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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Friday, September 12, 2014

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Jan Bakelants Signs with Ag2r

Belgian rider Jan Bakelants is moving from Omega Pharma to Ag2r. Here's Ag2r's press release:

Jan Bakelants joins the Team Ag2r-La Mondiale

Currently present in Canada to take part to the Grands Prix of Québec City and Montréal, Jan Bakelants signed a two-years contract with the team Ag2r-La Mondiale.

His puncher abilities have permitted the rider from Belgium to win in 2013 the 2nd stage of the Tour de France from Bastia to Ajaccio. He excelled this year on the Critérium du Dauphiné with a victory on the 6th stage from Grenoble to Poisy. An attacker through and through and a valuable recruit for the team of Vincent Lavenu.

Belgian – Puncher
Date and place of birth:  February 14th, 1986 in Oudenaarde (Belgium)
Height : 1m77 / Weight: 67kg
Turned pro in 2009 – AG2R LA MONDIALE in 2015
Former teams: Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator (2009), Omega Pharma-Lotto (2010/2011), RadioShack-Nissan (2012/2013), Omega Pharma-Quick-Step (2014)
Professional wins : 3
Twitter : @jan_bakelants

Career highlights:

2009 (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)

2010 (Omega Pharma - Lotto)

2011 (Omega Pharma - Lotto)

2012 (RadioShack-Nissan)

2013 (RadioShack-Nissan)

2014 (Omega Pharma- Quick Step)

Jan Bakelants

Jan Bakelants after winning 2014 Dauphiné stage 6. Photo ©Sirotti

Vuelta a España stage 18 Rider and Team Comments

From Tinkoff-Saxo:

First, Alberto Contador's Comments:

The scene was set for another battle between the favorites on stage 18 with a 7k uphill finish. Alberto Contador finished fifth, together with Valverde and Rodriguez, 12 seconds behind rival Chris Froome after a tactical ascend to the top. After the stage, Alberto Contador played down the importance of the seconds lost.

“Clearly it is better not to lose time," stated the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo, “but I hope it's not too much of an issue. I had to control the three and I thought that Alejandro had to defend the podium, while the stage was a pretty good opportunity for him as well. It is true that we lost time and now I have to follow Froome on Ancares. But I'm happy with my shape, I feel pretty good and we have one less day to go now."

Alberto commented that he did not want to work alone to close the gap to Froome. “They also had interests, especially Alejandro, who didn’t want to lose his second place on the podium. Perhaps I was a bit cooler than usual," he said after crossing the finish line, still leading with 1’19’’ to second-placed Chris Froome.

But Alberto wasn’t surprised that Froome attacked on the slopes of Monte Castrove.

“Not at all, he was sitting last in the group and I knew that when we took the foot of the throttle for a second, he would try. He took a few meters and behind no one wanted to work more than necessary to avoid a counterattack. That was one of the reasons behind the time differences," said Contador.

“On Saturday's stage to Ancares, the race will be different," commented Alberto. “The climb today and the one to Ancares can’t be compared. Today was a stage like a Classic but Ancares is a high mountain out of category."

Finally, Alberto Contador said that if he had been alone, he would have followed Froome’s attack. “Yes, sure I would have gone with him. Maybe in a couple of days I will regret this, but I don’t give it any significant importance right now," concluded the captain of Tinkoff-Saxo.

And this release from Tinkoff-Saxo about the stage in general:

Except from the final 700 meters of descending, today’s 157 kilometer long 18th stage of Vuelta a Espana from A Estrada to Monte Castrove contained the penultimate uphill finish in this year’s Spanish tour. Three riders created today’s breakaway but they were swept up by the speeding GC teams entering the uphill finish where Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador successfully defended his overall lead after another heavy bombardment.

Hubert Dupont (AG2R), Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural Seguros) tenaciously tried to maintain the gap throughout the stage. But already on the penultimate climb of the stage, they were back in the field while Tinkoff-Saxo made sure Contador was well-protected until the final ramps.

On the first of two climbs, Tinkoff-Saxo took control of the pace and at the top, only 40 riders were left in the select group of favorites and the last standing escapee was reeled back in. On the lower slopes of the uphill finish, the first attacks were launched and the attacks kept raining down on the mountainside.

