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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
August 18, 2014

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Chris Froome Leads Sky Vuelta Squad

Chris Froome will be back. After crashing out of the Tour de France, he'll lead Sky's Vuelta a España team. Bradley Wiggins will not be at the Vuelta, he'll defend his Tour of Britain Championship instead.

Sky's Vuelta lineup: Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Philip Deignan, Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Christian Knees, Dario Cataldo

Chris Froome

Chris Froome with Greg LeMond at the 2014 Tour de France teams presentation. Photo © Sirotti

Tim Wellens Wins Eneco Tour

What the heck! Lotto-Belisol did a terrific job of defending Tim Wellens' lead during the final stage of the Eneco Tour. So here's their very happy press release describing and justifiably celebrating their big-time win:

Tim Wellens has won the tenth edition of the Eneco Tour. After his fantastic stage win of yesterday the entire Lotto Belisol team defended the leader’s jersey of the young rider, who could stand on the podium as the overall winner; the first WorldTour overall victory for Lotto Belisol.

Before the stage the situation was clear: Wellens had to keep an eye on Lars Boom and Tom Dumoulin first of all and don’t give them any space. Also the wind promised to play its part in Dutch and Belgian Limburg, on a course that had similarities to the Amstel Gold Race, with many turns and 22 hills.

It took about fifteen kilometers before a front group of 20 riders was formed. Julien Vermote was the best ranked rider in GC, at more than six minutes of Wellens, so he wasn’t a big threat. The escapees also took the bonification seconds, so Boom and Dumoulin didn’t get the opportunity to get closer. The gap rose up to 5’20” after 80 kilometers, while Lotto Belisol, with among other Dockx and Sieberg, set the pace in the peloton.

With the final coming up it was Belkin, as expected, that took the initiative, but the two attempts to make echelons weren’t successful; Wellens and his teammates were racing really attentively. Behind the back of Roelandts and Vanendert Wellens saw the distance to the finish getting smaller, the peloton had been considerably reduced. In front it was Van Keirsbulck who attacked with 15 kilometers to go. The rider of OPQS set a strong performance and rode solo to the victory. On the last hill BMC tried, together with Boom and Dumoulin, to attack Wellens one last time, but Tim responded to all their moves. In the final kilometers the danger had gone.

Tim Wellens, overall winner Eneco Tour: “Before this weekend I had never won a race yet, so this is definitely the highlight of my career so far. A WorldTour victory in Belgium is really special. Many people cheered for me along the way, start town Riemst is at 20 kilometers from my parents’ house.”

“Before the stage there was more attention for the  danger of the wind than for Boom and Dumoulin. The way the team performed today is fantastic. I could actually be relaxed in the wheel of Sieberg first and than that of Roelandts. Belkin tried to make an echelon twice, but we never had problems. We were really focused and only on the last hill Boom and Dumoulin tried to force something.”

“Two days before the start I went to see the team doctor because I was ill. We postponed the decision to start and of course I’m very pleased I did start. The beginning of the week was difficult for the team, but as of Friday I started believing there were opportunities. And with Jelle Vanendert I had a teammate who was really strong as well.”

“The opportunities me and other young Belgian riders get wouldn’t be there without the immense support of Lotto. The different projects with which they give chances to young riders to develop their talent brought me to where I am today. The Belgian cycling project, with the support of so many Belgian partners, is indispensable for our cycling sport.”

“This victory doesn’t mean I will start as a favourite in the next one-day races of the WorldTour, but I’m eager to perform well in Plouay – working for the team – Québec, Montréal and Lombardia.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens gets the lead for good at the end of stage six of the Eneco Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

Herman Frison, sports director: “It was predicted not to be an easy day, but the guys did their job perfectly. You see what a leader’s jersey does to a team. Riders like Sieberg and Dockx didn’t get their ideal course but rode a hell of a race. I think we rode our best race of the season collectively. But I was only certain when he had actually crossed the finish line.”

“With Tim a Belgian rider wins the only Belgian World Tour stage race, in a cycling country like ours. On top of that he comes from our own development project, in which it’s our vision and that of the sponsors to offer opportunities to young riders; the way he did this is really nice. Maybe races like Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico are of another level, but when you look at the attractiveness you can rate the Eneco Tour higher than País Vasco, Catalunya or Romandie I think.”

“This week didn’t start well. Roelandts didn’t feel well on day one and got dropped, Debusschere had diarrhea a day later and our team got surprised by a split in the peloton and Thursday Greipel had to abandon due to illness and go home without a stage win. I know him, if he leaves the race he really isn’t feeling well. Tim stood at 49” and Jelle at more than a minute, so a place between five and ten in GC looked the highest possible. But Friday was a change for us. Jens joined  a break, Jelle and Tim moved up in GC and the performance of Tim on Saturday was really great.”

“Saturday the Vuelta begins and the next few weeks there are five more WorldTour one-day races programmed. We have to continue this way and with guys like Greipel, Roelandts, Wellens, Vanendert and Gallopin we definitely aim for points.”

The stage win and overall victory of Tim Wellens yield him and the team 106 WorldTour points, so with 452 points the team jumps from the sixteenth to the thirteenth place.

