as the head of the race changed shape on a number of occasions. With 80km to go a group of 17, with Clarke in toe, was joined by an additional 12 riders, including Chaves, the pair again patrolling the action as the gap to the peloton grew to ten minutes.

The composition of the group continued to change as riders negotiated the second categorised climb of the day. Behind them Astana joined the chase, the pace too much for the majority of the peloton, including leader Michael Matthews who began to suffer. Over the top, six riders distanced a second small group, with Chaves and Clarke, by 25 seconds. The peloton had reduced their gap to six minutes.

The two groups once again rejoined on the descent, a break of 15riders the new leaders. Whilst the peloton dramatically reduced in number courtesy of Astana’s pressure, the gap followed suit, down to just a couple of minutes ahead of the final climb. From the front group, Formolo, aware of the intensity of the chase, made his move before the small peloton joined his former breakaway companions as he survived to the line.

Tomorrow, stage five presents the Giro d’Italia’s first hill top finish for 2015, a category two finale in Abetone. Starting in La Spezia, the peloton will first negotiate a smaller category three climb earlier in the 152km stage.

And then there's the news from Cannondale-Garmin, team of stage winner Davide Formolo:

Davide Formolo took his first professional win for Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling in style on Tuesday, soloing across the finish line in La Spezia to capture the fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The Italian was part of a large breakaway that repeatedly fractured and reformulated throughout the dramatic day.

“It feels amazing to win,” said Formolo. “I’m 22 years old, and I’ve dreamed of this for 22 years.”

Tom Danielson joined Formlo in the main escape of the 150 kilometer stage that began in Chiavari. Cannondale-Garmin were prepared for an aggressive day of racing and believed their best chance for a result would be from a breakaway.

 “We really started the race aggressively and Davide was a part of that with Tom Danielson in the break,” said Sport Director Charly Wegelius. “Big breakaways can be very unstable,” Wegelius added. “They can split up and come back together again, just like it did today. It’s very important to keep your wits about you, and Davide did that really well.”

Formolo repeatedly fought to stay on the right end of any splits that formed. When there were only six riders powering their way up the penultimate climb that would eventually see the peloton split to pieces, Formolo was there. When a lone leader went away, Formolo was an integral part of the chase. Heading into the last categorized climb, Formolo rode strongly in the 12-rider group.

“It was a really hard day because it always up and down and never flat,” said Formolo. “The break always rode very hard. It was a very difficult day, but I am so happy with the result for myself and the team."

Davide Formolo

Davide Formolo heads for the finish.

The second-year professional made the race-winning move just before the base of the Biassa. It was the final climb on the menu, topping out 10.1 kilometres before the finish. “That attack – he did it all on his own,” said Wegelius. “It was his instinct in that moment.”

Formolo rode up the Biassa with two breakaway riders giving a spirited chase. Further back, the remnants of the peloton began to attack up the climb. Formolo’s gap to the two chasers remained steady as the overall contenders began to close in on the lone leader.

Formolo clung to his advantage on the final descent and hit the flat run-in to the finish 20 seconds ahead of the chase group that had swelled in size downhill. His chasers were in sight, barely, as Formolo crossed the finish line with a huge smile and hands thrown up in the air in celebration of his first professional victory at his first Grand Tour.

 “He rode with a lot of class,” said Wegelius. “It’s a great result from a young rider that we know has a lot of promise. He showed that promise to the world today. We are very proud.“

LottoNL-Jumbo was not happy with the outcome of Giro stage 4:

The riders turned the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia into a combat zone on Tuesday. The favourites hunted each other down in the 150-kilometre stage from Chiavari to La Spezia. Team LottoNL-Jumbo leader Steven Kruijswijk was one of the victims. Martijn Keizer was in a long breakaway.

Kruijswijk finished eight minutes and 27 seconds behind winner Davide Formolo. The Italian Cannondale-Garmin rider was the only one able to withstand the favourites’ moves.

Simon Clarke of Orica-Green Edge led the chase group and took over the maglia rosa from his team-mate Michael Matthews. Despite losing time, Kruijswijk moved up to 36th overall, at 8’51”.

