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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, October 1, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Racing schedule:

Yesterday, Wednesday the 30th, we had the Tre Valli Varesine.

Today, there is a stage of the Tour de l'Eurométropole in France.

Plus, in Italy, there is the big-deal Milano-Torino. It's a single-day race.

Marcel Kittel to Etixx-Quick Step?

Belgian website nieuwsblad.be reports that Etixx-Quick Step has a "gentleman's agreement" with German sprinter Marcel Kittel. This gives team boss Patrick Lefevre a good (perfect?) replacement for departing speedster Mark Cavendish.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel

Kittel currently rides for Giant Alpecin and his contract goes through 2016. That means extra money is changing hands to buy out the balance of Kittel's contract in order to make the transfer happen.

This will give Kittel a chance to race again with his good friend Tony Martin.

LottoNL-Jumbo's Tour de l'Eurométropole report:

Martijn Keizer missed the victory in the prologue of the Tour de l’Eurométropole on Wednesday by just three seconds. Only Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) was faster than the Team LottoNL-Jumbo time trialist over the 7.7-kilometre time trial.

“When you’re that close, it’s very annoying to finish second,” Keizer said after the race. Gougeard profited from racing the Vuelta, just as I did. I knew that he would be able to deliver a good prologue.

“I did the best I could over a very tough course. I spread my energy evenly as possible, but someone was faster. It’s a big disappointment. I was looking forward to this day since the Vuelta. This should’ve been my day, but I was the second best.”

Martijn Keizer

Martijn Keizer racing earlier this year.

“Martijn aimed for the first victory of his career,” Sports Director Erik Dekker added. “He was very close. The first two riders were close to each other, with a big difference to the others. Martijn did a good job and put us in a great position for the rest of the week.”

Sprinter Tom Van Asbroeck time trialled to a top result, as well. He placed 14th at 29 seconds.

“He did a great job as well,” Dekker continued. “But he has to win three stages to earn enough bonus seconds to win the overall. We’re starting that game of seconds tomorrow, and we will see what it brings us. We started this race well thanks to Martijn’s performance.”

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's news regarding Milano-Torino:

Top contender and podium finisher at La Vuelta, Rafal Majka, will lead Tinkoff-Saxo at Milano-Torino with a steep finale suited for the climbers. The squad in Italy reports that the Pole has successfully recovered from the Grand Tour, while Daniele Bennati will play the leading role as team sprinter at Gran Piemonte.

According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Bruno Cenghialta, Rafal Majka stands a fair chance of snatching a top result in Thursday’s Milano-Torino.

“Milan-Torino is for the climbers and riders that can cope with the hard finale. We face the Superga climb twice - it’s 5 kilometers long with 9.1 percent in average and sections up to 14 percent. For us, it’s a good parcours for the finale and our ambitions, as we have Rafal Majka as our team leader. I think he can do a top 3 if he has the day. The majority of the race is on flat roads but during the final 25 kilometers, we will see a big battle between the favorites”, says Bruno Cenghialta and adds:

“Majka has recovered well after the Vuelta, he feels that he is mentally recovered as well and I reckon that he can take up the fight against the other big names. Poljanski is our second opportunity but the primary plan is that he will support Majka in the finale together with guys like Hansen, Chris Anker and Kiserlovski. It’s important that we enter the final climb in a good position, as the pace will be very high from the bottom of the climb. The race will also be a good opportunity for Majka to build speed in the legs ahead of Lombardia on Sunday”.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka winning stage 11 of the 2015 Tour de France

For the 185km Milano-Torino, Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Rafal Majka, Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Jesper Hansen, Robert Kiserlovski, Jesús Hernández, Bruno Pires and stagiaire Felix Grossschartner.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s squad in Italy resumes racing a day later, Friday, as the leading role is transferred to Daniele Bennati at the tough sprinter’s race of Gran Piemonte.

“Piemonte is a very different race from Milano-Torino. It almost always ends in a bunch sprint, where the race is decided between a group of 40-50 riders. There’s a lot of twisting roads but the parcours is mainly flat, so we will try to protect Daniele Bennati and set him up in the final sprint. Bruno Pires is in shape and he will either work for Benna or open up the race, but it all depends on how the action evolves”, comments Bruno Cenghialta.

For Gran Piemonte, Tinkoff-Saxo sends Daniele Bennati, Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Jesper Hansen, Jesús Hernández, Bruno Pires, Robert Kiserlovski and stagiaire Felix Grossschartner into action.

Lampre-Merida sent this release regarding Tre Valli Varesine:

Start in Busto Arsizio and arrival in Varese at the end of a 198.5 km course, with an easy first part and 9 laps of a hilly circuit of 12,5 km in Varese.

The Italian race pointed out the qualities of the young Slovenian from Team Lampre-Merida, Jan Polanc, who was 13th in the race classification, arriving in the first group of 14 riders who chased the winner Nibali.

The battle began few kilometers in the race, with Bono and other 16 cyclists starting a breakaway which was neutralized in the feed zone after having reached a top advantage of 90".

Another attack began in the final circuit, with 18 riders and the Lampre-Merida's trainee Ravasi leading the race. A part of the bunch joined the head of the race, so the team directed by Marco Marzano could rely on Bono, Ravasi, Polanc and Conti, who were all well supported by Xu Gang and Chun Kai Feng in the early part of the race.

Jan Polanc

Jan Polanc winning the fifth stage of this year's Giro d'Italia

Polanc succeeded in pedaling in the leading group of 14 kilometers in the final lap until the winning attack of Nibali.

"It was an interesting race, which became demanding because of the high pace in the early part of the course and by the hilly circuit - Polanc explained - Lampre-Merida was always well represented in the head of the race and in the circuit there were four blue-fuchsia-green riders in the leading group.

"In the final lap, I still had energies, even if they were not enough to reply to the attack of Nibali. I focused my attention on the final sprint to achieve a good result, but the sprint was not fast enough to be suitable for my qualities".

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