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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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2015 Giro d'Italia Route announced

I posted the route late yesterday, so in case you missed it, here's a map and list of the stages.

Giro race director Mauro Vegni has offered up a Giro that he believes is less demanding than recent editions, hoping to entice riders to attempt the Giro-Tour double. In fact, Alberto Contador will make such an attempt. But, I don't think a rider can win both races in the same year any more. Not because of any particular route design, but because the way the Giro is raced has fundamentally changed.

Gone are the long, slow "piano" stages. Now every centimeter of a Giro is contested with vigor. Nothing about the Giro is easy. Every second gained is earned at a very high price. Can a rider recover from the Giro, which ends on May 31, in time to win the Tour, which will start on July 4? I don't think so.

Lotto-Belisol offered up this assessment of the 2015 Giro route:

In the first week there are already two out of seven summit finishes, in Abetone on day five and in Campitello Matese on day eight. Before the first rest day there will possibly be the first three sprint opportunities out of a total of seven. It’s pretty sure the sprinters will be able to battle for the victory in the flat thirteenth stage to Jesolo and in the final stage.

The seventh stage is 263 kilometres long. Apart from that there are two more stages of over 200 kilometres: stage 9 (212 km) and stage 19 (236 km). Also the individual time trial, on Saturday 23rd of May, has a remarkable distance. Then the riders have to cover 59.2 kilometres. In that second week there are two summit finishes, in Vicenza and Madonna di Campiglio. Then the riders can enjoy the second rest day.

The final week promises to be hard with three summit finishes: Aprica, Cervini and Sestriere. After almost 3500 kilometres the riders will reach Milan on Sunday 31st of May. The last prizes will be handed out there. Sports director Bart Leysen gives his opinion about the route.

Bart Leysen: “The Giro starts with a team time trial that looks pretty spectacular with among other a passage in a long, old railway tunnel. It will be a very fast stage. The first stages that follow are relatively short. Depending on which team will take the lead on day one, the race will be determined for the next days; if there will be bunch sprints or not. In theory there are seven sprint stages, but in some of those escapees definitely have a chance to survive.”

“The seventh stage is 263 kilometres long. Luckily there’s only one of that kind, that’s less compared to other years. Stages of over 220 kilometres aren’t necessary to give spectacle. For the rest the first week is not too hard.”

“On day five there already is a summit finish, but the GC riders really have to start moving at the end of the first week. In that fifth stage a rider suited for the climb classics can have a go. The individual time trial is really long, but not as tough as the one of the previous edition to Barolo. There is a long and flat start. Considering the time trial is that long there is more risk for the GC contenders that something goes wrong. I expect the GC will be determined in the fifteenth, sixteenth, nineteenth and twentieth stage. The final week will be the hardest as usual.”

Alberto Contador Ends Season and Comments on 2015 Giro

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Alberto Contador had to make the decision to end the 2014 season a bit earlier than expected because of a new injury to the right knee, which he suffered during Sunday’s Giro di Lombardia. The leader of Tinkoff-Saxo is not happy to see the final part of the season come to an abrupt end but he sees it as a necessary decision in order to recover as fast as possible.

“Ending the year like this is something I don’t like, because I had a schedule and now I have to interrupt it again," commented Contador. “The Tour of Beijing is not among the most important races on the calendar, but I have to focus on my knee. As a result, I want to stop and make sure that it’s in good condition before I begin preparing for 2015," added Alberto Contador.

Despite this new setback, Alberto Contador explains that he’s ending the season with a good feeling about his overall performance.

“The assessment of the season has been really good, except for the Tour de France, which didn’t finish as I would have preferred. The rest of the season has been very satisfying with good results throughout the year, so I'm happy, and I have to say that it has been possible because of a lot of hard work. This has been one of the toughest seasons of my career, but it paid off with some great results”.

In the coming days, Alberto Contador will undergo various medical tests to study in detail the condition of his right knee. He will wait for the test results before he begins to plan the 2015 season, where the Giro d’Italia remains the first major goal.

This also came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

The route of Giro d’Italia 2015 was revealed on Monday in Milan. Alberto Contador has already announced that he intends to ride the Italian Grand Tour and attended the presentation to witness first-hand what was in store.

“Although it would have been better to stay at home, resting on the sofa because of my knee injury, it was important for me to be here, attending the presentation. It’s a race that motivates me a lot," stated Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador.

