Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
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Up today: The Giro d'Italia's seventeenth stage. It's one of the last chances for the sprinters to win a stage.
Giro d'Italia News
16 riders punished for holding onto cars in stage 16:
Leopold König was among the 16 riders who were punished by the Giro for holding on to cars in the hilly 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia. König, currently Sky's GC man and sitting in sixth place overall, was given a 10-second time penalty, docked five points and fined 50 Swiss Francs. Other riders caught cheating included Jurgen Van den Broeck, Sylvester Szmyd, and Chad Haga.
This report came from Tinkoff-Saxo:
Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain took matters into his own hands on the slopes of Mortirolo after an all-out effort from his teammates. Contador bridged the gap to main rivals Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa on the captivating climb after having lost time due to a puncture on the descend from Aprica. “My team has been extraordinary”, says Alberto Contador, who extended his lead to 4’02” over Mikel Landa.
In what many people have already dubbed an epic stage, Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador prevailed and turned a difficult situation into a consolidation of the pink jersey. After crossing the finish line of stage 16 in Aprica, Alberto Contador thanked his teammates for their extraordinary support.
“It was a very hard day, an incredible stage. I’m very proud of all my teammates because they have given 100 percent. They have been extraordinary and people forget that my team is leading the race from the start of the stage every single day. I have this jersey because of them. These are the stages that people remember”, comments Alberto Contador before elaborating on the difficult situation he found himself in on Mortirolo.
“Cycling isn't mathematics: I had a puncture on the descent, Ivan Basso gave me a wheel because he has the same gear as me, but ahead they were going at full speed, and it was impossible to close the gap immediately. On Mortirolo I was focused on keeping my speed, it was like a time trial, I couldn’t lose the moral and I had to keep calm and focus on the road ahead”.
Alberto Contador crested the summit of Mortirolo together with Mikel Landa and Steven Kruijswijk after having bridged the gap to Fabio Aru and soon after dropped him. With 4k to Aprica, Landa attacked Contador and Kruijswijk, who had led the trio after Mortirolo, and won the stage with 38 seconds.
“It was hard for me on the final part, but I'm very happy with the time gaps now. I would have liked to help Steven Kruijswijk, but it was not to be. To Mikel Landa, I can only say: chapeau. Kruijswijk deserved the win but in cycling everybody has their interests and I respect that”, tells Alberto Contador.
Steven Kruijswijk leads Alberto Contador across the line at the end of stage 16.
On the run-in towards Mortirolo, Michael Rogers was one of the Tinkoff-Saxo riders riding to exhaustion to decrease the gap to the front group of favorites paced on by Astana.
“It’s not over until it’s over. I think it was a great performance of the team and I see that there has been criticism by people outside that we can’t support Alberto on the climbs. But tell me any team that could have done what we did today to get him back within striking position before Mortirolo. Then, certainly, Alberto brought it on and turned a negative situation into a positive one and even extended his lead”, explains Michael Rogers, who adds: “For me, today was certainly very tough and I spent a lot of energy on bringing Alberto back and my race was well and truly over before the start of Mortirolo, but that was the plan today. If it hadn’t been us chasing in the valley, we would have been at the front setting the tempo for Alberto before the climb to put him into a good position. At the end of the day, we’re still here, still fighting and we still have the pink jersey and we’re going to keep fighting all the way”.
The 177km stage 16 from Pinzolo to Aprica was expected to showcase the true strength of the contenders fighting for the GC. But Tinkoff-Saxo’s race took an unexpected turn as Alberto Contador suddenly found himself trailing by 55 seconds at the foot of Mortirolo. Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh explains the situation.
“It was quite tense, when Alberto and the guys were 55 seconds behind before Mortirolo. At some point we realized that at front they weren’t waiting for the pink jersey. Then, of course, you try to motivate the team to bring Alberto into a good position ahead of Mortirolo, and in the end Alberto did an unbelievable climb. He did the climb 2’40” faster than Aru. In one sentence; Alberto did a hell of a climb”, tells Steven de Jongh before assessing the team effort: “The boys did a great ride both before and immediately after the puncture and they can be really proud of themselves. Anybody who is criticizing the team here at the Giro should take a look at the entire race and analyze each stage - from the start of each day. I can only say that I’m very proud of them”.
