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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, November 3, 2014

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Tinkoff-Saxo Reviews Alberto Contador's 2014 Season
After Winning Vélo d’Or prize

This press release going over Contador's season came in from Tinkoff-Saxo over the weekend:

Tour de France: the Inside Story

The management, sport directors, riders, mechanics, soigneurs, doctors and entire staff of Tinkoff-Saxo would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Alberto Contador on this prestigious award. In 2014 he clearly demonstrated he was a great champion and a remarkable athlete.

Alberto has been awarded the 2014 Vélo d’Or prize in recognition of a successful and spirited season. The award founded by French magazine Vélo Magazine is given annually to the rider considered to have performed the best throughout the season.

Alberto Contador, who also won the award in ‘07, ’08 and ’09, was given the prize by a poll of international journalists. The news was officially announced in Vélo Magazine on the 30th of October.

Alberto’s performance and achievements during the season are impressive and the entire team has witnessed his determination throughout the year. The Spanish captain meticulously prepared for 2014 during the off-season and has been highly visible during the year. A nearly flawless spring season, his forced and unfortunate withdrawal from Tour de France and his comeback and victory at the Vuelta are among the highlights.

So what makes Alberto’s more than 10,000 kilometers of racing stand out? Well, 9 victories and 19 top-3’s do for a start – but that’s not the whole story.

Alberto Contador’s 2014 Season Highlights:

Laying the foundation – off-season training and first race of the year: Volta ao Algarve: 2nd in GC, 1 stage win; Tirreno-Adriatico: 1st in GC, 2 stage wins

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador attacks in stage 5 of the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico. Photo ©Sirotti

Multiple camps and carefully planned training laid the basis for Alberto’s season. In the mild winter climate of the Canary Island, he first trained with the entire team and later on with a small group of teammates. In his first race of the season, it was obvious that Contador was ready for 2014. He finished 2nd overall in Volta ao Algarve after launching a series of punchy attack and winning the queen stage.

A month later in March, Alberto Contador spearheaded Tinkoff-Saxo in the one-week “Race of the Two Seas”. As the race moved into the Apennine Mountains, it quickly became evident that Alberto was in shape and meant business. He won stage 4 after great groundwork by teammate Roman Kreuziger. And on the next stage finishing on the dreaded Muro di Guardiagrele, Alberto attacked from the distance, put significant daylight between him and his main rivals including Giro d’Italia-winner Nairo Quintana and took stage glory after catching and riding away from the breakaway. Contador won the race with more than two minutes.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco: 1st in GC, 1 stage win; Volta a Catalunya: 2nd in GC

After having finished 2nd in Volta a Catalunya just 4 seconds behind winner Joaquim Rodriguez, Alberto once again stood atop the podium in Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He had won stage 1 in front of Alejandro Valverde after a memorable duel on the steep final climb. Once again, Alberto confirmed to himself and the team that the combined efforts of the team were paying off. He now had 2 months to prepare for Critérium du Dauphiné and the main goal Tour de France.

Tour de France: DNF; Critérium du Dauphiné: 2nd in GC

Alberto Contador was ready at the start of Tour de France in England in the wake of months of training, reconnaissance and a persistent duel against rival Chris Froome in Dauphiné that resulted in an overall 2nd place behind Andrew Talansky. But on the first mountain stage, after nine unusually hard and challenging stages, Contador crashed and cracked his tibia forcing him to abandon his main goal of the season and possibly the Vuelta as well. This was at the time a devastating blow to everyone on Tinkoff-Saxo. However from his home, Alberto witnessed how his teammates rose to the occasion and won three mountain stages and the polka dot jersey.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador finishes stage 8 of the 2014 Dauphiné. photo ©Sirotti

Vuelta a España: 1st in GC, 2 stage wins

While Rafal Majka and the rest of Tinkoff-Saxo continued to perform in the first part of August, Alberto Contador’s participation in Vuelta a España was still uncertain. But on the 14th of August, Tinkoff-Saxo could happily announce that Alberto had managed to pull off an impressive recovery and was able to start the Vuelta. His ambitions were moderate before the first stage in Jerez. However, as the race progressed it became clear that the determined recovery program had paid off. Alberto assumed the leader’s jersey on stage 10 and the scene was set for an outstanding battle against his main competitors, Froome, Valverde and Rodriguez. Alberto soloed to victory on two mountain stages, including the queen stage, and crossed the finish line in Santiago de Compostela as the winner of the Vuelta.

