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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, September 11, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Three races today. The Vuelta a España will have its 19th stage. With a category 3 and a Category 2 climb, it's not as challenging as either Thursday's stage was or Saturday's stage will be.

The Tour of Britain will hold its sixth stage, Stoke on Trent to Nottingham.

And in Canada there will be the Grand Prix de Québec

Kris Boeckmans out of induced coma

It was terrific getting this good news form Lotto-Soudal:

Lotto Soudal is very happy to announce that Kris Boeckmans is no longer kept in an induced coma and that the recovery is evolving positively. After the ECMO treatment was stopped and the drain was removed from the thorax, the past 48 hours the tracheal cannula in the trachea was taken away, the external oxygen supply and the anesthesia in function of the induced coma were phased out and stopped.

Aforementioned steps have passed without complications, that’s why Kris has awakened out of his coma. The attending doctors took a detailed scan of the whole body, just as a matter of control and to trace possible hidden injuries. No other injuries then the ones mentioned before, were detected.

Kris Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans earlier this year

This positive evaluation made it possible for Kris to talk with his family and the doctors. He remains at the intensive care unit for further observation. One of these days, Kris will be repatriated with a medical flight, accompanied by a doctor and the required equipment. Afterwards he will be brought to a Belgian hospital for further recovery. The rib fractures will have to heal in a natural way. Also the lung injuries will need their time to evolve. The facial fractures will be treated surgically after a thorough analysis in Belgium.

Vuelta a España team reports

Here's what Tinkoff-Saxo had to say about Vuelta stage 18:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Rafal Majka was back on top on Thursday’s medium mountain stage at La Vuelta after a loss of momentum at the individual time trial on Wednesday. Majka put in and countered a series of accelerations on the final climb of stage 18 and notes after finish that he felt both physically and mentally back on track.

Speaking to the media after a resolute effort on the final Cat. 1 climb, Rafal Majka underlines that his objective remains a spot on the podium of Vuelta a España.

“I was feeling very down after yesterday’s time trial, but today I was really motivated and I said to myself that I had to try. And I’m mentally much better now than 24 hours ago and this is important and I really hope that I have the same legs on Saturday that I had today. If so, I will go at it – the stage will be really crazy with many attacks but my aim is the podium in Madrid. I tried today, however the riders in the top GC are all quite equal but small differences can mean a lot this late in the race and I’m going to try my best”, says Rafal Majka and adds:

“Today, I followed many of the attacks and I also attacked myself. I managed to get a gap during some of the accelerations but the climb was not hard enough to make a difference between the top riders”.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka riding the stage 17 time trial

Pawel Poljanski, a main part of the Tinkoff-Saxo and Rafal Majka’s campaign in the Asturian mountains, took part of the long breakaway of the day, from where Nicolas Roche claimed the win.

“Before the start, we agreed that I should either go in the early break or stay close to Rafal. When the attacks came, we decided that I should go in the break to try to win the stage or stay in front in case Rafal needed me. But on the last climb, where Roche and Zubeldia attacked I didn’t feel good like the other days. I had stomach pain and I wasn’t able to follow in the moment of the attack. But I knew that Rafal was coming from behind and I pulled for him on the descent and the flatter section towards the finish line. I could see that Rafal was feeling good but the GC group was difficult to split up. We need to stay motivated like today and try to gain time Friday and Saturday”, comments Pawel Poljanski.

Stage 18 from Roa to Riaza featured three categorized climbs along the 204km parcours. On the final, 1st category climb of the day, with only a fast downhill section towards the finish remaining, the favorites fired up their engines. According to Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Tristan Hoffman, team leader Majka showed strong initiative, while noting that the team will not play its cards conservatively.

“Today was a good stage for us. Most importantly because Rafal felt that he had a lot of power and he was motivated. He was disappointed yesterday but his mood and confidence turned today and that is important for the coming stages. We’ve said the entire time that Rafal’s shape would increase during the Vuelta and, although he didn’t perform at his best in the ITT, today we saw that he is very strong. He wanted to make a difference today and that was also our plan this morning, because we aren’t going to sit on our hands waiting for something to happen”, tells Hoffman before finishing:

“Pawel Poljanski was in the break, while the other guys supported and protected Rafal. At the bottom of the climb we told Pawel to try out for the win, but he was not at the exact same level as the previous mountain stages. However, he was out there and ready the entire time if Rafal had been in a situation, where he would have needed help. We will see if the fireworks start tomorrow, but most probably the big fight for the GC podium will come on Saturday”.

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this release:

Timo Roosen put in excellent effort today in the 18th stage of the Vuelta a España. The neo-pro of Team LottoNL-Jumbo, currently riding his first Grand Tour, managed to get in the break of day after a fast start and stayed ahead until very late.

Nicolas Roche (Sky) won the stage. The Irishman beat his fellow breakaway partner Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing) in a sprint-á deux. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) is still leading the general classification.

A group of GC favourites on the Puerto de la Quesera with about 12 kilometres to go caught Roosen. Because of strong effort, he managed to cling on for a few kilometres. Eventually, Roosen finished 24th, 1’21” behind Roche.

