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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, August 29, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Current racing:

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Vuelta a España stage five team reports

Here's the report from new GC leader Miguel Lopez's Team Astana:

After a few hilly stages, the Vuelta a España has reached the mountains with the 5th stage of 170.7 km to the top of the first category climb Observatorio Astrofisico de Javalambre. Miguel Angel Lopez attacked from GC favorites group inside the last 3 km of climbing, shortly taking a good gap.

Miguel Lopez

Miguel Lopez is the new Vuelta GC leader. Sirotti photo

The Astana rider finished 4th, 47 seconds behind three riders from the daily break. In the same time, he took some important seconds over his main rivals in the fight for the general classification of the race, in the end of the day coming back into the red jersey of the overall leader.

- The last climb was super tough, but my teammates once again did a fantastic job for me, working hard during the day and almost the whole last climb, placing me really well, when a few teams started to increase the pace. In a moment I just decided to try and to see if I can do something on this climb. I had good legs today and when I saw nobody really follows me, I continued pushing hard until the finish. The last part before the finish was hard, but I managed to get some seconds on my rivals. It was just the first mountain stage and more climbing stages are still to come, but at the moment I am happy with my performance and with the red jersey that I’ve got back. Also, I am happy to bring this jersey back for my team, which was really perfect today, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.

Stage 5 has started in L’Eliana and shortly after the start three riders went away, creating the daily breakaway. These group got a big advantage over 11 minutes and, despite a lot of action behind them in the bunch, they were able to survive and to play the stage, finally, won by Angel Madrazo.

The Astana leader Miguel Angel Lopez was placed good in front of the main group surrounded by his teammates. In a moment, with more or less 2.6 km to the top, Lopez launched a powerful attack and nobody of rivals could follow him. At the finish line Miguel Angel won 12 seconds on the first chasing group with Alejandro Valverde and Primoz Roglic. This result allowed the Astana rider to move back in the lead in the overall standings of the Vuelta a España. After stage 5 Lopez wins 14 seconds on Roglic and 23 seconds on Nairo Quintana.

Also, Miguel Angel Lopez leads in the best young rider classification.

Another day in the mountains is coming tomorrow with stage 6 from Mora de Rubielos to Ares del Maestrat of 198.9 km.

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this update:

The first few stages were made for the fast men in the peloton but today was the first chance for the climbers to show their skills. The race headed from L`Eliana up to the Spanish astronomical observatory Alto de Javalambre, which was a 11,1 km long climb with an average gradient of 7,8%.

Shortly after the official start a trio launched an attack and pulled out an advantage of more than 10 minutes over the bunch, which took it easy today. BORA – hansgrohe, with the wearer of the points jersey, remained in the pack, working for their GC contenders Rafał Majka and Davide Formolo. The breakaway built up a gap of more than 11 minutes and although unexpected, they were able to hold on until the final climb.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka finished 11th in stage five. Sirotti photo

Unfortunately, Gregor Mühlberger was forced to stop racing due to health problems. Meanwhile, Pawel Poljanski was once again incredibly strong and, together with Felix Großschartner, brought the team’s GC contenders Rafał Majka and Davide Formolo into position as the race reached the bottom of the final climb.

The breakaway held onto their advantage and battled for the victory with a one-minute gap over the chasing group, where Rafał was staying in a good position. In the final kilometers, Davide Formolo slightly lost contact with the first chasing group while teammate Rafał Majka stayed in a good position together with the other GC favourites. The polish climber crossed the line in 11th position and moved up to 8th overall. Teammate Davide Formolo lost some positions and now sits in 12th overall. Sprinter Sam Bennett was able to keep his lead in the points classification and will wear the green jersey again tomorrow.

From the Finish Line:
“It was the first hard mountain stage and while the breakaway might have been small, it was strong and it made it to the finish. I want to give a huge compliment and thanks to Paweł, who worked almost the whole time for us and was so strong, as well as Felix. They both brought us into position for the last climb which saw me move up into eighth in the GC but it is still a long way until Madrid.” – Rafał Majka

“It was the first summit finish of this year’s La Vuelta. Once again, the team did a great job to protect our GC contenders and brought them perfectly into position as we reached the final climb. At the end of the day, the breakaway made it to the finish line so we focused on avoiding any time losses. Rafał finished in 11th place and moved up two positions. It is still a long way to go, but we’ve stayed in a good position in the overall so far, and Sam was able to defend his lead in the points classification.” – Patxi Vila, Sports Director

Lotto Soudal’s Roger Kluge previews the Deutschland Tour

The team sent me this:

[Editor's note: We do not cover the Deutschland Tour, but will post team updates on our news page]

After Sunday's EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg, Lotto Soudal will stay in Germany a little longer to take part in the Deutschland Tour, which kicks off this Thursday. Just like last year, the organisation of this Europe Tour race designed an attractive course that offers opportunities for sprinters, punchers as well as attackers. Roger Kluge will ride through his home country during the Deutschland Tour and previews the four-day stage race.

