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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, May 12, 2016

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

See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little. - Pope John XXIII

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Giro d'Italia stage 5 video

Giro d'Italia stage 5 team reports

Here's what Bardiani-CSF had to say about the day's racing:

Bardiani-CSF came close to taking its first win at Giro d’Italia 2016. Today, fifth stage, Praia a Mare-Benevento, 233 km, the finsisseur of the #GreenTeam Sonny Colbrelli placed third behind Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Demare (FDJ). Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) didn’t lose the pink jersey.

“It was an hard finale, suited for me, and we rode it really fast” said Colbrelli. “Everything was great but, honestly, I was not right with the timing of the sprint. I was in the front too early and Greipel behind me did a really strong attack. The only thing I could do was trying. I did a long sprint, I was also unsure to finish the stage at the front. Congrats to Andre, he did a great job”.

“I’m little disappointed because I didn’t exploit in the best way this chance, on the other side the third place is a boost of confidence. Yesterday I understand the form is good, today I had the proof. I will try again, for sure” added Sonny.

Tomorrow the Giro’s peloton will discover the first summit finish riding from Ponte to Roccaraso, 157 km.

This is Tinkoff's stage 5 update:

Pavel Brutt was the hero of the day on one of the race's longest stages. On the undulating parcours, Pavel and three others escaped up the road after the day's categorised climb and stayed out in front for more than 180km of the stage's 233km. With the group caught by the peloton 7.5km from the stage's finish in Benevento, a bunch sprint decided the day's outcome, with Rafal Majka the first Tinkoff rider to finish in 21st position, four seconds behind a small split in the front group but not losing time to the majority of his GC rivals.

Pavel Brutt

Pavel Brutt

The longest stage of the race so far and the second longest as a whole, at 233km, stage 5 was bound to be an exciting day. With an undulating profile that encouraged fast, attacking riding, before a long descent into the finish, the stage would be one for the all-rounders. While it officially had only one categorised climb – the third category Via del Fortino – it came at the very start of the day, and saw riders climbing from the moment the flag was dropped. The remainder of the stage was undulating, but not a climbers' parcours, meaning anyone had the chance of taking the stage win if they could hold the peloton away on the descent into Benevento and a lap of a 6.5km circuit before the final short, sharp ramp to the finish.

The attack came early in the day, on the descent of the Fortino. A group of four riders – including Tinkoff's Pavel Brutt – got away 40km out, and while the peloton wasn't willing to let the attack go, the group of four worked together to quickly build up a gap of more than four minutes. From here, the time gap rose and fell with the undulating parcours, but never dropped below two minutes, and sometimes rose to more than six.

From the finish, Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, was pleased with how the Russian rider had performed. "The day started with a long 3rd category climb, which was going up for about 35km, but the peloton stayed calm on this and then the break went over the top. Pavel did a good job to get in the move there as with the profile today you never know how the race can go. He was there all day and put in a good effort but the teams started pulling behind when the gap was just six minutes so you know then that it's going to be tough."

As the race hit the second half of the stage, the climbs became more testing and frequent. While the peloton had managed to reduce the gap on the escapees, working towards a sprint finish, the front group was working well together, making the most of the descents to hold the chasing group off as much as possible. In San Potito, with 45km remaining, the escape hit the long descent into Benevento and immediately put almost a minute into the peloton. As the peloton hit the same descent, however, the gap started falling again, and with 30km to go, the attackers had only 1'30".

At 20km remaining, the gap had been reduced to 30 seconds, but the Russian rider, who counts the Giro as one of his favourite races, wasn't giving up, working with the other escapees to drive the pace and build the gap back up again. Back in the peloton however, Rafal Majka experienced a mechanical, but with strong team support to pace him, the Tinkoff leader was quickly back with the main group. Back at the front however, with 7.5km left, the peloton had clear sight of the escape and was finally reeling them back in just before the lap of Benevento. As Hoffman explained from the finish, the day could have turned out very differently, especially after Rafal's puncture. "They got caught with 7.5km to go, but things were a bit nervous before that as with 14km to go Rafal had a flat tyre and at this point it was really flat out and technical. I have to say the boys did fantastic here - Ivan waited with him, then Boaro was there as well to help him through the cars, with the others at the back of the peloton. It worked out fantastically, but it was on the limit."

Tinkoff's leader, Rafal Majka, was quick to praise the huge efforts of his teammates after his mechanical. "When I punctured it took some time to change the wheel, so it was quite nervous but thanks to the extraordinary effort of Boaro and Rovny I managed to close the gap to the bunch and finish safely in the front. We didn't lose any time today and it was a good day overall in the end, but I spent an immense amount of energy to get back to the leading positions in the group. I would like to thank the guys for their fantastic effort and sacrifice to get me back. They went really hard on the last climb which took its toll but it all worked out. It was great team work from the guys and shows the strong team spirit we have here."

