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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, October 12, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

On Sunday the 11th, we had three races. There was the fourth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. Plus two single day races, the GP Beghelli and Paris-Tours. I've got complete results,stage stories and photos posted.

Next race will be the Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen on Tuesday, the 13th.

Tom Boonen might be off bike for six months

Earlier we had reported that Belgian racer Tom Boonen would be leaving the hospital in Abu Dhabi and traveling to Belgium this week after his crash in the Abu Dhabi Tour. Now it turns out that his condition is more delicate and he must remain in the Abu Dhabi hospital for another two weeks and then might have to stay off the bike for six month while he heals.

Boonen had suffered a fracture of his left temporal bone, the part of the skull around the ear.

The doctors are afraid of a blood clot at the site of the fracture if he should fly right now. While the doctors talk of a six-month cycling hiatus, Boonen is optimistic and thinks he might be back on the bike in a month.

If Boonen is indeed sidelined for six months, that would mean the former world champion would miss the 2016 Classics season.

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen in better days, at this year's Eneco Tour

2016 Tour de France stage 14 will finish atop Mt. Ventoux

The French newspaper La Provence reports that the fourteenth stage of the 2015 Tour will finish atop Mont Ventoux. The stage will start in Montpellier according to the paper.

The 2016 Tour is expected to start at Mont Saint-Michel with the two following stages being held in Normandy.

If the information is correct, this will be the Tour's tenth finish atop the "Giant of Provence". The last time the race finished at Ventoux's summit was in 2013, stage 15. Chris Froome won the stage, coming in alone, a half-minute ahead of Nairo Quintana.

Chris Froome wins 2013 Tour stage 15

Chris Froome wins 2013 Tour stage 15 atop Mt. Ventoux

Paris-Tours team reports

Here's Etixx-Quick Step's posting:

France is a good place to race for Etixx - Quick-Step rider Matteo Trentin. The Italian rider won Paris-Tours out of a three-rider breakaway he initiated on Sunday, adding a third victory at a French race to his four total wins in the 2015 season. He's now won five career races in France out of eight.

Trentin, out of a large breakaway, attacked on Cote de Beau Soleil with 9.5km left to race out of 231km in total distance. Gianni Meersman made sure his teammate had the chance by pulling back the chase group to two riders up the road at 10.5km left to race.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) were the only riders who could stay with him. Pavel Brutt (Tunkoff-Saxo) bridged briefly, but was distanced. The three riders tried attacking each other, but to no avail. They eventually worked together and built a lead of about 30 seconds as they headed into the final kilometer.

Van Avermaet suffered bad luck, with a mechanical just before the trio prepared for the sprint. He was unable to contest the sprint. Trentin, meanwhile, stayed on the front and launched his sprint first against Van der Sande. Van der Sande was unable to pass him, and Trentin raised his hands as the winner.

The 2015 edition of Paris-Tours was also the fastest of any edition, at 49.64km/h average speed. Trentin crossed the line after four hours, 39 minutes, and 12 seconds of racing.

Etixx - Quick-Step is the winningest team of the season, with 54 road wins in 2015.

Matteo Trentin wins Paris-Tours

Matteo Trentin wins Paris-Tours

"The team decided to ride for Niki Terpstra and I," Trentin said. "The breakaway went away immediately, in the first part of the race. Fortunately I noticed movement in the front, as people were preparing attacks in echelons. I was able to enter this breakaway with Meersman and Yves Lampaert. They did a great job for me in the race. We worked well together and the breakaway built a good advantage. In the first three hours we rode at a speed of more than 51 kilometers per hour. Then we slowed down a little bit. On the penultimate climb I decided to attack. I knew it could be the key point of the race.

In the last days I checked a few videos on YouTube, and knew that this climb was the most important in almost all of the recent editions. I attacked also to leave behind some pure sprinters, like Arnaud Demare (FDJ). On the last climb Van Avermaet attacked, but we managed to stay with him. So we went to the finish with three. I was afraid of Van der Sande. I knew I was the fastest of the three, but he is also a fast guy. They put me in the first position in the last kilometers. I didn't panic. I stayed cool, and at 350 meters to go I launched my sprint. I won, and I was really happy. After Le Tour de France I worked hard to have a nice last part of the season. I won four races in the second half of the year. Also, in any race other than the UCI World Road Championship, I was always there. I was on a few podiums. It was also mentally important to do well today.

