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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 3, 2016

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To do is to be — Jean-Paul Sartre.
Do be do be do — Frank Sinatra.

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Vuelta a España Stage 13 news

Since Valerio Conti won the stage, we'll have to start with Lampre-Merida's report.

Basque Country and some kilometers on the French land, in addition to a hilly course (four 3rd category ascents in the central part of the race) were in the menu of the 13th stage of the Vuelta, 213. 4 km from Bilbao to Urdaz Dantxarinea.

This proposal whetted the appetite of Valerio Conti, who joined an attack attempt after 20 km in the race. The 12 members of the breakaway (in addition to LAMPRE-MERIDA's rider there were Gogl, Wyss, Smukulis, Stamsnijder, Lagutin, Wallays, Lampaert, Stake Laengen, Rossetto, Benedetti and Cardis) cooperated with efficacy and they succeeded in having a maximum advantage which exceeded 23 minutes, a gap the peloton could not neutralize.

Conti managed his strength well, and the made his winning move at the best moment, 20 km from the finish, on a hill.

LAMPRE-MERIDA's climber went clear from his former breakaway mates and he could rely on an advantage of 1minute, which gave him the opportunity to enjoy in the best way the feelings of approaching the arrival being the solo leader of the stage and of obtaining his first victory in a Grand Tour and the third win ofhis career (in addition to the Izu stage in the Tour of Japan 2015 and the Gp Beghelli 2014).

Valerio Conti wins stage 13

Valerio Conti wins Vuelta stage 13

"I'm more than happy for this victory, it's a huge satisfaction for me and for the team", Conti explained. "In the past days my feelings were not as good as I would have liked, however I did not give up my aims for this Vuelta and today I tried once again to attack.

"It is the third time in a row after the rest day that at least one of LAMPRE-MERIDA's athletes has joined the main breakaway of the stage.

"The hardest part of the day was the battle for going clear from the bunch, then the peloton did not perform an intense chase, so we could manage our energy.
I had good feelings and I chose the best moment for attacking: I was even surprised to see how fast I could go when I was in the front of the race.

Thanks to the whole team and to all the sponsors."

Here's BMC's Vuelta update:

2 September, 2016, Urdax-Dantxarinea (ESP): Danilo Wyss came close to claiming his first Grand Tour stage win on stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana, which saw him sprint for second place behind solo winner Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida).

Wyss was one of 12 riders to make the day's breakaway and unlike previous stages when the peloton has controlled the break, the bunch was happy to let the group go clear.

Danilo Wyss

Danilo Wyss earlier this year at the start of Milano-San Remo

With all 12 riders more than one hour behind race leader Nairo Quintana on the General Classification, the group established a huge gap and finished almost 34 minutes in front of the peloton.

The attacks from the breakaway started with 25km to go, which saw multiple riders go clear, including Wyss, before eventually coming back together. Conti attacked inside the final 20km and managed to go clear, crossing the line 55 seconds in front of Wyss' group. Wyss battled it with three other riders of the original breakaway in the sprint for second place.

With the large gap between the breakaway and peloton on the finish line, BMC Racing Team now leads the team classification, 14'01" in front of Astana Pro Team.

Danilo Wyss: "For me it was a really good day. I knew this stage would be a good day for a breakaway like this and it was a really good situation with all of the guys out of GC, really far. It was a good parcours for me with some climbs but not too hard, so I was really looking at the other guys and I knew I had a good shot today. When I saw Conti going at 20km to go, I thought maybe he was going to kill himself but obviously he was really strong."

"I was feeling really good and I was really hoping that we would catch Conti in the final and I could go for the stage in the sprint. We didn't catch him, I still got the second place with a good sprint at the end. For me I'm often one of the workers in BMC Racing Team so I don't have many opportunities like this. It's a good day for me but I'm a bit disappointed to miss this victory."

Valerio Piva, Sports Director: "It was a good move from Danilo Wyss. We have tried from the beginning and today was clear that there was also a chance, and Danilo was in the breakaway so it was perfect. There was no GC danger and he was strong. But I think Conti was clever and also strong because he immediately made a gap. You also need to have some luck in this situation. Danilo was strong and was good for the second place, which is also good for us. With this move we jump now to the head of the team classification so that it also something good for the team. We need to try again. I think we are good and not far from a victory, but we need to try again the next day and focus on the GC with Samuel Sanchez. But of course to win a stage is also an objective."

