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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more

Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

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Lotto-Soudal's TDF stage 21 report:

Yesterday André Greipel won the unofficial World Championships for sprinters on the legendary Champs-Elysées and this for the second year in a row. It was the first stage win for the German this Tour, the second one for Lotto Soudal. The Gorilla has now won eight times this season. It’s for the sixth consecutive year that Greipel wins at least one Tour stage. Greipel won at least one stage in the eleven last Grand Tours he rode.

The final stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France was very predictable. The laps on the Champs-Elysées were covered in no time, some riders jumped away from the peloton, but in the end it was a bunch sprint. Lotto Soudal directed the last kilometres. In the home straight André Greipel was very strong. He beat Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff. The German champion finished off a wonderful team performance. Chris Froome became the overall winner of the Tour for the third time in his career.

André Greipel: “At last the sun is shining. The past weeks we did our utter best to achieve our goals, but unfortunately without success. If you win the final stage on the Champs-Elysées it was worth fighting for though. For sprinters this is the most beautiful place on earth to win. I have to thank everyone at Lotto Soudal for believing in me. The past years we achieved a lot together. I am proud of that. Without my team I wouldn’t have been able to set these kind of results for so many years.”

Lotto Soudal showed itself to the world the past three weeks. Thomas De Gendt was by far the best rider of the Belgian team, he was very active during the entire Tour. De Gendt won the twelfth stage on Mont Ventoux and he wore the polka dot jersey for six days. In the end he finished second in the KOM classification. The Belgian received the award for most combative rider twice and he is second in the election of most combative rider of the entire Tour. Until yesterday André Greipel hadn’t been able to win a stage this Tour, but this victory is a brilliant one. Marc Sergeant, manager of Lotto Soudal, is very pleased with the result.

Andre Greipel

André just wins Tour stage 21

Marc Sergeant: “The goals before this Tour were clear: try to win a stage with André Greipel and give some riders the freedom to show themselves. It took a long time before we achieved that first goal, but in the end we did and that’s all that matters. In Angers André lost with a tyre’s length against Cavendish, our Tour could have been very differently from then on. It’s true that it wasn’t always easy for Greipel in the sprint stages. He’s at his best when the sprint is well organized and if trains can be formed. At this Tour, the sprint stages were very hectic and it always took a lot of energy to position André as well as possible. Of course, Mark Cavendish was one of the main competitors beforehand. Although I had never thought he would be able to win four stages. The hectic sprints suit him really well, he’s able to position himself on his own.”

“The other aim was to win a stage with one of our attackers, that worked out well with Thomas De Gendt and he did it in an extraordinary way. In my opinion, Thomas obtained a stage win on one of the most prestigious finishes there are. He also rode in the spotlight during several stages by joining the breakaway and he managed to wear the polka dot jersey for six days. It’s true that Rafal Majka was the better climber but Thomas really gave his all. Until the very last day, he showed the world what he’s capable of. Therefore he obtained a really nice result in the classification of the most combative rider. He was second just after Peter Sagan. That’s a pity, but it isn’t a shame to finish behind a rider like Sagan. I think that you can compare these two riders, if you look at the will to attack. Thomas really showed himself during this Tour and he put Lotto Soudal in the spotlight.”

Thomas De Gendt: “I aimed for a stage win but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. There are a lot of riders who want to win a stage in the Tour de France. It’s a bit easier for the time trialists, punchers, sprinters or pure climbers to obtain a victory. For attackers like myself it’s rather difficult because you need to be 99 times in a break before you win a stage. But if you win on a mythical place like Mont Ventoux, it’s absolutely worth it of course. The team gives me the opportunity to join the breakaways but it’s hard to predict whether you’ll be part of it or not. I felt really good during this Tour. That was also the case last year, but then I crashed. This year I had some difficulties in the beginning of the final week but at the end I was still able to show myself a few times.”

“It was a real dream to wear the polka dot jersey in the Tour de France. I was able to wear that jersey for six days and it was an amazing feeling. Rafal Majka was really strong and on the crucial moments he was the better climber. Naturally, I’d preferred to wear the polka dot jersey till Paris but Majka was simply the best. It’s obvious if you take a look at the difference in the classification. It’s difficult for me to win the mountains classification with the current point system anyway. Also in the classification of the most combative rider I finished second, here it was Peter Sagan who was first. I really gave my all to win this prize so I’m a bit disappointed of course, but Sagan deserved this win. He’s a very aggressive rider and he always wants to race. He attacks at unexpected moments and he can finish off an effort. He’s a true blessing for cycling. Also in this classification I was beaten by a better rider so it’s easier to deal with that. I’m very happy about my efforts of the past three weeks and I finished at the 40th place on GC and seventh in the points classification while I didn’t aim to gain points on every occasion. This result shows that I was in great shape.”

