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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Today is a rest day at the Vuelta a España. The Tour of Alberta ended yesterday.

But, the Tour of Britain will hold its third stage.

Kris Boeckmans medical update

Lotto-Soudal sent me this news on Kris Boeckmans' condition:

Ten days ago, Lotto Soudal rider Kris Boeckmans made a very hard crash in stage 8 of the Vuelta. The diagnosis was severe: facial trauma with several fractures, a concussion, three broken ribs, pneumothorax, laceration of the lung, bleeding of the lung and swollen pulmonary tissue. The rider is still at intensive care at the Murcia hospital. His closest family and a team doctor of Lotto Soudal is permanently there to support him and follow up the medical communication.

Kris Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans earlier this year. Get well soon Kris.

Servaas Bingé, Lotto Soudal: “Since yesterday we were able to stop the ECMO treatment. This is a device that can replace the lungs by extracting poorly oxygenized blood from the body and injecting oxygen rich blood. In the way the lung can heal without the other body tissues restricted from oxygen. The drainage of the lungs was also removed. Kris stays on ventilation support through a tracheal cannula though. In the next days they will see when the induced coma can be diminished. Therefore we need table blood gasses of course. We still have to deal with a polytrauma patient, whose injuries will take a long time to heal, but we hope to see that Kris’ condition will improve day by day.”

Nikias Arndt on winning the Tour of Alberta's final stage

This came from Giant-Alpecin:

Nikias Arndt (GER) won stage 6 of the Tour of Alberta, a 124.1km circuit race around the city of Edmonton, which closed the Canadian stage race. Arndt was the fastest in the bunch sprint. After being close already on stage 2 Arndt took his first win of the season in Canada.

Nikias Arndt (GER): "It is a relief. I wanted to get a victory so bad, but it didn't work for a long time. So it’s nice to have this one in the pocket. As a team we really deserve this win, certainly after my really close second place on stage two. It was a hard week and a pretty hard stage so it is great to see that I'm able to win after big efforts.

"It was cold, wet and hard. We had a great team, we motivated each other and today we won together. There were a large crowds along the road so it was nice to race here. The sprint went even better than our plan. We did an awesome lead out and I could wait till 180m to go. The guys did a perfect job and I enjoyed getting such a fantastic lead out. I am really thankful to the team, they really did great during the whole stage." 

Nikias Arndt

Nikias Arndt wins the final stage of the Tour of Alberta

Aike Visbeek (NED): "It is a great victory. Our plan and goal was to focus on a sprint with Nikias and the team carried out  the plan to perfection. It was a real team job where everyone had their part of the work. Chad [Haga] protected Nikias the whole day, so he didn't have to do any unnecessary effort. Fredrik [Ludvigsson] helped chasing in the final 40km. Tobias [Ludvigsson] and Chad kept the train in position in the finale. Georg [Preidler] and Ramon [Sinkeldam] did an awesome job on the lead-out in order to catapult Nikias to the win in the bunch sprint.

”A well-deserved victory which was established after a week of focused and strong teamwork. As a team we can only be very proud of this effort." 

Vuelta a España team reports

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's release:

Rafal Majka took time on several riders on the immensely steep Ermita de Alba and retained his 3rd place on the Vuelta a España podium ahead of the decisive time trial in Burgos. Crossing the line on the brutal summit finish, 12 seconds behind Rodriguez, Majka predicted that the fight for the podium would be very close.

Standing atop Ermita de Alba after three consecutive days of grueling climbing at Vuelta a España, Rafal Majka declares himself content with the outcome of stage 16.

“I’m satisfied, I have to be, because I was up there among the first. But it was difficult to follow Rodriguez, when it’s this steep. He is a specialist on these shorter steep climbs but I only lost a few seconds, 12 to Rodriguez and 10 to Aru. The last 500 meters were not easy but I tried my best and gave it everything I had. I tried to put pressure on the other favorites with my team and Poljanski pulled at the front. In the end, I gained time on some of the riders behind me in the GC and I’m still 3rd overall. It will be very close”, says Rafal Majka and adds:

“We still have five stages left at the Vuelta and everybody will normally have a bad day - Dumoulin didn’t have that today and he was very impressive on the final climb. We will see how the GC is after the time trial. Tomorrow is the rest day and we have to prepare for the TT. I haven’t done an individual time trial in two months but I have to go full gas for my team. 40 flat kilometers against the clock - it’s going to be very tough and surely we will see some changes in the GC”.

Rafl Majka

Rafal Majka digging deep on stage 16's final ascent.

While Fränk Schleck took the stage win from the breakaway, the favorites waited until the final kilometers before putting in their attacks from a highly decimated GC group. Pawel Poljanski, who stayed with team captain Rafal Majka deep into the finale, notes that everybody had respect for what waited on the last kilometers.

“We tried to make the race tough, but you have to respect a climb like this, because you need something in reserve for when you hit the really steep sections. Maybe we could have tried to drop Dumoulin earlier but he was strong and we were already pushing at the front. I’m really happy with the last few days. I’ve been able to help Rafal on the final climbs and that is why I’m here. I feel strong and it’s important because the Vuelta is still long with a week to go. Rafal is normally not as fast as Dumoulin in the time trial but we are far into the Vuelta and he has done some very good time trials in the past. Then afterwards we still have some mountain stages left, the climbs are not as hard as the last few days but we will have to try there as well. Now our focus is on getting as much rest as possible”, says Pawel Poljanski.

Stage 16 from Luarca to Ermita de Alba in the Asturian mountains challenged the riders with more than 5,000 altitude meters during the 185km stage. After a remarkably slow start, Tinkoff-Saxo decided to put on the pressure, tells sports director Tristan Hoffman.