Giant-Alpecin sent me this unhappy news:

Zico Waeytens (BEL) abandoned La Vuelta a España on stage 13 after suffering from fatigue and a gastrointestinal problem.

Team physician Stephan Jacolino (FRA) told us: "Zico has been suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort since yesterday. As a result of the high temperatures and the huge effort demanded from this stage, he has been forced to quit prematurely La Vuelta."

On retiring from the race, Waeytens said: "From the beginning of today's stage I knew I wasn’t feeling good and my muscles lacked energy. Unfortunately today I was simply unable to keep on racing and I am very disappointed to end my Vuelta in this way."

Zico Waeytens

Zico Waeytens winning a stage at this year's Tour of Belgium

"Sadly Zico had to step off the bike today, which is a setback for the team," said Team Giant-Alpecin's coach at La Vuelta, Luke Roberts (AUS). "He has been fighting this discomfort since yesterday. We hoped that it would improve, but his condition deteriorated during today's difficult stage. We will miss him in La Vuelta as he is an important rider part of our sprint formation."

The team wishes Waeytens a speedy recovery, and thanks him for his hard work over the past weeks at the race.

This came from Tinkoff:

The longest day led to the strongest breakaway of this year’s edition of the Vuelta. The Austrian rider, Michael Gogl, took the opportunity to jump in an early escape, which quickly built up a huge advantage of more than twenty minutes on the peloton – the biggest of this year’s race. After a late attack from the break took the stage win, Michael fought it out for fourth place after his strongest performance of the race so far and a career-best finish.

The undulating parcours of stage 13, which took in four third category climbs, was crying out for a breakaway, and while this hasn’t been a race where escapes have succeeded so far, the 213.4km stage that again skirted along the northern coast before twice dipping into France in the final 50km, would give a decent break a chance to survive until the end of the day – provided they made it over the difficult climbs with enough of an advantage.

While an early break with Daniele Bennati didn’t stick, the moment he was reeled back in, a larger group of twelve, with the Austrian Michael Gogl in their mix, made their way up the road. In spite of the efforts of some of the teams in the bunch to pull them back in, the escapees built up an advantage of a minute, two minutes and from that point the lead simply kept on growing. By the time 60km had been covered, the group had more than twelve minutes on the peloton, and by the time the race had covered 130km, the group hit the twenty-minute mark. Riding strong on the front, Michael was the key element in keeping the escape together, driving the pace and pulling hard to keep the peloton at bay.

At this point, the peloton knew that catching the break was a lost cause, and took a more leisurely pace as the final 30km came. None of the break would have an impact on the GC standings, and so the bunch left it to the escapees to fight it out amongst themselves for the stage win – preferring to save their energy for the hard day in France tomorrow. With one rider attacking and heading up the road, Michael worked hard behind to drive the pace and make the catch, but without the support of the other riders was unable to follow. In a group of six challenging for second spot, the Austrian took fourth after a long and tiring day at the front of the break.

From the finish line, Sport Director, Lars Michaelsen, was impressed by both Michael’s performance and his maturity as a racer in his first year as a professional. “We knew this would be one of the stages where a breakaway could go and stay away. We had a few guys lined up to try and go in the move, Gogl was keen to go and he did a great job. Sometimes you forget he’s a neo pro – he rides in a mature way – strong – and looks after Alberto well.”

In his first Grand Tour, Michael was pleased with his finish – taking his career-best result. “It was a long, long day – the longest day of La Vuelta. We have had two tough stages in the past couple of days, so it was hard, hard, hard. First Jelle Wallays went, so I went with him as he’s a really strong rider. They caught up and Conti went and was really strong, so he’s a deserved winner today.”

Michael was learning from every race experience, and his Sport Director, Michaelsen, was quick to support his development after today’s strong finish. “Since there was no chase behind everyone came quite fresh into the final. Michael took a chance going away with Jelle Wallays with 30km to go. It was a good chance, something to try. One thing to say is that he could have finished second, but he had a gap to close, which cost him. Of course we’re racing to win and today there was one guy stronger. Still, chapeau to Michael. Behind in the bunch there were no issues for the guys and they finished safely after a steady day.”

