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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, May 14, 2015

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Today's Racing

Three races today:

The sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia, the fifth stage of the Tour of California, and the second stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt -Tour of Bavaria.

Giro d'Italia Team Reports

Of course we start with Tinkoff-Saxo's letter:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador moves into the overall race lead in Giro d’Italia after an attack from our captain sparked a battle for the pink jersey on the final climb to Abetone. Team Owner Oleg Tinkov congratulates his team leader, who himself notes that this is just a taste of what is to come.

An attack with 4.7km to go from Contador wrecked havoc in the favorites group, where Fabio Aru and Richie Porte were the only pre-race favorites able to respond. After a trip to the podium, Contador underlines that he’s delighted to put on the pink jersey despite the Giro still being in its initial phase.

“I didn’t think I’d have the pink jersey so early in the race, as the main objective is to wear it in Milan at the final stage of the Giro. This is just a taste of what is to come, as the race is just getting started. Of course I’m really happy to be in the pink jersey because everybody knows how much I like the Giro d’Italia and how big an experience this jersey is – also for me. We might not try too hard to keep it, for now, but it will be up to the others to take it away from me”, says Alberto Contador before elaborating on what is to come.

After initial groundwork from a well-represented Tinkoff-Saxo squad, Alberto Contador lit the fuse with an attack 4.7k from the line on Abetone. “I took the decision to attack on the final climb to test my rivals. I didn’t feel super, but the result and outcome was positive and by the end of the climb I felt as if I had good legs. We’ve distanced Uran but I also saw that Porte and Aru are in good shape”, adds Alberto Contador, who now leads Giro d’Italia with 2 seconds over Fabio Aru, who took bonus seconds on the line.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador races to Abetone to win the maglia rosa.

For Tinkoff-Saxo’s team owner Oleg Tinkov, stage 5 became a happy milestone, as it was the first time in pink for him as a team owner. “It’s safe to say that today was a special day thanks to my team’s effort. I’ve won four stages in the Giro d’Italia but I’ve never had the Maglia Rosa. It’s the first pink jersey for me as team owner and I’m really excited, especially on behalf of the team. I thank Alberto and the whole squad that have delivered a determined effort”, comments Oleg Tinkov, who was very familiar with the final climb to Abetone.

“Abetone is a climb that I visit frequently on my bike rides. My villa is 30k from the start of today’s stage in La Spezia and I know this area very well. So naturally, it’s special to see my team perform in the area where I live and ride myself. Today, we got the confirmation of who our main rivals are and I rest assured that the team will prevail in what appears to turn into a very exciting Giro”, asserts Oleg Tinkov.

Despite some of the focus turning towards the favorites on the final climb, the stage was won by young Jan Polanc (LAM), who kept the favorites at bay as the last man from the early break. According to Tinkoff-Saxo’s head sports director Steven de Jongh, the strategy had been to allow a small breakaway to escape.

“In the meeting before the start we spoke about that we should avoid letting a big breakaway go. Instead we could see an interest in a smaller group that wouldn’t be dangerous in the GC. Orica took responsibility and controlled much of the stage, while we remained focused on protecting Alberto. In the end, he took the decision to attack, as he knew that he had to drop Chaves in order to take the jersey. He managed to do so, while many GC contenders lost time. I’m pleased with the team’s performance and the guys remain focused on our overall objective”, concludes Steven de Jongh.

And this from Lampre-Merida, the team of stage winner Jan Polanc

Young and princely for his class: Jan Polanc, 23 years old, won the 5th stage of the Giro d'Italia, 152 km from La Spezia to the summit arrival in Abetone.

The victory was obtained in the most familiar way for the Slovenian rider, that is, at the end of a long breakaway that began 20 km in the race with 5 members (Polanc, Tvetcov, Chavanel, Dillier and Domont) and had a maximum advantage of 10'.

Jan raced in a perfect way, especially on the final climb, remaining as solo leader with 10 km to go: he succeeded in reaching the finish first, despite the acceleration of the bunch.

Chavanel was 2nd at 1'13", same gap for Aru, Contador and Porte. Contador is the new leader of the overall classification, Niemiec (today 18th at 2'06") is 28th at 5'10".

Polanc is the leader of the King of the Mountain classification (he'll wear the blue jersey), he won the Premio della Fuga and the Premio Combattività, while Lampre-Merida won the prize as Super Team.

Jan Polanc wins Giro stage 4

Jan Polenc wins Giro stage 5

Polanc turned pro in August 2013 and this is his second participation in the Giro d'Italia. Today he obtained his first victory as a pro (in the Under-23 category he also won the Giro della Regione Friuli and the Piccolo Lombardia).

"It's such a great emotion to obtain my first victory in a special race as the Giro d'Italia and in an important arrival as the Abetone. I won in the way I like the most: attacking. In my pro career, I often pedaled in the breakaways in top races, for instance in the Oropa stage in the Giro d'Italia 2014, in the GP Quebec and in the GP Montreal, in the Giro di Lombardia or, during this season, in the Amstel Gold Race. Today I succeeded in completing the breakaway with a victory.
My task for today was to enter in the breakaways and so I did. Thanks to the cooperation between my breakaway mates, we could avoid the chase of the bunch and on the final climb I knew I was the stronger, so I waited for the best moment to attack.

"This victory is a birthday present for me, because I celebrated my birthday when I was traveling to Sanremo on the 6th of May, and for the team and the sponsor which support us with passion".

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about Giro stage 5:

Steven Kruijswijk lost time on several overall riders in today’s fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia, but nonetheless the Dutch Team LottoNL-Jumbo captain moved up in the general classification. He climbed from 36th to 31st.

The fifth stage started in La Spezia. Early on in the race, some riders managed to separate themselves from the pack. Lampre-Merida’s Jan Polanc was part of the attackers and reached the finish line on top of the 17-kilometre Abetone climb (average gradient 5.4%) first.

Fabio Aru (Astana), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Richie Porte (Sky) attacked each other on the climb and split the peloton into pieces. Aru defeated his rivals in the sprint to line and finished third, at 1’31” from Polanc. The Italian finished right behind Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) who had been in the break all day.

Kruijswijk arrived at the line one minute and 20 seconds behind the group with Contador, who took over the pink jersey.

“It was quite hard to turn the knob after yesterday, as it was a bad day. I lost eight minutes, because the peloton in front of me split at a bad moment. I gave all I had to re-connect and still suffered from those efforts,” Kruijswijk said. “I tried to bring back that good feeling today. I was able to hold on for a reasonable time, but eventually I was dropped because of yesterday’s hard work.”

Kruijswijk remains ambitious. “I want to keep going and see how far I can get. I want to improve and to show myself with an attack in the difficult days, as my legs are fine. A long flight could also be beneficial for my overall.”

Sports Director Frans Maassen sees opportunities for Moreno Hofland on Thursday. The youngster already sprinted to a second place in the second stage on Sunday.

“Normally, tomorrow will be a day for the sprinters. Halfway, we face some proper climbs, but I expect the fast men to survive. It’s going to be a challenge to get Moreno in a good spot for the sprint as we miss Robert Wagner. Moreno’s second place was good for his confidence, though.”

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