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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, October 4, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday we had stage 3 of the French Tour de l'Eurométropole plus the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro.

Today we have the final stage of the Tour de l'Eurométropole and the big dog, the 2015 Tour of Lombardy (Giro di Lombardia). We have complete results of every edition of the Giro di Lombardia posted, going back to the first edition in 1905. You can access them here.

Jan Bakelants' Giro del Piemonte win on video

I'm a day late, but I found a great YouTube video of the last minutes of the Giro del Piemonte and Jan Bakelants' solo win in the rain. It's in Italian, but what is going on in the race is clear and needs no commentary.

Etixx-Quick Step's Tour of Lombardy plans:

Etixx - Quick-Step has announced the selection that will participate in Il Lombardia (Giro di Lombardia), a 245km one-day race known as the last of five road "monuments" of the season, and one of the last days of the road racing calendar. The 2015 parcours, from Bergamo to Como, includes several climbs that can condition the race including the Madonna del Ghisallo, Muro di Sormano, Civiglio, and San Fermo della Battaglia. The descent of San Fermo della Battaglia could also be a decisive moment before the finish on Sunday, the 4th of October.

"After a few years we return to the parcours of a few years ago, including the very steep Muro di Sormano," Sport Director Davide Bramati said. "As a team that loves to perform well in the monuments, of course we'd like to get a top result of such a beautiful and prestigious race in Northern Italy. As for the profile, it's a demanding final with a few climbs in the last kilometers, which makes Il Lombardia unique and very difficult. But we've been riding well in the last races and want to continue to perform well on Sunday.

We'll be at the start with three 'fresh' riders: Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar, and Petr Vakoc. They come to this race after recovering from a strong world championship, where they were protagonists. They can do well again. We also have Gianluca Brambilla at the start. Gianluca rode well at Gran Piemonte today, after an impressive Vuelta. This is a race that can suit his skills.

Gianluca Brambilla

Gianluca Brambilla

Also participating, after Piemonte, are Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Wisniowski, and Carlos Verona. The 8th and final rider will be Michal Golas, who crashed today at Piemonte. The medical examinations excluded major problems, but with a few abrasions on his face. Normally, if everything remains the same overnight for Golas, he will participate on Sunday."

Tinkoff-Saxo's Giro di Lombardia news

A major overhaul of the Giro di Lombardia 2015 parcours hasn’t made the last monument of the season any less challenging. Tinkoff-Saxo is set to embark on the “Race of the Falling Leaves” from Bergamo to Como headed by Rafal Majka, who enters the race after netting a 2nd place in the dress rehearsal of Milano-Torino. “We want to fight for a top result”, says the team captain.

Giro di Lombardia stars Rafal Majka in a leading role for the Tinkoff-Saxo squad and the Polish captain notes that he has tried to carry on his shape from Vuelta a España.

“Giro di Lombardia is the last big race of the season for me and I’ve tried to keep my shape from the Vuelta. I haven’t had any rest because I wanted to keep the momentum. I went to the Worlds in Richmond and I’ve followed my training program. Together with the DS’s we agreed that I should do Milano-Torino and skip Gran Piemonte to give me some days to adjust after returning from USA. I didn’t have good sensations in Milano-Torino, I probably still had jetlag, but I was 2nd and that was for me a confirmation that my condition is good. I hope I have a good day Sunday because I want to fight for a top result”, says Rafal Majka before adding, “Giro di Lombardia is a long and hard race. There are many big favorites and the competition will be hard. I have to wait and save energy for the last part and then we will see if I have the legs on the day to make the difference. Pawel Poljanski and Chris Anker were both strong in Milano-Torino, so I have a lot of confidence in my team for Sunday”.

Rafal Majka wins TDF stage 11

Rafal Majka wins Tour de France stage 11

Giro di Lombardia has undergone a radical change ahead of the 109th 2015-edition with the parcours now finishing in Como instead of featuring the city as the starting point of the challenging autumn classic. With iconic climbs such as the Madonna del Ghisallo and the ultra-steep Muro di Sormano still playing a main role, Bruno Cenghialta, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, underlines that Rafal Majka stands a chance of claiming a top result.

“Rafal Majka is our clear captain in Il Lombardia. It is a very, very hard race and totally different from what the riders have had to deal with during the last races. It’s a real monument, 245km with a lot of altitude gain, and the new parcours is very demanding. It all depends on the shape and legs on the day. If you don’t have the legs, it’s ciao-ciao and you’re dropped. We have to wait for the last climbs to take the opportunity. After 200km, it’s never certain how you feel and there is no doubt that the strongest will compete in the end”, comments Bruno Cenghialta.

“It’s a new parcours, but I think that the real race will start around the Muro di Sormano. Rafal made several attacks on the final climb in Milano-Torino to test himself, we were satisfied with the outcome, but there is no doubt that you only get to make one decisive attack in Lombardia. Astana is the strongest team overall right now and they will have to take charge. There are many serious contenders, but we feel that Rafal has good support in riders like Chris Anker, Pawel Poljanski and Jesper Hansen when the road gets steep. Rafal’s motivation is high and the squad is ready for one last big push”, concludes Cenghialta.

Tinkoff-Saxo fields Rafal Majka, Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Jesper Hansen, Bruno Pires, Jesús Hernández, Daniele Bennati and Robert Kiserlovski.

