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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, September 17, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday we had the Coppa Agostoni and the GP de Wallonie. We've got results, race stories and photos up for both.

Today's race is the Coppa Bernocchi.

GP de Wallonie team reports

This release came from Lotto-Soudal:

Jens Debusschere won the Grand Prix de Wallonie this afternoon. The Lotto Soudal rider arrived solo at the finish on the Citadelle de Namur and took his second victory of the season, he already won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.

An early breakaway of five was caught with fifty kilometres to go. The riders had a tough day, especially due to the weather conditions, there was a pouring rain. In the next phase there were several attacks, also Louis Vervaeke had a go. Eventually nine riders got in front, Jens Debusschere and Jelle Vanendert were in that group. They had the company of Bakelants, Bille, Bonnamour, Laporte, Molard, Pinot and Vichot. These riders started the climb of the Citadelle de Namur together. Debusschere attacked just before the last kilometre and beat his companions. Six seconds later Jan Bakelants crossed the finish line as second, Christophe Laporte was third. Jelle Vanendert finished on the fifth place.

Jens Debusschere

A wet Jens Debusschere wins the 2015 GP de Wallonie

Jens Debusschere: “This win is marvelous, it’s the first time I take a solo victory as a pro. I had a difficult moment on the climb just before the Citadelle, I was the last of our group to get to the top. The Cofidis riders (Laporte and Molard, LTS) set the pace in the beginning of the last hill. Just before entering the last kilometre the pace went down and I decided to attack. I knew there was a possibility at that point, just before the sprint would start. Jelle and I had talked and agreed that I should make the first move and if Bakelants would do a counterattack Jelle would react. Bakelants made the best impression during the day and for me it was good that the others focused on him.”

“Our team raced attentively all day long and because we were riding in the front part of the bunch all the time we didn’t get involved in any crashes. Vegard Breen protected us from the wind, in the finale we saw a strong Louis Vervaeke. This is always my best time of the year, that gives me extra confidence and especially now with this new victory. The next races I want to be good again. Friday I’ll race in Koolskamp, next week I will ride in Lichtervelde and then it’s the Eurométropole Tour.”

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Wallonie report:

A torrential downpour throughout GP Wallonie made way for crashes that threw a spanner in the works for multiple teams. Tinkoff-Saxo had four riders, including captain Bruno Pires, taken down by a front bunch tumble that sent Pires chasing to get back in contact with the front of the race. The Portuguese finished 16th behind winner Jens Debusschere.

Tinkoff-Saxo had to approach the second part of GP Wallonie from behind, according to Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh, after team captain Bruno Pires was brought to the ground in a big pile-up.

“It was very rainy and we had appalling conditions with downpour from start to finish. That, of course, was the same for everybody but our team captain Bruno Pires was unfortunately one of our riders that crashed with about 70k from the finish line. With so many riders down on narrow roads, he had to wait for a bike and when he got back up, he had a lot of chasing to do. He mostly chased on his own, as three of our other riders also went down”, says Steven de Jongh and adds:

“He finally made it back up to the decimated main bunch and in the finale he went a few times with Bakelandts, as he knew he was the rider to follow. At some point, he had spent his energy and he didn’t make the selection before the final climb up Côte de la Citadelle de Namur and finished 16th. We weren’t the only team that was affected by the big crash, but I believe that he would have been there in the front group if he hadn’t gone to the ground”.

GP Wallonie offered 198km of hilly racing in the Belgian Ardennes and was ultimately won by Jens Debusschere in a late move with Pires taking 16th after a dedicated effort from stagiaire Michael Gogl to bridge the gap to the front group on the final climb. Unfortunately, Tinkoff-Saxo’s second stagiaire in the race, Felix Grossschartner, had to abandon the race after sustaining injuries in the main crash.

“Felix really crashed hard. He hit his knee, elbow and head. As we rushed to him, we could see that he had marks on his helmet. Fortunately, there wasn’t any need for an ambulance and he could follow the rest of the race from the team car. He is now on his way back home to recover. Overall, a dedicated effort from the team and Pires but today it wasn’t meant to be”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

LottoNL-Jumbo's plans for GP Impanis-Van Petegem

LottoNL-Jumbo aims to continue attacking spirit in GP Impanis-Van Petegem

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will not only race in Richmond, Virginia, during team time trial weekend of the world championships. The team will also start the GP Impanis-Van Petegem in Belgium, on Saturday, September 19.

The team will allow Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen to keep attacking as they did in the Vuelta a España -- If their shape allows them.

“We have to wait and see how they feel after the Vuelta as it was their first grand tour, but we aim to be aggressive in the GP Impanis Van Petegem,” Frans Maassen said. The sports director remembers Sep Vanmarcke’s victory in 2013. “The race often ends in a bunch sprint, but because of the hills in the first part and the short climb in the final kilometre, sometimes an attacking style pays off, just like we saw two years ago with Sep. For us, it doesn’t necessarily have to end in a bunch sprint.”

Should it come to a bunch kick, Maassen will count on Moreno Hofland. However, in recent weeks the Dutchman has been struggling with a back injury after a crash in the Vattenfall Cyclassics. “If we see a bunch sprint and Moreno is back on his former level, we will assist him in a possible sprint.”

Team line-up:Koen Bouwman, Twan Castelijns, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Timo Roosen, Bram Tankink, Mike Teunissen.

Sports Director: Frans Maassen. 

Moreno Hofland

Moreno Holfland will be at the GP Impanis-Van Petegem

Lampre-Merida's report on Coppa Agostoni:

Lampre-Merida was on the podium of the Coppa Agostoni. The course was more demanding than the 2014 edition, which was won by Niccolò Bonifazio.