“Everybody had a lot of respect for the final climb today and with good reason – it was incredibly steep. The first part of the stage was very slow and the breakaway got 20 minutes and ended up finishing ahead. Nobody wanted to take control. Since we aren’t in the red jersey and with 7 riders left in the race, it’s simply not up to us to take the front from the start, as Katusha and Astana are 1st and 2nd in the GC. But in the end, I will rather finish the stage knowing that we tried our very best to ride our race and improve our chances”, explains Hoffman before adding about the outcome:

“So we decided to set a hard tempo over the climbs before the finale and also on Ermita de Alba, as we wanted to drop Dumoulin. However, he was very strong today. Finally Rafal managed to take some seconds on him but I think that many GC contenders wanted to gain more time than they did today. Poljanski was fantastic again and can be proud of himself. Rafal was there at the top and we can say that we tried our absolute best. He retains his 3rd place, so the result is definitely good but much will still be on the line in the TT”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's Vuelta news:

George Bennett showed his climbing skills in the heavy 16th stage of the Vuelta a España on Monday. After spending a day in the break, the team LottoNL-Jumbo New Zealander finished fourth in what some called the ‘second queen stage of the race’. Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Stage) won the stage. The Luxemburg rider and team Colombia’s Rodolfo Torres rode away from Bennett on the penultimate climb.

“I targeted this stage months ago,” Bennett said. “I’m satisfied with the fact that I was there to fight for the win, but obviously, I’m disappointed that I didn’t actually win. Schleck was just too strong, though. I was chasing full gas to get them back, but it wasn’t enough. However, stuff like this makes you stronger.”

George Bennett

Geroge Bennett about to start Vuelta stage 10

“George fought for what he is worth and got involved in the battle for the stage win," Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “He is still a young rider and has done pretty well, especially when you look at today’s profile. I think this is his best result in a grand tour so far. This is good considering his development.”

Zeeman was satisfied with the performance of the other riders, as well. Everyone arrived well on time. “Especially the younger guys rode strongly. When the race exploded, they were safe. They all feared today's stage, but they were able to maintain themselves properly. They showed that they have the ability to finish a grand tour.”

The riders will enjoy a rest day tomorrow and face a 38.7-kilometre time trial on Wednesday. “Our riders now have two rest days,” Zeeman said. “After the TT, we’re going to explore our opportunities in the final four days.”

Lampre-Merida had this to say about Vuelta stage 15:

What a fierce determination the Ethiopian lion of Team Lampre-Merida showed in the 15th stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

In the 15th stage, 185 km from Luarca to Alto Ermita de Alba with two 3rd category climbs, three 2nd category climbs, one 1st category climb and the hors category summit arrival, Tsgabu Grmay strongly aimed for being in the main breakaway of the race. He succeeded in joining the front group after 20 km in the race, completing a solitary chase up to the 9 attackers who had escaped from the peloton after few kilometers.

The efforts of Grmay were well addressed, considering that the breakaway (whose members were, in addition to Grmay, Moser, Lemoine, Warbasse, Bennett, Fraile, Verona, Rolland and Schleck) would reach a maximum gap of 22 minutes on the bunch.

Tsgabu Grmay

Tsgabu Grmay

On penultimate climb of the day, however, the speed of stage winner Schleck was too high for all the riders in the escape except the Colombian Torres. He was the last to desist on the final climb.

The words of DS Maini: "Today we have given continuity to the conduct of the Team at the race here at Vuelta. We were once again protagonists in the escape of the day with Tsgabu. That was great, bravely attacking in queen stage of the race."

Lotto-Soudal World Championships news:

Less than three weeks before the World Championships in Richmond (USA) the selections are being announced. Lotto Soudal will presumably have nine riders at the start of the road race for pros. Today Belgian federal coach Carlo Bomans selected Tiesj Benoot. Unfortunately Jürgen Roelandts and Jens Debusschere weren’t selected. They are on the standby list, just like Tosh Van der Sande. Lars Bak, Vegard Breen, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart and Marcel Sieberg are all likely to be part of their national team.

Jurgen Van den Broeck will take the start in the elite time trial. Jessie Daams and Anisha Vekemans are selected for the women’s elite team, Laurens De Plus and Kenneth Van Rooy are part of the U23 team, Fenna Vanhoutte will take part in the women’s junior race.

Tiesj Benoot: “I’m not completely surprised. I had hoped my performances of the past months in combination with the course would be enough to convince the coach. During a meeting in April the riders who could be part of the selection already got to see images of the course, and then I knew it would be my cup of tea. The big question is if there will be a sprint of a reduced peloton. In any situation I could play a role. Of course we have some strong leaders, but in a selection you also need riders who can start up the battle. I’m made for that I think. The fact that I’m the only Lotto Soudal rider in the selection? That surprised me as well.”

Tiesj Benoot

Tiesj Benoot

Jürgen Roelandts: “Of course I’m disappointed that I’m not selected. When I look at the team, I think it’s mainly built around Tom Boonen, with three riders of his team in support. The coach seems to gamble on a sprint, but also then I could have been a very good lead-out. But he sees it differently and I have to live with that. In the past I proved I am good in that kind of races, when you take a look at my results. On the other hand, when I see what has happened to Kris Boeckmans, you can sooner get over a non-selection. I have thought about my own injuries. Both situations couldn’t be compared, but also then at least my cycling career was hanging by a thread. Now I leave for Canada. Half of August I had some stomach problems for a day or ten, but in Plouay I was fifth, which shows the condition keeps getting better.”

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