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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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More Bicycle Riders Behaving Badly

It's not news now that two riders in the big Vuelta stage 16 breakaway, Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma) disagreed strongly about how much work Rovny should be doing and finally came to blows. The fight was caught on camera. Both riders were expelled from the Vuelta.

Now there is news of a fight on Sunday between Sky rider Philip Deignan and Katusha GC man Joaquin Rodriguez as they descended Sunday's penultimate climb. Deignan wrote this in the Irish Independent:

"As we hurtled along in the rain at around 50kph, Katusha's Spanish team leader Joaquin Rodriguez, who is fourth overall, took umbrage to my presence and nudged me out a little bit. So I held my ground and nudged him back.

"As we continued riding, suddenly, out of the blue, Rodriguez turned towards me and punched me full in the face, splitting my lip and leaving me both stunned and fuming. Thankfully an immediate desire to knock the little Spanish climber out was quelled and I had the restraint and presence of mind to realise that hitting him in such treacherous conditions would only worsen the situation and endanger the riders around us."  

Apparently the judges did not see this altercation.

Here is Deignan's complete story in the Irish independent.

Peter Kennaugh and philip Deignan

Peter Kennaugh and Philip Deignan climb in Vuelta Stage 16. Photo ©Sirotti

Rider Transfer News

After seven years with Garmin-Sharp, sprinter Tyler Farrar will ride in 2015 for Mtn-Qhubeka. While Farrar has struggled of late to win races, he has won stages in all three Grand Tours as well as the 2009 an 2010 Vattenfall Cyclassics. He was the final points leader at the 2014 Ster ZLM Toer.

Tyler Farrar wins stage three of the 2011 Tour de France

Tyler Farrar wins 2011 Tour de France stage 3. Photo ©sirotti

Het Nieuwsblad reports hat Omega Pharma rider Serge Pauwels is close to signing with MTN-Qhubeka.

After four seasons with Marc Madiot's FDJ squad, Pierrick Fedrigo is going to move to Bretagne-Séché Environnement. Fedrigo is an accomplished racer who has won four stages of the Tour de France was was first overall in the 2010 Criterium international.

Pierrick Fedrigo

Pierrick Fedrigo wins stage 16 of the 2010 Tour de France. Photo ©Sirotti

Vuelta a España Stage 16 Team and Rider Comments

Tuesday is the Vuelta's second rest day, coming after three challenging days in the mountains. Alberto Contador demonstrated a heretofore unseen mastery in stage 16 where he not only won the stage, he significantly extended his GC lead. Here is a sampling of team press releases about stage 16.

Alberto Contador's press office sent out this release:

Alberto Contador, after getting his first victory in the queen stage of the
Tour of Spain, said it had been “a very good day for us. I was able to
distance all riders, some who were closer and others went further, like
Froome, who seems to recover and has an incredible pace. But things
have gone well and I had been able to hold on until I saw my chance
and I took the opportunity”.

“I have seen the pace of Sky, which I already have experienced this year,
especially in Dauphine Libere. When Froome makes a change of pace it is
difficult to follow him. When I succeeded, the next thing I did was to see
that Joaquim and Alejandro were dropped. Then I saw that I could stay
there and I looked for my moment”, said the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo.

The general classification is clarified from now, but according to Alberto
Contador “there are still many rivals. The race will be complicated and
should be controled. But what gives me confidence is that my recovery is very
good and my strength is good, despite the beating we have taken. Now we
have a rest day to be fully taken advantage of.

During the final part of the stage, Contador changed bikes. That was
decided on the spot. “We thought that because we saw the weather forecast,
yesterday the asphalt was really difficult with the rain and we decided to
go out with a tubular more suited for wet roads. When we saw that it was not
raining, we decided to change to a tubular for dry pavement and that was the reason for the bike change”.

Tomorrow, Alberto Contador has a very clear program. “Rest as much as
possible. From the start there has been a lot of work, after an initial week of
heat and this one of constant climbing. We must recover with legs up, eat
well and think about the five stages remaining. Tomorrow we will enjoy the
team, we’ll do one and a half hour of training, about 50 kilometers,
including one stop for having a coffee and then, go back to the hotel”.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador attacks late in stage 16. Photo ©Sirotti

In addition Tinkoff-Saxo sent out this press release:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Alberto Contador extended his lead in the GC after winning the queen stage of this year’s Vuelta a España dropping rival Chris Froome on the final part of the climb to La Farrapona. The duo had attacked and left the other main favorites in their wake with 5 kilometers to go, and in the last kilometer Alberto made the final move that secured him today’s solo win.

“Alberto was impressive today. He has attacked on many of the mountain stages, and today he was definitely the strongest. We did a good job today and the team worked really hard, also in the first part of the stage. In fact, the team has done a really good job the last two weeks so they all deserve this stage win today”, says sport director Steven de Jongh after the stage.

The 161-kilometer long queen stage featured five climbs – four of them being category 1. A breakaway containing 13 riders got away early but the difficulty of the terrain and overall tempo on the stage quickly diminished the size of the group. De Marchi was the last rider to get caught with 3 kilometers to go.

On the last climb, Froome was the first of the favorites to make a move with 5 kilometers to go. It came after a fierce pace had reduced the group of favorites down to 8 riders on the first part of the final 16,5-kilometer climb to La Farrapona.

