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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Today's Racing

The ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia is on tap for the day.

Plus the final stages for the Tour of California, the Bayern Rundfahrt-Tour of Bavaria and the the Tour of Picardie.

And, there will be the first stage of the Tour of Japan. We will post the final results of the Tour of Japan, but will not post daily complete results.

Maaike Polspoel departs Team Liv-Plantur

This came from Giant-Alpecin:

Maaike Polspoel (BEL), a member of Team Liv-Plantur, Team Giant-Alpecin’s women’s program, leaves the team. She has been diagnosed with autoimmune pancreatitis, a disease that requires treatment with various medicines, including corticosteroids. The regulations of the MPCC (Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible / Movement for Credible Cycling), of which the Team Giant-Alpecin men’s program and Team Liv-Plantur women’s program are members, do not allow riders to race while being under corticosteroid treatment.

Autoimmune pancreatitis is a disease that can arise spontaneously. “It is a serious disease and proper long-term treatment is necessary, as the pancreas could otherwise deteriorate, with severe consequences”, explained team physician Anko Boelens (NED).

“Being diagnosed with this disease has been a shock for me,” admitted Polspoel. “I will require long-term treatment with corticosteroids and other medicines to overcome it. Thanks to the treatment, I am currently feeling well and able to train. I actually feel fit enough to race again. Due to the MPCC regulations, however, I am not allowed to race while using corticosteroids. I asked the team to terminate my contract, which they did, so that I can go elsewhere and race with immediate effect.”

Giro d'Italia News

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Alberto Contador showed determination, when he accelerated out of the saddle in response to attacks from Fabio Aru and Richie Porte on the final climb of stage 8 in Giro d’Italia. Contador himself notes that he is happy with the outcome.

After having dislocated his shoulder two days ago, Contador and the riders and sports directors of Tinkoff-Saxo were acutely aware of the big test that lay ahead on the stage 8 summit finish to Campitello Matese. After having successfully defended his race lead, even extending it with two bonus seconds, Contador asserted that he had responded well.

"I’m really happy. Yesterday and today have been really hard days. Today the start of the stage was incredibly fast until the break went. Then at the end Astana made it difficult for us. Aru and Richie both wanted to attack but I think that I responded quite well and now I’m off to rest. It was obvious that Aru was going to attack today. Richie and Fabio are both here to win and that’s what they’re trying to do. They tried to get me, they tried to attack me and despite my crash I’ve been able to respond to these attacks", explains Alberto Contador.

The 186km stage 8 from Fiuggi to the 13km and 6.9 percent climb Campitello Matese was won by breakaway rider Beñat Intxausti in front of Mikel Landa, while the GC-riders came in scattered with only Contador, Porte, Aru, Uran and Cataldo in the first group. According to Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh, stage 8 had turned out “very positive”.

“We saw a very, very hard start of the stage with many splits and gaps after 26km of racing followed by a wet descent. We lost some guys in this part, which was unfortunate but they came back up to the front at a time, where the peloton slowed down. Overall the guys did a really good job and once again they were completely focused on supporting Alberto”, says Steven de Jongh, who adds about the action on the final climb.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador stayed out of trouble today.

“It was a very positive day with a good outcome considering the situation after Alberto’s crash. He didn’t lose time and stayed with Aru and Porte allowing him to get through another day. Yesterday he could stay in the saddle but today he had to climb, ride out of the saddle and follow attacks, but he was able to do this. Right now our goal is to survive until the rest day on Monday, but first we have to get through tomorrow’s medium mountain stage”.

Tinkoff-Saxo has undoubtedly been visible at the front of the pack during the first week of racing. But according to Ivan Basso, double Giro-winner and trusted teammate of Contador, the team must do this for another two-weeks.

“I’m happy that it went like this today and that Alberto retains the lead. The Giro is still long and Milan is still far away. It’s normal to spend a lot of energy at the front and in the wind when you have the leader’s jersey. Now Alberto has to improve day by day and we have much work ahead of us”, explains Ivan Basso and adds: “On a stage like today, the main rule of thumb is to stay together and help each other all the way. We hopefully have 15 days left in the front, which of course costs energy, but when you have a big leader you have to be there”, underlines Ivan Basso.

Stage 9 to San Giorgio del Sannio presents the riders with 215 kilometers of constant undulating racing. Alberto Contador leads the Giro d’Italia by 4 seconds in front of Fabio Aru.

LottoNL-Jumbo was in the fight today:

Steven Kruijswijk attacked and tried to stay free in the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia today to Campitello Matese. The climber from Team LottoNL-Jumbo stayed clear of the group until two kilometres from the line, where Benat Intxausti (Movistar) won. Kruijswijk settled for 25th.

The group remained largely together for the first 50 kilometres into the stage. At that point, Steven Kruijswijk realised that he could have a chance.
“I decided to attack on the first long climb of the day,” he explained. “I was planning to try something today and I was feeling good. Behind me, a chasing group full of good climbers arose, but they didn’t work together so well. That’s why I chose to hold my own pace.”

