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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, October 10, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

On Saturday the 10th, we've got the venerable and important Giro dell'Emilia as well as the Abu Dhabi Tour, which runs through Sunday, the 11th.

Tom Boonen update

Yesterday Tom Boonen crashed out of the Abu Dhabi Tour with a 15mm fracture of the left temporal bone, the part of the skull around the ear.

The latest I have been able to learn about his progress was in the Dutch paper De Telegraaf. Here's a translation of what the paper reported:

 "A skull fracture of 15 centimeters. I've been better," announced the 34-year-old Belgian [Boonen] on Instagram.

"He must be monitored now 24 hours, because it does involve a skull fracture. But he is very happy. He has been called home. He asks questions, such as when he can go home. But that will be decided until tomorrow," said [Patrick] Lefevere.

The team leader explained how badly Boonen was for a moment: "It was really scary... Tom knew no one, he was gone. After ten minutes in the ambulance he woke up and he was right. "

Abu Dhabi Tour stage 2 team reports:

Team Sky had this to say about stage 2:

The Italian [Elia Viviani] continued what has been a brilliant debut season at Team Sky, timing his sprint to perfection to claim his seventh win on the road in 2015, and Team Sky's 40th.

Rebounding from the disappointment of Thursday's opening test, a combination of 10 bonus seconds and consistent stage placings enabled Viviani to move into the red leader's jersey.

Dropped into the mix by a lead-out train of Andy Fenn and Ben Swift, Viviani followed the acceleration of world champion Peter Sagan before pushing beyond the Tinkoff-Saxo rider to take the win. Fabio Sabatini (Etixx - Quick-Step) rounded out the podium, with Viviani now sitting at the top of the GC, level on time with compatriot and stage one victor Andrea Guardini (Astana).

Elia viviani wins Abu Dhabi stage 2

Elia Viviani finishes ahead of Peter Sagan in Abu Dhabi stage 2

After getting through a lot of pacing work on the opening day Team Sky opted to take more of a backseat role for much of the 130km Capital Stage. Sebastien Henao, Leopold Konig and Wout Poels were all involved as Team Sky hit the front on the approach to Yas Mall, with Viviani showing his undisputed speed to finish it off.

The searing heat returned for a second day in Abu Dhabi, with Astana and Giant-Alpecin linking up to monitor the situation with six riders up the road. Again the breakaway fractured during the day and the race came back together in the final kilometres.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Abu Dhabi report

Despite claiming another 2nd place, Peter Sagan remained content with Friday’s action on stage 2 in Abu Dhabi regaining momentum after a hectic period after his win in Richmond. After a strong lead-out from Daniele Bennati, Sagan put in a long sprint but had to see himself surpassed by stage winner Elia Viviani on the closing meters.

After the flat-out sprint conclusion to stage 2 of Abu Dhabi Tour, Peter Sagan notes that he is happy with the effort his teammates put in on the final run-in.

“Viviani is a pure sprinter and a very good one, so his victory doesn't come as a surprise. He was in my wheel and that’s the game. My teammates did a very good job for me today and Bennati gave me a super lead-out. It was a short stage, which is better when the weather is like this; so overall it was a nice day. Tomorrow is a mountain stage and we will see what we can do”, comments Peter Sagan, who takes the leadership in the fight for the white jersey.

Stage 2 of Abu Dhabi Tour took the riders on a 129km city course in the capital. After catching the breakaway, the sprinters’ teams lined up for fast action on the final kilometers with Tinkoff-Saxo taking control at the front, tells team sports director Tristan Hoffman.

“The boys started with 3km to go, which means that they took initiative. That’s good and it’s also a great sign that Peter is feeling better. He told the guys that he was ready to go for it and they put in a fine performance. He opened his sprint after Bennati had done the lead-out for him, but Viviani was in his slipstream and took the win. Peter found his legs - that is good news, but Viviani is a strong sprinter and he passed him in the end”, says Tristan Hoffman and adds about Saturday’s stage with a summit finish:

“Tomorrow is a really different story. We go inland and into the heat and finish on top of a real climb. There are some very strong GC riders here so maybe Bruno Pires can try, but it will be very difficult against the big stars”.

And here's Orica-GreenEdge's race news:

ORICA-GreenEDGE will enter tomorrow’s penultimate, and likely deciding, day of the Abu Dhabi Tour having safely protected Colombian climber Esteban Chaves through two hot sprint stages.

