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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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Racing Today

Two races today: The Giro d'Italia's eleventh stage and the Tour of Norway (HC) begins today.

Armstrong says Postal sponsorship worth more than they paid him

This from the Associated Press:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Lance Armstrong's legal team argued Tuesday that his Tour de France victories were worth far more to sponsor U.S. Postal Service than they were to him as it detailed part of his defense against a fraud lawsuit filed by the federal government.

In documents filed in federal court, Armstrong's lawyers said the Postal Service's own reviews of its contracts estimated their value at up to $140 million in global exposure in the form of public relations, revenue and product sales. The documents also include a June 2000 presentation to the Postal Service Board of Governors that showed sales spiked $8 million in 1999, the year Armstrong won the first of seven consecutive Tour de France titles.

Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, sued Armstrong in 2010. The federal government joined the case in 2013 after he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during most of his career. The government wants to recover nearly $40 million the Postal Service paid to sponsor his team and damages in the case could soar into the $100 million range.

The court filing came as Armstrong and the government feud over interviewing potential witnesses. Armstrong's team wants to interview Postal Service employees about the sponsorship deal and what suspicions they had about doping, while simultaneously fighting the government's attempts to depose Armstrong's girlfriend, Anna Hansen.

The sponsorship paid for itself ''many times over,'' Armstrong's attorneys argue, noting that Postal's commissioned studies from 2001 to 2004 found the contract was worth about $140 million in exposure in the U.S. and overseas.

To read the whole story, click here.

Giro d'Italia Team Reports

Today's Giro stage was raced at more than 45 kilometers per hour!

Richie Porte hit with 2-minute penalty

Richie Porte was assessed a 2-minute penalty for getting an illegal wheel change when he flatted late in the stage. Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Clarke gave his fellow Aussie a new wheel and rules forbid cross-team help. Porte is now in 12th place in the GC, down 3min 9sec.

Here is Richie Porte's reaction:

It was posted on Sky's website

Q: So Richie, can you tell us what happened out there on the road?

The peloton was going super fast to try and catch the breakaway and get ready for a bunch sprint, and I picked up a front wheel puncture as we were going around a roundabout. I'd gone around it on the left but my team-mates went around the other side. I stopped, and by the time the guys had got back to me Simon (Clarke from Orica GreenEdge) had already stopped and offered me his wheel. It was a spur of the minute thing. Alberto (Contador) summed it up last night - all you are thinking about when something like that happens is 'how can I make sure I lose the least time possible'. I didn't even give it a thought that it might be breaking the rules. Everything was happening so quickly and I was just acting on adrenaline.

Q:What did you think of Simon's help?

A:It was amazing -  really great sportsmanship. For a fellow pro from another team to help out like that - I think it shows cycling at its best.  The sport has made a lot of pretty bad headlines over the years and this was a pretty special moment. Simon is a friend and he showed it yesterday for sure.

Q:What's your reaction to the penalty?

A: I think I had better watch what I say... You might have had a different answer last night! Stating the obvious - it is frustrating but there is no point moaning or complaining. It was a technical infringement - although that was literally the last thing on my mind when it happened. As I said, all I wanted to do was to get to the finish line as fast as possible and limit my losses. It's pretty harsh really that Simon ended up with a two-minute penalty given he was left standing on the side of the road with just one wheel, but there you go.
I have to suck it up and we have to look forward as a team. It has been great to get so much support overnight. That means a lot. No-one should doubt how much I still want to win this race. There are still two weeks to go. It has been a great Giro so far. There is still a lot of racing ahead, some tough stages and this has really fired the whole team up to try to get the time back.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte in the Giro's 10th stage

This Giro d'Italia stage 10 newsletter is from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo got back up to speed after having spent the opening rest day of Giro d’Italia in pink recovering from the first week of racing. Stage 10 saw a breakaway surprisingly make it to the finish line in Forlì, while Alberto Contador extended his lead over rival Richie Porte after a mechanical and penalty for the Sky rider in the finale.

Talking to the press after the stage, Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain Alberto Contador said that it had been a hard stage despite the flat profile. “Yesterday was about recovery and today was almost like a relative rest day, however in the end the stage had been very fast and we had to be attentive, while the 200 kilometers had their effect on the legs”, comments Alberto Contador, who gained a total of 2’47” on Richie Porte (SKY) due to a mechanical in the stage finale costing him 47 seconds and a subsequent time penalty of 2 minutes.

