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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 10, 2016

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

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. - Bertrand Russell

Current Racing:

More on Paris-Nice's cancelled stage

This came from Tinkoff:

On the day the race was to enter the mountains, Paris-Nice’s climbers were unable to make their mark with stage 3 cancelled after 93km due to severe weather conditions. The stage was beset by snow and rain, but on a day that showed early promise for Tinkoff riders, safety of the riders was paramount.

With the flat roads of stages 1 and 2 behind them, the climbers finally had a chance to shine in the first mountain stage. This was not to be, however, after the weather conditions that had featured so strongly in the earlier stages of the race led to the cancellation of the stage after 93km of the stage completed.

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, had hoped for a better outcome. “It’s disappointing. Yesterday when we looked at the forecast and that you go up to this height you can expect some bad weather but we had been looking forward to today’s stage.”

Paris-Nice

An Astana rider looks a bit more glum than the BMC rider.

With Yuri Trofimov making it into the day's early break of 14 riders, the stage was taking shape for Tinkoff, one that had been ear-marked as the first opportunity for Alberto Contador to make his mark. As the race approached the 100km point however, and snow fell at the stage’s finish at Mont Brouilly, the decision was taken by race organisers to neutralise and later cancel the day’s racing.

De Jongh continued. “Yuri was in the early break to be there for the team. Then from there four guys went away. We started to hear from ahead that it was snowing and then they neutralised it before cancelling. For the moment we’re disappointed as we were looking forward to this mountain finish. It’s hard not to have the fight we wanted today.”

Thursday’s 195.5km stage will take in three categorised climbs. De Jongh hopes for better conditions. “Tomorrow we do the climb of today early on, it’s a lumpy day but the weather should be better – but we will have to see.”

Tirenno-Adriatico first stage team reports:

This came from BMC (and was also posted on the first stage results page):

09 March, 2016, Lido di Camaiore (ITA): It was a dream start to Tirreno-Adriatico for BMC Racing Team today, taking home another Team Time Trial victory and putting Daniel Oss in the leader's jersey.

The team, featuring four of the 2015 UCI World Team Time Trial champions, stopped the clock at 23'55 with an average speed of 56.947km/h, making it the fastest stage in the history of Tirreno-Adriatico. Etixx-Quick-Step finished in second place, two seconds behind and FDJ rounded out the top three, nine seconds back.

A win in the 22.7km TTT was one of the team's main objectives going into the race, Oss said. "It's an amazing feeling. It was the first goal for us here at Tirreno-Adriatico. We have an amazing team here with some great climbers and riders to support Tejay van Garderen for the General Classification."

"Now we have the jersey but we are here for Tejay. Tomorrow is another day and it looks like a good stage for us with Greg Van Avermaet so hopefully we can continue with this momentum."

For Tejay van Garderen, today's win was a perfect way to start the week of racing and his GC ambitions. "It's incredible. It's a great start to the week. We gained time on some rivals for the GC and a nice stage victory so the morale is good," van Garderen said after the podium ceremony.

BMC

BMC had a good day on the road

"We didn't really know how close it was. We paced it perfectly and as long as you come out on top you can't really complain. It's definitely motivating to have the jersey in the team with Daniel. We also have Jim Ochowicz and Andy Rihs here so it's great to win in front of them. We're just excited and happy to go forward."

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Max Sciandri said today's stage was another chance for the team to demonstrate their dominance in the TTT.

"Everything went to plan in the TTT today and the riders were excellent in their execution. It was close but a win's a win and we are really happy," Sciandri said. Going into stage 2 tomorrow and the rest of the race we will be focused on protecting Tejay and going for stage wins when the opportunity presents itself."

Stage 2 of Tirreno Adriatico is a long one at 207km from Camaiore - Pomarance.

"It's a pretty tough last 60km tomorrow so it will be a good stage that's for sure," Sciandri confirmed.

Second-place Etixx-Quick Step had this to report:

A strong display helped the team finish on the podium in stage 1 of "The Race of the Two Seas", on a day which saw stage 3 of Paris-Nice get cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Gianluca Brambilla, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote were the eight riders who put in a solid ride in stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 22.7-km long team time trial in Lido di Camaiore. The squad had a very good start and at the intermediate check came two seconds ahead of FDJ, who was first at that point. In the second part of the course, even though the wind was causing problems, Etixx – Quick-Step still pushed hard and increased the advantage it had over the French team, finishing its effort in under 24 minutes, 23:57, thanks to an average speed of 56.98 km/hr.

Unfortunately, despite their impressive effort on the flat and fast course, our riders didn't rack up the 17th win of the season, as BMC – who was among the late starters – crossed the line two seconds better than us and climbed on the top spot of the podium at the end of the day. Still, there was reason to smile for Etixx – Quick-Step at the arrival, as 24-year-old Yves Lampaert, who is racing Tirreno-Adriatico for the first time in his career, received the best young riders jersey, which he'll wear on Thursday, between Camaiore and Pomarance (207 kilometers), on a stage which is going to finish in a short uphill.