Tinkoff-Saxo Announces Four Key Technical Appointments

This announcement came this morning from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Bobby Julich joins Tinkoff-Saxo as Head Coach, Daniel Healey takes the newly created position of Head of Sports Science while Sean Yates and Patxi Vila will strengthen the team of Sports Directors. For Bjarne Riis, Team Manager, this marks an important change and a big step up in how Tinkoff-Saxo works as a team. It is ambitious and that is exactly what it takes to become the very best cycling team in the world.

Bjarne Riis

Bjarne Riis at the 2014 Vuelta a España. Photo ©Sirotti

A milestone is reached today in Tinkoff-Saxo's ambitious plans for 2015 and beyond with the appointment of four accomplished professionals in strategic positions for the development of the team. The head coach, sports scientist, sports directors, coaches and trainers will work towards improving the way Tinkoff-Saxo's riders train, recover and race.

Team Manager Bjarne Riis is “happy to have Julich, Healey, Yates and Vila in the team. They are incredibly capable professionals and I consider them an asset for any team as they come with tremendous motivation and great experience. They will play an important role in our new and ambitious setup going into the next season and this reflects our clear ambition to deliver results in 2015. They all have big theoretical and professional capacity and will be able to lift the level of our coaching and training.”

Bobby Julich is thrilled to work with Riis again as the two practically wrote the book on race coaching when the American first joined Team Saxo Bank in 2009 in the newly-created position of race coach. He enjoys taking on this new challenge and looks forward to making a successful team even better.

According to Julich, in the past, “the coach solely looked after the training and the program.” That approach was limited and in his new position in Tinkoff-Saxo, Julich would like to implement what he calls a “three-dimensional play.”

“My intention is to get involved deep in the life of the riders, not just with the training but with the life-skills advice, the tactical advice, recovery and nutrition. In this new system, I would like to be the person that looks after all the details,” commented Julich.

Daniel Healey will bring a wealth of experience having built a cycling specific, multidisciplinary skill set that covers exercise physiology, sports nutrition and hands-on coaching of professional road and track cyclists. He was head of nutrition from 2008 to 2012 for New Zealand's high-performance sports system and that work within such a big institution allowed him to make the next step.

According to Healey, Tinkoff-Saxo owner, Oleg Tinkov, has built a “world-class roster and all we have to do, the coaches and science staff, is to make each member in that roster a little bit better than what they were before they came to this team.”

Sean Yates will strengthen the team of sports directors and coach a few riders alongside Julich and Healey. He will be no stranger in Tinkoff-Saxo, having worked in the past with Bjarne Riis, Steven de Jongh and Alberto Contador, among others.

For him it is “an honor to be asked by Bjarne to join Tinkoff-Saxo. It is probably the only team I would work with right now and when the opportunity came along, it was too good to turn down.”

“Nevertheless, becoming the world's best team will not be an easy task. It will require a lot of hard work, a lot of planning and a lot of communication by everybody involved. It's going to be challenging but I like challenges.”

Patxi Vila joins Tinkoff-Saxo as sports director, after a career as a pro and with the invaluable experience of performance specialist at Specialized Bicycles. His role was to help teams and riders optimize all aspects of racing, from the position of the riders on the bike to the strategies used.

“I like the future goals the team has,” commented Vila. “I think it's good to be demanding with oneself because we are all competitive and we want to win. We have to set ambitious, but feasible, goals and given the background of this team, I'm convinced they are feasible. Such challenges not only put me under pressure, they motivate me.”

Davide Cimolai & Matteo Bonno Renew with Lampre-Merida

These releases came from Lampre-Merida:

Lampre-Merida officialises the renewal of the contract of Matteo Bono for the 2015 season.

