Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
March 18, 2016
Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, March 18, 2016
Above anything else, I hate to lose. - Jackie Robinson
- March 18: Handzame Classic (1.1)
BMC racing team rider medical update
The team sent me this news:
17 March, 2015, Santa Rosa, California (USA): In the interest of increasing communication around the health and fitness of BMC Racing Team's riders, the team will release a regular update from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa on all rider injuries and illnesses. The update below concerns four of BMC Racing Team's riders.
Dr. Testa: "Rohan has been recovering from a sinusitis infection. He has been responding well to treatment and he has been training with the goal of returning to race at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. It is an ideal race for Rohan to return to competition as he used to live in Girona so will be racing on familiar roads. His fitness is not 100% but he will use this as an opportunity to ease back into racing."
Dennis: "I've improved a lot since the days before Paris-Nice when I first became ill and have been training solidly for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. I'm not going into the race with any big expectations. Instead I'll be focusing on building my racing fitness back up."
Rohan Dennis earler this year
Dr. Testa: "Floris has heeled well since crashing at Le Samyn. New X-rays show that the rib fractures were small and very stable. He has been feeling good and has been back riding outside for the past few days. He returned to racing yesterday at Nokere Koerse as a test race with no pressure. He'll then have a week off before his next block of racing to ensure he has heeled completely."
Gerts: "I'm feeling really good and have trained well in the past week. I didn't go into Nokere Koerse with any expectations, but it was a good chance to race again and now I'll concentrate on being in good shape for the next block of races."
Dr. Testa: "Philippe had to pull out of Paris-Nice due to an upper respiratory infection. He's had a couple of easy days of training to slowly build up each day, and he is noticing a good improvement. After another medical evaluation at the start of the week, a collective decision has been made between Philippe, BMC Racing Team management and myself that it is not in his best interests to race Milan-San Remo."
Gilbert: "I'm feeling much better and have been back on the bike for some solid training sessions in the past few days. Although I'm feeling better each day my fitness is not where it needs to be to really be competitive at Milan-San Remo so I recognize that the best decision in the long run is not to start."
Dr. Testa: "Stefan had some new blood tests at the beginning of this week which confirmed that he has passed the active phase of the mononucleosis illness. He has been feeling well for a couple of weeks and has been increasing his training accordingly. Stefan has been cleared to return to competition within the month of March."
Küng: I'm feeling really healthy and it's great to get the final all clear from my doctors. My training volume has been back to normal for some time, although not at the same intensity. Now so more than anything, I'm just really looking forward to racing again and at this stage I'll be lining up at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. Now my focus will be on getting some race days in the legs and seeing how my form is."
Lotto-Soudal's news about Milano-San Remo
Saturday it’s time for the first big Classic of the season: Milan-Sanremo. A real monument in cycling, it’s already the 107th edition. It’s difficult to predict who will triumph on the Via Roma after 291 kilometres through the north of Italy. Lotto Soudal has several cards to play. Herman Frison, sports director in the race, shares his expectations.
Already at ten past ten the start of this WorldTour race will be given in Milan, then the riders will be on their bike for more than six hours. Halfway between Milan and Sanremo the Passo del Turchino is waiting for the riders, it’s the first obstacle on the route. From then on the course leads the peloton along the Ligurian coast up to the Capi. With about fifty kilometres left to go the riders will get to the famous triptych: Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta. Once they arrive at that last top they are at 38.4 kilometres from the finish. As you know, those won’t be easy because in the finale the riders still need to climb the Cipressa (5.6 km and 4.1% average) and Poggio (3.7 km and 3.7% average). When the riders have reached the top of the Poggio it’s less than 5.5 kilometres till the finish on the Via Roman where La Primavera will come to an end.