Today, the Italian sprinter was a protagonist once again at the Lissone finish (198.2 km after the start from Monza), obtaining the 3rd place behind the winner Rebellin and Nibali (2nd).

Bonifazio won the sprint of the group that was chasing the leading duo of Rebellin-Nibali, who had attacked 55 km from the finish, together with Scarponi.

Lampre-Merida's sprinter received impressive support from his teammate Edward Ravasi, rookie trainee, who led the chase of the bunch and who succeeded in limiting the gap from the three attackers. Unfortunately, the performance by Ravasi was not enough to close the gap, also because the help by other teams came too late.

Coppa Agostoni podium

The 2015 Coppa Agostoni podium. From Left: 2nd place Vincenzo Nibali, winner Davide Rebellin and third place Nicolo Bonifazio

"The race was selective, also because the bad weather conditions, so I appreciated even more the performances by Bonifazio and Ravasi - sport director Righi explained - Xu Gang and Mario Costa were slowed by crashes, which broke the group. Anyway, we received a good help from Feng and mostly by Ravasi. The podium is a good result, even if the missing victory left a bitter taste".

Bonifazio said: "I knew the course was more demanding than in 2014, but during the race I had good feelings, so I tried to achieve a top result. I limited the gap on the climbs, trying to come back in the dowhnills. I thank Ravasi for his generous support, unfortunately the leading trio of attackers rode very fast. Though I'm satisfied, victory would have made me even happier".

Rider Contract Team News

Matti Breschel signs with Cannondale-Garmin:

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling today announced that Matti Breschel will join the team in 2016. The 31-year-old Danish pro has been a medalist at the Road World Championships, netting Silver and Bronze, and has achieved 5 top-10’s at Worlds over the course of his career. Well-known for his intelligent riding style, Breschel is also a Classics specialist (he has twice finished in the top 10 at the Tour of Flanders). The former Danish National Road Champion is also a Vuelta stage winner, a Dwars door Vlaanderen champion, and in 2015 he was 6th at E3 Harelbeke, 7th at the Vattenfall Classics and won two stages and the points jersey at Danmark Rundt.

Matti Breschel

Matti Breschel earlier this year at Paris-Nice

“Matti is a huge talent,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO, Slipstream Sports and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling. “He will lend Classics horsepower and all around experience to a young team, and is capable of great results himself.  I think its possible his talent has been underestimated in the past and that is something we are looking to change. We are very excited to add him to our roster.”

Breschel added: “I am very excited to join Cannondale-Garmin in 2016. I have a lot of respect for Jonathan Vaughters and his vision and I know many of the riders and directors. It is a great group of guys. I’m looking forward to the Cobbled Classics and hope to achieve a result for myself there and also hope to help the team achieve great performances and victories.”

Peter Velits re-signs with BMC:

Santa Rosa, California - Peter Velits will be a part of the BMC Racing Team again in 2016, President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced Wednesday.

The three-time Slovakian national time trial champion helped the BMC Racing Team win the opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España last month and wore the leader's jersey for one day. He was also a member of the BMC Racing Team's world team time trial-winning squad last year and has been part of the winning team all three years the event has been run. He is on the "long list" for this year's world team time trial Sunday in Richmond, Virginia, Ochowicz said.

Peter Velits

Peter Velits after stage 1 of the 2015 Vuelta a España

"Besides his many outstanding performances over the years in the time trial and the team time trial, Peter brings a feeling of confidence to our general classification riders as they look for the right wheel to follow through the crowded peloton," Ochowicz said.

Velits said he aims to get back to the form he enjoyed before an overuse injury to his left leg slowed him at the start of the season. He underwent surgery in the spring and returned to racing in July.

"It feels great to re-sign with the BMC Racing Team again," Velits said. "This season was far from perfect and that is why I am happy I received so much support. I feel very good in this team and I am looking forward to the next challenges we will face together. For next year, I would like to get 100 percent recovered from my injury and finally achieve an individual victory."

In keeping with terms of BMC Racing Team policy, no other details regarding terms or conditions of the contract were released.

Soren Kragh Andersen joins Giant-Alpecin:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN) has signed a contract to ride with the team for two years, until the end of 2017.

Andersen took his first pro win on stage 4 of the Tour des Fjords in Norway this year. He also won two stages in the Tour de l’Avenir and the final GC at the ZLM Roompot Tour.

“Søren is a big talent in multiple areas,” explained Team Giant-Alpecin coach Marc Reef (NED). “He has already achieved some great results. He is good in the time trial and has a strong sprint, and he will play an important role both in the sprint preparation and in the classics. He is good in cold and wet conditions. We want to explore where his development opportunities lie within the pro peloton. He will have a diverse race program in his first year as we seek to help him develop step-by-step.”

Soren kragh Andersen

Søren Kragh Andersen has a really good day at this year's Tour de Fjords

Regarding turning professional at Team Giant-Alpecin, Andersen said: “I am really excited about this step in my career. From the beginning my first choice was to go to Team Giant-Alpecin. I’ve had good discussions with the performance staff and came away with a positive feeling about the team, and I am confident that it is the best for my development. In addition, I like the team’s racing style of working together toward a common goal.

“I started cycling when I was eight years old, and I began to dream about becoming a professional one day when I started winning international races as a junior. In the years that followed I felt I was becoming stronger, and this year I won two stages in the Tour de l’Avenir and wore the yellow jersey. But the Tour des Fjords, where I won a stage and came second in the GC, with many experienced pro riders behind me, was a great experience as well. I want to develop myself as a person and become a better rider. My aim for the first year is to learn and become part of the team."

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