“There’s never an easy day and like Richie Porte’s situation today things can go wrong. Everything is possible and the best case on a stage like this is not to have bad luck. It’s something we repeat every time but it’s true that you can have a puncture or a crash on every stage. I’ve had my bad moment and now Richie had his bad moment today”, added Alberto Contador just after the stage.

Alberto Contador

Albert Contador spent another day staying out of trouble.

Stage 10 from Civitanova Marche took the riders 200km to Forlì on flat roads in Emilia-Romagna. A five-man breakaway took off on the first part of the stage, and, despite the fact that the gap never increased to more than five minutes, a strong tailwind and a consistent effort meant that the sprinters had to concede defeat, while escapee Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) took the win.

For Tinkoff-Saxo, stage 10 was all about protecting the jersey and the captain behind the pink fabric, tells team sports director Steven de Jongh. “Today was very good, we definitely can’t complain as the sprinters’ teams took control after the break grew to above two and a half minute. Our focus was on taking care of Alberto and making sure that he remained safe in the peloton until the finish line”, says Steven de Jongh and adds: “It’s always hard with a fast stage right after a rest day. We had tailwind and high speed and it was hot as well. Combined with lots of roundabouts, these factors made the stage pretty nervous. So I wouldn’t say that it was comfortable for the guys today”.

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about Giro stage 10:

The peloton was having a hard time clicking back into gear today during the 200-kilometre long tenth stage of the Giro d'Italia. On the day after the rest day, a break was able to hold on until the line in Forlì with Nicola Boem (Bardiani) taking the flowers. Moreno Hofland finished 17th.

Boem was one of the five Italians who rode in front all day. The peloton kept the break in check, but started the final chase a little too late, which helped the attackers stay clear until the finish. Oscar Gatto was reeled in by the peloton after a mechanical and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) led the group for fifth.

Hofland would have liked to finish closer to Nizzolo and searched his own heart for answers. “I was a little nervous. It was my own fault that I lost the boys. I’m quite impulsive in my sprints. I have to learn to keep my cool in the final kilometres.”

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Hofland in 2014 when he rode for Belkin

Sports Director Jan Boven explained why the team didn’t help chasing down the leaders. “We agreed on that with the riders in the bus this morning. We are currently with only seven and Steven Kruijswijk is focused on GC. We were expecting a hectic sprint today and so we knew that we needed all five others to assist Moreno. If we would have helped, we would have fallen short in the final kilometres. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned in the sprint, that’s something we should learn from.”

Wednesday’s stage finishes on a special place, on Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, San Marino. Until 2006, Formula 1 races were held on the circuit. The 23-year old Hofland, who loves cars, is clearly a man with a sense of history.

“I know that Ayrton Senna died at Imola in 1994. Finishing on a circuit is always special, especially at this circuit. The stage itself is quite difficult and the laps are too, as there’s a tough climb, but I’ll do my best. I want to hang on as long as possible and try to create an opportunity for myself. Last year in the Tour of Utah, I won a stage on a circuit. I have to say that was a flat circuit, though.”

Tinkoff-Saxo is going to the Tour of Norway

We'll cover it

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Under the cover of Giro d’Italia, Tinkoff-Saxo heads to Tour of Norway with a team looking to perform both in the general classification and in the sprints. With a mix of WorldTour, Pro- and Continental squads, the race will be affected by teams looking to put their mark on the versatile stage race.

While team sports director Nicki Sørensen underlines that several riders will get opportunities to deliver results, the main focus is on strong Russian Nikolay Trusov and young Dane Jesper Hansen.

Nikolay Trusov

Nikolay Trusov

“Our ambition is to support Nikolay Trusov in the sprints, while Jesper Hansen will be our main rider for the general classification. Jesper is in very good shape but some of our other riders, who can do well in hilly and mountainous terrain, will also get a chance if the opportunity arises”, says Nicki Sørensen and adds: “It’s obvious that the focus right now is on Giro d’Italia and our nine guys fighting for the victory there, but our squad for Tour of Norway starts with great motivation looking to show the team colors and secure good results”.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Nikolay Trusov, Jesper Hansen, Chris Anker Sørensen, Evgeny Petrov, Pavel Brutt and Juraj Sagan.

With 908km spread across five stages, the riders of this year’s edition of Tour of Norway can expect back-to-back medium length stages in varying terrain. Although stage 3 with its first category climb in the race finale seems to be the most decisive for the GC, Nicki Sørensen notes that any team looking to perform well must stay attentive throughout the race.