"It's not funny to be beaten by two seconds, but the boys had a beautiful performance, considering we don't have a TT-orientated team for this race. It hurts a little to come up short, but it's also a good sign for the next stages, as finishing ahead of many strong team shows that the condition is there", said sport director Brian Holm, whose feelings were echoed by three-time ITT World Champion Tony Martin: "We did a quite good ride and came just two seconds behind. Looking back, it's hard to say where we lost two seconds. Despite arriving second, I am happy with the team, as all the guys sticked to the plan and kept the speed throughout the day."

Etixx-Quick Step

Etixx-Quick Step hits the road.

If Italy welcomed the peloton with sunny weather and 18 degrees, things weren't as smooth in France, were stage 3 of Paris-Nice was underway, on a course which was expected to seriously shake up the general classification led by Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). But it wasn't easy at all in "The Race to the Sun", because it snowed heavily right from the start of the day and the road became slippery, which led to crashes and riders retiring. In the end, the jury made use of the Extreme Weather Protocol and decided to cancel the stage and have all the riders taken to the hotel. The event will continue on Thursday, with stage 4 (Juliénas – Romans-sur-Isère, 193.5 km), which should see the last bunch sprint of this year's edition.

And here's Lampre-Merida's report:

The average speed of 53.728 km/h which characterized the performance of Lampre-Merida on the 22.7 km distance of the Lido di Camaiore team time trial was not enough for obtaining a better result than the 19th position in the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Cattaneo, Conti, Ferrari, Modolo, Mori, Niemiec, Ulissi and Zurlo covered the long straight from Lido di Camaiore to Forte dei Marmi and back in 25'21", 1'26" more than the time which was recorded by the winning team, that was BMC (Oss first leader of the general classification).

Lampre-Merida

Lampre-Merida riders start their time trial ride

In Lampre-Merida's line-up there are no time trial specialists and the team did not add value to what the skills could allow, despite a technical outfit of high quality (Merida Warp TT bikes, Suomy time trial helmets and speedsuit from Champion System).

The attention of the team's sports directors Maini and Marzano moves to the 2nd stage, which could be suitable for Ulissi: start from Camaiore and arrival in Pomarance after 207 km which are made demanding by the KOM climb of Pian di Fornovo (149 km), by the climb of Castelnuovo Val di Cecina (161 km) and the final hill of 12 km with gradient between 3% and 13%.

STAGE RESULTS
1- BMC 23'55"
2- Etixx-Quick Step 2"
3- FDJ 9"
4- Tinkoff 11"
5- IAM 12"
19- LAMPRE-MERIDA 1'26"

And this is Tinkoff's Tirreno-Adriatico release:

Tinkoff’s Tirreno-Adriatico campaign got off to an excellent start with a good performance at the opening Team Time Trial. The team worked together well on the 22.7km course running through the streets of the renowned seaside town of Lido di Camaiore, finishing with a time of 24’06”.

With a course that raced past Oleg Tinkov’s house and in conditions that would make for fast times, Tinkoff’s riders were aiming to impress on the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. After an early start as the second team out on the Team Time Trial, it was a matter of waiting to see how the other teams performed after setting a strong time of 24’06” and taking an early lead.

Sport Director, Lars Michaelsen, was impressed with Tinkoff’s performance. “We can be proud of the team today, they did a great job and supported each other well. As always you can’t have eight riders on the same level in a team time trial so it’s a challenge for the strongest to keep it balanced. Oleg Tinkov experienced it from a front row seat today and tried to cheer them up – he saw they were really fighting for it.”

“We had a small struggle to pick up the speed again in the last 10km and at the end everyone was on the limit. It’s fair to say that Maciej Bodnar was our big engine out there, but everybody did their best so I’m happy.”

With all teams in, Tinkoff narrowly missed out on a podium position, coming in 4th, 11 seconds down on eventual winners, BMC.

Adam Blythe was full of praise for the team but saw opportunities for himself to improve. “The performance of the team was fantastic – I think the team did a super good job and we did a good time. I wanted to pull a bit harder towards the end and take longer but didn’t have the legs.”

"It was a time-trial where we wanted to give our best.” said Oscar Gatto after the team came home. “We prepared thoroughly and took care of every detail. In addition, we rode past the home of our team owner, Oleg Tinkov, so it was important to perform well. There is still a long way in the Tirreno-Adriatico and we now focus on the stages ahead. We have two strong leaders, Peter Sagan and Roman Kreuziger and we will all work hard to support them."

Michaelsen was waiting to see how tomorrow’s stage would develop. “Tomorrow the responsibility is with another team, so we can sit in and wait. With Peter Sagan, it depends on his recovery – it’s quite a challenging last 10-12km and you need to be fresh to go there when the attacks come so we will see how it pans out on the road.”

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