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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, July 8, 2016

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Tour de France stage six team news

Dimension Data is having a great Tour. Here's their report:

The fairy tale Tour de France continued on stage 6 for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Mark Cavendish sprinted to his 3rd victory at this year’s race. Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) was 2nd in the lunge for the line and Dan Mclay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) placed 3rd.

At 190km from Arpajon-sur-Cere to Montauban, the terrain took in a few undulations but nothing significant enough to stop a big bunch sprint from deciding the final stage outcome. Only 2 riders made the early break of the day and this all but assured that the sprinters would have their day, as Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Etixx-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal had no trouble at keeping the escapees at around 3 minutes for the majority of the day.

The inevitable catch took place just inside of 15km to go, and this is where things would get really interesting. The road was rather narrow and it meant that the peloton was densely packed, with almost no room for teams to move up. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were in the front 3rd of the peloton but there just didn’t seem to be a way through for our leadout team to get to the front.

The narrow road continued right up until 3km to go and it was clear that a long leadout train was not going to work today. Cavendish just wanted to be taken to the wheel of Kittel, from where he would then freelance to the finish. Our African Team were able to get Cavendish locked on to the German’s wheel after some clever work by Mark Renshaw, and from there our Manxman showed his class. Jumping with around 300m to go, Cavendish came from behind Kittel to forge ahead on the slightly downhill sprint and took another incredible win for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

While the entire team were working toward the common goal of delivering Cavendish to the finale, Daniel Teklehaimanot, played a huge part in today’s victory as the Eritrean national champion spent close on 150km working at the front of the peloton. This victory comes at the perfect time for our African Team as we begin the big push to get people to sign up for our Qhubeka5000.org challenge. Tomorrow the race will head into the Pyrenees and Mark Cavendish will do so as the leader of the Green Jersey points competition once again.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish after winning stage 6

Mark Cavendish – Rider: "It was a hot day. Daniel Teklehaimanot did an incredible job to control the breakaway. He was riding super strong actually and he was up there for a long, long time. The guys are getting more and more confident as the race goes on. Steve Cummings was up there fighting with us until the end which was phenomenal, he is a strong guy to keep us there in the final. There were essentially two finish lines, one was at 12km to go and one was at the finish. We were a little bit too far back at the first one but Mark Renshaw did a great job at 4km to go to get me just there and out of a sticky situation. I thought the best wheel to follow in the final was Kittel. It was a fast finish and with the finish line not appearing until late I knew the guys would leave it late because your instincts are not to go before you see the line. I knew Kittel’s wheel was the one to get the biggest slingshot from and with the speed of the finish, I knew if I got a good slingshot I could be going 3-4km/h faster than him before he had time to react so that’s what I did and I was happy to hang on for the win." 

Here's BMC's news:

7 July, 2016, Montauban (FRA): Greg Van Avermaet soaked up his first day in the leader's Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France, coming home just behind the sprint to retain the jersey for stage 7.

The 190.5km stage was one for the sprinters, with Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) taking the win in Montauban, edging out Marcel Kittel (Etixx Quick Step) and Dan McLay (Fortuneo- Vital Concept).

Van Avermaet and his BMC Racing Team teammates spent the day towards the front of the peloton, keeping a two-rider breakaway safely down the road, until the sprinters' teams worked to pull them back and set the stage for a sprint finish.

Van Avermaet takes the Yellow Jersey into stage 7 which will see the peloton tackle the first big mountain stage and battle of the General Classification contenders.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet gets another day in yellow.

Greg Van Avermaet: "It couldn't have gone better I think. It was a beautiful day, not too hilly, beautiful weather, no stress and just a hard final. In the end it was really good, there were a lot of Belgian people on the road on vacation with flags and they supported me really well so it was a wonderful day for me. We are a cycling country so it's really nice to have a few Belgians up there in the final and a stage win with me, and the Yellow Jersey. It was one of the best days of my career so far."

"It was a pretty calm day but it was too hectic to go for the sprint. I was not recovered form yesterday either so I could not go for the sprint. But also with the stress it was just about getting safely over the line. I tried to recover as well as possible from yesterday. I will try to keep the jersey tomorrow on the last climb and I hope that I might. We'll see how the legs feel tomorrow but I'm going to try and keep it for as long as possible. Five minutes is a lot but not so much in a mountain stage. We will see tomorrow."

Richie Porte: "It was good to pass the day with no troubles. It had a bit of a technical finish but I'm looking forward to tomorrow, going back into some climbing. I've raced up Col d'Aspin quite a lot. I've done the recon on it this year. I think someone has to try there. It's not the most technical descent down to the finish. The stage in Andorra is one of the hardest stages in the Tour this year, so we'll have to evaluate on the day and in the moment and see what's possible."