After a long, tough day in the saddle, the stage was won with a bunch sprint finish, with Rafal the first Tinkoff rider over the line in 21st position – an amazing result after his earlier puncture. "The finish itself was slightly uphill, but there were still sprinters left so it was another one for them. Greipel was really strong today to be there and his team did a good job so chapeau. Rafal stayed in the same time overall which was the goal ahead of tomorrow which will be a tough stage. There's a long climb in the first 50km, and then another long one to finish. It shouldn't be super crazy as it's not that steep but you never know and if Rafal has an opportunity we will see if we can take it." 

Tomorrow's stage is a significantly smaller distance than today's, at a comparatively short 157km, but this is by no means an easy one. With the race's first summit finish, stage 6 is the Giro's first mountain stage, taking in two second category climbs – the Bocca della Selva and the Roccaraso. With maximum gradients of 10% and 12% respectively, the stage will give the climbers a chance to stretch their legs and make their mark on the race, while the GC riders will aim to either decrease the gaps that formed on the earlier stages, or increase the gap on their rivals.

With Bob Jungels wearing the young rider's white jersey, we have to include Etixx-Quick Step's Giro news:

On a day for the sprinters at the Giro d'Italia, Bob Jungels put on a valiant effort to claw back some time in the general classification.

Stage 5 started with a small celebration for Marcel Kittel, who turned 28 and received a cake on the stage from the organizers, while the crowds sang Happy Birthday – and continued with Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Daniel Oss (BMC) and Amets Txurukka (Orica-GreenEdge) going in the escape and staying there until the last 10 kilometers, just as the peloton was entering on the tough circuit of Benevento, a town which was hosting a Giro d'Italia finish for the first time in seven years.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels at the start of Giro stage 5

The uphill road – that featured at the end of a 233-km long lumpy stage – proved to be too difficult for Marcel Kittel, who lost contact with the fast-charging bunch, but Etixx – Quick-Step still was in the mix with Bob Jungels, who avoided a crash that held up Matteo Trentin and disrupted the rhythm of the bunch. As soon as Andre Greipel opened his sprint with 250 meters to go, Bob – who was fourth wheel – went after the German rider and his strong acceleration caught many sprinters off-guard. Only Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) could react and they got the podium spots in Benevento, as Bob came close behind and finished just outside the top 3, equalling his best ever result in a Grand Tour.

Leader in the best young rider classification with a comfortable cushion over the second placed rider, the Luxembourg champion saw his effort bear fruit at the finish, as he took back time in the overall rankings, only 16 seconds separating him now from GC leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). This small margin is seen as an encouraging factor by Bob ahead of the next stages scheduled this week, when the Giro will become tougher and tougher.

"The stage was very long. They said it was one for the sprinters, but it was really hard, as we were all the time up and down through the mountains. With Marcel suffering, we decided to go for Matteo, but unfortunately he got caught behind the crash. I was in a good position and started my sprint, although it wasn't easy at all.

Still, to finish fourth in a bunch sprint it's a nice result, which shows that I have good feelings in the legs "Now I am looking forward to tomorrow's mountain stage and especially to the individual time trial on Sunday", said the white jersey wearer.

Despite not contesting the finish, Marcel Kittel kept the red jersey, and as soon as he climbed off the podium, he explained what happened on Wednesday: "It was very hard out there. We had a lot of altitude meters, a 230-km long stage, and a high tempo in the peloton at all times, all these before the tough finish. It was very difficult, and to be honest, I didn't have the legs. That's cycling: in some days you have it, in some you don't."

A valuable team player since the start of the race, Matteo [Trentin] hoped to be in the mix today, but the crash took him out of contention. After the finish, the Italian was left to rue the missed opportunity in Benevento, but vowed to look for other chances: "Unfortunately, these things happen. I was in the wrong place at the wrong moment. It's a pity, because I could have been there with a shot at a good result, but that's bike racing. Anyway, we will continue to fight in the next stages."

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

Moreno Hofland sprinted to fifth in the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia today in Benevento. He was visible in the front of the peloton the whole time during around Benevento thanks to LottoNL-Jumbo’s team work, but was boxed in during the final turn. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) shot clear to win the stage.

The stage between Praia a Mare and Benevento was a long one, 233 kilometres. The fifth stage wasn’t only hard because of the length, though. “It was a tricky stage with some tough climbs that weren’t actually climbs in the road book,” Hofland said.

“Everything still went well for us. Maarten Tjallingii brought us to the front just before the final lap and Jos van Emden did a great effort afterwards. Enrico Battaglin kept me in front afterwards so I was able to start the descent in a good position.”

Team LottoNL-Jumbo was planning for that scenario because of the twisting and turning in the final kilometres. Hofland started the descent in fourth position and maintained it. With 1.5 kilometres to go, a number of riders passed him in a turn and Rein Taaramäe (Katusha) crashed.

