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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

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

Ouch! Yet, this old bikie thinks Margaret Thatcher was right for once: If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. - Margaret Thatcher

Today's racing:

Upcoming racing:

Lotto-Soudal's plans for the Volta ao Algarve

The team sent me this update:

From Wednesday 17 till Sunday 21 February the Volta ao Algarve will take place. It’s the 42nd edition of this Portuguese stage race which is part of the Europe Tour. This race brings the riders in five stages through the beautiful but tough landscape of the Algarve.

The first stage has a hilly profile, although there’s only one categorized climb in the beginning of the day. After that it’s a sloped course towards the finish, the sprinters will probably show themselves. Stage two will demand a different approach. It’s not only the longest stage, there are also four ascents that need to be climbed and there’s an uphill finish. All the climbs are situated in the final 50 kilometres. On day three, an individual time trial is scheduled. The course is almost entirely flat so the real time trial specialists will be able to distinguish themselves.

Tiesj Bennot

Tiesj Benoot (shown finishing just ahead of Philippe Gilbert at the Eneco Tour) will be at the Volta ao Algarve

Also the fourth day contains a few hills but they probably won’t affect the stage. The sprinters have a second chance to take the victory. This year’s Volta ao Algarve finishes with a very tough stage with four climbs. Again there’s an uphill finish. The GC riders will certainly give full gas to determine the overall GC.

Lotto Soudal will go with a classic team to Algarve. Riders like Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts and André Greipel will participate. They will ride against Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru and Thibaut Pinot among others. New member of the team Jelle Wallays and sports director Herman Frison give a little preview.

Jelle Wallays: “I rode my first race kilometres of this season in the Etoile de Bessèges and I’m very happy about that race. Mainly, it was the case to maintain the good position of Tony Gallopin in the GC and that worked out well. It was the first time that I raced in the Lotto Soudal shirt. It certainly is a step forward and I feel really good in this team. The atmosphere is just great.”

“We’re already a few days in Algarve with several riders of the selection because Jürgen Roelandts owns an apartment in this region, that’s very handy of course. Personally, I think we’re going with a very strong team to the Volta ao Algarve. My role will be riding in function of the team. Preparing the sprint for André Greipel or keeping the GC riders in the front of the peloton. Perhaps I can test my own condition when it’s possible, we’ll see.”

“The course isn’t flat at all but it’s the perfect preparation to start in the spring classics. The recons of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad were also a step in that direction. It was nice to ride on the cobblestones again, although it was a bit difficult in the beginning because of the new bike and I had some troubles to find the right tyre pressure. But in the end, everything turned out well and Wednesday I will start with a positive feeling.”

Herman Frison: “First of all, this stage race is a preparation on the spring classics, but we won’t ride in the back of the peloton. We want to perform as well as we can and go for the victory in every race we participate. That will also be the case in Portugal.”

“The course offers two sprint possibilities. We’ll go for the victory with André Greipel or with Jens Debusschere in those stages. The other three days will determine the GC, which is not a main goal. We’ll wait how the race will evolve. If Tony Gallopin has a good position on GC we will defend that position of course.”

“As I mentioned earlier, this race is partly considered as a preparation, the two recons of last week were also part of this preparation and they went very smoothly. On the first day we explored the final 150 kilometres of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the second recon concerned the changes in the course of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In my opinion, these changes won’t have a big influence on the race.”

Selection Volta ao Algarve: Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Stages:

Cannondale's Volta ao Algarve news

Cannondale sent me this release:

The Volta ao Algarve begins this Wednesday in Portugal and signals the first race of the season for Rigoberto Uran — and the first in argyle for the Colombian all-rounder.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran in his 2015 colors at the Tour de France

“I really want to compete again,” Uran said a few days prior to the race. “We have a very strong team but really for me Algarve is my first race of the season,” he added, noting his build toward the Giro d’Italia.

“From what I’ve seen of him — since he started working with us and over the last years, he’s not somebody who’s going to come in half-cocked. He’s going to come and race and he’ll be at the front,” Cannondale Pro Cycling Team director Charly Wegelius said. “And that comes from him. That’s just the way he is. There’s no great pressure from us or great expectations. That’s just how he rolls.”

