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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, September 5, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Today is the Vuelta a España's 14th stage and the Tour of Alberta has its fourth stage. Also, we've got the Brussels Cycling Classic being held today.

Rider Survey Final Prize Awarded

First of all, our profound thanks to all the readers who took part in our reader survey. The Giro d'Italia books will go out to the daily prize winners on Monday.

The winner of the Velo Jersey's La Vie Claire jersey and socks given to our final survey drawing is Danny Alfred. Congratulations!

La Vie Claire jersey

Our final prize, a La Vie Claire jersey.

Vuelta a España team reports

Lampre-Merida had a lot to be happy about today:

The 13th stage of the Vuelta a Espana again had climbs. In the 178 km from Calatayud to Tarazon, the riders covered one 3rd category climb (Alto Collado de Oseja, 53rd km), one 1st category climb (Alto de Beraton, after 72 km) and another 3rd category KOM (Alto de Moncayo, 32 km from the finish).

The very high pace of the bunch in the first hour of the race did not allow any breakaway attempta to be successful, but the first climb selected a group of 23 riders which took the leadership of the race. In this front group there were two Lampre-Merida's cyclists, Plaza and Oliveira, who were first and second at the first summit.

The breakaway members were all top riders, such as Roche, Chavanel, Rojas, De Marchi, Terpstra, Cummings, Monfort. That's why the leading group could fight the the bunch's chase.

The blue-fuchsia-green trio of attackers raced in a perfect way, trying alternate counter attacks: Oliveira was the most active cyclist. He tried three times to escape from the breakaway group and the third attack, at 25 km to go, turned out to be the winning one.

The Portuguese time trial champion exploited his rouleur skills to increase his advantage on the former breakaway mates, also helped by his team mates Plaza and Conti who protected his attack. Oliveira had a maximum advantage of 1' and he crossed in a solo arrival the finish line with 1' on the chasing group (2nd place for Simon, Conti 11th, Plaza 15th).

Nelson OPliveira wins Vuelta stage 13

Nelson Oliviera wins Vuelta stage 13

The victory obtained today is the 5th one in career for Nelson Filipe Dos Santos Simoes Oliveira (complete name), the first in a competition which is not a Portuguese national championship.

For Lampre-Merida, this is the 24th seasonal victory (6 in the great tours, 8 in the World Tour). Unfortunately, the team had to face also a bad news: Mattia Cattaneo quit the race in the early part of the stage.

"This is the most beautiful victory in my career - Oliveira said - I had won the Portuguese championship, real emotional successes for me. But the feelings I had today are something I can't describe. It's so good to share this joy with my team, from which I have always received a full support, not only today with the perfect help by Valerio and Rubén, but during the whole Vuelta and the whole season.

"I think Lampre-Merida fully deserved one victory, because we approached every stage with a battling spirit and we made every stage very exciting. The feelings during the Vuelta have been good, I was in the front of the race in the queen stage too and I tried to attack, but I could not achieve a top result, so I tried today again.

"I attacked maybe too early, but in that moment the breakaway members were recovering their strength and, being aware that I needed to anticipate if I wanted to win, I decided to attack."

Sport director Orlando Maini is very satisfied: "This victory is like a prize for the whole team, which has been racing with a fighting spirit since the first day of the Vuelta. And, most importantly, The team has an impressive group spirit which has been demonstrated today too by Plaza and Conti, who supported their team mate Oliveira."

This came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo missed the breakaway in the 13th stage of the Vuelta. The hilly course to Tarazona was won by Portuguese rider Nelson Oliveira of Lampre-Merida. Mike Teunissen led LottoNL-Jumbo over the line in 48th. Fabio Aru of Team Astana continues the lead in the overall standings. 

The 178-kilometre long stage led the peloton over difficult, hilly terrain. After 70 kilometers on the Alto de Beratón, a mountain of the first category, 24 riders attacked. 