Tejay van Garderen: "I don't quite know what we're expecting from tomorrow. A breakaway could win, or maybe we'll see Movistar make another hard tempo like they did yesterday. There are possibilities so we just have to be prepared for everything. The Andorra stage will certainly be one of the hardest stages. Some of the stage sin the Alpes are also really hard."

Marcus Burghardt: "I think it's a pleasure for us to have the jersey and ride in the front for Greg. He is always giving us so much so it's nice that we can give something back and ride in the front for him. It's quite special."

Here's Tinkoff's update:

Stage 6 provided riders with some respite before the Tour de France moved to the mountains proper. As one of the last sprint stages, the fast men wanted to make the most of the day before spending a few days in the grupetto. In spite of being boxed in as the sprint unfolded, Peter Sagan pushed through and was unlucky not to make the day’s top five, finishing sixth after a strong effort. Alberto Contador was well-protected by teammates throughout the day and was brought home safe in the bunch, ready to face the Pyrenees.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador is ready to start stage six. The bandages are evidence of his difficult Tour start.

After a first, brief foray into the mountains, the Tour was brought back down to earth with a sprint, as the flat finish in Montauban gave the fast men the chance to show that they weren’t finished yet before the race entered the Pyrenees. Stage 6 was far from flat however, the 190.5km parcours starting at 622m in Arpajon-sur-Cère, before descending sharply and taking on the first two of the three climbs of the day – the third category Col des Estaques and the fourth category Côte d'Aubin. In spite of the fact there were then 80km to the next climb, the route was undulating and tough, taking in some beautiful landscapes as it went.

The final climb was the third category Côte de Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val – a 3.2km drag at 5.1% before the 40km to the stage’s finish. For the all rounders and the stronger sprinters, the climbs would present no significant problem, meaning the only challenge was to ensure the day’s break didn’t escape too far up the road, and to make sure they were positioned to contest the finish.

It didn’t take long for the day’s break to form. After 10km, two riders took advantage of a short descent to escape, and quickly built up a lead. Given that the escapees were no threat to the new yellow jersey, they were allowed to go on up the road, building up a lead of 4’25” as they went, in part due to the fairly slow pace within the peloton. As the kilometres ticked on, the Tinkoff riders were visible at the head of the peloton, protecting team leader Alberto Contador, while also helping to keep the break in check to ensure green jersey holder, Peter Sagan, was in a good position to contest the sprint.

Still looking relaxed as the day entered its final 100km, the peloton began slowly upping the pace to bring the time gap on the break down, and while the speed in the group was by no means aggressive, the breakaway’s advantage began to fall steadily. At 75km the gap fell below two minutes, and at 40km it was less than a minute. With only flat terrain ahead, it was almost certain that the last day before the mountains would end in a sprint – the break caught with 20km to go.

While building for the sprint, the peloton was much more subdued and controlled compared to previous stages, making riding much safer, as Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, observed from the finish. “After yesterday, today was a lot calmer and much more straightforward. We expected a bunch sprint and for the team it was important to hit the front with 11km to go when we turned onto the smaller, twisty roads. The guys did that perfectly and supported Peter and Alberto as best as possible today.”

A technical run to the finish saw the team surrounding Alberto to keep him safe, with road furniture, tight turns and teams jostling for position creating risks before the sprint. Narrow roads only heightened this danger, making it hard for the sprint trains to keep together, and several teams lost their leaders. With 600m to go, Peter Sagan found himself boxed in, but this wasn’t going to stop the green jersey holder as he powered through to take 6th in the sprint. A few seconds back, Alberto was brought home safe with the GC riders and the rest of the bunch.

It was a tougher sprint all round, with the difficult run in to the finishing stretch making positioning difficult, but De Jongh was still pleased with the day’s outcome, which saw Peter place well, and Alberto ride home safely with strong support. “Peter was a bit too early in the front and he then held back a bit which meant that he got a bit swamped but it was a good day for us still. Alberto was feeling a lot better today, he's recovering a bit day by day, and with Peter we can now look ahead of the next opportunity for a stage win.”

With the focus on the sprint, the aim for Alberto was to finish safely, and with the team around him, the Tinkoff leader could concentrate on recovery. “We finished safely and that was the most important part of today. Now we have to rest and recover after a very warm day. I feel my form the same as yesterday but as I said yesterday it's still a long tour and we have a lot of stages ahead of us. We will see what we can achieve.”

The Pyrenees await the peloton tomorrow. After a gentle lead in, with the first 100km of the 162.5km stage fairly flat, the road begins to ramp up – first with the fourth category Côte de Capvern, before the race gets serious with the ascent of the first category Col d’Aspin – a 12km grind at an average gradient of 6.5%. The day doesn’t end on the Col however, with a short downhill after the summit allowing riders to either make up time or extend their lead before the finish in Lac de Payolle. While the yellow jersey has a significant advantage, the GC riders will be aiming to eat into his lead.