I was a little disappointed at the UCI World Road Championship in Richmond. My goal was to be in the top 10, but I couldn't do it. After that race I trained even harder than before. I devoted myself completely to my preparation. This victory was the result. I've never been so strong in my career, which is a big mental boost. Year-by-year I am growing up. I hope this last part of the season can be the beginning of a new chapter of my career, and I can further improve going into next year. This win, which is the first one-day victory of my career, gave me a lot of morale. I have big motivation to keep working hard so I can try to become a better ride. Now I will recover with my family, and in a few weeks I will start thinking about next season."

Lotto-Soudal came close. Here's what they had to say:

Tosh Van der Sande came very close to the victory at Paris-Tours today, only Matteo Trentin finished ahead of him. Together with three teammates Van der Sande was part of a large early breakaway that the peloton couldn’t catch anymore. In the finale Van der Sande got in front with Matteo Trentin and Greg Van Avermaet, this trio entered the last kilometre together.

Quite soon after the start there was a crucial move, as 31 riders got in a front group, only six of the 23 teams didn’t have a guy in the break. Lotto Soudal had four riders in the group: Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart and Tosh Van der Sande. They had the company of among other Arnaud Démare, Matteo Trentin and Greg Van Avermaet. Within the last one hundred kilometres there was a counterattack of eighteen riders from the bunch, with last year’s winner Jelle Wallays, Nacer Bouhanni, Marco Marcato, Oliver Naesen and Niki Terpstra. The peloton didn’t play a role anymore, but could this chase group still be a danger to the leaders? No, they approached them up to two minutes, but the winner would be someone of the early breakaway.

In the finale the riders had to cover three climbs: Côte de Crochu, Côte de Beau Soleil and Côte de l’Epan. It was there that riders began to attack. On the Beau Soleil Matteo Trentin raised his pace, Greg Van Avermaet and Tosh Van der Sande were on his wheel. Pavel Brutt joined them for a little while, but was dropped on the last hill. Just before the final kilometre Van Avermaet had mechanical problems, he remained with his two companions, but couldn’t contribute anymore to the battle for the victory. In the sprint Tosh Van der Sande got beaten by Matteo Trentin. Tiesj Benoot got fourth, Pim Ligthart tenth. Tony Gallopin crossed the finish line as fifteenth.

Tosh Van der Sande

Tosh Van der Sande

Tosh Van der Sande: “I am disappointed that I just missed out on the victory, but I am also satisfied with this performance; so I have mixed feelings. Uphill I could just follow Trentin and Van Avermaet, both were really strong. The three of us could create a sufficient gap, in that phase it wasn’t easy for the others to still bridge to the front. With one and a half kilometres to go I noticed Van Avermaet got a flat tyre, from then on I focused on Trentin. I had hoped he would start sprinting sooner, but he rode the perfect sprint. When he moved to the right for a moment I thought I could get out of the wind, but pretty soon Trentin changed his direction. It’s not a disgrace to be beaten by him and I sprinted really well. I didn’t think about trying something before the sprint, that isn’t my strong point, I was counting on my fast legs.”

“We were with four teammates in the front group. We knew the best riders would try to get away on the penultimate or last climb. That’s why we were riding attentively at the front. We had agreed to respond to attacks in turn, no group should get away without a Lotto Soudal rider. The race went perfectly. It was a tough day. The beginning of the race took us along open fields and there was much wind. We took off with a bunch of strong riders and immediately we worked well together. It was obvious that it would be very difficult for the peloton to close the gap on us, also because so many teams had a rider in front. Everyone did his part of the job, if you would keep riding at the back of the group you could get in trouble because of the wind. There was no moment for recuperation. At the end of the day we had an average speed of 49 kilometres an hour.”

Here's BMC's Paris-Tours news:

Tours, France - BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished third Sunday at Paris-Tours after a flat front tire prevented him from contesting the final sprint against two breakaway companions. Van Avermaet said his mechanical happened with about 1,300 meters remaining in the 231-kilometer race.