Orica-GreenEdge Going for Vuelta GC

Here's the press release from Orica-GreenEdge listing its riders for the i\Vuelta and detailing the team's ambitions:

An opportunistic roster will start the Vuelta a España for ORICA-GreenEDGE this Saturday targeting stage wins and, in a first for the team, an interest in general classification proceedings.

Two-time 2013 stage winner Michael Matthews and 2012 King of the Mountain Simon Clarke feature amongst the versatile line up for individual opportunities, whilst debutant Esteban Chaves will focus his first grand tour efforts on an overall performance.

The nine riders for the Vuelta a España are: Adam Yates, Brett Lancaster, Cameron Meyer, Esteban Chaves, Ivan Santaromita, Michael Matthews, Mitch Docker, Sam Bewley and Simon Clarke.

Sport director Neil Stephens is confident that the roster for this year’s Tour of Spain ensures the team’s options are plentiful.

“This year we are going in with a multi-task team,” Stephens said.

“There have been times when we have just targeted stages with one or a couple of riders but this year the whole team is basically all opportunists.

“I think that anyone who looks at our line up for the Tour of Spain will see that there are some great standout stage winners there and we will be trying to give some attention to the general classification with Esteban Chaves too.”

Matthews and British neo-pro Adam Yates are amongst those stand outs, the former with two 2014 Giro d’Italia stage wins to go with last year’s Vuelta double and the latter with a recent win at the GP Industria & Artigianato in the lead up to his debut grand tour.

“Matthews has come here with some great assistance and on the harder sprint stages where there may be a little bit of a reduced field he is going to be a real challenger,” Stephens said.

“We are not going to be a team with eight guys dedicated to one certain sprinter, but we have a little pocket of guys including Mitch Docker, Brett Lancaster and Sam Bewley, that will be looking after Michael on certain days.

“And then we have the fire power of Adam Yates who perhaps might not do the whole Tour of Spain but certainly he is in great shape.

“He had a little bit of a set back at the Clásica San Sebastián, he knocked himself around a fair bit, but we are hoping Adam is going to be able to target certain stages.”

In his first year with the ORICA-GreenEDGE team Chaves, a promising young Columbian rider, will become the team’s first grand tour general classification consideration.

“It’s a bit of a test, a bit of a step up for the future of Esteban, and our team as such, to go into a major tour with thoughts of general classification,” Stephens said of the 24-year-old.

“It is a big ask to say let's go off to the Tour of Spain and try to race in the general classification. But by the same token we will get to the end of the second week and we’ll reassess.

“If it is working, great, but if it’s not the year to be able to do that properly then we will just try to refocus on winning a stage win in the mountains in the last week.

“2014 was going to be a bit of a come back year for Esteban. He had a pretty serious injury last year and we were conscious of that and didn’t want to put any great pressure on him. He has surpassed our goals and has kicked goals in all areas, culminating in a mountain top win at the Tour of Switzerland.”

Whilst the engine capacity of Clarke, Cameron Meyer and Ivan Santaromita will offer support to Chaves, Stephens said it would not restrict their own opportunities.

“Sometimes the best form of defence is attack so those guys can take breakaway chances,” Stephens explained.

“They are all opportunists so we will give him support but we will be using those three guys to get off and try their own luck as well.”

The 2014 Vuelta a España starts this Saturday, 23 August with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera in the south of Spain and finish on Sunday, 14 September in Santiago de Compostela. The three-week tour features five flat stages, 13 hilly and mountain stages, two individual time trials and the initial team time trial.

Ag2r Announces Rosters for Upcoming Races:

Ag2r has its ducks all in a row. It's teams are set for the following races:

Vuelta a España (World Tour,) 23rd August to 14th September
Carlos BETANCUR (Colombia)
Maxime BOUET (France)
Hubert DUPONT (France)
Damien GAUDIN (France)
Patrick GRETSCH (Germany)
Yauheni HUTAROVICH (Belarus)
Lloyd MONDORY (France)
Rinaldo NOCENTINI (Italy)
Sébastien TURGOT (France)

General manager
Vincent LAVENU (21st to 24th August)

Sports directors

Tour du Limousin

The Tour du Limousin will be held from 19th to 22nd August.

Julien BERARD (France)
Guillaume BONNAFOND (France)
Steve CHAINEL (France)
Maxime DANIEL (France)
Axel DOMONT (France)
Samuel DUMOULIN (France)
Hugo HOULE (Canada)
Jimmy RAIBAUD  (France) - TRAINEE

Sports director
Stéphane GOUBERT

Vattenfall Cyclassics (World Tour)
The Vattenfall Cyclassics will take place on Sunday 24th August.

Davide APPOLLONIO (Italy)
Gediminas BAGDONAS (Lithuania)
Julien BERARD (France)
Ben GASTAUER (Luxembourg)
Alexis GOUGEARD (France)
Hugo HOULE (Canada)
Julian KERN (Germany)
Matteo MONTAGUTI (Italy)

Sports director
Gilles MAS

Classic de l’Indre

The Classic de l’Indre will be held on Sunday 24th August.

Guillaume BONNAFOND (France)
Steve CHAINEL (France)
Maxime DANIEL (France)
Nico DENZ (Germany) – TRAINEE
Axel DOMONT (France)
Samuel DUMOULIN (France)
Jean-Christophe PERAUD (France)
Jimmy RAIBAUD (France) – TRAINEE

Sports director
Laurent BIONDI


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