LottoNL-Jumbo was certainly happy with stage 16, here's their report:
Steven Kruijswijk made a massive impact in the queen stage of the Giro d'Italia today to Aprica. The Dutch Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider placed second in stage 16 behind Mikel Landa of Astana. With his ride, Kruijswijk jumped from 14th to eighth overall and claimed the blue mountain jersey.
The 16th stage stunned the peloton in advance. During Monday’s rest day, the riders had plenty of time to absorb the day’s profile. After they saw what was waiting for them, they crawled on their Tacx trainers early in the morning to warm up. After the start, it was straight uphill. Via the Campo Carlo Magno and the Passo del Tonale, the pack headed to the scary steep Mortirolo, where Kruijswijk laid the foundation for placing second with an attack.
Kruijswijk was followed by pink jersey Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Landa on the 13-kilometre long climb. With a good final effort, he arrived at the top first and secured the blue jersey.
The three headed towards the finish together. Landa had saved his energy while sitting in Kruijswijk’s wheel, with the excuse that his team-mate Fabio Aru was chasing behind them. He attacked with a few kilometres to go and won the stage. Kruijswijk sprinted to second.
"Did Contador call me the strongest man in the race? That’s a great compliment,” Kruijswijk said immediately after the stage. “I have to say I felt very good. I’m very satisfied with my legs at the moment. Hopefully, I can benefit from it during the rest of the week as well.”
Kruijswijk realised that winning the stage was going to be hard, when he started the final uphill kilometres to Aprica. “Landa was just too strong. I already knew that before the rest day. I therefore decided to take as much time as possible in the last ten kilometres, instead of fighting for a stage win,” Kruijswijk said. His plan helped him to move into the top ten of the general classification.
“I didn’t expect this,” Sports Director Jan Boven explained. “The way Steven realised this is very special. He led the race from the bottom to the top of the Mortirolo. His altitude training camp is paying off now.”
Mikel Landa attacks Alberto Contador and Steven Kruijswijk
Boven also praised the rest of the team. “The other guys delivered today. Maarten Tjallingii, Martijn Keizer and Nick van der Lijke dropped off Steven at the front for the Mortirolo. The first descent of the Aprica was quite dangerous and Contador lost some time, but we were right were we had to be.”
Now Kruijswijk has the blue jersey on his shoulders, the team wants to hang on to it. “But we continue to take things day by day. When Steven lost eight minutes, we remained calm and we’ll continue to do so. Frans Maassen and I will keep preparing the riders as well as possible for the stages. We will give Steven useful information. We must be attentive, every day.”
Kruijswijk and the other GC riders can somewhat recover from their efforts on Wednesday. After a relatively flat 134-kilometre stage from Tirano to Lugano, it is likely that the sprinters will decide who will take home the flowers.
“Moreno Hofland crashed today and hurt his shoulder,” Boven said. “That was a shock. We have to wait and see tomorrow. Anyway, it’s going to be an exciting day, as we start the day with a climb.”
Lampre-Merida had this to say about Giro stage 16:
The demanding start of the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia did not muffle the fighting spirit of Przemyslaw Niemiec, who attacked once again, even if without luck.
The early 13.3 km of the race rose to the summit of the Campo Carlo Magno KOM, after which the riders covered 16 km of downhill before approaching the Passo del Tonale climb, where Niemiec escaped from the bunch with 10 attackers.
Unfortunately, the peloton decided to chase the breakaway, causing the neutralization of the attackers' action before the passage on the Mortirolo. Niemiec preferred to save energy, completing the stage in 29th position.
"The early kilometers of the stage was very demanding, because of the climb and because of the cold and the rain" - Niemiec explained - "The first selection was natural, then the battle began and I focused my attention on joining a good attack attempt. I succeded in joining a ten-rider breakaway but, as already happened on Sunday, the bunch did not give us too much freedom".
Lampre-Merida will start tomorrow from Tirano without Xu Gang. The Chinese rider did not complete today's stage, suffering a bad day: the blue-fuchsia-green team thanks Xu for his support and his generous behaviour during the Giro d'Italia.