Alberto Contador was the only one to respond to Froome’s acceleration sitting right in his wheel. The gap to Valverde and Rodriguez steadily increased to over 50 seconds. As the front duo reached the 1-kilometer mark, Alberto launched a strong attack and crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of Froome extending the overall lead.

“This win comes at the right time – just before the second rest day. It motivates Alberto and the whole team that has worked hard in the front of the peloton on all stages. He followed Froome’s move and made the difference on the last part of the climb. Now, we will focus on recovering on the rest day tomorrow and prepare to defend the lead in the final part of the Vuelta”, Steven de Jongh adds.


Alberto Contador wins stage 16. Photo ©Sirotti

This from Team Belkin:

Belkin Pro Cycling teams's Robert Gesink rode wonderfully in the gruelling, five-climb "queen stage" Monday at the Vuelta a España to climb two places on GC into seventh overall.

Gesink was eighth in the 160.5km 16th stage finishing atop Lagos de Somiedo, at 1:22 behind stage-winner and race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Gesink paced into seventh overall, now 6:43 back.

"We are absolutely satisfied. Gesink did an excellent job, and moved up two spots on the GC. We are really proud of that result," said Belkin Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "Everyone gave their maximum today. We have to continue like this for one more week. Because we gained two spots, it was good for us, better than for some other teams. The guys are happy that it is behind us, and we can be proud of the results."

Belkin's plan for the first part of the stage worked out well, with Laurens ten Dam riding into the day's main breakaway. The group was eventually reeled in, and Contador attacked late to win the stage. "We wanted to have Laurens in the breakaway for a chance to win the stage, but the peloton didn't give them a lot of space. Katusha started to pull immediately," Zeeman said

"My legs are not as good as they were in the Tour de France, but good enough to get into the breakaway. I felt immediately my legs were not good enough for the stage win," said Ten Dam, now 40th overall. "I tried to stay on as long as possible to help Robert, but it didn't work out, but I was able to help Wilco. After that, I just coasted in to the finish. It's really good what Robert did, and tomorrow we have a nice rest day."

Wilco Kelderman finished 29th on the stage to retain his solid placing overall at 15th overall at 17:54 back.

The gruelling climbing stage was hard for everyone, even support riders, such as Martijn Keizer, who finished 59th on the stage. "I think we got lucky with the weather. It was supposed to rain, but it stayed dry all day. For sure, it was hard. I had a good day, and it was good to have a good day today," Keizer said.  Everybody takes their own rhythm on the final uphill. I was with Stef [Clement] for awhile, and we talked a lot, because it wasn't full gas for us."

After two hard weeks of racing, the weary peloton enjoys the second of two rest days Tuesday, but not before a long, 300km transfer Monday night to the team hotel in La Coruña in Spain's Galicia region. "There is a long transfer, and it will be very late arriving to the hotel. That's hard for the riders," Zeeman said. "Tomorrow is a rest day, but we have to be focused for the stage on Wednesday. You can only live day by day, because anything can happen on the flat stages."   

The 69th Vuelta continues Wednesday with the 190.7km 17th stage over hilly terrain ideal for a breakaway from Ortigueira to La Coruña.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink climbs in stage 16. Photo ©Sirotti

From BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez finished ninth on Monday's summit finish at the Vuelta a España to remain eighth overall heading into the final rest day of the three-week race.

Sánchez finished 1:43 behind stage winner and race leader Alberto Contador, who soloed in 15 seconds ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky). Sánchez is 6:55 off the overall lead with five days of the race to go, including two more mountain-top finishes and a 9.7-kilometer individual time trial on the final day. "I felt better than yesterday," Sánchez said. "It was really a very tough day. I am quite satisfied because I am still fighting with the best riders without losing too much time and that was our goal."

On a day when two riders were ejected from the race for fighting, BMC Racing Team's Rohan Dennis put on his own show of aggression by making a 13-man breakaway that went away on the first of four category 1 climbs of the 160.5-km race. "Rohan was attacking and he did a good job for us by trying for the stage win," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "It was a fantastic job by the whole team to support Samuel. He was feeling better today and he will continue to fight. The Vuelta is not finished yet. We are optimistic."

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez climbs to La Farrapona in stage 16. Photo ©Sirotti

Lotto-Belisol's Terrific Weekend

It's little late, but after Lotto-Belisol won both of the weekend's big single-day races, they sent out this release:

It was a successful weekend for Lotto Belisol. First there was the victory of André Greipel in the Brussels Cycling Classic and on Sunday Jonas Van Genechten won the Grand Prix de Fourmies. That was the 25th official victory of the season for the team.

A front group of four with the Belgian Victor Campenaerts formed the break of the day. They never got more than six minutes. Lotto Belisol controlled the peloton together with FDJ. Campenaerts could stay ahead the longest. After that there was a front group of about fifteen riders. The last man was caught in the final kilometer. Marcel Sieberg set up the sprint for Jonas Van Genechten, who won. Tom Van Asbroeck became second, Elia Viviani third.

Jonas Van Genechten: “The team controlled the race from the beginning till the end. André Greipel was the man for the sprint. Tony Gallopin and I could join breakaways in the final. With two laps to go André told us he didn’t feel 100% and then the team started riding for me. The guys did excellent work to catch the escapees. Marcel Sieberg launched the sprint very well.”

“I focused on the sprint without worrying about the escapees. It all turned out well for us. This is my best season, with four nice victories. I hope to have the same condition in the next races and set more good results. Next Sunday I will ride in Leuven, the ‘Grote Prijs Jef Scherens’, also a race that suits me.”

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