The team’s focus for stage 7 would be to get through the day on the most challenging climb of the Tour so far, explained De Jongh. “Tomorrow will be a totally different day, all about surviving the Col d'Aspin in a good way and then getting down to the finish safely.”

The first day in the mountains was going to be tough, said Alberto, but he was still confident in his recovery. “Looking at tomorrow, I would say it's a test day, as there hasn't been enough time to recover, but still I feel I have time to come back to my best.”

Here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about stage six:

Dylan Groenewegen finished seventh in the Tour de France’s sixth stage to Montauban today. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter stayed in front of the peloton during the final kilometres of the race thanks to his team-mates, but ended up in the first spots too early. Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) won the bunch sprint.

During the final eight kilometres, the yellow, black and white colours of Team LottoNL-Jumbo were clearly visible in the front of the peloton. Paul Martens and Maarten Wynants were working together to lead the sprint train and keep Robert Wagner and Groenewegen out of the wind. Sep Vanmarcke and Timo Roosen weren’t behind them, though. That was the reason that the lead-out ended up at the first row of the peloton too early.

“We didn’t have enough men for that scenario,” Dylan Groenewegen said. “That’s why I had to change plans. I had to surf between the wheels of the other sprinters to find the right position and I got boxed in during that search. I’m not happy at all with this seventh place. My sprint is good, but we came to the front too early. I know that we’re here to learn, but so much more is possible. That’s frustrating.”

“Some parts of the plan didn’t go well today,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman added. “We wanted to deliver a real lead-out, though, but we needed Sep Vanmarcke and Timo Roosen for it. They lost Dylan’s wheel during the fight. They fought like lions, but didn’t came through. Paul, Maarten and Robert did a good job to hold Dylan in front of the peloton, but Robert thought that Sep and Timo were in his slipstream. To communicate in a moment like that is impossible. What he did was good anyway because many riders are passing on the right and left side.”

With 1.5 kilometre to go, Wagner took the lead of the peloton. He pushed up the pace thinking that Vanmarcke and Roosen were able to finish it off afterwards.

“We were packed together quite well all the time,” the German explained. “Paul and Maarten held us out of the wind very well. Dylan shouted to me during the final kilometres, but I didn’t hear it. You’re riding through a tunnel of noise during such a sprint preparation. That was our problem today. We know what we have to do, but the execution isn’t perfect, yet."   

Evelyn Stevens wins stage six of the Giro Rosa

This report came from the race organizer:

Evelyn Stevens takes the victory after a spectacular stage with uphill finish in Alassio/Madonna della Guardia, with her compatriot Megan Guarnier who is back wearing the Pink Jersey

It has been a very emotional stage: Katarzyna Niewiadoma tried a solo breakaway in the first phase, characterized by the climbs of Passo del Ginestro, Colle di Nava and Passo Caprauna. Here Mara Abbott went to catch the escapist of Rabo-Liv Team together with Evelyn Stevens, forming a top-level trio. The first 8 chasers, included Guderzo and Cecchini, accelerated in the downhill and catched the head of the race before Albenga (Intermediate Sprint). Cecchini had troubles but could be back in the front before the start of the climb. Here Abbott forced the rhythm,  and tried to attack twice: only Van der Breggen, Stevens, Lichtenberg and Tatiana Guderzo resisted, but the Italians must give up in the last 2 kilometers.

At 1.5 kms to go, Stevens makes the decisive attack, Abbott gave up this permitted to the American of Boels Dolmans to take the victory, the second in her Giro Rosa, in another uphill finish. Megan Guarnier came second 6'' later and becomes the new Race Leader with three stages to go and the Individual Time Trial in Varazze tomorrow which should give an unofficial idea about the final General Classification. At the moment the GC podium is 100 made in USA, with Guarnier, Abbott and Stevens.

Evelun Stevens

Evelyn Stevens wins Giro Rosa stage 6

Evelyn Stevens said: "That's a splendid sensation, I didn't expect to win two stages in such a race and I've done it in the two uphill finishes. I am really happy, Megan got the Pink Jersey and it's amazing. I dedicate this victory to our teammate Karol-Ann Canuel who did a splendid job".

STAGE RESULTS STAGE SIX (ANDORA - ALASSIO/MADONNA DELLA GUARDIA, 118.6 KM):

1. Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans)          3:47'42''
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)                +6''
3. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)               +19''

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 6:

1. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)         16:50'41''
2. Mara Abbott (Wiggle High5)                        +46''
3. Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans)              +1'03''

THE JERSEYS OF THE 27TH GIRO ROSA AFTER STAGE 6:

Pink Jersey COLNAGO - General Classification: Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)
Ciclamino Jersey SELLE SMP - Points Classification: Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)
Green Jersey MORTIROLO - Mountain Classification: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5)
White Jersey COLNAGO - Youngs Classification: Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv)
Blue Jersey GIESSEGI - Italians Classification: Tatiana Guderzo (Hitec Products)

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