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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, May 30, 2015

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Racing Today

Up today: The Giro d'Italia's twentieth stage. More big stuff. The stage will have a long, flat lead-in to the extraordinarily difficult Colle delle Finestre, a descent then a climb to Sestriere. This will be a bad day to have a bad day.

The Tour de Belgique/Ronde van Belgie's fourth stage is a convoluted loop: Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure-Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure

The Tour de Fjords in Norway is running as well. The fourth stage is 178 kilomters going from Stoavanger to Sandnes.

Bike Biz Note

One of the big trends in the bicycle business (and I'm sure in all the business world), is the ever-shortening lines of trade. The retail customer is growing ever closer to the manufacturer with fewer middlemen taking a cut as the product goes by.

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News just reported that the giant wholesaler Quality Bicycle Products will set up its own Taiwan office and buy directly from the manufacturers rather than use the traditional Taiwan system of using a trading agent to buy and ship goods (which I did when I imported Taiwan goods).

Giro d'Italia News

Tinkoff-Saxo almost, almost has this thing won. They sent this report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador directed his full attention towards the fight for pink on the final climb to Cervinia, where he finished together with main rival Landa. The team captain now leads the Giro d’Italia by 4’37” to Aru, who won the stage. With just two days left to race, the scene is set for the final defense of the jersey.

Crossing the line in Cervinia at 2001 meters above sea level after a long 236km stage in the high mountains, Alberto Contador expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the stage.

“The team was good today, and I kept an eye on my closest rival, Mikel Landa. You have to take a tactical decision in the end: Landa and Aru could have taken turns to attack all the way up the final climb. Obviously, I'd like to win a stage, but it is hard. The final group is always small and I don't have teammates with me because they work hard earlier in the stage, so the result today is perfect for me”, says Alberto Contador and adds:

“Anyway, if you ask anyone what they would prefer, a stage win or the Maglia Rosa, they'll say the Maglia Rosa, so I'm very, very happy because I got through another very hard day. The final climb was tough, and Aru was strong and took a great stage win. He's now 2nd in the GC, and I wish him a great future. Tomorrow the stage is really nice, with a very hard climb, perhaps harder than the climbs today. My job will be to withstand the attacks, and it might even be a day, where I will attack, you never know”.

Alberto Contador

Another day, another pink jersey for Alberto.

Stage 19 from Gravellona Toce to Cervinia seemed designed to add to the fatigue of the weary riders, who are just two days from Milan after, what many asserts to have been, one of the toughest editions in recent years. 236km with three cat. 1 climbs took its toll, tells Michael Rogers.

“It was an extremely tough day and a fast start. A lot of the teams that are still looking for results set a hard pace and then Astana rode at a high hard tempo with the objective of winning the stage. In what regards our objectives, Ivan Basso and I were able to stay with Alberto until the final 9k where he could control the events himself”, explains Michael Rogers, who elaborates on the efforts made.

“Today, I consumed 6400 calories so it was a very, very tough day and the fatigue of the race is of course catching up with me and everybody else. We have two stages to go and we still have Alberto in a very good position considering the Maglia Rosa, so we will do our best tomorrow to protect that and keep it all the way to Milan”.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that final climb was affected by the tactical situation.

“It was a good day for us today. The team and then finally Alberto kept everything under control and he remained focused on the overall win. That meant that he had his attention on Landa, as he knew that the gap to Aru was big enough to let him go. Tomorrow is the last hard mountain stage before we reach Milan and we can take a defensive approach knowing that we have two hard climbs left before the final flat stage. We will see what happens but for now, it looks as if the situation is under control but we must remain attentive until the end”, comments Steven de Jongh.

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's news:

Steven Kruijswijk lost his lead in the mountain classification of the Giro d’Italia despite an impressive ride to the Cervinia ski resort today. The Dutch climber placed fifth and although he dropped one place in the general classification, he is still in the top 10. Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked solo and won the stage.

“It was very tough today,” Kruijswijk said. “It was a long day with a lot of climbing. I tried to be with the best uphill again and was hoping to pick up some extra points for the mountain classification. That didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, but I was strong enough to finish fifth again in the end. That is the most important thing for me.

“I want to finish top 10 in the general classification, either way. I will not be able to attack at the Cima Coppi, tomorrow when you look at that stage. I will be quiet and I’m going to try to follow the best climbers again.”

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk climbs in Giro stage 8

“That Steven was able to finish fifth again shows that he is very strong,” sports director, Frans Maassen said. “We’re a little bit between two ideas at this moment. On the one hand, we really want to win the mountain classification, but besides that, we’re trying to finish as good as possible in the general classification. He lost the mountain jersey today, unfortunately. To attack isn’t an option for Steven anymore because they won’t give him enough space, but he can still win the mountain jersey.”

