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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Today is the Vuelta a España's 11th stage. Also, the Tour of Alberta starts today

A new sponsor for Team Europcar

Today l'Equipe has reported that Team Europcar boss Jean-René Bernaudeau has found a new title sponsor for his team, but he will keep the firm's name confidential for now. It appears to be a French concern, but that is about all I can parse from what has been released.

IAM Cycling rider Sylvain Chavanel will join the new team. The 36-year old rider was not offered a 2016 contract extension from his 2015 team, IAM Cycling.

Syvain Chavanel

Sylvain Chavanel will ride for Bernaudeau's team in 2016

Currently, Team Europcar has a budget of 5.5 million Euros and has a roster of 22 riders. It is a UCI Pro Continental squad, the rank just below World Tour. This year the team boasts Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler and Bryan Cocqard on its roster. Rolland has announced he is moving to Cannondale-Garmin for 2016.

Back in October of 2014, Europcar had told Bernaudeau that they would not fund his team beyond the 2015 season.

Open letter related to the accident involving Peter Sagan at La Vuelta

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo this morning:

to Unipublic S.A.U. as "La Vuelta a España" Organizer
attention of Javier Guillèn

and

to Union Cycliste Internationale
attention of Brian Cookson

and

Cc Cyclistes Professionnels Associes
attention of Gianni Bugno

Date 1 September 2016

Re: Open letter related to the accident involving Peter Sagan at La Vuelta

Dear Mr. Guillen and Mr. Cookson,

Tinkoff Sport A/S as managing company of the Tinkoff Saxo professional team feels obliged to address the accident involving its rider, Peter Sagan, during the final kilometres of the 8th stage of La Vuelta a España when a neutral assistance motorcycle hit him from behind at very high speed causing his fall and consequent retirement from the race due to the severe injuries Peter Sagan sustained from the incident.

I believe the facts are clear and beyond discussion: the driver of the motorcycle carelessly and improperly tried to overtake the reduced peloton at very high speed about 8 km from the finish line apparently in an attempt to reach the leading three riders a few seconds in front.

It is clear that the driver should not have performed the overtaking of the peloton and - at a minimum – he failed to use adequate care in his attempt.

The crash at high speed could have had much more severe consequences for the rider who was defenceless against such an action by the motorcycle's driver.

Tinkoff Saxo team and Peter Sagan, one of the highest profile riders in the peloton and a rider on which the team’s success in the Vuelta depended in large part, suffered direct and indirect damages because of the accident for which it would be only reasonable to seek proper indemnification from the responsible party/ies.

In the first instance, however, our team’s priority is that race organisers and other stakeholders learn from this incident and come up with concrete measures to promote the safety of the riders and create a better racing environment. At this stage, therefore, instead of starting an adverse process of litigation, Tinkoff Sport A/S requests the following actions to be implemented:

1. Unipublic as La Vuelta’s race organiser issue a public apology for the incident, something not done to date;

2. Whilst not seeing this as in any way as compensating for our loss, we propose that Unipublic offer a donation to a charity organization - to be named by Tinkoff Sport A/S in agreement with Peter Sagan - equal to the value of the prize for the Green Jersey victory, or suggest an alternative which acknowledges that as race organiser it has accountability for the safety of its event;

3. Unipublic take appropriate and concrete measures to prevent similar incidents in the remaining stages of the race and its future events;

4. Tinkoff Sport A/S requests that the Union Cycliste Internationale (Uci) revoke the fine to our rider for "behavior that damages the image of cycling". The team and Peter Sagan accept the other fine for the reaction Peter Sagan had after the crash but it is simply inappropriate to fine him for damaging the image of cycling under these circumstances;

5. We also request that the Uci initiate - in consultation with our and other teams’ representatives and other relevant stakeholders - a review of the rules regulating the admission to vehicles' drivers inside the race and the way vehicles are obliged to act while driving in the convoy and peloton, with the intent of implementing appropriate rules changes no later than the start of the 2016 race season.

Tinkoff Sport A/S hopes that all stakeholders can learn from the incident and that some of the requested measures can help to prevent similar unfortunate situations from happening again and to offer better protection of the safety of riders and ensure the fairness of a race.

We hope to hear from both Unipublic and Uci about the above requests during the course of La Vuelta and in any case by no later than the last day of La Vuelta on Sunday 13 September 2015. Tinkoff Sport A/S reserves its rights to initiate proceedings.

Kindest regards

Tinkoff Sport A/S

Team Sky's lineup for Tour of Britain

Team Sky sent this update to me:

Team Sky has selected its line-up for the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain, which starts in Beaumaris, North Wales, on Sunday 6 September and finishes in London on Sunday 13 September.

The six-man Team Sky squad includes four British riders and three members of the successful 2015 Tour de France winning team. The full line-up is: Ben Swift, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Andrew Fenn, Elia Viviani and Wout Poels.

Team Sky’s Ben Swift said: “The Tour of Britain has become one of the stand-out races in the cycling calendar. It’s a very special feeling to race in front of your home fans and see the fantastic support that we get every year. Cycling has never been more popular in the UK and the crowds at the Tour of Britain get bigger with each edition of the race, which is great to see.

“This will be my seventh appearance at this race and I know just how tough the British roads can be, but we have a strong team and we’ll certainly be challenging for stage wins and the overall GC.”

The Team Sky squad for the 2015 Tour of Britain will be:

Andrew Fenn – age 25 – Great Britain: A powerful rider with a penchant for the classics, Fenn is comfortable either as a lead-out man or a sprinter in his own right. The Scot last rode the Tour of Britain in 2011, finishing an impressive 15th overall, and is looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd at the end of his first year with Team Sky.