Matteo Bono

Matteo Bono during his ultimately unsuccessful Liège-Bastogne-Liège escape. Photo ©Bettini

The thirty-one year old cyclist will enjoy his tenth season in the team, in addition to some months he spent as trainee in 2005. Considering this date, Bono (4 career victories, all of them in World Tour races) will be the blue-fuchsia-green riders who has spent the longest period in the team.

The prolongation of the contract is very important for Lampre-Merida because it enriches the team roster with a cyclist who gives a stable contribution of experience, energies and racing skills: he's one of the best riders in the world for supporting the team's captains, as the blue-fuchsia-green team manager Brent Copeland confirmed: "Matteo exclusively raced in our team during his career, giving us the opportunity to appreciate the regular improvement of his skills that set him now on a top level for his role.

"It's also important to point out that he's more than a domestique, as it's confirmed by the four victories he obtained during his career and by the breakaways in the past season in Milano-San Remo, Giro d'Italia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, when he reached the summit of the Redoute as solitary leader of the race. He'll be a good model for the young talents in the team".

Bono looks forward to 2015: "My 2014 season has just ended in Tour of Hainan, I'm going to spend some days on holidays but soon I'll start again working in view of 2015.

"After so many years, it's such a magic feeling to receive the trust by the team, the sponsors and the collegues, I thanks them all for this amazing thing.
My commitment is to givwe always the best for the team and for my team mates in order to achieve together the best results".


Davide Cimolai

Davide Cimolai. Photo ©Bettini

Speed and stamina, talent and determination: these are the signature qualities of Davide Cimolai, who has almost completed his path towards the full maturity and who welcomed the decision by Lampre-Merida to prolong the contract for the next two years.

The twenty-five year old fron North Italy signed an agreement for wearing blu-fuchsia-green colors during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, so that he will be granted a two year period during which he'll have the opportunity to strengthen his skills and to improve the good results he has obtained up to now: even if he has not yet won, in the past two seasons Cimolai was close to the top result in World Tour races such the Tour de France (4th in the 2nd stage in 2013 and 9th in the 4th stage in 2014), the Tirreno-Adriatico (6th in the 3rd stage in 2013), the Critérium du Dauphiné (5th in the 3rd stage), the Eneco Tour (3rd in the 1st stage) and in Vattenfall Cyclassics (7th).

"I'm very happy for the prolongation of the contract for the next two seasons: it's a huge satisfaction seeing the trust by the team management, by the Galbusera family from Lampre and by Merida - Cimolai explained - In the past three years I improved my skills a lot, I'm sure the next season will be important for my definitive full maturity".

Marcel Sieberg Talks about the off-season

This came from Lotto-Belisol:

The 2014 cycling season only came to an end two weeks ago or one’s already thinking of next year. Last week Marcel Sieberg got back on the bike to gradually build up to 2015. The German rode his last race on 3rd of October, but already had a break of two weeks before that. He talks about how the off-season looks like for him.

Marcel Sieberg: “In total I had a five-week break. In between I rode the Münsterland Giro on 3rd of October. Normally I take a break of four weeks in the off-season. This year that was one week more, but compared to other years I’ve started the trainings on an earlier date.”

“During these weeks off, my family and I moved house, so it was a stressful period. There were still things that needed to be done in the house. Normally I go on a holiday in October, but that wasn’t the case this year because of the move. Also, our daughter is only a few months old, so we decided to stay home. During this off-season in enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter. I do normal things, that I can’t do often during the season, like visiting family.”

“The past few weeks I left my bike aside, but since a few days I’ve started training again. In autumn and winter I also like to ride the mountain bike in weekend. I’m gradually building up towards next year. I do rides of two to three hours to start slowly. When it rains I skip a ride. I still have plenty of time to get in shape. In November and December I will train on the rollers when it rains.”

“The distances of my training rides now depend on how I’m feeling. The next two months that will be more consistent and I’ll do power training as well. I will also take up core stability training then, which I do on a rest day for example. It’s nice to be back on the bike. At the beginning of the break you’re happy of course, but after a few weeks you want to start again.”

Marcel Sieberg

Marcel Sieberg (in Lotto kit) races in the 2013 Tour Down Under. Photo ©Sirotti

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