“Steven is really disappointed, but we have to move on,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. "We will continue to fight for the overall. We’ll see how far we’ll get. We know that Steven is always one of the better riders in the final week. It’s our challenge to finish in the top ten.”

Boven saw things go south just before the feed zone. “A number of teams that were not represented in the break went full gas. A few places ahead of Steven, the peloton split. Steven managed to re-connect, but just when he did, Astana took the front. After that, it was a 55-kilometre battle to the line. Martijn waited for Steven and dragged him to the last climb, but the gap was already too big.”

Keizer was part of a larger lead group that at one moment had a 10-minute gap. With 80 kilometres to go, he collided with a young fan. Eventually, he slotted in 57th, at 13’15”. “I hope the boy is OK,” Keizer said. “It happened in a clumsy way. A rider attacked but when he saw that I was in his wheel, he steered to the side, and that was when the little boy and I collided.”

Keizer was not planning to attack on Tuesday. “I wanted to stay with Steven, but when a big group took off, I decided to go along. It’s always good to have someone in the break. “I felt that we were riding for the victory, although I knew I needed luck to win. There were quite a few strong climbers with us. In the final kilometres, I still was able to help Steven, although I wasn’t fully fit anymore because of my crash.”

Robert Wagner finished outside the time limit on Tuesday. “No crash and no illness, my weight is fine and I had a good preparation, but I just don’t have any power in my legs. I have no explanation”, he said.

“Robert was already struggling yesterday and today again,” Boven said. “Soon he was all by himself. Losing him is a disappointment, he’s important for Moreno Hofland in the sprints.”

The peloton faces the first summit finish of the race on Wednesday. Despite the hard racing and time differences, Boven is counting on a fight between the GC riders to Abetone. “I think that the favourites will want to fight for victory as it’s the first uphill finish.”

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Giro report:

Roman Kreuziger and Alberto Contador move to 3rd and 4th overall after stage 4 of Giro d’Italia. The day was marked by hectic racing on a draining Ligurian parcours, where Tinkoff-Saxo placed Kreuziger in the 28-rider breakaway with the intention of putting pressure on several rival teams. Ultimately, Davide Formolo was the only rider from the breakaway that kept the attacking favorites behind.

After the stage conclusion, Tinkoff-Saxo team leader Alberto Contador notes that his shape was good on “a very tough stage at Giro d’Italia”.

“It was a fast and hard day again but the team was fantastic once more. My sensations were good and I felt well on the climb – this is important. The entire team did a good job today and we saved energy as a result of having Roman in the breakaway controlling the race from the front. In the finale, I had Roman in front of me and Rogers right with me until the last climb, where we caught the group with Roman”, says Alberto Contador, who expects another strenuous day on tomorrow’s stage to Abetone.

alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at the pre-Giro press conference with the Giro trophy

For Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Lars Michaelsen, the 150km stage 4 to La Spezia ended as the team had hoped but with a few tense moments along the course of the stage. “At some point it perhaps got a bit too exciting, but then again, we were still far from the finish. The tactical decision-making process was made difficult by the somewhat lack of information out on the parcours. Suddenly the break had a ten-minute lead and we had to send some guys to the front to keep the leading group within reach. But all in all, it was another difficult stage, where Alberto did well and received the support he needed from the guys that are doing a fine job”, tells Lars Michaelsen, who elaborates on the reason for having Kreuziger in the big breakaway group.

“A part of our strategy was to abdicate some of the responsibility that we’ve taken the last stages and put teams like Astana in a situation, where they had to spend some energy at the front. Having Roman in the breakaway allowed us to do this, while still ensuring that nothing ran out off hand. The intermezzo in the breakaway, where nobody wanted to pull, also meant that the bunch could gain back time fast”, concludes Lars Michaelsen.

Lotto-Soudal sent me this Giro report:

The fourth Giro stage was a real spectacle, one of the leading roles was for Maxime Monfort! The peloton started in Chiavari for a relative short stage of 150 kilometres to La Spezia. There lay three climbs of third category on the route and in between it was never flat. Immediately after the start there were a lot of attacks. Just like yesterday a large group, of 28 riders, got in front. This time Maxime Monfort was part of it.

