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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, September 4, 2014

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Nairo Quintana Surgery

Nairo Quintana, who briefly led the Vuelta this year and won this year's Giro d'Italia, broke his right scapula (shoulder blade) when he was part of a mass crash early in stage 11. The tweet from his Movistar team: "Confirmation: @NairoQuinCo has suffered a displaced fracture in his right-hand scapula, will undergo surgery on Thursday (10am)." He is supposed to have the surgical repair performed today in Pamplona.

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana after winning the Giro. Photo ©Sirotti

Jens Voigt to Make World Hour Record Attempt

If you thought Jens Voigt was done racing when he announced his retirement at the end of the final stage of the US Pro Cycling Challenge on August 24, you were wrong. Voigt is going to make an attempt on the most prestigious record in cycling the World Hour Record. The World Hour Record currently stands at 49,700 meters and has been held by big Ondrej Sosenka since 2005.

Here is the history of the World Hour Record since Henri Desgrange (yes, that Henri Desgrange, the father of the Tour de France) set the first recognized record in Paris in 1893.

Here is the annoucement of Voigt attempt that was posted on the Trek Factory Racing web site:

42-year-old Jens Voigt has one more surprise up his sleeve. The recently retired German has scheduled September 18 as the date to attempt to break Ondrej Sosenka’s 49,7 kilometer mark. The attempt will happen in the Vélodrome Suisse in Grenchen.

“It’s a huge challenge for me, both physical and mental,” says Voigt. “This is a huge project and probably it’s going to come as a surprise for many people. Everybody knows that Fabian (Cancellara) was working on it together with Trek, so when he decided to re-assess his plans because of the rule change (to allow pursuit-style bikes) it sparked my interest. We have been doing some discrete tests in the velodrome in Roubaix prior to the Dauphiné and we believe that I have a fair chance.”

“It’s a fascinating event: it’s super hard, but it’s a great discipline. Man and machine against the clock. A lot of logistics comes in play: when, where, how, etc. But I didn’t have to convince anybody: both Trek and our GM Luca Guercilena were all exited when I told them about my idea. They gave me a lot of support. Luckily we could use some of the blueprints that were being drawn for Fabian, so we kind of hit the ground running.”

“I look at this as one last present for my fans. I want to give them something to smile about - before the final curtain falls. But also: I want to do a good performance. This is not a circus act. The ‘hour’ has lost some of its magic over the last years. Maybe my attempt could kick off a new round of hour-record attempts. I could establish a mark for everyone to give it a try. Make a bridge, you know. I raced against Boardman, Indurain and Sosenka. And I’m racing with Fabian and his generation. If I make it, it would be sandwiched between those names. I can pave the way for them. I have no illusion to keep the record once Fabian and other specialists start having a go. But I kind of like the idea of telling me grand children about it, when they sit on my lap when I’m 75.”

“Trek developed a really good bike for me, based on the super fast SpeedConcept, and we did some testing with different skin suits, helmets, positions, etc. I’m training very hard for the attempt. I have the Tour de France as a base layer and then I did some altitude racing in Utah and Colorado. My near-win in Colorado Springs, where I was caught with 700 meters to go, was a good reference in terms of power output. I basically was out there for one hour by myself. I had this attempt in mind that very day, besides taking the stage, of course.”

“Why I do this? Why not! Everyone saw the memo from the UCI. It’s been four months and I honestly find it quite strange that nobody has given it a try so far. We have 18 WorldTour teams, plus more than a 1000 pro continental riders and an immense group of amateurs that also can have a go. I’m not to blame that I take the chances that life - or in this case the UCI - gives me. I’m the first one that’s brave enough to do it. Everybody had the same time frame to be ready for it.” 

“The hour record is one of the oldest events in our sport. I want to put a little bit of light and focus on this. The UCI wanted to give back some recognition to the event and I follow their reasoning. It will be no pleasure cruise, but I’m really convinced that I can make it. It’s never 100 percent sure, of course, but I worked hard and I will keep working hard until the day is there.”

Welcoming this announcement, UCI President Brian Cookson said: “I'm delighted that one of the most popular riders of the modern era, Jens Voigt, is going to make an attempt on this, the most iconic of all the UCI's records. It is exactly what we hoped would happen when we changed the rules earlier this year to allow the use of modern track bike design and technology. Jens has proven over a long career to be one of the very best riders at the long lone effort, and cycling fans around the world will be delighted with this news. Having been present myself at two previous Hour records, I'm sure his attacking style and willingness to commit himself 100% will provide a superb spectacle. And, like Jens, I too am hoping that this will be the beginning of a new wave of interest in 'The Magic Hour', as it was known in a previous golden era of our sport.”

Jens Voigt

Jens Voight at a pre-Tour de France press conference. Photo ©Sirotti

Rider and Team Comments about Vuelta Stage 11

Robert Gesink (Belkin) took off near the end of Vuelta stage 11. For a while it looked as if he might make the attack stick, but with still another kilometer of hard climbing left, he was caught. Then Fabio Aru counter-attacked and rode in for a brilliant stage win.

Here's Belkin's statement on the stage:
Belkin Pro Cycling team lit up the 11th stage at the 69th Vuelta a España, with Robert Gesink opening up an exciting attack with 5km to go on the steep uphill finale to Aralar on Wednesday.

The Belkin leader was finally caught with less than 1.5km to go, and crossed the line 10th place at 21 seconds behind stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana).

"Not so much with the 10th place, but I am very happy by the way I raced," Gesink said. "I was feeling good, and I wanted to give it a go by myself at 5km to go. Maybe in the end, it was a bit too early. If you don't try, you never win. If I feel good, I will try again in the coming days."