Giro sage 5 sprint

Moreno Hofland was fifth in the Giro stage 5 sprint. No one was going to beat André Greipel today.

“I had to brake more than I wanted to and lost my position,” Hofland continued. “That was a pity because I had strong legs today. This fifth place was the best possible after the crash.”

During the chaotic final kilometres, the peloton split and Steven Kruijswijk lost four seconds. “That’s a shame,” Sports Director Addy Engels added. “He wasn’t with the other men when they led out Moreno. These four seconds are nothing important for the final classification, but we’re working hard every day to bring Steven in position. This is unnecessary.”

Kruijswijk will have the chance to take revenge already tomorrow when the Giro finishes uphill for the first time. “I’m expecting Steven to finish in front,” Engels concluded. “What he showed yesterday was strong. I’m confident about him being able to finish amongst the best.”

Peter Sagan will ride Tour of California

Tinkoff sent me this:

Following a break after the successful Spring Classics campaign, combined with a few mountain bike forays to test his off-road form, 13-time stage winner at the race Peter Sagan will return to road action at the Amgen Tour of California this May. Peter won the event in 2015 and will be looking to add to his tally of stage successes at this year’s edition.

Joining Peter at the eight-day race in America will be many riders that also supported him in the classics. These riders include Erik Baška, Adam Blythe, Oscar Gatto, Michael Gogl, Michael Kolar and Nikolay Trusov. The line-up is completed by Peter’s brother Juraj who made strong progression during the spring, and will be starting his first Tour of California.

“I'm really looking forward to coming back this race - it's a great event at which I have some really good memories," Peter told us before starting his journey over to America. “The Amgen Tour of California means a lot to me, it's a race I’ve liked competing at over the past years and it has now become a tradition in my program. Previously, in California, I've been very successful and I believe that, after a little rest, I will be back again at a good performance level. I would be happy if I am again competing for some strong results here. This year will be a very difficult edition, and not quite suited to my style but stage by stage we will see what we can do.”

Despite coming into the race as defending champion, the course doesn’t suit Peter for another shot at the overall classification due to a punishing mountain finish on stage 3 to Santa Barbara County. The 167.5km day ends in the 12km climb of Gibraltar Road, averaging 8%, and this will be a day for the climbers to stamp their authority on the race.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan winning at the 2015 Tour of California

Sport Director for the race, Patxi Vila gave his thoughts on the Tinkoff line-up. “We have a fast team here in what is going to be quite a tough race. We come here with Peter as leader in search of stage results, and then for the GC we will see how Gogl is – he can test himself and then see how he stands against the others.

“We then have a strong team around Peter to target stages with Blythe, Gatto, Trusov & Kolar back racing. The race will also be used by many of the guys to touch base with race rhythm again and to restart their focus for the second half of the season. Peter has had a good break after the classics with some mountain bike racing and some time at home so he’s relaxed and ready for the next stage of the season. I don’t expect him to come here on top form like last year but it will be a good race to build on for his coming goals.”

There will several other opportunities for Peter to show his turn of speed, including the opening stage which also presents the chance to steal the first leader’s jersey of the week. There’s also a 20.3km individual time trial on the day six to make sure there’s something for everyone at this race. The week then comes to a close with a town centre sprint showdown in Sacremento.

Looking at the stages, Vila added: “Stage 1 is already a good one. I don’t think the whole bunch will be together but it will be a good one for Peter. An early result would be great to take the pressure off for the rest of the week. Then stages 2 and 7 are also quite suited to his strengths. It’s a nice race this – good roads, well looked after in the race hotels, and not too stressful so I’m looking forward to heading back to California.”

27th Giro Rosa [Women's Giro] teams have been selected

This came to me from the race organizer:

The organization of the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Women Elite, the most important stage race in the Women's World Tour has chosen the teams which will run the edition 2016, from 1st to 10th July 2016.

Italy will be the most represented Country, with 7 teams: Alè Cipollini, Aromitalia - Vaiano - Fondriest, Bepink, Inpa - Bianchi, Servetto - Footon - Alurecycling, S.C. Michela Fanini and Top Girls Fassa Bortolo.

The Netherlands, home of the last winner Anna Van der Breggen, comes with three Top Teams: Boels Dolmans (with the actual World Tour's Leader and World Champion Lizzie Armitstead), Rabo-Liv and Liv-Plantur.

Two teams belong to the following Nations: Germany (Canyon-SRAM & Cervelo Bigla), USA (Cylance Pro Cycling & Hagens Berman/Supermint), Belgium (Lensworld Zannata & Lotto Soudal Ladies) and Spain (Bizkaia-Durango & Lointek). Countries with only one team are Slovenia (BTC City Ljubljana), Great Britain (Wiggle High5), Kazakhstan (Astana Women's Team), Norway (Hitec-Products), France (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86) and Argentina with Xirayas de San Luis Team.

Every Team can line up six athletes at the big start in Gaiarine (Treviso).

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