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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Matteo Rabbotini Positive for EPO

I hate this. I hate reading about it. I hate writing about it. But averting my eyes and shutting off my word processor doesn't make it go away.

Neri Sottoli rider Matteo Rabottini was positive for EPO in an out of competition test done on August 7. Rabbottini had been enjoying a modestly successful career. He won a stage and the Mountains classification in the 2012 Giro d'Italia. He was going to ride for Italy at the World Championships in Spain later this month.

He's off the Italian World's team and has been suspended from his trade team. Neri Sottoli has reserved the right to bring a civil action against the rider for damage to its image.

Matteo Rabottini

Matteo Rabottini on his way to winning stage 15 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Photo ©Sirotti

Adam Hansen's 10th Grand Tour

Since Adam Hansen is about to finish his 10th Grand Tour Sunday, Lotto-Belisol sent out this release:

Tour of Flanders, the Inside Story

If all goes well Adam Hansen will complete his tenth consecutive Grand Tour tomorrow. It’s an impressive list: Vuelta 2011, Giro 2012, Tour 2012, Vuelta 2012, Giro 2013, Tour 2013, Vuelta 2013, Giro 2014, Tour 2014 and Vuelta 2014. Only Bernardo Ruiz has done more in a row. The Spaniard completed twelve consecutive Grand Tours between 1954 and 1958. After Sunday Adam will stand next to Marino Lejarreta. Yesterday Adam put the icing on the cake by winning the 19th Vuelta stage.

Adam Hansen: “I get reminded quite a lot of the fact that this is my tenth consecutive Grand Tour. It will be nice to finish this one as well, that’s for sure. I look forward to that. Actually, I never thought about aiming for that goal of ten. I wanted to do three in a year at first. I had enjoyed that and the next season I did it again because I liked it. The same this year. Once people started talking about the number of ten of course I started thinking about it as well.”

“For me it’s more special that I can finish ten times, without crashing or getting sick, than to actually complete ten Grand Tours. For me that’s more impressive. Just like the fact that I could stay healthy in between the races. I take very good care of myself, but I think you need a lot of luck as well. At the start there are almost 200 cyclists. A lot of times only about 130 to 140 finish. You have to ride save, be careful and take very good care of your body so you don’t get ill.”

“Winning a stage in the Vuelta had really become a goal after my victory in the Giro last year. That was definitely one of the nicest moments I had throughout these years. But the stage win in this Vuelta was more spectacular because of the way I did it. Last year I became third in the 18th Vuelta stage, with a summit finish in Peña Cabarga. That was a very good performance. This year’s Tour de France is memorable thanks to Tony Gallopin wearing yellow. And of course all the stage wins of André Greipel over the years are beautiful memories. There have been a lot of nice experiences.  I’ve enjoyed this Vuelta very much, it’s very active. I feel like I’m riding very well here. I’m feeling extremely strong and I’m on a very good level.”

“Lotto Belisol gives me the opportunity to race these three Grand Tours each season. To get selected I have to be in good form of course. The team also gives me the opportunity to have long training periods in between the races and they’ve trusted me. The team knows that I can go to a race and be in good form just with training. It’s nice the team allows me to do this and I appreciate it very much. For sure I’m planning to ride the three Grand Tours next year as well. I’ll keep going (laughs).”

In the time trial in Santiago de Compostela on the last day of this Vuelta Adam will ride with a special rear wheel, which puts the focus on completing ten consecutive Grand Tours.

Adam Hansen

Adam Hansen celebrates his Vuelta stage 19 win. Photo ©Sirotti

Vuelta a España Stage 20 Rider and Team Comments

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Today’s 185.7 kilometer long 20th stage of the Vuelta a Espana was the last chance for the climbers to make a difference in the race. Four climbs were on the menu and the final HC-climb was the perfect scene for an explosive finale. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador was under pressure from his nearest rivals who all did what they could to drop the Spaniard. But Contador demonstrated his cool, tactical skills and superb form by winning the penultimate stage of the Vuelta consolidating his overall lead.

