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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Racing Today

Up today: The Giro d'Italia's eighteenth stage. It finishes with a 1st category climb to Monte Ologno then a 30-kilometer downhill run to the finish in Verbania. Should be interesting. We'll post complete results as soon as they are available

The Tour de Belgique/Ronde van Belgie and the Tour de Fjords in Norway are both running as well.

Giro d'Italia News

This post is from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finished in the front main group sprinting for glory after a fast descend down towards the captain’s hometown of Lugano had ripped the peloton apart. Contador maintains his 4’02” lead before tomorrow’s stage to Verbania that, according to Steven de Jongh, might see the GC guys going toe-to-toe.

Once again there was no rest for the weary in the Giro d’Italia, as stage 17, which on paper looked like a transition stage, turned out fast and hectic. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh asserts that the team did well in protecting the team leader.

“A breakaway went early but it was a fast day. Our boys kept Alberto safe and on the final, fast descend towards Lugano we decided to ride at the absolute front of the main bunch to keep Alberto out of trouble. And that’s what the boys did. We are in a position, where we can’t make any mistakes and we’ve seen that anything can happen even at times, where everything looks safe”, explains Steven de Jongh, who now directs his and the team’s attention towards stage 18 and the final mountainous part of the stage.

“For sure, it’s not going to be an easy day tomorrow. It’s a stage that is obvious for a breakaway but maybe the GC guys want to do something on Monte Ologno or the nice descend to Verbania afterwards. It could very well become interesting”, says de Jongh.

Stage 17 from Tirano to Lugano saw Sacha Modolo (LAM) take the stage win after a sprint decision, while the GC contenders hung tight to avoid losing time, as the peloton fragmented on the descend. Alberto Contador, who still leads the Giro by 4’02” with four days to go, explains that it had been a nervous stage.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador enjoyed another day in pink.

“In theory it was a transitional stage but it was hard. The road went up and down, and we were riding into a headwind for most of the day. The peloton was very nervous, and it was fast, with the three-man breakaway up the road. So far, something has happened almost every day: a crash or a puncture. I'm very happy because I got through the stage safely and arrived in Lugano, where I live, on my home roads. Yesterday was much more wearing than I would have liked, but I'm one day closer to Milan”, tells Alberto Contador after his trip to the podium.

Chris Juul-Jensen, one of the Tinkoff-Saxo riders that have spent hours at the front of the pack in this Giro d’Italia, notes that the adrenaline kick from defending the pink jersey keeps him going.

“I’m starting to feel the exhaustion creeping up slowly but I think that the adrenaline you’re feeling when riding in defense of the jersey is something that will enable me to reach Milano in one piece. Today, it was the best outcome for us and once again a stage like this proves that there are no easy stages during this Giro”, says Chris Juul-Jensen and adds:

“Although it looked on paper to be a transition stage before tomorrow’s harder stage, it still hurt in the legs for everybody also considering the stage we tackled yesterday. But I think we did well and kept Alberto out of trouble and he was hopefully able to rest a bit before he probably has to be there again tomorrow”.

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to report:

Nick van der Lijke was able to mix in the Giro d'Italia’s stage 17 sprint into Lugano today. The young Dutchman recorded a 10th place and the team’s GC captain, Steven Kruijswijk retained the mountain classification lead.

There were only KOM points at stake early on today, on the Teglio, a climb of the third category. The peloton afterwards travelled over relatively flat roads to the finish on Lake Lugano, where Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) sprinted to the stage win.

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk finished the 17th stage in good order.

“It was a tough sprint,” Van der Lijke said after the stage. “Normally, I’d lead-out Moreno Hofland, but he was dropped earlier on. I shifted focus and went for my own chances. I’m glad I could sprint, but unfortunately, I had to close a gap in the run-up to sprint, which wore me out.”

“Nick did well,” said sports director Jan Boven. Moreno was still suffering from his crash yesterday and had to let go of the peloton on the climb at 25 kilometres from the finish. Earlier on, he’d fought back after being dropped in the beginning of the stage.”

Kruijswijk will need to bring his A-game on Thursday to defend the lead in the mountain classification. The top of the Monto Ologno, a first category climb, is 35 kilometres before the finish line.

“Today, we were lucky an early breakaway picked up all the points,” Boven said. “Tomorrow is going to be different because the climb is in the final kilometres.”

Lampre-Merida is enjoying a great Giro. They had this to report:

Lugano is a winning battlefield for the Team Lampre-Merida. After Bonifazio had won the GP Lugano in March, today Modolo obtained in Lugano the success of the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia (Tirano-Lugano, 134 km).