Herman Frison: “Often Milan-Sanremo is told to be the easiest of the Classics, but that definitely isn’t the case. The race is less easy than it looks like. It’s such a long and nervous race. From the moment the riders reach the coast the tempo is raised. Once they are at the bottom of the Cipressa the real battle begins. At the Capi it’s always a fight for position and before the bottom of the Cipressa you get into a funnel so there it’s also important to be in the right position. On the Cipressa you can expect attacks, afterwards the peloton will have fallen apart. Same story on the Poggio. Your position at the top is so crucial, because from then on it’s not far anymore till the finish and it’s a really fast descent. Mentally this race is really hard. Milan-Sanremo is also an honest race. The strongest are left at the end.”
Due to a rib injury André Greipel won’t be riding Milan-Sanremo. Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens, all in the top fifteen last year (9th, 11th and 15th respectively, LTS) will be part of the Lotto Soudal team on Saturday.
Tony Gallopin earlier this year at the Besseges stage race
Herman Frison: “It’s always a loss for the team when Greipel can’t start in such a race, but his injury needs time to heal so it’s not an option to ride Milan-Sanremo. Besides, this race requires one hundred per cent of your strength. We did have several protected riders for Milan-Sanremo before Greipel was removed from the selection. We expect to play the finale with Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens. What Jens is concerned we just have to wait if he still has some trouble after his crash at Strade Bianche. Tim and Tony proved in Paris-Nice that they are ready and also Jürgen left a good impression at Tirreno. Milan-Sanremo is a race that fits Jürgen’s capabilities and then he’s always dangerous.”
“There are always a lot of questions in Milan-Sanremo. Who will dare to attack? Who will wait for the sprint on the Via Roma? There is also a chance of a solo. The list with potential winners is long. Fabian Cancellara, Fernando Gaviria, Alexander Kristoff, Zdenek Stybar and Greg Van Avermaet just to mention a few. It’s difficult to predict the winner. What exactly happens in the race could be a surprise, because if you use your energy too soon it’s over. Anyway, at the end the state of the legs will decide who gets the victory.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, Adam Hansen, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports director: Herman Frison.
Lotto-Soudal also sent this Kris Boeckmans update:
Tomorrow Kris Boeckmans will return to competition. At the Handzame Classic the 29-year-old Belgian sprinter will make his comeback after a severe crash in the eighth stage of the Vuelta more than six months ago. It took a long and sloping rehabilitation process, but now Kris is ready to take back his spot in the peloton. That Kris can already participate in a race is much sooner than expected, says team doctor Servaas Bingé.
Servaas Bingé: “When we began the rehabilitation Kris had a long way to go. Kris had lost more than fifteen kilograms, he first had to gain weight before we could really start. The first exercise was to sit on a chair, which gives an idea about his condition at that point. Afterwards we kept setting different steps, both mentally and physically.”
“The fact that it ran so smoothly has much to do with how strong Kris was at the time of the crash. Also his immense resilience and positive attitude led to this success. The parameters of Kris are the same as before his crash, his basic condition is very good. Physically he is ready to race again.”
Boeckmans is really looking forward to it. The fact that his rehabilitation ran so smoothly is no coincidence he says.
Kris Boeckmans has come along way since this photo was taken at the hospital last year.
Kris Boeckmans: “From the moment I could start my rehabilitation I didn’t doubt for a second. I didn’t throw away one day. The most important aspect in this story is my mental resilience. I had a goal in mind and knew that I would achieve it. I gave all I got without forcing anything. Mentally it was harder than physically. It’s not a problem to do the exercises and follow the guidelines you get. But sometimes you have a difficult moment and then you have to be mentally strong enough to hold on.”
“Tomorrow I’ll start the Handzame Classic as I’d start any race. Mentally I am more than one hundred per cent ready, I’ll see how it will be physically. The test are really good and the trainings are going great. But every rider knows a race isn’t the same as a training. There are so many things that can happen. I don’t know how it will be during the race, but I’m keen.”
Servaas Bingé: “We did all we could to get Kris ready to race. Medically Kris is perfectly capable of finishing the race. But physical parameters are easy to measure. There is also the mental aspect. Together with the mental coach, Nathan Kahan, we tried to counter as much as we could beforehand, but nobody can predict how it will go during the race.”
Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “Our first goal was to let Kris become human again. That was already a big performance. The fact that he’s back in competition so soon tells a lot about Kris as a person. To me it’s surreal that he has already come this far. I saw him just after his crash and then there are different scenarios you think of. His rehabilitation has been impressive. The result isn’t important tomorrow. It just is fabulous that Kris is part of the peloton again and that he wants to perform again.”
Tinkoff's Milano-San Remo press release:
Saturday sees the first of the five ‘Monuments’ take place in Italy – so-called because they are regarded as the oldest, hardest and most prestigious one-day races in cycling. Milano-Sanremo – ‘La Primavera’ – is known as the sprinters’ classic, but this doesn’t mean the racing will be easy – a 291km course culminating with the infamous Poggio less than 5km before the finish where only the strongest riders will be in a position to contest the finish.
Leading the team at the 107th edition of the race will be Peter Sagan. Fresh from a strong finish at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, where he won the Maglia Rossa points jersey, and only one second kept him from taking the GC title, as well as a fourth place finish at the Strade Bianche, Peter is in excellent form. The World Champion is leading a team of eight riders, who have played a pivotal role in the season’s racing so far.
“Our clear goal at Milano-Sanremo is for Peter Sagan to win and we will do all it takes to achieve it,” explained Sport Director Bruno Cenghialta. “There are, undoubtedly, a number of very strong opponents but I think that we showed during the previous week that we also have a strong team. The ones that raced at Tirreno-Adriatico might not be at their peak form, but that is due to the fact that everyone has his own race program and different goals in the season. The foundation work and training camps that have been carried out at the start of the season are now bearing fruit and each rider's form has been steadily increasing. I can say that we have a robust group of riders to support Peter in his quest.
“There isn't anything new in the parcours, and like always it will be very fast, but with the difference that, in general, cycling has become faster, so it will be key to save as much energy as possible in order to be stronger in the finale. That will be a key element of our strategy, to save energy. The weather conditions, wind in particular, can make a difference, and although no rain is expected during the race right now, with a few days left until the start, the forecast could change.”
Peter Sagan is looking forward to the action, having placed in the top ten for the past four editions, he knows the race and the final kilometres well, and has a strong team to take him to the finish line in San Remo.
Showing his passion for Saturday’s race, Peter said: "I will head to Milano-Sanremo with the clear intention to win and I will do my best to achieve that victory. It's a classic race that I like, with a long history and tradition, and although it seems easier than the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, it is the toughest one to win. It is also very interesting and unpredictable because, even if the race course hasn't changed this year it is a difficult one to predict.
“Every year is different and has its own story. There might be a breakaway, a bunch sprint or a crash that changes everything, you never know. With the climb of Le Manie cut from the race, sprinters now have a better chance. If they also are at the front in Poggio, we can have a sprint finish. However, it is difficult to single out who my main adversaries could be. It will depend on how the race plays out and what takes place on the Poggio. I will tackle the race the way it comes and right now I concentrate on giving my best. This is what I do in every race."
Peter Sagan at the start of the first stage of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico
Joining Peter at the start in Milan will be Roman Kreuziger, Oscar Gatto, Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Maciej Bodnar, Adam Blythe and Matteo Tosatto – all of whom played a pivotal part in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice campaigns.
The race covers a fast and rolling parcours. While the hardest feature of the race is its sheer length, at 291km, it’s not without its challenges. At 142km the race will reach the summit of the Passo del Turchino after a long 25km climb, before a trio of climbs – the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta – 90km later – that will further sap the energy reserves of the riders.