A breakaway consisting of Wout Poels (Omega-Pharma Quick Step), Maxime Méderel (Eropcar), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre) and Jérome Coppel (Cofidis) was getting their time in the sun between Santo Estevo de Riba de Sil and Purto de Ancares. But it was doomed. The GC contenders were eager to hit the foot of the uphill finish in high pace, which ultimately swept up the last standing escapees, Niemiec and Coppel.

Hitting the foot of the 12.5 kilometer long final climb, Sky took control of the pace and it took a matter of two kilometers before the field was shaved down to a select group of favorites. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) was the first to launch an attack and Valverde was now on the chase with Froome, Aru and Contador on his wheel. Not quite satisfied with the pace, Froome took over the pace-making while Contador stayed focused on staying behind.

With 6.1 kilometers remaining, Aru and Valverde was dropped. Contador remained on the wheel of Froome who kept pushing the pace and with 5.4 kilometers from the top of the mountain, Contador and Froome bridged the gap to Rodriguez. One kilometer later, Rodriguez paid for his efforts and was parked on the mountainside leaving the stage win between the two top contenders in the overall classification.

Froome accelerated several times in order to drop the Tinkoff-Saxo captain but eventually, Alberto took matters into his own hands and distanced Froome in one long drag towards the finish line to take the stage win after playing the tactical game calmly, intelligently and in the end aggressively.

DS, Steven De Jongh was all smiles after the big stage win:

"We knew that Sky wanted to control things to stir things up and to try to shake Alberto. However, everyone else but Alberto was dropped and I think Alberto played his cards excellently. He never lost his cool and had the situation totally under control. On the final kilometer, he went for the stage win and in one fierce attack, he quickly created the gap and took a beautiful victory consolidating his lead. Of course, the race isn't won just yet. There's a time trial tomorrow and even though it's short, you can't rule out accidents. Now, we're waiting for the weather report and we're going out tomorrow morning to check out the technical spots on the course", said De Jongh after the stage.

Wait, Tinkoff-Saxo also sent this:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain Alberto Contador sealed his overall lead at Vuelta a España after winning stage 20 to the feared Puerto de Ancares. Contador followed multiple strong accelerations from Chris Froome and finally attacked his main rival with 500 meters to go, taking 16 seconds plus bonus seconds. He now leads with 1’39’’ going into Sunday's final short time trial. After the stage, team owner Oleg Tinkov was obviously excited.

“Alberto is a hero. It was a really beautiful stage win and it means that he will win the Vuelta. It is very important to the team and to me personally. If Alberto gets through the stage safely tomorrow, it will be my first Grand Tour win as team owner. I’m very proud of him and I want to thank everybody for their support," commented Oleg Tinkov.

Alberto Contador crashed hard in Tour de France and abandoned the race due to a cracked tibia. In the following weeks, Tinkoff-Saxo supported Alberto Contador in his efforts to recover. And few days prior to the Spanish Grand Tour, Alberto announced that he was ready for the start in Jerez.

“It was definitely not easy. It was a tough injury with following complications. But he fought very hard and was back training as soon as he was able to sit on his bike," added Oleg Tinkov.

Today’s stage lived up to its promises and on the final climb to Ancares it developed into a head-on battle between the favorites. Alberto Contador received strong support from his teammates and Jesús Hernández stayed with his captain on the first part of the final climb until attacks shattered the front group. Just after the stage finish, team manager Bjarne Riis stated that he was proud of the team.

“It was an incredible stage and a very good performance by the team. Once again Alberto showed his strength, he stayed calm and made the move at the right time. You never know if the legs are there or not to win the stage, like he did today, but luckily they were. If he avoids crashing on the TT, he will win overall, which I think is just extraordinary”, concluded Bjarne Riis

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador attacks late in Vuelta stage 20. Photo ©Sirotti

From Lampre-Merida:

Last mountain stage, the last battlefield for the climbers before the final act of the Vuelta in the final time trial in Santiago de Compostela: the 20th stage of the Spanish race, 185.7 km from Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil-Puerto de Ancares, determined almost definitive verdicts: Contador won the stage and increased his advantage on the overall classification on Froome.

