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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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Edvald Boasson Hagen to MTN-Qhubeka

This one surprised me. Norwegian TV2 Sport is reporting that Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen has signed to ride with the South African Pro Continental team Mtb-Qhubeka for two years. He will join other capable riders on the team such as Sergio Pardilla, Gerald Ciolek (winner of 2013 Milano-San Remo) and Linus Gerdemann.

Boasson Hagen is an accomplished racer, having won, among other prestigious victories, the 2009 Tour of Britain with four stage wins, 2009 Eneco Tour, 2009 Gent-Wevelgem, 2011 Eneco Tour, 2011 Vattenfall Cyclassics, two stages in the 2011 Tour de France, 2012 GP Ouest-France. He has also won the Norwegian time trial and championship several times and was Norwegian road champion in 2012.

This should give Boasson Hagen a chance to ride for himself rather than work as a domestique.

Edvald Boasson Hagen

Edvald Boasson Hagen wins stage 17 of the 2011 Tour de France. Photo ©Sirotti

Maxime Bouet to Omega Pharma

French rider Maxime Bouet, currently racing for Ag2r, has joined Patrick Lefevre's Omega Pharma-Quick Step Squad for two years. Bouet's job has been to be a domestique, so his win list is short. He finished third in the 2013 Giro del Trentino.

Maxime Bouet

Maxime Bouet at the 2013 Giro del Trentino. He is shaking hands with the great Alfredo Martini, who passed away Monday. Photo ©Sirotti

Orica GreenEdge on Vuelta Stage Five

Orica-GreenEdge has every reason to be happy after Michael Matthews not only retains his overall Vuelta a España lead, but extended it a bit with the time bonus for third place. Here's Orica's statement after the stage:

Multiple grand tour stage winner Michael Matthews has retained the red race leader’s jersey and claimed the green sprinter’s jersey with a third place on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana.

After another dedicated day from the entire ORICA-GreenEDGE team, Matthews entered the sprint on eventual winner John Degenkolb’s (GIA) wheel but got caught up amongst a hectic finish, recovering to take the minor placing.

Following his stage win yesterday the 23-year-old’s overall lead extends to eight seconds, his nearest rival Nairo Quintana from Movistar.

“It was definitely a hard stage with the final category two climb with about 25km to go,” Matthews said. “My team rode awesome again today, they did everything they could for me and got me in the right position in the final but it was a little bit hectic in the finish.

“I would have liked to have won today, it’s a course that suited me and I would have liked to have done the double but that’s racing and the bonus is that we keep the red jersey for another day. I expected Degenkolb to be there today he is obviously climbing really well and I knew it would be a drag race between him and I, but a couple of guys got between us in the last few hundred meters and I didn’t quite get there to contest for the win.”

A breakaway of four riders escaped early in the stage, but unlike yesterday their advantage was kept to a minimum on a day where soaring heat posed one of the biggest challenges for the peloton.

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Sam Bewley, Brett Lancaster and Mitch Docker tirelessly took the reins at the front of peloton again and by the first categorised climb of the day, the breakaway’s advantage was negligible.

Back together on the second and final ascent, British neo-pro Adam Yates went with a four-rider move as the peloton crested the climb before their 20second lead was brought back in the final ten kilometers for the reduced bunch kick.

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with the commitment shown by the whole team in their designated roles throughout the stage.

“Right from the start they boys had it clear in their mind that there was a chance that we could try for another stage win,” Stephens said. “And as a side note, that we would probably be able to keep the leader’s jersey too. It was a really really hot day, the temperature in the car was saying 42 degrees, and they really did a fantastic job.

“Not only building up to the climbs with our bigger guys again but also later on when the other teams did show a little bit of interest on the climb, Adam Yates, Ivan Santaromita and Cameron Meyer came into their own. Then in the final kilometers Simon Clarke was the outstanding rider. He controlled it right down to the finish and by the time he swung off and Santaromita contributed a last effort, Michael was in a fantastic position. It was a 100% effort again from the team, a little bit of bad luck coming into the stage finish but that’s bike racing.”

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews rides to the start of Vuelta stage four in the leader's jersey. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC's statement on Vuelta Stage Four:

The BMC Racing Team placed five riders in the leading group Tuesday at the Vuelta a España – including protected riders Cadel Evans and Samuel Sánchez – as another hot day took its toll on the peloton.

Only 59 riders came to the finish together as the pack split on the ascent of the Alto del Catorce por Ciento, less than 20 kilometers from the finish of the 164.7-km race. Evans was momentarily delayed by a flat tire on the climb, but successfully chased back to finish 36th. Sánchez was 39th, Steve Morabito was 41st, Larry Warbasse was 51st and Rohan Dennis was 57th – all in the same time as stage winner John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano). Dennis said he paced Evans back after his puncture. "I tried to help him back on," Dennis said. "Once I got him there, it was one or two-minute effort at most, then a bit of a break and then another one or two-minute effort and sort of rolling hills until to the descent and then a headwind finish."

In the overall standings, Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) kept the lead, 15 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and 19 in front of Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). Sánchez climbed from 14th to 12th place overall and is 29 seconds back. Evans is 13th and also 29 seconds back. "Today was more of a day to stay on the fence and out of trouble," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said. "Samuel and Cadel were there and that was good for us. We just needed them to stay out of trouble." Dealing with the heat continues to be a priority, Baldato said. "You drink water and use ice and try to cool down," he said."You also need to make an effort to eat because your body needs to cool down. But it is hard to stay cool."

Tinkoff-Saxo on Vuelta Stage Four

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's release after Vuelta stage four:

It was a sneaky and steaming hot 164.7 kilometer long fourth stage of Vuelta a Espana from Mairena del Alcor to Córdoba where the stage took a nasty turn in a mountainous finale with steep slopes, which caused havoc in the field.

Four riders created a gap to the field but already on the first climb with 50 kilometers, they were swallowed by the field, which dissolved cresting the summit and a new break consisting of Amets Txurruka (Caja-Rural) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) was established.

But Sky and Movistar were constantly taking turns on the front of the pack allowing no one to slip away until Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched a rather surprising attack with 25 kilometers remaining and he teamed up with three other riders and fought intensely to stay away.

In the select group of chaser was John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and he eyed an obvious chance for at stage win while Tinkoff-Saxo surrounded Alberto Contador to keep him out of trouble in the fast finish. And with ten kilometers to go, the break was neutralized.

Giant-Shimano brought the minimized field to the finish line where John Degenkolb took the stage win superbly by several bike lengths.

Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador climbed to 9th overall:

"We made sure Alberto was brought in position on the climbs and that he was well-protected. The boys did a very good job and we had several riders in the select group at the finish line. Alberto's been away from racing for some time now and he's just getting back into the rhythm but I  think he looks good considering that fact. Tomorrow, I expect a more traditional bunch sprint decision," says DS, Steven De Jongh.


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