Gesink remained ninth overall, now 2:55 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Wilco Kelderman couldn't match the accelerations of the favorites in the final kilometres, and crossed the line 16th at 1:35 back. He slotted into 14th overall at 5:00 back in what's his second grand tour of the season.

"It's my place, not good, not bad," Kelderman said. "I think it was a little bit like yesterday. Not really super. It's OK. I think 12th or 13th, that's my place. It was really hard. You had to give it your all, all the way to the top."

It was fast from the gun in the 153.4km stage from Pamplona to Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar in the foothills of the Pyrénées. Huge crowds lined the final climb as many fans poured in from nearby Basque Country.

Sports Director Erik Dekker took encouragement from Gesink's daring attack, even though it fell short of victory.

"It was a really exciting stage. The war continued," Dekker said. "Robert was attacking, and he was caught with one and a half kilometer to go. It was really exciting to see this. It's good for Robert that he did this. You cannot plan on something like this. It depends on his legs. Robert had a really good day."

The 69th Vuelta continues Thursday with the 12th stage held on a circuit course in Logroño, with eight laps for a total of 166.4km.

"It's a flat stage. We will do laps. I don't think there will be surprises, but you have to be concentrated for all the stage," Dekker said. "We have [Robert] Wagner for the sprint. We have to take care of Robert and Wilco as well."

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink on the attack with Dan Martin chasing. Photo ©Sirotti

BMC rider Steve Morabito Run over by Motorcycle

Here's What BMC had to say about stage 11:

Samuel Sánchez of the BMC Racing Team continued his climb up the standings at the Vuelta a España with seventh place on Wednesday's summit finish to move from seventh to sixth overall.

On a day when Sánchez lost teammate Steve Morabito to injuries suffered in a crash, the past Olympic road race champion kept pace with a select group chasing solo stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team). But within sight of the finish line, Sánchez was unable to contest a sprint between the five riders ahead of him on the general classification: race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Christopher Froome (Team Sky) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha Team). "My goal before the start in Jerez was to fight in the first positions of the GC in the second part of the Vuelta and here we are," Sánchez said after arriving 15 seconds after Aru and nine seconds after all but Uran, who finished two seconds ahead of him. "I feel good, but I also have to hope that someone ahead of me fails on some of the remaining stages." Contador kept the overall lead, 20 seconds ahead of Valverde, while Sánchez is 1:52 back.

Morabito was unable to continue after being run over by at least one race motorbike when a large pile-up happened 25 kilometers into the 153.4-km race. "I don't understand what happened," Morabito said. "I had some riders coming from my right side and a few seconds later the motorbikes ran over me when I was on the ground. It was pretty painful." BMC Racing Team Doctor Scott Major said Morabito has a deep hematoma over the head of the femur on his right hip, road rash and bruises to his ribs on his back. "Fortunately, nothing is broken," Dr. Major said. "His shoulder was also dislocated, but he was able to relocate it out on the road." Three other riders had to withdraw from the race due to injuries from the same crash, including past race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team). "Steve is an important guy for the team that we lose," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said.

Steve Morabito

Steve Morabito in this year's Tour of Switzerland. Photo ©Sirotti

Tinkoff-Saxo's Vuelta stage 11 press release:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain and leader of the Vuelta, Alberto Contador, defended his overall lead by finishing 4th in today’s tactical mountain battle together with Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez. Fabio Aru took the stage win 6 seconds ahead. The final 9,9 k climb of stage 11 became a tactical stop-and-go affair with several attacks. Alberto was satisfied with the outcome of the stage.

“I’m happy with how the stage went. It was a very tactical battle on the final climb and I arrived at the finish line together with Alejandro and Joaquim and Froome a couple of meters behind us. They are very fast so they overtook me in the sprint, but I’m satisfied”, says Alberto Contador.

The relatively flat first part of the 153-kilometer long stage started with a frantic pace taking its toll on the riders of this year’s Vuelta a España. Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain was delivered safely by his teammates at the start of the final climb to Santuario de San Miguel. The peloton kept a high tempo on the first part instantaneously diminishing the number of riders, who were able to keep up.

While the favorites held back their attacks, riders just outside the top-10 made the move halfway up the mountain. But as they passed the two-kilometer banner, the front group was back together. Alberto Contador tested his rivals with a series of brief attacks but it was Astana’s Fabio Aru, who countered, created the gap and held it to the finish line. Sport Director Steven de Jongh was pleased with how the team performed.

“There was a breakaway with 5 riders. The strongest rider out there was Kiryienka and when it started becoming dangerous for the stage victory, Katusha started to work and that was to our advantage. In the final, Alberto followed the most important riders and I think finished in fourth place, just behind Valverde and Rodriguez. He loses a few seconds because of bonus seconds but overall it was a good day”, explains Steven de Jongh.

After yesterday’s time trial, Tinkoff-Saxo had the red leader’s jersey for the first time in this year’s Vuelta. For Jesus Hernandez the stage was about protecting Alberto and he believes that the team is ready to take on the responsibility.

“It was our first day defending the red jersey. The start was a bit nervous and there were a lot of people that wanted to break away. The team performed very well, Tosatto, Bennati and Michael rode well. And then we also witnessed the unfortunate crash that sent Quintana home. Katusha set a fast pace in the race as they wanted to take the stage and we limited ourselves to following them. I look forward to the tougher stages and Oliver, Chris Anker and myself are ready, particularly for the last week and the mountain stages. I think we are getting better each day”, concludes Jesus Hernandez.

Alberto Contador with Miguel Indurain

Alberto Contador at the start of the stage with 5-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain. Photo ©Sirotti

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