The Australian outfit again played it quiet on today’s 127km stage, which was eventually won by Team Sky’s Elia Vivani. World championship silver medalist Michael Matthews was the team’s top finisher in 13th, Chaves securely in the bunch in 24th.

“Today was another pretty standard sprint stage,” sport director Matt White said. “Again we concentrated on keeping Esteban protected to ensure we arrived at tomorrow’s stage having not lost any time. I still think tomorrow, and the race, will be fought out between the Vuelta a Espana general classification contenders and Vincenzo Nibali.”

How it happened: After a sweltering opening day of racing, riders returned for day two of the Abu Dhabi Tour, a shorter 129km stage starting from Yas Marina Circuit, the home of Formula 1's 'Etihad Airways' Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

What started as a breakaway of six entered the final 30km with just three remaining as the peloton hovered a little under two minutes behind. After a long effort in front, the trio of Daniel Patten (Team Wiggins), Maxum Belkov (Team Katusha) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) were eventually caught within last 15km.

Again, a series of counter attack efforts were nullified as the bunch powered to another bunch sprint. With his victory, Viviani, who finished ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabio Sabatini (Etixx – Quickstep), also took the overall lead.

Van Vleuten joins Orica-AIS

Three-time Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile stage winner Annemiek van Vleuten is set to add valuable experience and proven winning ability to ORICA-AIS next season.

Van Vleuten, who boasts an impressive palmares including World Cup victories at Tour of Flanders, GP de Plouay-Bretagne & Open de Suède Vargarda, joins the Australian outfit after seasons with Bigla Pro Cycling and Rabobank. The 33-year-old restores a Dutch flavor to the Australian outfit after the retirement of road captain Loes Gunnewijk earlier this year.

“For me it is very motivating to be in a foreign team with a different atmosphere and culture,” van Vleuten said. “Loes was always so positive about her experiences with ORICA-AIS that I had no doubt that I will also fit in the team. We are a bit similar. We both like to work hard, be professional and be focused in the race, but also like to be relaxed after the race.

“I wanted to be in a team with a professional and nice atmosphere, this is especially important in an Olympic year. ORICA-AIS has proven over the last years to be very well organised, a professional team with good support and a great atmosphere between riders and staff.”

Van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten after a good day's racing at this year's Giro Rosa

Gunnewijk was also complementary of van Vleuten, a recommendation that carries weight within ORICA-AIS management. “Annemiek came very highly regarded by Loes Gunnewijk and being one of the captains of our team since its inception that went a long way with us,” sport director Gene Bates said.

“Having spoken with her a few times now, it’s clear she is going to really settle into the team well and she’s really excited about the challenge.”

A World Cup series, Lotto Belisol Belgium Tour and former Dutch road and time trial champion, van Vleuten has proven abilities across all disciplines, but will focus on the spring early season before working towards Olympic selection for Rio.

“The spring classics are the most important races for me,” van Vleuten explained. “Those races suit me the best, especially the WorldTour races in Cittiglio, Drenthe and of course Tour of Flanders. With some good results in the spring I hope to be selected for the Olympic Games in Rio.

“I also hope to show my time trial qualities again; not only in prologues, but also in the longer time trials."

Bates praised van Vlueten’s versatility, something the team is confident will continue to thrive at ORICA-AIS. “There doesn’t seem to be a limit to what Annemiek can do,” Bates said. “She has won very short prologues, she’s been the Dutch champion but wins in one-day classics and second at Fleche Wallonne shows she is a lot more than a one trick pony.”

“She really wants to hit the spring classics hard and then we will refocus for the latter part of the season. She is keen to race and when she races, she races flat out and that is really aligned with what the team goals are.”

Annemiek van Vleuten
Date of Birth: 8 October 1982 (33)
Nationality: Dutch
Turned Pro: 2008

Palmares:
- Three-time Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile stage winner (’14 & ’15)
- Classics victories at 2011 Tour of Flanders, GP de Plouay-Bretagne & Open de Suède Vargarda
- Tour wins at Lotto Belisol Belgium Tour (’14) and Route de France (’10)
- Former Dutch time trial (’14) and road race (’12) champion
- Overall 2011 World Cup winner

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