Rick Zabel's season ends

Here's the news from BMC:

An unusual accident before the start of Saturday's stage of the Tour de l’Eurométropole brought a sudden end to Rick Zabel's season. The BMC Racing Team rider bruised his sternum and needed seven stitches to close a cut to his chest after he was taken down by the door of a team car while he was riding to the start.

Rick Zabel

Rick Zabel racing in the 2015 Giro d'Italia

"I was maybe riding 15 or 20 kilometers an hour, just cruising to the start, when the sport director of Lotto-Soudal opened the door really fast as I was riding by," Zabel said. "I had no time to react or space to avoid it, so I hit the frame of the door real hard with my chest and crashed."

Zabel, who won a stage of the Tour of Austria in July, said it was a difficult way to end his second season with the BMC Racing Team. "My season is over very quickly and unexpectedly," he said. "This is not how you want it to end."

Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) took the win in Saturday's 173.3-kilometer race and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) kept the overall lead with a day of the race to go.

Tom Bohli, in ninth and 19 seconds back, is the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider in the overall standings.

Iam Cycling's l'Eurométropole news:

Chance or luck plays an integral part in constructing a team’s success.  It became clear that the good fortune that followed IAM Cycling throughout the second stage of the Eurométropole Tour, was conspicuously absent on the third stage in Belgium where Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise) took his share for the win.  After a final stretch of about 300 meters, Theuns outpaced Michael Van Staeyen (Cofidis) and Louis Verhelst (Cofidis).  And though the podium was dominated by Belgians, IAM Cycling’s young Norwegian sprinter Sondre Holst Enger managed to introduce a certain diversity.  Given the chance to sprint for himself because teammate and designated sprinter Jonas Van Genechten found himself blocked, the 21 year old Holst Enger confirmed his talent and succeeded in taking a promising sixth place.

A win is a welcomed addition.  And in this calculation where chance figures prominently, the work of a team becomes a key factor.  Heinrich Haussler explains it this way: “We cannot have the perfect chance to win every day, unfortunately.  We did exceptional work on Friday, as we did also on Saturday.  Each team member tried to make the perfect contribution to build up to another win.  But sprints are like this; it’s just like an authentic Belgian kermesse.  The race is so nervous, everyone starts to bang shoulders.  It’s amazing.  We tried to place ourselves in the best way to approach the finale, and I am satisfied with the attitude that we had.  The team did a lot of work, even if the outcome was not as great as we would have liked.  I am here to help Jonas Van Genechten one hundred percent.  I just got back from the world championships in the United States, and to be quite honest, I was not feeling that great at the start of the race.  Finally, the days go by and I am re-finding my good condition.  I hope I can confirm this in upcoming races.”

Heinrich Haussler at the Eneco Tour

The directeurs sportifs for IAM Cycling at the Eurométropole Tour, Thierry Marichal and Mario Chiesa, have provided positive and constructive analysis of the third stage.  Even without the victory bouquet to adorn the dinner table, they can be pleased.  “This Saturday we were on the Belgian coast, and it is of course a place that has the habit of being very windy,” Thierry Marichal explained.  “But today, we had exceptionally good conditions.  I mean, there was not a single breath of wind today.  The race was very fast and ended in a sprint as expected.  The sprint was planned for Jonas Van Genechten, but he unfortunately was blocked by the narrowing of the road in the final kilometers.  That’s when Sondre Holst Enger ended up in the better position than his leader, and he was able to produce his own effort.  Nevertheless, we saw some great teamwork from IAM Cycling again over the Belgian roads today, and I take my hat off to Simon Pellaud who did a great job working on the front to pull back the men in the break.  Now there remains only one day of racing, and having three riders in the top ten, we will certainly have to try something.  Our main goal was to win a stage, and that we have accomplished.  We’ll have to take some risks to get closer to the podium, and try to shake up the pack on the different ascents of Mont Saint-Aubert Sunday.  And if we fail to make the difference during the climbs, then we’ll throw our weight into playing for the win in the sprint.

Gerdemann extends with Cult Energy:

The team sent this release:

Cult Energy-Stölting Group has signed a two-year contract with the experienced German rider, Linus Gerdemann who won Tour of Luxembourg this season. The previous wearer of the leader’s jersey and Tour of France stage winner is looking forward to the 2016 season:

“I think we have had a good season as a new Pro Continental team and I’m looking forward to continuing working on the development of the team. This season we have had a good balance of young and experienced riders and it looks as though we’re going to have a lot of talents in our 2016 roster. I hope to be playing a role as captaine de route as well as pursuing results for the team,” says 33 year-old Gerdemann.

Linius Gerdemann

Linus Gerdemann at the 2015 Tour of Luxembourg

DS, André Steensen comments: “This year, Linus has been a valuable asset to the team. We have been able to benefit from his vast experience and expertise in the finals while he has delivered results on his own as well. It has been a pleasure working with him because he is both a rider who dares targeting the win, but at the same time he has the surplus energy to support our young riders and show them the way. With the talent we have on the team next year, Linus will play a key role and he has a lot of experience from the biggest races that we can all benefit from. By sharing the experience with our talents next year while even delivering results in the bigger races, I believe we will have a Linus Gerdemann at the highest level in 2016,” concludes DS, André Steensen.

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