Tinkoff previews Tour of Denmark

Having already won the race in 2014, Michael Valgren knows what it takes to finish on the top step of the podium at the Tour of Denmark, and with a 2015 edition win in the team as well, Tinkoff has a lot of history at this race. This year, the young Dane heads to his home roads off the back of the Tour de France, and leads a strong Tinkoff team that can both support and aim for stage results too.

The 26th edition of the race sees a slight change in format from previous years, dropping from six stages to five, and it’s also moved forward in the race calendar to fit between the Tour de France and the Olympics. The alteration will see just two days between the end of Le Tour and the start of the Danish race, but Michael will be looking to carry on from a solid showing in France where he has been a part of the successful team performance that has seen stage wins and leaders’ jerseys from the first days.

Michael Valgren

Michael Valgren

“This year the race comes straight after the Tour which makes it a bit different to other years, but hopefully it will have a positive influence on Valgren’s performance,” explained Tinkoff’s Danish Sport Director Lars Michaelsen. “We’ve been in touch during the Tour and while he’s focused now on that race, he’s really motivated for Denmark as well which is important after three weeks of racing.”

Lining up alongside Michael in Herning for stage 1 on Wednesday will be Erik Baška, who will be looking to be in the mix on the first few stages that suit a fast finish. He is joined by road captain Daniele Bennati and another Italian, Manuele Boaro, who will have one eye on the fourth day’s time trial, a 19.6km effort around Nyborg. Gogl and Kolar make it three Michael’s in the Tinkoff line-up, with the Russian duo of Pavel Brutt and Nikolay Trusov completing the team.

“Manuele also has history at this race having led in 2014 before Valgren won the overall, so his experience will be an asset. Benna comes to the race from Poland and he continues to get stronger after his return. Then with Baška, the first two stages and the fifth could suit him so we’ll look to support him there.

“Stage 3 should be key for the GC with a tough final circuit in Vejle, and two climbs on the lap, one which gets over 21%, so its about who can make the cut here. The time trial is also longer than previous years so that will be important. I’ve been racing and directing at this race for a good few years now and I hope that we can continue our success this season.”

The Race:

Stage 1, Herning – Esbjerg, 200km

A mainly flat opening stage eases the riders into the five day’s of racing, but with all of the leaders’ jerseys up for grabs the action will be hot from the drop of the flag. We can expect a bunch sprint to decide the first race leader after 200km of racing into Esbjerg.

Stage 2, Rømø – Sønderborg, 180km

Starting on the small isle of Rømø, the race starts to get more technical on the second day over a rolling 180km parcours. Travelling from the west to east coast, the threat of wind breaking the race up will be ever present, and riders will have to be aware of changing conditions before a tricky finish in Sønderborg.

Stage 3, Aabenra – Vejle, 175km

Leading north, and skirting the east coast, the third stage is the queen stage of the week with the same finish as last season which saw Tinkoff place three riders in the top ten. With two difficult climbs on the finishing circuit, one with ramps of up to 21%, the fight for the stage should unfold in this exciting finale.

Stage 4, Nyborg – Nyborg, 19.6km

After a split stage in previous editions, this year’s race sees just the time trial on day four, covering just short of 20km around the eastern city of Nyborg. With a longer distance than previous seasons, this race against the clock could see some important splits develop between the GC riders ahead of the final stage.

Stage 5, Karrabæksminde – Frederiksberg, 175km

The final stage of the Tour of Denmark sees a route around the Danish Zealand island, ending up on the outskirts of Copenhagen where the 2016 champion will be crowned. For the stage honours, ten finishing circuits are to be covered giving the riders the opportunity to take in the finish before the real thing. We can expect a final fight between the fast men to round out the race.

Lotto-Soudal's & Liv-Plantur's Racing plans

The team sent me this update:

CLASICA CICLISTA SAN SEBASTIAN (WT)

The first race for Team Giant-Alpecin after the whirlwind of the Tour de France is the one-day race Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. This 220.2km race favours the puncheurs and in Warren Barguil (FRA) the team carries a rider well suited to this type of course as he finished in ninth place last year.

Coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "As usual we expect a very difficult race at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. In this year's edition there is a new finale of 16km which includes a steep climb. On Friday we will do a recon so we will know what to expect.

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil in stage 18 of this year's Tour de France

"We will concentrate our efforts around Warren and aim to bring him as fresh as possible to the finale. In addition Laurens and Sam will have a vital role in supporting him throughout the race and with good teamwork we can achieve a top 10 result.