Finishing in the peloton after a slower-paced day, Alberto explained the bunch’s slower speed. “It was a very long day and we took it more calmly, especially in the finale. We now have to focus on tomorrow, the Queen Stage. That's why the peloton had a slower pace behind the breakaway. We have been through a lot of demanding days with high temperatures and tomorrow we have long climbs with more than 5,000m of altitude gains, so we will need all the energy we have.“

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at the start of stage 13

As the Vuelta heads into France for a day, the riders will face the toughest day of climbing of the race so far. Three first category climbs will drain even the strongest riders, with gradients reaching almost 14%, before the final, especial climb, where the roads ramp up to 15% on the Aubisque over its 16.5km distance. The GC riders will be looking to take time here, but who will have the energy after a full day’s climbing?

Having ridden a hard stage today, Michael was already looking ahead to support Alberto Contador on tomorrow’s demanding stage. “In a team like Tinkoff we really want to take the GC with Alberto, but today I had my chance and I took it and I’m happy with the result. It’s a really tough mountain stage tomorrow and I’ll recover from today now to get ready for tomorrow.”

After such hard efforts in recent days, Alberto was relieved the peloton took it easy behind today’s break. “It wasn't something we had planned today, it was just a question of fatigue. Our legs have gone through a lot of effort, every day, so, I think tomorrow will be a different story. It will be a very important day and if you think about it, that will be the first stage with true, long climbs at the Vuelta, with the exception of the finish to Lagos de Covadonga, the rest have been nearly all explosive finishes. Tomorrow, it will be very important to have a good form."

Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Britain preview:

This weekend the Tour of Britain starts, an eight-day Europe Tour race scheduled from Sunday 4 till Sunday 11 September. The teams can line up six riders. Lotto Soudal is counting on German champion André Greipel and Tony Gallopin to set results.

There are several opportunities for sprinters. On Friday there is an uphill finish in Dartmoor. On Saturday the riders have a double task in Bristol. First, they need to ride an individual time trial of fifteen kilometres. Afterwards the peloton will cover the same course six times during the second stage of the day. On the final day the stage consists of sixteen laps in London, where the sprinters can battle for a prestigious victory.

Bart Leysen, sports director: “For our riders this race is part of the preparation for later goals, but of course they will grab their chance if there is an opportunity. First of all, we are aiming for a stage win with André Greipel, for whom this race is part of his build-up towards the Eneco Tour and the World Championships. None of the stages are flat, but he should be able to stay in the first group, except for the uphill finish on Friday. Also Jens Debusschere will get his chance to sprint, we’ll decide during the race when that’s possible. In all other stages he will do his job for André. Both are keen to go home with a good feeling.”

tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin

“Tony Gallopin should be able to set a good overall result. On Friday there is an uphill finish. That climb isn’t too hard, but long enough to split the group. That will be an important day for GC, just like the next day when there is an individual time trial on a course that contains a hill. Later that day the peloton will cover that same course six times. It’s not our plan to get a rider in a breakaway, because we will need our riders to chase. If we should notice that we are the only team that aims for a sprint though, then we can always change our tactics. But when I take a look at the start list it shouldn’t be a problem, there are other teams that are likely to aim for a sprint as well. De Buyst, Shaw and Sieberg will have to work. For our trainee James Shaw it will certainly be an unforgettable week, racing for a WorldTour team in his own country.”

Tony Gallopin will participate in the Tour of Britain for the first time, he talks about his expectations.

Tony Gallopin: “After the Tour I rode the Clásica San Sebastián and then I didn’t take part in any races for three weeks. My first race was the Cyclassics in Hamburg and last week I raced in Plouay. I felt good, it was good to test the legs in a race. I’m now building up towards my last goals of the season. The Tour of Britain is a beautiful race though, where I would love to win a stage. There are some opportunities for punchers. It won’t be easy to win a stage, but I will do all I can. One-week races are perfect for me to strive for a good place on GC, but I’m not aiming for the overall victory at first instance. First of all I am aiming for a stage win.”