At the Cipressa, the riders will encounter the steepest gradient of the day, at 9%. It’s at this point – 21.5km from the finish – the excitement and anticipation in the peloton will be rising, and teams will likely either be chasing down a hopeful breakaway, or preparing to protect their leaders over the final climb of the day – the Poggio – before the finish. It’s at the final climb that the race has so often been won – and lost. Riders will be exhausted after almost 300km in the saddle, and at this stage of the race, even the relatively short 3.7km climb will be a difficult one. With no time to rest on the final descent, the sprinters will still have to muster the strength to contest a final bunch sprint. It's a race where anyone can win, and surprises often happen.
Talking of the parcours, Cenghialta added: “It is a very well-known parcours, without any new sections or climbs, so in that aspect we don't expect any surprises. However, that doesn't mean we will not be attentive and focused. Even if the race route is familiar, we will have to adapt our strategy to any developments during the race. We will always keep a close eye on what is going on but with ultimate goal to save as much energy as we can. As we saw lately, races can be won or lost for a few centimeters, so taking care of even the smallest details can make the difference. We will try to optimise our setup and the way we spend our energy. In a race of nearly 300 kilometers or seven hours, whatever you can save in the first six will then be used in the seventh hour. Even from a physiological point of view, riders are pushed to their limits, so it will be important to manage our resources and devise a strategy for that last hour of racing.
“Obviously, there could be unpredictable factors that might force you to abruptly change your strategy. A fall or crash, for example, could upend your tactical options but overall, this is quite a straightforward race, where everything will be played in the final 40-50 minutes. The fresher riders will have an advantage that could make the difference.”
Tom Dumoulin will not ride Milano-San Remo
Giant-Alpecin sent this unhappy news:
Tom Dumoulin (NED) will unfortunately not line up for the start of Milano-Sanremo this Saturday due to sickness. He will be replaced by Bert De Backer (BEL).
Tom Dumoulin at last year's Vuelta
Team physician Anko Boelens (NED) explained: "Tom has the flu and with only two days to Milano-Sanremo, we decided it won't be possible for him to race. He is recovering at home and we will monitor his progress closely. We expect Catalunya to be possible but we have to wait and take it day by day."
"It's disappointing for me to miss one of the biggest classics of the season," added Dumoulin. "It started at Paris-Nice. From Saturday to Sunday I had a sore throat and didn't feel completely well during Sunday's closing stage and once home it continued to get worse. It is a pity that I can't start Milano-Sanremo but I need to accept it. I hope I will be fit in time for Catalunya and in the coming days we will know more."
Coach Marc Reef (NED) said: "It's very unfortunate that Tom won't be starting on Saturday since he is considered as one of our riders capable of handling the tough finale at Milano-Sanremo. Our plan will change slightly, which means that we will race more opportunistically and the aim is still to bring Simon [Geschke] to the finale as fresh as possible."
For the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Dumoulin is still part of the team but his condition will be monitored during the next few days and then a decision will be made about his participation.
Gesink and Kelderman aim for general classification in Catalunya
This came from LottoNL-Jumbo:
Team LottoNL-Jumbo starts with its best possible line-up in the Volta Cyclista a Catalunya. The Spanish stage race starts on Monday, March 23, with Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk as the team’s main guns.
“We couldn’t bring a better team for this race,” sports director Frans Maassen said of the WorldTour race. “These men are familiar with the area, as well. The level will be very high, but we have a great team to be able to compete.
“Robert Gesink is our front man, he has the biggest chance to deliver a good general classification. Besides that, we want to win a stage. We are going to Catalunya with very strong riders, but they don’t win races easily. The best would be if they could profit from each other and win a stage.”
Robert Gesink in last year's Tour de France
Gesink is ready to lead the team. “I’ve finished a tough period of training and I’m ready for this race,” he added. “It’s going to be a very hard race because of the profile, but also because of the race’s line-up. It’s the first WorldTour race that I mentioned as a target. Wilco Kelderman and I want to go for a good result in the general classification.”
Line-up: Koen Bouwman, Robert Gesink, Martijn Keizer, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Primoz Roglic and Alexey Vermeulen.
Sports directors: Frans Maassen and Addy Engels.