Kruijswijk could win a lot in Saturday’s stage. “He can move up in the general classification,” Maassen continued. “We are very proud of Steven. He is going to finish in the top 10 now, and he forced it all by himself by brave performances and long breakaways at first. Now, he’s able to keep quiet and possibly become one of the best climbers.”

And here's Lampre-Merida's take on Giro stage 19:

As it had often happened during the Giro d'Italia, at least one rider of the Team Lampre-Merida was in the main breakaway of the day.

After 34 km of the 19th stage (236 km from Gravellona Toce to the summit arrival in Cervinia) which were covered at a very fast pace (50 km/h of average speed in the first hour of the race), Diego Ulissi and other 8 riders succeded in escaping from the bunch. Unfortunately for the winner of Fiuggi stage, the cooperation between the attackers got broken on the first KOM climb of Saint-Barthélemy (1st category, 69 km to go), so Ulissi set his own pace and he was caught by the peloton.

Fabio Aru won the stage

Fabio Aru won the stage.

The stage was won by Aru, who preceded Hesjedal (Polanc, 40th, was the first Lampre-Merida rider to finish); Contador is still leader of the overall classification.

"It was very difficult to be in the main breakaway, because the early kilometers were covered at a very high speed" - Ulissi explained - "After such efforts, on the first climb of the stage. Some attacks began in our breakaway group, so no longer were the necessary conditions which could have granted to the breakaway a cahce to reach the arrival, also in consideration of the fact that the bunch was pedaling at a regular and quite high speed. I would have liked to exploit the reamining energy to give more satisfaction to the team, so I tried hard. But today it was not possible".

Przemyslaw Niemiec, as his team mate, was very active in the early kilometers in trying to join a breakaway: "I made many attack attempts, but none were succesful. The three climbs of today stage were suitable for me, so it would have been great for me to be in the head of the race. Unfortunately, I missed the best attack, but at that point I had already spent much energy".

Tinkoff-Saxo was also racing at the Tour de Fjords

Tinkoff-Saxo Michael Valgren played one of the leading roles on stage 3 of Tour des Fjords responding to a string of breakaway attempts until he finally went solo in the last part of the stage. Despite being caught within the 20km marker, Valgred picked up enough bonus seconds to climb to 4th in the overall standings lead by Kristoff, who also scored his third win in a row.

After crossing the line, Michael Valgren explains that his active riding in the breakaways wasn’t originally planned but came as a result of several splits in the main bunch.

“The stage started out fast and hard, as we rode down to 262m below sea level in a tunnel, where Orica then put in a hard tempo on the way up. I was with Chris Anker and Pavel Brutt in a 17-man front group as we reemerged and we had an advantage of about a minute at some point. But Trek and Katusha worked together and brought everything back together. But we were approaching an intermediate sprint, so I decided to attack and get the seconds, cause you never know what the situation is on the final stage”, explains Michael Valgren, who was then accompanied by three riders out front.

“I also won the next sprint in the 4-man group and at some point I sensed that the other guys were tired and some of them didn’t work at the front due to the tactical situation, so I attacked and rode off alone. It was actually a pretty good feeling to be out there for myself after nearly a month without racing. I knew that I would probably get caught again and I stood a slim chance but instead of just following Kristoff to the sprint, I thought I might as well just challenge from the front”, adds Michael Valgren.

Alexander Kristoff wins Tour des Fjords stage 3

Alexander Kristoff wins Tour des Fjords stage 3

Despite being reeled back in with around 18km to go on stage 3 to Sauda, the Danish Champion, who is riding his first race since Liège-Bastogne-Liège, notes that he is satisfied with his current form. “In general, I’m pretty pleased with my current shape ahead of the summer races. Right now I’m fourth in the GC and I had hoped to do a good result but I hadn’t counted on it. I think my altitude training camp went well, normally I need a few races to accommodate afterwards, but this time I think it has been a pretty smooth transition. Let’s see what happens in the last two stages, but I would rather try to win and then get 28th than just hang tight and finish 4th”, underlines Michael Valgren, who is backed by his sports director Nicki Sørensen: “We’re 4th in the GC and although the next two days don’t feature the hardest stage profiles, we want to seize the opportunities and try to win the race. Of course that will be very difficult with Kristoff showing great shape and a strong team but I’m glad to see Valgren riding with motivation and increasing shape. The rest of the guys are ready to support him, while Nikolay, who was 8th in the sprint today, will continue to try”, concludes Nicki Sørensen.

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