With two kilometers to go, Chris Froome (Sky) leaped up the ascent alongside Fabio Aru (Astana) while Tinkoff-Saxo’s Contador stayed behind Valverde and Rodriguez who were now forced to chase the front duo. While Aru took the stage win, Froome climbed to overall second place as Valverde and Rodriguez did not agree on the workload.

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finished 5th, 13 seconds behind Aru and retained the overall lead. The Tinkoff-Saxo Spaniard leads by 1 minute and 19 seconds ahead of Froome.

Sergio Paulinho covered the early attacks on the final climb

"It was another stage with a very fast start and the first 60 kilometers were crazy. Then there was a breakaway and Movistar started to control for a stage win. The pace was really fast throughout the day and I think that, at the end, it was quite a good day for us."

DS, Steven De Jongh comments:

"It was a very fast day and a long fight for the final breakaway to go away. Then, as we had expected, Team Sky pushed very hard for the first time. In the finale, Aru went away and Frome got across. Alberto was together with the two other Spanish riders, so he lost a few seconds but that wasn't too bad. Tomorrow will be all about survival and Saturday will be the final battle in the mountains."

Alejandro VAlverde leads Alberto Contador

Alejandro Valverde leads Alberto Contador in stage 18. Photo ©Sirotti

This from BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez finished sixth on the summit finish of Monte Castrove Thursday at the Vuelta a España while moving up one spot in the general classification.

Sánchez climbed from eighth to seventh overall after Robert Gesink (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) did not start Thursday's stage to attend to a family emergency. Gesink had been sitting seventh overall. By finishing 17 seconds after stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team), Sánchez gained time on the rider immediately ahead of him in the overall standings, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp). "With the help of Cadel Evans and Dominik Nerz, Samuel did a very good performance and Martin is now only seven seconds in front of him,"

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "I am really satisfied with the whole team. Our riders jumped in every big breakaway today: Manuel Quinziato first and Philippe Gilbert later in the biggest ones."

Aru sprinted in one second ahead of runner-up Christopher Froome (Team Sky), who moved into second overall. Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished fifth, 13 seconds behind Aru, and is 6:59 ahead of Sánchez with three days to go. "I am satisfied with my performance today and I want to thank my teammates for the help they gave me," Sánchez said. "I felt good and I hope to continue like this until the end and try to move up at least one position in the general classification. The Vuelta is still long: two more tough stages and the last individual time trial. I think several things can still happen."

Samuel Sanchez riding to sixth place

Samuel Sanchez riding to sixth place in Vuelta stage 18. Photo ©Sirotti

Belkin's Vuelta Stage 18 comments:

Belkin pushes on despite losing Gesink: Belkin Pro Cycling team's Wilco Kelderman battled to 24th in a steep, explosive uphill finale in Thursday's 18th stage at the Vuelta a España.  Belkin battled on following the departure of team captain Robert Gesink, who was poised seventh overall, but left the Spanish tour for personal reasons.

Kelderman picked up the baton, and climbed up one position to 14th overall, at 20:05 behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

The pace was brisk right from the gun in the hilly, 157km stage ending with two passages up the Monte Castrove climb as teams fought to ride into the breakaway.

"It was a really hard start. I tried to be in the breakaway. Everyone was chasing each other," said Belkin's Laurens ten Dam. "In the end, only three guys went away. It was pretty easy, until the final climb. It was down to 40 guys, and I was there to help Wilco. We saved the legs for tomorrow. I want to try to get into the breakaway tomorrow or the next day, that is the main ambition. I want to finish off the season the right way."

With Gesink gone, Team Belkin will ride to protect Kelderman's place in the top-15 with three stages left in the Vuelta. "It was full-gas this morning for 50 or 60kph. It hurts a lot, but you make a lot of kilometres in a short amount of time, so that's good. We did well," said Belkin's Robert Wagner. "The goal for us was to bring Wilco in good condition at the bottom of the climb. For us, that was job done, and that was it. We will all work to protect Wilco in these coming days."

The 69th Vuelta continues Friday with the 180.5km 19th stage to Cangas de Morrazo. The route features two climbs and short kicker in the close five kilometres that could deliver a breakaway victory.