"It was a long battle and we have tried hard to be in the break, but didn’t had the power on this course today," said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "Teunissen and Roosen were in a smaller break, but when we hit the climb, 24 riders broke clear. Then you can close the book." 

Mike Teunissen

Mike Teunissen after winning the Tour de l'Ain prologue earlier this year

The Vuelta is now heading towards a heavy triptych in the mountains of northern Spain. The peloton gets three days in a row of uphill arrivals. 

"We are driving towards the mountains in northern Spain, a trip of two hours," continued Zeeman. "The men have been fighting a lot today but when that group was gone, I told them to save as much energy as possible for the next few days. Meanwhile, we are already two weeks on the road and the fatigue is also hitting us." 

The mountains in Cantabria are not very long but quite steep. Tomorrow is a 215-kilometer stage to Alto Campoo with a long uphill arrival. 

"The triptych that follows is super heavy. The Alto Campoo is 18 kilometers long. The days that follow are for the GC-riders, but Bert-Jan also won a mountain stage and so we will take the next few days from day to day", Zeeman concluded.

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about the Vuelta's 13th stage:

Pawel Poljanski gritted his teeth and went for the win on the final climb of stage 13 at Vuelta a España. Against the remaining 23 riders in the breakaway, Poljanski, however, was caught but took the prize as the most aggressive rider for his effort. Noting that he felt strong, Poljanski looks ahead to the mountains and riding in support of captain Rafal Majka, who retains 4th overall.

Finishing 12th in the big breakaway behind stage winner Nelson Oliveira, Pawel Poljanski comments that he is content with his sensations on the stage.

“I’m satisfied with how I felt today. I think my shape was good and I knew I had to try something, since the group was so big. Originally, it wasn’t planned that I should seek the breakaway but stay in the peloton. But when the big group went I was at the front of the bunch and I asked if I should go to make sure that the team had a rider in the breakaway. The sports directors agreed and told me to go and in the end the breakaway made it to the finish line”, says Poljanski before adding about his attack on the final category 3 climbs:

“I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get something more out of my shape today. With more than 24 guys in a group, you have to be really fast to win the sprint and I’m not a sprinter. So I went on the final climb but it wasn’t steep enough. In the moment, where I attacked I felt very good and I knew I had to try on the climb. I got a good gap but the group didn’t split up and they worked together to catch me again. I got the combativity award but I’ll try to go for something more, if I get the chance again. We still have some very, very important days and our big goal is to support Rafal. I think he is getting better and better and I hope that I will have the same legs to help him, as I had today.”

Stage 13 from Calatayud to Tarazona consisted of 178 undulating kilometers with three categorized climbs making the day ideal for the breakaway. Tristan Hoffman, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, tells that the team took a quick decision to position Poljanski in the front break.

“Pawel did very well today. We took a decision to send him in the breakaway, when we saw that the group would be big. For us, it was important to have a guy up there – to show the team colors, to go for the stage and to have a rider at the front of the race, if the stage took an unpredictable turn. We had three categorized climbs and a crazy and very fast start, so it was better that Poljanski went instead of bigger riders like Bennati and Bodnar”, says Hoffman before finishing:

“Pawel obviously attacked in the right moment, where the race was hardest and where he could make a difference. He got away, then he was caught by a promising group but some kilometers after it all came back together and Oliveira attacked. He made it to the finish line and was naturally strong but it could just as well have been Pawel that had gotten away. The stage was very fast in the beginning, so it was not a day, where we could save energy. But it is very positive to see that Pawel is strong, as he will be very important for Rafal already tomorrow, where we have another tough mountain finish.”

Lotto Soudal's plans for Tour of Britain:

Six Lotto Soudal riders cross the Channel to take part in the Tour of Britain as of Sunday 6 September. This is an eight-day Europe Tour stage race. André Greipel already rode this race once, in 2010, and won three of the eight stages then. In this edition his opponents are among other local hero Mark Cavendish, Moreno Hofland and Elia Viviani. Apart from Greipel Lotto Soudal has another fast guy in the team: Jens Debusschere.