“When you are a first-year pro and you can still do this in the third week of the Vuelta after 60 kilometres of war after the start of the stage, you have great potential,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Timo was even able to keep up with the pace of the favourites on the final climb. He’s riding a good Vuelta. Martijn Keizer had a hard day after yesterday’s crash, but he’s all right.”

Roosen didn’t really enjoy his day in the break. “It was really hard with much twisting and turning, up and down roads with bad tarmac. The cooperation in the break wasn’t good either, but I’m happy I was up there. The fact that I was able to do this is a good signal for the future and a real confidence booster.”

Friday’s 19th stage runs 185.5 kilometres and takes the peloton from Medina del Campo to Ávila. Along the way, the peloton needs to tackle two climbs: one of third category and one of second. The finish is around 20 kilometres after the summit of the final climb.

“We’ll continue to attack until the final day of this Vuelta,” Zeeman said. “It’s getting harder every day, because a lot of teams still have their eyes on success.”

And here's what Lampre-Merida had to say about the Vuelta stage:

The riders who're taking part in the Vuelta a Espana tasted climbing again in the 18th stage, Roa - Riaza, 204 km with three KOM's.

Kristijan Durasek was Lampre-Merida's participant in the main breakaway of the stage. After 55 km, which were covered at a very high speed (50 km/h average speed), a group of 25 riders succeeded in escaping from the bunch and reaching a maximum advantage of 6'05".

Kristijan Durasek

Kristijan Durasek having a good day at this year's Tour of Switzerland

This gap was enough for two attackers (Rocher and Zubeldia) to reach the finish and duel for the victory, which was obtained by Roche. Durasek did not succeed in following the counter-attack of the duo and he was caught by the top climbers group in the downhill from the summit of the last climb of the course (Puerto de la Quesera, summit at 13 km to go).

The Croatian rider from Team Lampre-Merida completed the stage in the 2nd chasers group, 1'21" behind the winner (28th place).

"After the rest day and the very good performance by Oliveira in the time trial, it would have been great for Lampre-Merida to be once again in the front of the race - Kristijan Durasek said - In the technical meeting, the sport directors assigned me the task of taking care of the eventual attacks in the early part of the stage.
The bunch covered the first kilometers at a very high pace, no breakaway could begin and so it was difficult to attack. Anyway I tried to focus my attention on the evaluation of those attack which seemed to me more incisive and finally I could join the best breakaway. It's a pity I could not be with Zubeldia and Roche until the end".

Tinkoff-Saxo is going to Canada and sent this update:

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up a roster of proven riders to tackle GP Québec and GP Montréal, as the World Tour transfers action to Canada and two undulating city circuits. While Matti Breschel spearheads the squad during the faster GP Québec, Roman Kreuziger will be the team’s protected rider for the hillier challenge in Montréal.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s full roster for both races Friday and Sunday will feature Roman Kreuiziger, Matti Breschel, Michael Rogers, Manuele Boaro, Chris Juul-Jensen, Michael Valgren, Matteo Tosatto and Bruno Pires.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel at this year's Tour of Denmark

For the two demanding races, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Sean Yates, predicts that the prominent list of riders will create two races of high-level racing.

“Firstly, the fact that it’s close to the World Championships, both in time and distance, means that the level here is considerable. There’s a certain amount of riders that come here to polish the shape whilst looking for a result – some of them from our squad. Then, both races are World Tour and they take place on challenging parcours, which is not bad for us. We got a strong squad and we’re here aiming for a top result”, comments Sean Yates before adding:

“In races like these, it’s important to have a guy that stands out and can make the difference in the finale – our guy is Matti at the moment and Roman is also very motivated. Matti has showed that he has good legs, it didn’t pan out in GP Plouay but his form is good and he also has the Worlds ahead of him, where he has a great tendency to get top results. Roman wants to go for it at Montréal and the parcours with 3,893 altitude meters suits him better, while Matti’s speed will come in handy in Québec”.

GP Québec starting Friday consists of 16 laps on a 12.6km city circuit for a total of 201.6km. As the race is concluded atop a gradual climb, the riders will have tackled 2,976 altitude meters, while two days later in Montréal, Tinkoff-Saxo will face 17 laps of 12.1km and 3,893 altitude meters.

“We have one of the strongest teams here looking at the overall lineup, but you have to have that guy that can make the difference. Gilbert, Van Avermaet, Kwiatkowski are here and have that ability, so we have to go out there and get in the mix. We will be conservative during both races, as they are typically decided on the last lap, but we have to be aggressive in the right moment. If you blow your matches too soon on parcours like these, it’s game over”, explains Sean Yates, who notes that several riders will have a free role in Québec, while Roman Kreuziger is Tinkoff-Saxo’s main man Sunday in Montréal.

“Matti is obviously fast and will be our guy, if Québec comes down to a sprint in a select group. It’s free hands for some of the other guys but they will naturally help each other out. Québec is always like a lottery to a certain extent and we have to have several cards to play. Chris Juul had a bad day in GP Plouay, hopefully he can turn that around. But together with a rider like Valgren, he can play an important role in the earlier moves of GP Montréal. Surely it would be great to have both of them with Roman in the last lap”, finishes Sean Yates.

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