Sports Director Jan Boven encouraged his rider to hang on until the top. “It was restless behind Steven,” Boven said. “We chose to wait for a chasing group on the descent. He hoped that together they would get more space, but they didn’t, unfortunately. At that moment, we knew that Steven had to ride an uphill time trial to the finish on Capitello Matese. He gave his maximum.”

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk on his solo attempt to win the eighth Giro stage

“I had to push as hard as I could to have a chance,” Kruijswijk continued. “I was hoping that they were going to fall apart behind me, but I broke! That’s a pity, but I thought that this was the way for me to win a stage. And I wasn’t far off in the end. I know that reaching the top ten in the general classification is almost impossible and that’s why I want to attack and try to grab a stage victory. I feel that I’m good enough for that and I’m going to try it another time, next week, for sure.”

Sunday’s stage will come too early for Kruijswijk to repeat his effort. “But Martijn Keizer can do it this time, possibly,” Boven added. “It’s going to be a hard stage again. Don’t underestimate the mountains on Sunday’s profile. The main overall riders will decide if a breakaway has a chance to make it or not. Today they rode very aggressively. It’s unpredictable, but we are going to try it another time, anyway.”

Lampre-Merida put a pretty face on a failed break attempt:

For the most of the 8th stage of the Giro d'Italia, 186 km from Fiuggi to the summit arrival in Campitello Matese, Przemyslaw Niemiec pedaled on his new Merida Scultura wearing the virtual pink jersey as leader of the overall classification.

The climber from Lampre-Merida, who started today with a gap of 5'10" to Contador in the overall standing, joined a 12-cyclist breakaway that began on the first meters of the 2nd category climb of Forca d'Acero. After that the first hour of the race was covered at a very high average speed of 47 km/h.

The bunch gave freedom to the attackers, so the breakaway had a maximum lead of 10 minutes,which gave to Niemiec the virtual leadership of the general classification.

Unfortunately, the broken cooperation between the attackers and the work by Astana in the head of the peloton reduced the gap and, on the final climb, neutralized the breakaway. Only Intxausti could escape the chase and he won the stage.

Niemiec crossed the finish line in 33rd position, preceded by Polanc who was 27th at 2'30". Lampre-Merida received the award of the stage's "Super Team" with arrival in Fiuggi.

Niemiec explained that: "The start of the stage was very fast and in the bunch everyone made efforts to be in the head positions. For today, I wanted to check my condition and there was the idea of trying to join a breakaway, so I raced in the front of the peloton and I chose to follow an attack which I considered as good.

In fact, that was the good breakaway and we could reach an interesting advantage. Unfortunately, the top riders wanted to battle on the final climb, so the pace of the chasing group became higher. Intxausti had still some energy to spend and he used them to resist the chase, obtaining the victory.

It was nice to pedal thinking I was the pink jersey".

This about the Tour of California from Tinkoff-Saxo:

I had wondered the same thing...

A stellar performance and sheer willpower on the finishing climb to Mt. Baldy means that Peter Sagan is just 2 seconds from the overall win before the final sprinter's stage Sunday. Tinkoff-Saxo’s team leader fought fiercely to keep his yellow jersey and finished 6th behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe.

Julian Alaphilippe wins Tour of Califonria stage 7

Julian Alaphilippe wins Tour of California stage 7.

Upon crossing the line atop Mt. Baldy after a full day of climbing followed by a finishing flat-out effort, Peter Sagan dismounted his bike and sought the ground to catch his breath before elaborating on his effort.  

"It was a very hard stage with a tough final climb. I wanted to be in the front in order to secure my position in the GC as much as I could, in view of Sunday's fast stage. I did my best and everything will now be decided in the sprints. We will aim at the overall victory and we will give our best to achieve it”, comments Peter Sagan.

Stage 7 took the riders just 129km from Ontario to Mt. Baldy but had three severe categorized climbs along the way to the finish line in nearly 2000 meter above sea level. Team Sky set a hard tempo on the start of the final climb and it wasn’t until the 5km mark that Sagan had to let go of the later stage winner Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep).

However, Sagan kept his pace high to the line to finish 6th on the queen stage limiting his time loss to only 47 seconds. Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Tristan Hoffman didn’t hide the fact that he was impressed with the effort made.

"I think Peter had a fantastic race today and he's only two seconds from the overall lead. That was a serious climb and he managed to stay with the leaders. He showed yesterday he was in great form and I knew he was good. He has also shown in the past that he can climb but Mt. Baldy was an HC climb and this shows he has made a big step ahead as rider. The focus now is on the last stage and the entire squad will do its outmost to help Peter in winning the Tour of California”, underlines Tristan Hoffman.

With just two seconds separating Alaphilippe from Sagan, Sunday will prove crucial. An intermediate sprint gives bonuses of, respectively, 3'', 2'' and 1'', while the finishing sprint gives 10'', 6'' and 4''. As a result, Tinkoff-Saxo’s one and only goal tomorrow is for Peter Sagan to win the Tour of California, where the sprints of stage 8 will decide both stage and race.

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