"At first, I thought maybe I could still sprint because I did not flat directly," he said. "But in the final corner, I felt it was going to be tricky. When they started sprinting, it was already totally flat and my race was over."

Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quick Step) took the win over Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal). Van Avermaet coasted in four seconds later to notch his 16th podium result of the season that includes four victories and four runner-up finishes.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said he heard the news of the flat tire over Radio Tour. "There was no time to change the wheel," Ledanois said. "If we change the wheel, Greg doesn't get top three and he gets nothing. He was just not lucky. For sure, he had the legs to take the win today."

A solo winner here in 2011, Van Avermaet and teammate Tom Bohli were part of a group of nearly three dozen riders who escaped the peloton early on. Eventually, the lead group was whittled to 25 riders before Trentin went attacked on the second-to-last climb. Van Avermaet, Van der Sande and Pavel Brut (Tinkoff-Saxo) were able to follow, but Brut was dropped on the final climb.

"Everything before this mechanical problem, the team did well," Ledanois said. "Tom was with Greg in the breakaway and he did a good job for him. And Greg was there in the final. He just did not have good luck. C'est la vie. (That's life.)"

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this about Paris-Tours:

The first part of Paris-Tours shaped the entire race, as a front group of around 30 riders broke loose and kept clear of the chasers until the finish. Pavel Brutt represented Tinkoff-Saxo at the head of the race but had to see a top result slip away after a strong attack in the finale. Matteo Trentin took the win.

Pavel Brutt was caught by the highly diminished main group with 2km to go and noted that the fast race of nearly 50 km/h was marked by flat-out racing from the beginning.

PAvel Brutt

Pavel Brutt

“We did 50 km/h in average. It was a very hard race. I was the only rider from the team in the front group, while other teams had four riders. On the penultimate climb, I attacked with two guys and then Van Avermaet rode up to us. I lost a couple of meters on the descent and couldn’t close the gap again. I fought alone between the front trio and the main group and tried to secure the 4th place but I was caught with two-three kilometers to go. I had burned my last match and I didn’t have legs to sprint for the 4th place”, tells Pavel Brutt, who ultimately finished 16th in the 231km race.

“We had a lot of crosswind in the beginning of the race and I made it into the front group after a big explosion. It was a very tough race and the wind increased in the finale, which was unfortunate for me, because I was trying to stay clear of the group behind. It was the final race of the season for us, so I wanted to use all of my energy but it didn’t turn out how I had hoped in the last couple of kilometers”, adds Pavel Brutt.

Paris-Tours consisted of 231 kilometers but the race took a decisive turn, when the peloton fractured in the crosswind after just 10 kilometers of racing. Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Lars Michaelsen comments that the team should have had more riders in the front group.

“We had crosswind from kilometer zero and after 10km, the peloton split. We had Brutt in the first group, which objectively wasn’t enough. We should have had more guys up there. The same goes for other teams and the peloton split at a moment, where we weren’t at the front. The big group behind tried to close the gap but it only grew bigger and bigger. Our protected rider, Breschel, abandoned at the feed-zone. He has been sick and we knew that it could go both ways”, tells Lars Michaelsen before adding:

“Pavel Brutt made a valiant effort in the front group that went from 30 to 25 and down to 20 riders along the race. He took part in initiating an attack in the finale with two of the race favorites. Van Avermaet came from behind and made it a four-strong group, however Brutt lost some meters on the descent and fought hard to keep the riders behind at bay. He was unfortunately caught and that’s naturally a shame after such an effort and taking into consideration that the group actually made it”, finishes Michaelsen.

Abu Dhabi Tour team reports

Orca-GreenEdge sent this:

Two-time Vuelta a Espana stage winner Esteban Chaves has been crowned the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour champion following a final twilight stage on Yas Marina Circuit this evening. The Colombian entered the last day of racing with a 16-second buffer to Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and maintained that advantage thanks to the support of his ORICA-GreenEDGE teammates on what was another sprint finish.