The Tour of Britain visits Wales, Scotland and England. The final stage takes place in London. It’s definitely not an easy course and there are opportunities for adventurers. What are the expectations of sports director Bart Leysen?

Bart Leysen: “We aim for a stage win in Great-Britain, the GC isn’t a goal for us. It’s most likely that Jens Debusschere or André Greipel will win a stage. For André this is the last straight line towards the World Championships. Jens Debusschere made a strong impression on the tough course in Plouay, he can definitely aim for a victory on the more selective courses in Great-Britain. We won’t be riding defensively. Sean De Bie and Pim Ligthart are perfectly suited to join a breakaway. Our trainee Frederik Frison is also free to attack on days that we won’t aim for a sprint. We want to offer him opportunities to show himself.”

Andre Greipel

André Greipel will be at the Tour of Britain. Here he wins the Tour's 21st stage.

“It’s difficult to compare the Tour of Britain to another stage race, it probably is most comparable to the Tour de Luxembourg. Almost every day the peloton races on what you can call a classic Ardennes course, often on narrow roads where it’s not easy to control. Especially the finish of the fifth stage is hard. The London criterium is nice to finish this race, it’s perfect for the sprinters.”

The two successful Grand Départs – of the Tour 2007 in London and the Tour 2014 in Leeds – showed the huge interest of the people across the Channel in cycling. This is the twelfth consecutive edition of the Tour of Britain. In June there was already a Women’s Tour in which the Lotto Soudal Ladies participated. Sponsor Soudal, for which the UK is an important consumers’ market, is enthusiastic about the attendance of Lotto Soudal in the Tour of Britain.

Marko Heijl, Sponsoring and PR manager Soudal: “For Soudal it’s important that Lotto Soudal races in Great-Britain as the United Kingdom is one of our fastest growing consumers’ markets, we are represented all over the country. That’s why we are so pleased to hear that Lotto Soudal takes part in the Tour of Britain. Great-Britain has lots of potential in cycling, that was already proven in the past with the Tour start in Yorkshire, the success of the Women’s Tour and the previous editions of the Tour of Britain. The crowds are huge, it’s also good for the sport that cycling broadens its horizons. As a name sponsor of Lotto Soudal, with interests in the UK, we are very satisfied that the team has such a strong representation for the Tour of Britain, in a race of such a high level. Soudal hopes the team will continue its successful season on British soil.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Marc Wauters.

Tinkoff-Saxo extends Manuele Boaro's contract

The Italian rider will embark on his sixth year with the team and will form part of the core group of riders that will tackle next season's challenges, focusing on his time-trial skills and his dedicated team work.

Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce that Manuele Boaro will continue with the team in the next season. Boaro turned professional in 2011 by signing a contract with the team and since then he has formed part of its core group of riders. So far in 2015, Boaro was just one second shy of overall victory at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and played an important support role in Alberto Contador's victory at the Giro d'Italia.

For Boaro, renewing with Tinkoff-Saxo is a great pleasure. "I'm happy to continue with the team that has believed in me and my abilities since 2011. My main goal for 2016 is to keep improving and build upon what I achieved this year. I will give my best so that Tinkoff-Saxo remains at the top levels of professional cycling and will work hard to win at smaller races and support our leaders in the season's main challenges", commented Boaro. 

Manuele Boaro

Manuele Boaro wins a stage in this year's Sarthe Tour.

Steven de Jongh, Head Sport Director of Tinkoff-Saxo, is pleased to see Boaro having his contract renewed and considers he really deserved it. "We hope Boaro will keep developing his time-trial skills. It is a good discipline for him and if he further matures, he could win time-trial stages or prologues in races such as the Tour of Denmark or Eneco Tour", commented de Jongh.

"In addition, during the Giro d'Italia this year, he showed he was a committed team member. He worked hard to support Alberto Contador and the squad when it was needed and I consider this to be important in a rider. It is still too early to talk about his racing program for 2016 but he will be a rider to be reckoned with", concluded de Jongh.

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