One of the most aggressive riders of the bunch, Przemyslaw Niemiec, was again a protagonist of the Spanish race.

The winner of the 15th stage tried to hit once again the target thanks to a breakaway, as it happened on the past Sunday. This time, Niemiec escaped from the bunch after 45 km in the race with Poels, Coppel and Mederel, on the climb of Castro de Ferreira.

The attackers cooperated in order to make the advantage increase to a maximum of 10'30", but the teams of the top riders began to intensify the chase and the gap decreased.

Niemiec was to last attacker to be caught. He had remained as solo leader and the top riders reached him with 9.5 km to go, on the final climb.

The Polish rider (25th in the stage) could not overtake Leon Sanchez in the best climber classification: he would have needed to win the stage to hit this target.

Przemyslaw Niemiec

Przemyslaw Niemiec. Photo ©Bettini

And this from BMC:

BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez finished eighth Saturday and climbed from seventh to sixth overall on the next-to-last day of the Vuelta a España.

Sánchez arrived 2:58 behind stage winner and race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) on the summit finish of the 185.7-kilometer race. But more importantly, the 2008 Olympic Games road race champion finished 24 seconds ahead of Daniel Martin to displace the Garmin-Sharp rider in the overall standings on the eve of Sunday's final-stage, 9.7-kilometer individual time trial.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said the team worked well to protect Sánchez on the three categorized climbs leading to the finish. "After that Samuel did the rest," Piva said. "Today he was strong and intelligent. He knew the last mountain and he did it at his pace without responding to the attacks. Our goal was try to pass Martin in the GC (general classification) and he was able to do it." Sánchez said if he is unable to move up further in the time trial, he will still be pleased with his result. "We were only missing (Tour de France winner) Vincenzo Nibali in this Vuelta," Sánchez said. "These are the best GC riders in the world, so I can satisfied about my placement. It was a tough year and I worked so hard to get this result. It was a spectacular race during these three weeks, beginning with the team time trial in Jerez and finishing with the individual time trial in Santiago tomorrow. To understand how was hard it was, you only have to look at the riders' faces."

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez in Vuelta stage 18. Photo ©Sirotti

Tour of Britain Stage 7 Rider and Team Comments

This from BMC:

Dylan Teuns of the BMC Racing Team finished seventh Saturday at the Friends Life Tour of Britain to remain fifth overall, while teammate Sebastian Lander kept his lead in the sprint classification with a double-stage day of the race to go.

Teuns was in a group that arrived at the finish of the 226.5-kilometer stage 80 seconds after the stage winner as – for the second straight day – a rider from the breakaway took the race lead. Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the race, but Dylan Van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp) finished third of the three escapees and took the yellow jersey from Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team). Teuns is 36 seconds behind with Sunday's 8.8 km individual time trial in London in the morning and an 88.8-kilometer circuit race in the afternoon. "Only the time trial can change something," Teuns said. "I will just go full gas and see how it comes out. There are a lot of guys who are just 10 seconds behind me and that is not so much."

Ten riders remain within a minute of the lead, including past race leader Michal Kwiatowski, Vermote's teammate. Teuns did try to steal back time with an attack on the final climb, which immediately led to a descent to the finish. But after gaining 10 seconds, the BMC Racing Team stagiaire was caught by a chase group of four and eventually 13 others. "Everything came back because it was a big road and a fast decent," Teuns said. "That was a little bit disappointing." Lander, who took the lead Wednesday in the sprint classification following his second consecutive day in the breakaway, remains two points ahead of Dowsett.

Dylan van Baarle

Dylan van Baarle at the 2014 Eneco Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

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