The organizers presented a route that featured fewer uphill finishes than the last couple of years, but the Spanish captain announced that he was satisfied with the parcours featuring six stages in high mountains.

“I like the route. It’s a different Giro than those I have raced before. The seven top finishes, six of them in the high mountains, will mark the race and decide the outcome. There aren't that many climbs and they’re without the steepest ramps. But we will face difficult climbs, among them Mortirolo. It’s less extreme but the Giro is always hard because of the changing weather," explained Alberto Contador.

After the official presentation, Alberto couldn’t say whether the parcours suited him in particular. Instead, he pointed out that the riders would have to grasp the opportunities that arise during the race.

“It’s the riders that have to adapt to the parcours. If I could choose, I wouldn’t have added a time-trial like this, but I cannot do anything else than to prepare to the fullest and do my best."

Finally, Alberto Contador said that he looked forward to returning to the Giro for the first time since 2011.

“The affection of the Italian public is what motivates me. They’ve been asking me to return to their race since 2011. It will also be one of the great challenges of my career, as I’ll have to prepare for doing the Giro-Tour double from the very beginning of the season. I know it will be really hard, but I want to try," concluded Alberto Contador.

Riders at the route presentation

Riders at the 2015 Route presentation. Contador is third from left. Photo ©Sirotti

Tim Wellens Looks Back on the 2014 Season

This came from Lotto-Belisol:

The 2014 cycling season is almost coming to an end. Tim Wellens set a strong result in the last one-day race of the WorldTour. He animated the final of Il Lombardia and became fourth.

The 23-year-old Lotto Belisol rider can look back on a successful season. Wellens won the sixth stage of the Eneco Tour – his first pro victory – and won the overall classification of this WorldTour race. By completing the Giro Tim completed his first Grand Tour and could benefit of it later on. In Italy he already showed himself with among other two second places and the ninth place in the climb time trial to Cima Grappa.

Tim Wellens: “I had good legs all day in Lombardia. I attacked on the last climb and had a small gap. I never looked back and didn’t know how much advantage I had on the chasers. On the top I was reeled in by a small group. It then went very fast and nobody could get away. Dan Martin took off in the last kilometre. I got third in the sprint for the second place. The fourth place is a really good result. It was a long and hard race and it went fast all day, everyone was at their limit at the foot of the last climb. If you can finish fourth, you can win. You need some luck as well.”

“I’m very satisfied about my season. It was better than expected. My victory in the Eneco Tour was of course the highlight. Then there was the silver medal at the Belgian Championship time trial, a really good Giro and finally my fourth place in Lombardia. In the Amstel Gold Race I was strong and I had good legs in the Flèche Wallonne as well. Next year I hope to set good results in the classics. It’s a big difference if you ride a race for the first time. Experience is a big advantage.”

“I’m very pleased that I rode the Giro. I set a few steps forward. Three weeks of racing was good for the development of my body. I reached a higher level afterwards. In the Ster ZLM Toer for example I got second behind Philippe Gilbert in GC and second behind him in the stage to La Gileppe. That performance gave me confidence. It made me realize I can ride finals and should save my energy longer. I now also feel that long distances aren’t a problem anymore, as I showed in Lombardia.”

“The stage win and overall victory in the Eneco Tour are a big step in my career. More people know me now and one always remembers a victory. The silver medal at the Belgian Championship time trial came as a surprise. My time trial there and in the Ster ZLM Toer were good, unlike the one in the Eneco Tour. So that’s something to work on. Time trialling is really important if you aim for a good GC in races.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens wins stage 6 of the 2014 Eneco Tour

BMC for Tour of Beijing

The BMC Racing Team has revealed its roster for its final stage race of the 2014 season, the Tour of Beijing. The five-day event begins Friday and is the last on the WorldTour calendar.

Stephen Cummings (GBR), Yannick Eijssen (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Dominik Nerz (GER), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sport Directors: Yvon Ledanois (FRA), Max Sciandri (ITA)

Doctor: Scott Major (USA)

Staff: Mechanics: Thierry Viaene (FRA), Georg Van Oudenhove (BEL). Press Officer: Sean Weide (USA). Soigneurs: Marc Paeme (BEL), Geert Tiebergyn (BEL), Freddy Viaene (BEL).

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert descends the Poggio at this year's Milano-San Remo. Photo ©Sirotti

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