After a fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana, the victory marks the 25-year-old’s first professional overall victory at a multi-stage race. “First a mountain stage win, then my first general classification in a professional stage race. I am very, very happy,” Chaves said after he crossed the finish line. “To win the first Abu Dhabi Tour is beautiful: it is the first edition of the race, and my first GC too. I'm happy for the team, and the team is very happy for me. As I follow my winter training program, I will be remembering this race."

Sport director Matt White said the victory was the perfect way to cap off a great season for ORICA-GreenEDGE and a breakthrough year for Chaves. “It’s a nice way for us to go into the winter having finished off with a really positive race,” White said. “It's obviously a great time for Esteban. It’s no surprise that he is moving very well here but it’s a great sign of things to come.

“It’s also a nice way for him to cap off what has been a been breakthrough year for him. He has had some great wins in the past with us, but to finish top five in a Grand Tour and win a stage race in the second part of the season in certainly just reward for all of the hard work he has put in over the last few years.”

How it happened: The Abu Dhabi Tour returned to the Yas Marina Circuit for the final stage of its inaugural running for a 20lap race on the 5.5km circuit, home to Formula 1's 'Etihad Airways' Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Esteban Chaves

Esteban Chaves after Abu Dhabi Tour stage 3

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves started the day with a 16-second advantage and, sparing mishap, the Colombian look set to take the first ever title.

A trio of riders – Eduard Vorganov (Team Katusha), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick Step) – made a move off the front early and held their biggest advantage of almost two minutes with 50km remaining.

After defending the leader’s jersey at the head of the peloton, ORICA-GreenEDGE was then joined by sprinter’s teams hoping for one last attempt at stage honours.

The race came back together with 15km left to race before an immediate counter attack. The secondary move of two riders was nullified with 5km to go, bringing it back, once again, for the expected sprint. In a fast finish, it was Team Sky’s Elia Viviani who claimed the stage honours, Chaves finishing safely in the bunch to secure the inaugural title.

And here's Tinkoff-Saxo's release:

Although Peter Sagan came flying from behind on the final meters, his sprint for the victory on stage 4 of Abu Dhabi Tour fell just half of a wheel-length short behind Elia Viviani. Peter Sagan had to settle for 2nd, Tinkoff-Saxo’s third podium place during the four-day race, after a strong lead-out from teammate Daniele Bennati. The final stage unfolded in novel and spectacular surroundings, as a lit Yas Marina Circuit set the stage for fast action.

After crossing the finish line and putting an end to the season, Peter Sagan told that he wanted to win but had fun on the circuit. “I'm happy to see this long and hard season come to a conclusion at Abu Dhabi Tour. It could have been with a victory at the Yas Marina Circuit but I'm satisfied with our performance at the race, although I really wanted to win here. We wanted to please the crowds and TV spectators and carried out a bike change in a true Formula One style. It was a true pit-lane change and it's nice from time to time to offer something new in cycling. The lit finale of the circuit was also something I liked and racing on an F1 circuit is a novelty for all of us. It was really fun to take the corners at speed, I enjoyed that. It's time now to rest and recover before next season”, comments Peter Sagan.

Abu Dhabi stage 2

Abu Dhabi Tour stage 2. Elia Viviani wins and Sagan is second.

The easily recognizable Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit set the stage for speedy racing. With a total of 110km, the riders took on the 5.5km circuit 20 times. Rapidly approaching the finishing stretch, Daniele Bennati spearheaded the field to position his team captain Peter Sagan, who launched his sprint behind Elia Viviani. Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Tristan Hoffman explains:

“We were very close to the win today with Peter, he came fast from behind and just needed around a wheel length to grab the win. Daniele Bennati did a strong lead-out in the finale and he stayed very attentive checking Peter’s position several times to know, when to launch the lead-out. Peter was ultimately on the wheel of Viviani and Guardini, he came fast but missed just a few meters more to get the win in these quite spectacular surroundings”, says Tristan Hoffman before finishing:

“That’s the sport of cycling, we’ve had two 2nd places and one 3rd place in just four days. But overall the guys did a great job this late in the season. They helped each other and rode with motivation. It was a new and interesting experience to ride Abu Dhabi Tour and we now face some months of recovery, preparation and training ahead of the new season”.

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