Peter Kennaugh – age 26 – Great Britain: The two-time British national champion will proudly campaign his jersey on UK roads just as he did at this year's Tour de France. Now into his sixth season as a pro, Kennaugh has progressed rapidly, playing a key role in both of Chris Froome's Tour victories. The Manxman has also enjoyed success in his own right, this year leading the Criterium du Dauphine after winning the opening stage.

Peter Kennaugh

Peter Kennaugh having a good day at this year's Dauphine

Wout Poels – age 27 – Holland: It's been a year to remember for Wout Poels. After joining Team Sky at the start of 2015, the popular Dutchman quickly clocked up a classy solo stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico, before helping Chris Froome to victory at the Tour de France. One of the strongest climbers in the world, Poels was a hero on Alpe d'Huez, and is also a former Tour of Britain stage winner back in 2010.

Ian Stannard – age 28 – Great Britain: The second of the 2015 Tour de France-winning squad in the line-up, Stannard is no stranger to the Tour of Britain having competed in the race on six occasions. Third overall in 2008, the powerful Brit is at home on tough, grippy roads and has unfinished business after crashing out in 2014. A multiple winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Stannard's power and determination make him a fan-favourite.

Ben Swift – age 27 – Great Britain: The fourth Brit in the squad is one of the quickest in the peloton and has fond memories of his national Tour. The 2009 Tour of Britain marked the scene of the sprinter's first pro victory into Yeovil and 'Swifty' has not looked back since. Most comfortable sprinting from a select group after a hard finish, expect to see the Yorkshireman mixing it up at the finish of many stages.

Elia Viviani – age 26 – Italy: One of the quickest pure sprinters around, Viviani has enjoyed a successful first season in Team Sky colours and will be hoping to chalk up more stages wins on British soil. The Italian won the race's opening stage in 2013 to spend a day in the gold jersey and has 32 other pro victories to his name. This year saw him add a long-awaited Grand Tour stage win to his palmares at the Giro d'Italia.

Vuelta stage 11 to be extraordinary

Vuelta stage 11 will be ridden entirely in the Pyrenean mountains of Andorra. It is an extraordinarily challenging stage with one second-category climb, four of the first rank and one "special" category ascent. The riders won't have a moment of rest, since every kilomter is either rising or descending. Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue says it is the hardest stage he has ever seen in a grand tour.

Stage 11 profile

Stage 11. Short. Hard. Important.

Movistar rider Nairo Quintana said his team will play two cards in the difficult stage, Alejandro Valverde and himself. He said this stage "is the chance. The mountain calls and I go to her. It's in my genes. I hope to send a message to all at the end of the stage".

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana climbing in Vuelta stage 9

Vuelta Quotes from Giant-Alpecin riders

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "I am doing well. Yesterday we had a long transfer to the hotel, so we got to bed late. Today is an easy day. We went for a short ride to Andorra, which was nice.

"I am very satisfied with the course of the race so far, as it has turned out far above my expectations. Especially my stage win was unbelievable and very special for me. Also the red jersey is great and a really nice bonus. If someone would have told me two weeks ago that I would win a stage with an uphill finish and have the leader’s jersey on the first rest day, I would have said he was insane.

"Tomorrow we will have the hardest stage of this Vuelta, and at the finish we will know more. Normally I would say that it is too much for me, but stage 9 was also not typical, so we will see. We showed yesterday and the days before yesterday that we have a strong team that takes responsibility as well, and we can be proud of that. We will fight for it and go full gas to the finish line, and then we can draw conclusions." 

Tom Dumoulin

Will Tom Dumoulin still be in red tomorrow afternoon?

John Degenkolb (GER): "I am doing fine at the moment, enjoying the rest day and trying to recover and relax as much as possible. We have had a nice Vuelta so far with the success of Tom and the team, and spirits are really good. 

"I’m a bit sad that my stage victory is still missing. I was really close a few times, but I am confident that the win will come. I am feeling better and better, which is also a good sign ahead of next month’s world championships.

"Now a lot of climbing is coming up, so I’ll just have to survive. After that there will be some sprint opportunities as well, and we hope to win more stages. There will be opportunities until the closing stage in Madrid, which we won last year." 

John Degenkolb

John Degenkolb finishes Vuelta stage 5

Addy Engels (NED): "We can look back proudly on the performance of the team so far. Especially having the red jersey in the team on the first rest day is really unexpected but fantastic. Every day we have competed for the stage victory, and we were close several times. After winning stage 9 we felt a lot of relief and joy.

"Tom is doing great. For him to be in the lead at this point in a Grand Tour is outstanding. Also, seeing him work to bring back the breakaway yesterday to help John in the sprint was classy.

"Tomorrow’s stage is hard to predict, as it cannot be compared to the stages we’ve had so far. We don’t have the team to control the race on the climbs, and we’ll have to wait and see how Tom can hold on in the GC fight. The results so far give us confidence, and we will see how the race develops in the second week." 

Mark Cavendish to MTB-Qhubeka?

Mark Cavendish's contract to ride with Etixx-Quick Step expires at the end of the 2015 season. It is said that Cavendish no longer wants to ride for Etixx team boss Patrick Lefevre and is searching for another squad. Cavendish is talking with South African team MTN-Qhubeka.

The team boss Brian Smith says they are very interested in him and have talked to Cavendish's agent. But, the team doesn't have enough dough to pay the "Manx Missile" his market value. The thought is that Cavendish could bring his own sponsor along to defray the cost.

This will be interesting. Stay tuned.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish (shown winning 2015 TDF stage 7) to MTN-Qhubeka?

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