RACE: Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian​ (WT)

DATE: 30/07/2016​

COACH: Arthur van Dongen (NED) 

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Laurens ten Dam (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Sam Oomen (NED), Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (NOR), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

PRUDENTIAL RIDELONDON CLASSIQUE (WWT)

Team Liv-Plantur will line up for the Prudential RideLondon Classique this Saturday with a strong team looking to make its mark on this race. This new edition will take place on a thrilling 5.5km circuit in central London. The finale will suit the fast finishers with a flat finish along The Mall. The UCI Women's WorldTour race will be a landmark occasion for women's cycling as the 100,000 euro prize money is equal to the prize given at the men’s race the following day.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s race, coach Hans Timmermans (NED) said: "We are heading to the United Kingdom with a team riding well. With Leah we have a rider in very good form and we will look to support her through the key moments of the race and she will be one of the favourites for the podium.

"We have shown race on race that we are getting stronger and as a team we will not hesitate to take the initiative and create opportunities for our riders. Last weekend at La Course by Le Tour we were hoping for more, but Saturday provides another chance for a good result."

RACE: Prudential RideLondon Classique​​ (WWT)

DATE: 30/07/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

LINE-UP: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Riejanne Markus (NED), Rozanne Slik (NED), Julia Soek (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED) 

RAD AM RING (1.1)

Team Giant-Alpecin heads to Germany this weekend to participate at Rad am Ring. The one-day race which celebrates its first edition will take place on the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit. The riders will first tackle five laps of a hilly 23km course, then five laps of a 5km circuit, for a total of 140km and almost 4,000 meters of elevation gain.

Coach Rudi Kemna (NED) said: "We are very excited to be racing at Rad am Ring for its first edition. It is a great opportunity for us to compete in Germany. The course is potentially challenging which could favour the allrounders. We don't necessarily anticipate a bunch sprint, and there could be the possibility that a reduced group contests the victory."

"With Nikias and Max we have two fast guys who are capable of performing well and the team is going to support them in the positioning. This will be another good opportunity for Max to keep improving his performances and prepare himself for the second half of the season. If the bunch gets decimated we aim for Nikias in the sprint. So that we are prepared for both scenarios."

RACE: Rad am Ring (1.1)

DATE: 31/07/2016

COACH: Rudi Kemna (NED) 

Simon Yates wins the 93rd Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika

Orica-BikeExchange sent me this news:

Simon Yates carried on the family form for ORICA-BikeExchange by taking a solo victory at the Spanish one-day race Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika today.

Twenty-four hours after twin brother Adam Yates won the white jersey and fourth overall at the Tour de France, Simon rounded off a great weekend for the Australian outfit with his first victory as a professional.

Canadian strong man Christian Meier animated the early nine-rider breakaway before Australian Damien Howson moved up the field to perfectly set up Yates for the attack.

The 23-year-old Briton brilliantly executed the final move, powering away from a group of around five riders on the final ascent towards the finish to cross the line over 30seconds ahead of his nearest challenger.

“I am really happy with this win,” said Yates. “It’s actually my first victory as a full professional and of course it is very special, especially in such a tough race. The team were fantastic today, we had to be really switched on from the first kilometre and tactically we got it spot on.

“I hope that I can carry this form into the upcoming races, but for sure I am going to enjoy this moment.”

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the performance of Yates and ORICA-BikeExchange and praised the level of concentration from the six-man squad. “We were very conscious of starting on the back foot today,” said Stephens. “We knew that we were quite heavily outnumbered by most of the other teams, therefore it was imperative that we stayed focused throughout the race.”

“Massive credit to Simon (Yates) and the guys because they really played it perfectly today. It’s a great result and our work ethic and attention levels were of the highest quality. It was an intense race from the start and we remained very alert. We knew that Simon had the ability to win here and the way we have achieved that is very satisfying.”

How it happened: An overcast and sticky morning in Northern Spain welcomed the riders to the start line for the early roll out towards the hills of the Basque country. A nine-rider breakaway formed early in the stage and included Meier for ORICA-BikeExchange.

After 45 kilometres of racing the leaders had over four minutes advantage with lots of climbing still to come. ORICA-BikeExchange controlled the front of the race for most of the 165.7kilometres before Howson moved up the road as the breakaway was neutralised towards the final climb.

23-year-old Australian Howson perfectly set up Yates for the winning move with a blistering attack ahead of the final climb, thinning out the field before the acceleration of Yates. With a few kilometres to go the young Briton attacked convincingly on the last climb, holding off four other riders to take an impressive solo victory and set the record for the fastest time up the ascent in the history of the race.

ORICA-BikeExchange are next in action on Saturday 30th of July at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian, won last year by twin brother Adam Yates.

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