Roger Kluge

Roger Kluge winning stage 17 of the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Roger Kluge: "I felt good in the Cyclassics Hamburg last Sunday but unfortunately, I broke a spoke in my front wheel, so I was forced to change bikes. I still tried to come back but at only 30 kilometres to go, with the narrow roads and the high pace at the front, I knew it would be almost impossible. I recovered from the Tour really well, I had a solid training block and I look forward to start racing at the Deutschland Tour. I am super motivated and happy to race in my home country. Usually, the roads are really nice and the Deutschland Tour is well-organised. They really want to bring back the race to where it was in the past, towards an eight or nine-day stage race."

"I had a peek at the course and the first stage should be a first sprint opportunity. The finale of both stage two and three is hilly, but it could be something that also suits Caleb Ewan. We definitely have one sprint opportunity with Caleb, maybe even two or three, depending on how the race unfolds. On Sunday, there's a short uphill finish, so that will most likely be a day for the general classification riders."

"With fifteen WorldTour teams at the start, it will be high-level racing. The fact that there are only teams of six riders will make it a little more difficult to control the race for a possible sprint. I haven't checked the start list yet but there should definitely be two or three other teams who want to have a sprint as well. It could be an open race from stage two onwards, but that will mostly depend on the size of the breakaway. As the teams are smaller, an early attack that goes till the finish is a realistic scenario. It will for sure make for some exciting racing!"

"My role will be pretty much the same like I did during my last 70 days of racing and that is to protect Caleb. Jens Keukeleire is definitely the right man to take my place if the terrain gets a little too hard for me. Jasper De Buyst won't be at the start, so definitely in the first stage, I will most likely be the final guy to bring Caleb as far as possible. But like during the Tour, we won't do a lead-out. I will assist Caleb the best I can and we'll try to win a stage."

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Caleb Ewan, Frederik Frison, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Nikolas Maes and Jelle Vanendert.

Sports director: Herman Frison.

Stages:

Stage 1 Thursday 29 August: Hannover - Halberstadt (167 km)
Stage 2 Friday 30 August: Marburg - Göttingen (202 km)
Stage 3 Saturday 31 August: Göttingen - Eisenach (189 km)
Stage 4 Sunday 1 September: Eisenach - Erfurt (159.5 km)

UAE Team Emirates to ride Bretagne Classic-Ouest

The team sent me this:

UAE Team Emirates heads to France with a balanced squad to tackle the rolling terrain of the World Tour Classic Bretagne-Ouest France (September 1), in a race which may favour the sprinters.

After leaving Plouay, the riders will travel a total of 248.1 kilometers, including a 13.9 km circuit in the closing quarter of the race. The race features two dirt tracks in the central part of the route, which will climbs a total of nearly 4000 meters in altitude.

Australian sports directors Allan Peiper and Neil Stephens will will oversee a seven man squad:
– Tom Bohli (Sui)
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Manuele Mori (Ita)
– Simone Petilli (Ita)
– Jasper Philipsen (Bel)
– Jan Polanc (Slo)
– Rory Sutherland (Aus)

Manuele Mori

Manuele Mori has been racing for a while. Here he is before the start of the 2014 Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

Manuele Mori has three times made the top 10 of the race (3rd in 2006), though the race route has changed since then: “The route which I obtained placings included several extra laps of the circuit, so it was even more intense and selective . The race route has changed several times, now offering even more opportunities to sprinters in recent years. Often the weather conditions can be tough but it should definitely be a race that suits a rider like Jasper Philipsen”.

Team Sunweb extend contracts with Kanter, Heinschke and Märkl

The team sent me this news:

Team Sunweb are delighted to announce the contract extensions of three young and talented German riders. Max Kanter extends his contract at WorldTour level until the end of 2021, while Leon Heinschke and Niklas Märkl extend their stay with Development Team Sunweb until the end of 2021 and 2020 respectively.

The former two-time German U23 road race champion stepped up to WorldTour level in 2019 after several promising years in the junior and U23 ranks, the latter of which were spent at Development Team Sunweb. As an U23 Kanter took some impressive wins, including two stages at the Olympia’s Tour and one at the famous Tour de l’Avenir, highlighting his ability in the fast finishes. His debut season in the professional ranks has been affected by injury but after taking time to recover and rebuild together with the team, Kanter made his return to racing at the recent Tour de Pologne. Looking to the future, it is Kanter’s abilities and potential as a sprinter and strong one-day rider that shine through.

Heinschke has had a good second season with the team, delivering strong performances throughout the calendar in support of teammates but also picking up good results himself. The highlight of those results was victory at the German U23 road race which took place on a tricky and hilly parcours, with Heinschke delivering a powerful kick to ride away from everyone on the uphill drag to the line. In the coming years with the team Heinschke looks to continue to grow and develop, improving his abilities in every facet of being a bike rider.

Now into his second year with Development Team Sunweb, Märkl has continued to develop as a strong and punchy rider with a fast finish. Starting the season well, he took his first victory of the year in the prologue at the Istrian Spring Trophy and quickly followed that up with sprint success at the Youngster Coast Challenge. A good team-player, Märkl also works strongly in the support of his teammates at races. Looking towards next year, Märkl hopes to build on this season and continue to grow as a rider with the team.

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