Lotto-Soudal's sponsorship change for the Tour of Belgium
The team sent this note:
For the Baloise Belgium Tour (27 – 31/05) Lotto Soudal will become Joker+ Soudal. Joker+ is a game of the Belgian National Lottery for which the participants have to choose their favourite zodiac sign. To put Joker+ in the picture the riders will wear outfits of Vermarc that are especially designed for this occasion and helmets of Lazer.
The logo of Joker+ will temporarily be placed on the right and left side of the shorts. The eyecatcher will definitely be the jersey of the Joker+ Soudal riders which has the colours of Joker+, that’s mainly orange. Colourful accents have been added and on the back the twelve zodiac signs are visible. The riders will definitely be easily to spot in the peloton!
Each rider has a helmet with his star sign on: pisces for Tiesj Benoot, sagittarius for Jasper De Buyst, scorpius for Thomas De Gendt, virgo for Jens Debusschere, cancer for Gert Dockx and Jürgen Roelandts, taurus for Marcel Sieberg and aquarius for Jelle Vanendert. In the next days you’ll discover if their characters correspond to their zodiac sign.
And here's more Lotto-Soudal Tour of Belgium news:
The next five days (27 – 31/05) Lotto Soudal will ride the Baloise Belgium Tour as Joker+ Soudal. This Europe Tour race starts today with a prologue of 6.85 kilometres in Bornem.
Herman Frison, sports director Joker+ Soudal: “We go to the Belgium Tour to win a stage and get a good GC. This is an important race for us as Belgian team. We want to put even more attention to the action of Joker+ Soudal by setting good results. It doesn’t matter which rider wins a stage. We have Jens Debusschere in our team, but also Jasper De Buyst is fast. We have several options with Tiesj Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Jelle Vanendert in the selection. For Jelle this is his first race after a rest period.”
“The prologue is important for the GC riders. Often it’s close together in the top five. The bonification seconds will be important, which can be won at the intermediate sprints of the Golden Kilometre and at the finish. There are three tough stages. In the stage to the Flemish Ardennes, with the cobbles and hills in the finale, important time gaps can be created. The Petiti Poggio lies closer to the finish of the Saturday’s stage than the previous years and the hill has to be covered several times, so that stage has become harder. The toughest stage is the last one.”
Jelle Vanendert will be riding for Joker-Soudal at the Tour of Belgium
Jürgen Roelandts: “The World Ports Classic was my first race since the classics. I didn’t have much time to get used to the race rhythm, because the pace was really high. We had an average speed of more than 45 km/hour on Saturday. But still, I immediately felt it went smoothly. Of course it’s nice the team won with Kris Boeckmans. I did his lead-out in the second stage, that means I was good in the finale. This is hopeful.”
“I’d love to win a stage in the Belgium Tour, but this is also a preparation for the Tour de Suisse and the National Championships at the end of June. My next main goals lie in August and September. As I said, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do well in this Belgium Tour, on the contrary. In the stages of Friday and Saturday I definitely want to have a go. I will also help the team if we get a bunch sprint in Knokke-Heist.”
Selection Joker+ Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Vanendert.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.
- Prologue: Wednesday 27th May: Bornem – Bornem (6.85 km)
- Stage 2: Thursday 28th May: Lochristi – Knokke-Heist (178.5 km)
- Stage 3: Friday 29th May: Knokke-Heist – Herzele (201.1 km)
- Stage 4: Saturday 30th May: Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure – Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure (158.5 km)
- Stage 5: Sunday 31th May: Sankt Vith – Sankt Vith (199.2 km)
Tinkoff-Saxo sent this about their Tour des Fjords participation
After a successful stint at Tour of Norway resulting in the overall victory, Tinkoff-Saxo looks to continue to create top results at Tour des Fjords. The majority of the team has stayed in Norway, while Jesper Hansen, last week's overall winner, and Evgeny Petrov will be replaced by Michael Valgren and Michael Kolar, who will lead the team in the Norwegian fjords.