Exploiting the help of the lead-out train composed of Ferrari and Richeze, the Italian sprinter performed a perfect sprint which allowed him to precede Nizzolo, Mezgec and Haussler. This is the second victory for Modolo in the Giro d'Italia, the 4th for Lampre-Merida in the 2015 edition.

Modolo explained that: "The arrival was more demanding than the one in Jesolo, I prefer this kind of course, so I could realize a very impressive sprint.

Sacha Modolo wins Giro stage17

Sacha Modolo wins the Giro's stage 17

Yesterday I suffered as all the other sprinters did, but today I had good feelings, especially on the Croce di Menaggio climb, at 30 km to go, I noticed that I was more brilliant than my opponents. This gave me even more energy and I was very determined to exploit in the best way the support which Ferrari and Richeze gave me once again.

In the downhill to Lugano, we were not in the front of the bunch, but we knew that the other teams could not organize a lead-out train as ours, so we succeded in taking the head positions when we reached the lake shore and there Ferrari and Richeze started their action. I only focused my attention on starting the sprint in the best moment.

I'm very happy for me, my team mates and the sponsors and I'm proud because we've been working hard on improving the lead-out train for months and now it works perfectly".

BMC Came Close in the Tour of Belgium Prologue

Rohan Dennis' team sent this update:

Bornem, Belgium - Former world hour record holder Rohan Dennis of the BMC Racing Team came up two seconds shy to another past world hour record holder, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Wednesday in the prologue of the Baloise Belgium Tour.

Brändle, who held the world hour record until Dennis surpassed it in February, clocked a time of seven minutes and 54 seconds in the 6.85-kilometer race. Dennis was runner-up and BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet and Jempy Drucker were also in the top 10, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said it was disappointing to see Dennis come so close to victory. "Two seconds hurts," Sciandri said. "Rohan is a guy who can win - and he needs to win these prologues. This is his specialty. Maybe the distance wasn't perfect. But he was up there. It is a little bit disappointing. He gave his best, but the win was within our reach."

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis celebrates after winning the 2015 Tour Down Under.

Dennis, who won the Santos Tour Down Under in January, was also runner-up in the other prologue he has ridden this year. In March at Paris-Nice, he was less than a second off the winning time of world road champion Michael Kwiatowski (Etixx-Quick Step).

The five-day race continues Thursday with a 157.5-km road race.

And there was the Tour des Fjords in Norway going on as well

Tinkoff-Saxo has a team at the Norway race and sent me this:

Tinkoff-Saxo got back up to speed in Norway with 177 kilometers of racing along the western inlets on the opening stage of Tour des Fjords. Danish champion Michael Valgren came back from a month-long race break to finish 5th on the stage won by Alexander Kristoff.

Elaborating on the outcome after the stage, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Nicki Sørensen tells that the terrain got a bit too tough for team sprinter Michael Kolar, while Valgren stepped up to represent the team in the final burst for the line in a decimated front group.

“It was a rainy day on small twisting roads up and down along the fjords. As it turned out, it was quite good that we had Valgren, as our designated sprinters Kolar and Trusov didn’t make it over the last climb. It was the hardest stage profile wise in the race, so Valgren was our best option in the sprint and he grabbed a fifth place, which is fine”, says Nicki Sørensen.

Stage 1 from Bergen presented the riders with 177km along the shores to Norheimsund, where Alexander Kristoff won the sprint in a group consisting of just 23 riders followed by a big group trailing by 14 seconds. Michael Valgren last raced at Liège-Bastogne-Liège a month ago, but despite the hiatus from racing, he has returned competitive, asserts Nicki Sørensen.

“Michael has a high basic level so I’m not surprised by the fact that he finished up there today. He’s not in top form and he hasn’t had the optimum preparation ahead of Tour de Fjords, since he last raced in April but he’s in the process of building his shape for this summer. I think he will only get stronger and stronger during the race”, finishes Nicki Sørensen.

LottoNL-Jumbo reports Kevin de Weert is quitting cycling

Kevin De Weert has ended his cycling career as of today. The 33-year-old climber from Belgium says goodbye to the team on his birthday. De Weert rode his last race in Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s yellow and black colours on Saturday the 23rd of May during the World Ports Classic.

"After having worked hard for a year and a half, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot get back into my old shape. For this reason, I’ve decided in proper consultation with the team to quit cycling on a professional level as of today. I’m happy with the decision, even though it comes earlier than planned. I’m unsure what my future will look like, but I’m looking forward to new challenges within this sport,” says a relieved Kevin De Weert.

Kevin de Weert in 2014

Kevin de Weert at the 2015 Tour of Poland.

"We regret Kevin De Weert’s departure. This was not our expectation when we started the collaboration. On the other hand, we support him and wish Kevin all the best,”  says Richard Plugge, Managing Director.

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