“I am riding the Tour of Britain for the first time because previous years I rode the Grand Prix of Québec and the Grand Prix of Montréal at this time. I love the Canadian races, but I wanted some change. Although that wasn’t an easy choice. Also as a preparation for the European Championships, which take place the week after Canada, this is better. I know the course of the road race in Plumelec very well, I have often raced there. Last year the team time trial of the Tour finished there as well. Afterwards I want to be good at Il Lombardia. Racing in Great-Britain is part of my preparation for these races, but of course I want to set good results in this race as well.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, James Callum Shaw and Marcel Sieberg.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Frederik Willems.

Orica-AIS Boels Rental Ladies Tour report:

Former Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy took her first victory of the season today in the Boels Rental Ladies Tour by winning the sprint from a breakaway group of 14 riders that stayed away to the finish line.

The strong group formed within the first 40kilometres of the race and rode out to a five-minute advantage with Tayler Wiles and Roy present for ORICA-AIS.

Roy, known for her explosive power, waited patiently before opening up her sprint at the perfect moment to claim her first ever victory for the Australian outfit.

“It was unreal today, it was one of those races that went perfectly for us all day,” Roy said after her win. “I was pretty confident coming into the final, I had Gene Bates on the radio telling me to back myself and for once I got my timing right and didn’t panic. I didn’t let the nerves get the better of me, I waited and waited and didn’t get intimidated as I knew there were a lot of fast girls in the group.

“So much luck is involved with sprinting. It hasn’t been working for me in the last few races but it all came together today and it is my first win for the team which is so special. We worked so well together all day and Tayler was awesome in the final. It’s so much fun when you win with such great teammates but also friends.”

Roy has finished on the podium numerous times throughout the season but has been unable to clinch a victory until today, in what was a performance sport director Gene Bates described as ‘textbook’.

“Both the girls were awesome today,” said Bates. “There were some really quick girls in the group, and with 14 riders there we thought it would be best if we could split it and put the odds in our favour by having two riders there. Both the girls tried a few times coming into the final to try and get away but the group wanted to keep it together. Tayler did a great job leading out and Roy timed it perfectly to take the win. A textbook victory.”

How it happened: After a hard and hilly stage yesterday, riders welcomed a typically Dutch flat race for today’s stage four of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour. Immediately as the start flag was dropped, the race kicked off with aggressive racing, attacks and high speeds which caused the large peloton to fragment.

The bunch eventually settled and all the riders returned to one large peloton before a strong group of 14 riders began to break away. The group was able to set a rapid pace due to the narrow and twisty roads, and quickly moved out of the peloton’s sight. The front riders included a good representation from most teams so they were given freedom and worked well together to open up an advantage of four minutes.

Once the front lead group entered the final 25kilometres and held a comfortable five-minute lead over the peloton, riders began to attack in an attempt to form a new smaller front group. Both Roy and Wiles attacked to try and split the breakaway but were unsuccessful as the group edged closer to the finishing line.

Holding her nerve in the final sprint, Roy launched out of the wheels to claim an impressive victory.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage is 115 kilometres in length and likely to be another aggressive day of Dutch racing.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo signs Daan Olivier

This update came to me from the team:

LottoNL-Jumbo strengthened its team with 23-year-old Dutchman Daan Olivier. The two-year contract is a big step up for the talented climber Olivier, who stopped cycling in July 2015 for one year.

"It has always been my dream to race for the Dutch professional team,” Olivier said. “After a pleasant conversation with the team, I immediately knew that it was good. Team LottoNL-Jumbo supports me with training and coaching. I get the time to develop myself as an athlete, and also as a person.

"I had lost the balance between training and relaxation. A year after I decided to stop, my desire to be a professional rider returned. Fun is the most important thing for me and I found it back on the bike.”

Nico Verhoeven: "Olivier has raced for Giant-Shimano before stopping. Now he will race a couple of races on elite level. Before starting as a pro. Daan Olivier stopping was a surprising move, and it's certainly unique that he has started again. We found that his motivation is back, and the talent that he has not vanished.

“Daan Olivier is good uphill and as a pro, he already showed good things. Together we want to help him finding his way to the top again and we have to take time to do so. An important stage in his development has been the rediscovery of fun."

Olivier is no stranger to the team, he worked with team trainer Mathieu Heijboer before.

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