“The race has quite versatile terrain, where stage 1, for instance, presents the riders with a finale on a technical circuit. Already here, it’s important to be well positioned both in terms of the GC and the stage win as well. Then on stage 3, the GC will really come into play but it won’t necessarily be decided before the last stage”, explains Nicki Sørensen.

Aiming for the GC is 24-year old Jesper Hansen, who has deliver consistent performances in the last two editions of Tour of Norway finishing 6th and 7th. Sørensen adds that he will get the chance to step up.

“Jesper has delivered some good GC results in the past and this time we’re looking for a performance among the best. But also Chris Anker Sørensen will get the chance. He just came back from an altitude training camp and should be in shape for this kind of terrain. Brutt has had a race break, but he has been in great shape throughout the season so far, he can perform as well. On the flatter stages, Juraj Sagan, Evgeny Petrov and also Pavel Brutt will be key figures in assisting Trusov in the sprints”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

Tour of Norway begins Wednesday, May 20 and finishes Sunday, May 24.

Lotto-Soudal is also sending a team to the Tour of Norway:

Lotto Soudal is one of the teams that start in the Tour of Norway this week. This is a Europe Tour stage race of five days, from Wednesday 20th May until Sunday 24th May in the south of the country.

The first two stages really suit the sprinters. On the third day the riders have to climb. At 23 kilometres from the finish they will reach the top of a climb of 11.3 kilometres with an average gradient of 7%. After a long descent the last kilometres are uphill as well. In the first half of the fourth stage lies a climb of 24 kilometres with an average gradient of 4.3%. The finish line is drawn on top of a hill of 2.3 kilometres with an average gradient of 7.9%. The last stage ends with three laps with a short hill of 1.6 kilometres. Perfect for an attack. What may be expected of Lotto Soudal?

Mario Aerts, sports director: “The third stage, with a first category climb and an uphill finish, will be very important for GC. We don’t really have a rider for the overall classification, we aim for a stage win. If a stage ends with a bunch sprint, which is very likely in the first two stages, Boris Vallée is our man. Tosh Van der Sande  will sprint if there is a tougher finale and a smaller group heads to the finish. Pim Ligthart is fast as well, he has the capacity to attack in the last kilometer and beat the peloton. That might be an option for the last stage. I also see opportunities for escapees, then it’s up to Dennis Vanendert and Sean De Bie. Vegard Breen is the local hero, he comes back after an injury. He’s very keen, but we’ll have to see how his condition is.”

Vegard Breen gets back in competition in his home country after he was out for three weeks with a double elbow fracture, which he incurred in the E3 Harelbeke at the end of March.

Vegard Breen: “I’m very much looking forward to the Tour of Norway, I’m excited to start racing again. It was a tough time, to be out for several weeks. I stayed positive and focused on my rehabilitation. I’ve been able to resume my normal training rhythm since two weeks and every day I made progress. My goal is to finish the Tour of Norway. Depending on how I feel, my role will become clear during the stage race.”

“It will be nice to race in my home country. Of course I had hoped to start in a better form but it is what it is. My family will come to support me in some stages. No doubt the atmosphere will be good along the route, because cycling is really popular in Norway.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Vegard Breen, Sean De Bie, Pim Ligthart, Boris Vallée, Tosh Van der Sande and Dennis Vanendert.

Pim Ligthart

Pim Ligthart will be at the Tour of Norway

Sports director: Mario Aerts

Stages

Cult Energy will be at the Tour of Norway as well:

Wednesday 20th of May, Cult Energy Pro Cycling take on Tour of Norway. The race contains five stages in all kinds of terrain and the overall winner will have to be an allrounder in spite of the fact that the race doesn't hold an individual time trial. The Danish team enter the race with a strong line-up and DS, Michael Skelde has high hopes:

"We are looking forward to Tour of Norway and we enter the race with optimism. We want to make sure that we flash the jersey and we expect that we have a good chance of an overall result as well. Gustav finished 4th last year and on form, he can do something similar. Unfortunately, we don’t have any sprinters in the line-up so we have to do it from a distance if we want to make a stage result. As teams only count six riders in the race, we might see a different and a more exciting kind of race altogether,” says DS Michael Skelde.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s line-up: Karel Hnik, Michael Reihs, Rasmus Guldhammer, Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann and Gustav Larsson.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer is going to Norway.

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