On the second official climb Monfort rode in front with six others. After that Passo del Termine riders returned from the background. In had seemed that the peloton wouldn’t get a change to fight for the stage win, but on the Passo del Termine Astana raised the tempo. Only nineteen riders reached the top together, Jurgen Van den Broeck was one of them. In the local lap of seventeen kilometres the last climb was situated. Davide Formolo attacked. He was the only escapee that could stay ahead of the group of favourites. Monfort arrived 42 seconds later in a second group, together with Van den Broeck. In GC Jurgen is now 20th at 1’21” of leader Simon Clarke, Maxime is 21st in the same time.

Maxime Monfort

Maxime Monfort at the 2015 Etoile de Besseges

Maxime Monfort: “It wasn’t planned that I’d join a breakaway today. I noticed there was no organization in the peloton and that many riders could jump away. Then I thought, why wouldn’t I attack as well if they let a large group go. You don’t use more power than in the peloton and I could gain time for GC. But also in the front group there was no organization, there were attacks all the time; that’s the disadvantage of a large breakaway. There are always riders who want to hide and don’t do their part of the work and that causes problems. At a certain point I got in a second group at three minutes of the leaders, but we could rejoin them. That cost energy.”

“Later, four riders got away and together with the future stage winner I closed the gap, we worked well together. Then I still believed the victory was possible. I thought this could be the good group, but others could return. By the end of the stage I had cramps, so on the last climb I couldn’t go full.”“It’s unbelievable that this stage caused so much damage. We are only the fourth day of the Giro, with relative short stages, and there are already big time gaps. The GC is shaped a first time and we haven’t had a real climb yet. There are still two and a half weeks to go. I expect many more spectacular things. Tomorrow it’s the first summit finish, in theory not too hard, but you never know in this Giro (laughs).”

The Bayern Rundfahrt-Tour of Bavaria starts today

Here's Cult Energy's preview:

This Wednesday, Cult Energy Pro Cycling take on the German stage race, Bayern Rundfahrt covering five stages of a total of 830 kilometers including a 26 kilometer long time trial.

Historically, the race has several German victors. Jens Voigt and Michael Rich have both won the race three times while Cult Energy’s Linus Gerdemann conquered the top step of the podium in 2009 and DS, Luke Roberts is looking forward to the prestigious race.

"Bayern Rundfahrt is a very well organised and enjoyable stage race, one of the highlights of our calendar, especially for the German contingent of Cult Energy Pro Cycling. The race generally holds a key stage where a pre selection for the Classification will appear before being decided on Saturday’s TT, we can expect some bunch sprint finishes in the other stages,” says DS, Luke Roberts.

Linus Gerdemann

Linus Gerdemann

Cult Energy Pro Cycling will bring a line-up suitable for all terrains and disciplines:

"We will be lining up with previous overall winner Linus Gerdemann, TT specialists Quaade and Larsson, Carbel for the sprints and with the motivated trio of Wegmann, Mager and Kirsch we can confidently go there with high expectations, not just for stage results but also for the overall classification," Roberts concludes.

Last year, Team Sky's Geraint Thomas won the race.

Here's Giant-Alpecin's Bayern Rundfahrt release:

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to the Bayern Rundfahrt with a strong lead-out team for sprinter John Degenkolb (GER).

In previous editions of the race, the team achieved podium finishes in several stages, with a second place for Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) last year, a third place for Degenkolb in 2012 and a second place for Marcel Kittel (GER) in 2011. The best general classification result was realized by Simon Geschke (GER), who took a nice fifth place in the 2013 edition after a week of consistent racing.  

The German five-day race starts this Wednesday and will feature three hilly stages, a 26.1km individual time trial and a relatively flat closing stage finishing in the city of Nuremberg.

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb racing in the 2015 Tour of Flanders

Tom Veelers (NED) will make his return to competition after recovering from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for more than a month. Also in the lineup will be Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), who recently returned from a short break from racing and took third place in the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, and Albert Timmer (NED), who played an important role for the team in the recent spring classics. The roster is completed by cyclo-cross specialist Lars van der Haar (NED) and Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), who will ride in his home country this week.

“Our primary chance for stage success will be with our sprinter John Degenkolb. It is clear that most of the teams will look to us to control the race. If this turns out to be too difficult, we may explore our opportunities with a breakaway,” said coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA).

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