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman wearing the best young rider's white jersey in the 2014 Dauphiné. Photo ©Sirotti

Tour of Britain Stage 5 rider and Team Comments

This from BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Rick Zabel finished sixth Thursday at the Friends Life Tour of Britain while teammate Dylan Teuns held onto his third place overall and Sebastian Lander kept his lead in the sprint classification.

Zabel scored his third top 10 result of the race by finishing 14 seconds after Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) soloed to the stage win, eight seconds ahead of Shane Archbold (An Post-Chainreaction) and Maarten Wynants (Belkin Pro Cycling Team). Teuns finished 20th and in the same time as Zabel to remain 14 seconds behind race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) is second, three seconds off the lead. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said Teuns is showing maturity beyond his status as a stagiaire. "He is quite relaxed, which is good," Sciandri said. "We are breaking it down for him each day, telling him to take it one stage at a time – not to think about Sunday, not to think about tomorrow. I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself, but we are trying to take some of it off of him." Because of the day's four-man breakaway up the road, Lander did not contest any of the three intermediate sprints during the 177.3-km stage. But he kept his seven-point lead in the sprints classification over Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), who was also not in the breakaway.

Rick Zabel

Rick Zabel (in white) at the start of stage two of the 2014 Giro del Trentino. Photo ©Sirotti

And here are Belkin's Tour of Britain remarks:

Belkin Pro Cycling teams's Maarten Wynants nearly won Thursday's fifth stage at the Tour of Britain, riding clear in the day's main breakaway, and crossing the line third.

Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) attacked over a final climb to fend off the chasing Wynants, who crossed the line eight seconds back for Belkin's best result so far in the weeklong Britain tour.

"One way, I am happy with today, because I was feeling bad at the start of the race, and I was able to ride into the breakaway and almost win today," Wynants said. "On the other hand, I am disappointed to not win. You do not get many chances to win, and today was close."

Wynants rode into the day's main breakaway of four riders in the hilly, 177.3km stage to Exeter.

"Today was our best day so far at this race," said Belkin Sport Director Jan Boven. "Maarten was very strong to get into the breakaway group. The other teams pulled hard, and they did not gain more than a few minutes. The last 40km, the guys in the breakaway went full-gas. It's a shame Maarten could not win, but it's very good for morale."

"We had to go full-gas in the end to beat the chasing peloton," Wynants said. "There was one last hard climb, and Brandle attacked near the top. I went after him, but I couldn't close the gap. It was a steep descent, and two sharp corners. I tried to chase him down, but there was not enough road."

Belkin's Lars Petter Nordhaug finished with the lead chase group that crossed the line 14 seconds behind. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) retained the overall lead, with Nordhaug climbing into 26th overall at 1:41 back.

The 11th Britain tour continues Friday with a hilly, challenging stage. The 205.6km stage to Hemel Hempstead is another rollercoaster stage packed with short, but steep climbs. Another breakaway could stay clear.

"Our goal is to win a stage here," Boven said. "Maarten was close today. That will lift morale for everyone. We will fight to the finish."

Maarten Wynants

Maarten Wynants at the 2014 Tour of Britain.

Cannondale's Plans for the Big Canadian Races

Here's the news for this weekend from Cannondale:

Cannondale Pro Cycling is ready to attend their last North American races of the season. On Friday, September 12, and on Sunday, September 14, the Green Machine will race the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Québec and de Montréal. Both road races are part of the UCI World Tour schedule and will engage the riders for 199 and 205 kilometers respectively.

The roster, selected by team director Stefano Zanatta, includes a strong group of young riders and a number of able and experienced riders. Fresh off the Tour of Alberta, Davide Formolo, Davide Villella and Matej Mohoric will continue their Canadian Tour, while Ted King, Cristiano Salerno, Moreno Moser (who finished second in Montréal in 2012), and Jean-Marc Marino will join the group after their recent experiences at Brussels Classics and GP de Fourmies. Marco Marcato will also be joining the team after a brief rest period.

"These two races are really demanding, and we want to do our best to achieve a good result," said team director Stefano Zanatta. "We can count on a really motivated and on form team. I know our young guns have the right characteristics to stand out, as do the riders with more experience. With several top riders at the start, we can be among the ones that stand out."

Moreno Moser

Moreno Moser on his way to winning the 2013 Strade Bianche. Photo ©Sirotti

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