Elaborating on the team’s ambitions, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Nicki Sørensen tells that the squad continues to aim high. “We will target both stage wins as well as the general classification. It will naturally be a difficult task, like in all races, but we will give it our best. We are up against a rider like Kristoff, but it will not deter us from trying. We got Michael Kolar for the sprints backed by the likes of Trusov and Brutt. For the GC we have Michael Valgren, who will also keep an eye on the possibility to take a stage win on the tough stages”, says Nicki Sørensen and adds: “Kolar proved in Turkey that he is fast in the sprints and he will receive full support on the stages that suits him. Tour des Fjords doesn’t have the same long climbs as in Tour of Norway, so if Valgren has the legs, he will be competitive in the GC”.
Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Michael Valgren, Michael Kolar, Nikolay Trusov, Chris Anker Sørensen, Juraj Sagan and Pavel Brutt.
Chris Anker Sorensen will ride the Tour des Fjords
Tour des Fjords takes the riders 911km in undulating terrain along the fjords of Western Norway. While there isn’t a definitive queen stage, Nicki Sørensen underlines that all days can prove decisive according to how the stages are raced.
“I wouldn’t say that the GC will be decided on a specific stage. Rather, there are many sections during the race that could prove decisive. It depends on several factors including the tactical situation. An important part of our squad is Chris Anker, who will once again play the part as road captain. It’s a role that he handled really well in Tour of Norway, where he did not take his responsibilities lightly”, comments Nicki Sørensen.
“Chris Anker is also able to assist Valgren in the critical situations, where a dangerous breakaway has to be brought back in during the last part of the stage. But most important is the fact that the team is motivated and starts the race with a desire to create results, as they did in Tour of Norway, where they executed the team plans very well”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.
Tour des Fjords begins Wednesday, May 27 and finishes Sunday, May 31.
- Dates: 27 – 31 May
- Number of stages: 5
- Total length: 911 kilometers
- Kind: 2.1 stage race
- First edition: 2008
- Last year’s winner: Alexander Kristoff
- Best GC result of Tinkoff-Saxo: 4th - Michael Valgren (2014)
BMC's Stefan Küng released from Hospital
BMC sent this news about the injured rider:
St. Gallen, Switzerland - Stefan Küng of the BMC Racing Team was released from a Swiss hospital Tuesday, less than a week after fracturing his vertebrae in a crash at the Giro d'Italia.
Küng was able to walk to an afternoon news conference at Kantonsspital St. Gallen. He thanked the team management and staff and everyone who has helped him since his crash last Thursday while descending a mountain pass in the rain on Stage 12.
"I feel good, I can sleep, I can stand up, I can take a shower," he said. "I am kind of back to normal - not on my bike - but I am feeling good. Under the circumstances, I can be very happy that I can already go home."
Küng's attending physician, Dr. Fabrice Külling, said the reigning world individual pursuit champion is making a good initial recovery. Küng did not suffer any brain damage and he is not expected to undergo any operations, Külling said.
"The kind of fracture he had, a lot of times it happens that they have neurological complications," Kuelling said. "Lucky for him, he is doing fine. He was also lucky because the fracture was in the thoracic region, which is pretty stable - even though it is what we call an unstable fracture. I think he is doing fine because he is a good sports guy."
Kung said he considers himself lucky not to have suffered a more serious or permanent injury. Two riders slid out in front up him and he shot over his handlebars, landing on his head and suffering a compression fracture of his T9 vertebrae.
Stefan Küng before he was injured.
"I am very happy that my back is not harmed," Küng said. "I am still able to walk and I am not paralyzed, which is always possible with a vertebrae fracture. For a sportsman, it is very hard to lay in bed, coming out of the Giro ... 12 stages ... every day on the bike ... and then just laying in the bed. It is really hard. I always want to go forward. I am kind of a person who always needs somebody to hold me back. Now it is my back that is holding me back."
Külling said Küng will have to wait at least six to eight weeks before he can even consider riding again. Additional examinations and water therapy will determine how his rehabilitation progresses.
A solo winner of a stage of the Tour de Romandie and the Volta Limburg Classic, Küng is disappointed to miss his goal race of the year, next month's Tour de Suisse. But he said he has new goals now.
"For sure, I will be back on my bike. I am not sure at which level, but I think in six weeks," he said. "That is the first goal I have. Then we will see how it goes, day-by-day."
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