Algarve marks another debut for the team - that of sport director Juan Manuel Garate. With stage wins at each grand tour to his name — including up Mt. Ventoux at the Tour de France — and a win at San Sebastian, Garate brings a depth of knowledge to the team. He’s finished in the top 10 at the Giro d’Italia on two occasions.

Cannondale brings a deep squad to the season’s first true gauge of those with early season ambitions. Joining Uran will be Andre Cardoso, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas, Dylan Van Baarle and Wouter Wippert.

Wegelius taps Navardauskas, a Tour de France stage winner and bronze-medalist at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, as one to watch. “If he can freelance, he can win very hard sprints, or he could clip off and go his own way,” Wegelius said.

Wippert gives the team a second sprint card.

Over the course of five stages, Algarve offers a test for those with stage-race ambitions and riders looking for one-day success in the coming months. There’s a mid-race individual time trial of 18 kilometers and two uphill finishes (stages two, five). 

“It’s sort of the first race of the season that is challenging enough on all fronts that it can give you a real indication of who’s going to be a force to be reckoned with early in the season,” Cannondale Pro Cycling Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “People who have performed at Algarve are the people who’ve performed well at Paris-Nice, Tirreno and even through to the spring classics.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team Roster, 2016 Volta ao Algarve

Andre Cardoso
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Moreno Moser
Ramunas Navardauskas
Rigoberto Uran
Dylan Van Baarle
Wouter Wippert

Giant-Alpecin heads to Spain

The team sent me this release:

RACE PREVIEW: FEBRUARY 15 - 23: VUELTA A ANDALUCIA RUTA CICLISTA DEL SOL (2.1)

This week Team Giant-Alpecin take part in the five-day Ruta Del Sol race in Andalucia, Spain. The 62nd edition starts on Wednesday 17th February and features a diverse course, including sprinters' stages, an individual time trial of 21km and two mountain stages, which will be important for the general classification. 

Simon Geschke

Simon Geschke at the Tour Down Under this year

"The race presents different opportunities for us to challenge for results every day," said debuting coach for Team Giant-Alpecin, Arthur van Dongen (NED). "We will race offensively and freely with a special focus on the penultimate stage, which is an individual time trial. Indeed, with Georg, Sam and the Ludvigsson brothers, we have young and talented time trialists who look forward to testing themselves."

RACE: Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (2.1)

DATE: 17-21/02/2016

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP: Roy Curvers (NED), Simon Geschke (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Sam Oomen (NED), Georg Preidler (AUT)

Lampre-Merida will be racing at Oman

Here's their news:

LAMPRE-MERIDA flew to Oman with the confidence of healing the scars which were suffered in Tour of Qatar (broken elbow for Mohoric and broken thigh-bone for Arashiro).

The blue-fuchsia-green team selected seven riders for partecipating in the Tour de Oman: Rui Costa will be the captain and he'll be sided by Matteo Bono, Davide Cimolai, Mario Costa, Marko Kump, Luka Pibernik and Federico Zurlo.

Marko Kump

Marko Kump (shown in 2015) will be going to Oman with Lampre-Merida

After the seasonal debut in the Dubai Tour, the World Champion in Firenze 2013 will try to evalaute his competitiveness against the big names for the general classification and the main appointment will be the fourth stage, with the summit arrival on the Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), where LAMPRE-MERIDA won in 2015 thanks to Valls.

The support group for Rui will be very important and its members will be verstile cyclists who'll be ready also for helping the duo of fast riders Cimolai-Kump in the less demanding stages.

This is the program of the Tour de Oman:
- 16 February, 1st stage: Oman Exhibition Center-Al Bustan, 145,5 km
- 17 February, 2nd stage: Omantel Head Office-Quriyat, 162 km
- 18 February, 3rd stage: Al Sawadi Beach-Naseem Park, 176,5 km
- 19 February, 4th stage: Knowledge Oasis Muscat-Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 177 km
- 20 February, 5th stage: Yiti-Ministry of Tourism, 119,5 km
- 21 February, 6th stage: The Wave Muscat-Matrah Corniche, 130,5 km

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