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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, April 23, 2015

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Today's Racing

We've got one race today: the third stage of the ongoing Italian Giro del Trentino. Today it's another hilly stage, going from Ala to a hilltop finish at Fierozzo Val dei Môcheni.

Welcome to Velo Jerseys

Velo Jerseys has come aboard as a BikeRaceInfo supporter. I've known Velo Jerseys owner Steve Laner for decades. In fact, for a while he worked with me when I owned Torelli Imports. Steve is just the kind of person I like having our site associated with. He's profoundly knowledgable about all aspects of cycling. Moreover he's kind, scrupulous to a fault and, this is important, lots of fun.

That sense of fun shows in his company. Thanks to Steve we can get the jersey Greg LeMond, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault or Jan Raas wore. But...made with modern state-of-the-art technology so you can be comfortable as well as looking incredibly sharp. So, please take a look at his site. I think you'll like what you see.

Velo Jerseys

A couple of the jerseys you can get from Velo Jerseys

Huge Trek Bicycle Recall

I don’t normally post news about recalls, but this one is too big and important not to share. Trek Bicycle Company is recalling nearly one million bikes equipped with disc brakes because the quick-release on the bike’s front hub can come into contact with the bike's front disc brake, resulting either in the front wheel separating from the bike, or the wheel instantly stopping.

The recall involves almost a million bikes; 900,000 sold in the US and 98,000 sold in Canada between 2000 and 2015 that were priced between $480 and $1,650. In three reported accidents people were badly hurt, including one rider who became a permanently paralyzed quadriplegic.

The fundamental problem is that some bikes have quick release levers that can open more than 180 degrees, allowing the lever to contact the disc brake. Bikes with levers that do not open the full 180 degrees are not included in the recall.
Of course riders with Trek bikes so equipped are advised to stop riding them immediately and get in touch with an authorized Trek dealer for free installation of a new quick release along with a $20 coupon good towards any Bontrager brand item.

Trek Recall QR

Trek recall picture showing open QR going more than 180 degrees,

Tek recall picture number 2

and the Trek recall picture showing the QR lever contacting the disc brake.

You can call Trek at (800) 373-4584 8AM-6PM central time if you have questions. Here is the Trek website recall page with a link to the official recall notice.

Friday, April 24 note: There is reason to believe this is more than just a Trek problem. For more about this please go to:

Flèche Wallonne Team reports

The classic La Flèche Wallonne was run on Wednesday and won for the second year in a row by Alejandro Valverde. We've posted full results, photos, race story, map, and start list, all you need to know and understand the race.

Lotto-Soudal sent this Flèche Wallonne report:

The big question before today’s Flèche Wallonne was which influence the Côte de Cherave would have. Tim Wellens decided to have a go on this new climb. In the last hectometres of the Mur de Huy the Lotto Soudal rider was caught. Jelle Vanendert, the second leader in the team, couldn’t contest the victory. He had abandoned the race after a crash.

Specialist Thomas De Gendt was part of a long breakaway which he set up. The seven riders had a maximal lead of eight minutes. Just over halfway Tim Wellens stood at the side of the road after a crash, teammate Pim Ligthart took him back to the bunch. Jelle Vanendert was less lucky. The Belgian crashed just before the second ascent of the Mur de Huy and abandoned the race. There’s not too much physical damage, his right elbow is bruised. It was his second crash in four days, after he already hit the ground in the Amstel Gold Race.

Jelle Vanendert: “Just as  in the Amstel Gold Race I hit my right elbow. It’s never good when you crash two times in a few days, but there’s not too much damage. I had a good feeling in the race and was always riding in front on the climbs. I was convinced it was possible to set a good result, unfortunately I crashed.”

Jelle Vanendert

I don't have a photo of Vanendert in this year's race, but here he is at the end of last year's Flèche Wallonne.

Sixty kilometres before the end of the race the peloton picked up the pace and the advantage of the leaders decreased quickly. After the second crossing of the finish line Thomas De Gendt and Jérôme Baugnies were still in front. Their companion Daniele Ratto rejoined them after a few kilometres, together with Luis León Sánchez and Giovanni Visconti who had jumped away from the bunch. On the Côte d’Ereffe, 16.5 kilometres from the finish, Louis Vervaeke accelerated and with Tejay Van Garderen he had a gap for a while. In the meantime De Gendt was caught. Sánchez and Visconti were the last escapees to be reeled in on the Côte de Cherave. Then Tim Wellens attacked and he arrived solo at the top, at five and a half kilometres from the end. At the bottom of the Mur de Huy Wellens had about ten seconds advantage, that was not enough. Alejandro Valverde won for the second year in a row. He beat Julian Alaphilippe and Michael Albasini.

Thomas De Gendt: “I was one of the riders in the team who had to try to join a breakaway, so the teams of the favourites had to work. The composition of the front group was good. I was happy Jérôme Baugnies was one of the escapees as well, he goes all the way. The cooperation went smoothly and we had a maximal lead of eight minutes. On the climbs it was obvious which riders were the strongest in front. We were left with five after the second ascent of the Côte de Bellaire. Later, that group fell apart and Sánchez and Visconti bridged to the front. When I noticed Louis had jumped away from the peloton I decided to wait and help him.”

Tim Wellens:  “The plan was that I should attack on the Côte de Cherave or just before and Jelle Vanendert would wait until the last ascent of the Mur de Huy. It was a pity that Jelle had to leave the race. I decided to stick to the plan because I can’t compete with the explosive riders in the peloton. I know the course really well, the descent of the Côte de Cherave suits me. It went well until the first part of the Mur de Huy, but with 900 metres to go I felt my legs got weaker; 300 metres further I was reeled in. This attempt wasn’t intended to show myself, but I aimed for the victory. It gives me confidence for Liège-Bastogne-Liège that I was in a position in which it was possible to win. I often train on the course of the Flèche Wallonne and it’s no far from my home town Sint-Truiden. Many fans came to support me along the route, that was great.”

Here's Orica-GreenEdge's Flèche report:

Three-time 2014 Tour de Romandie stage winner Michael Albasini has claimed Orica-GreenEDGE’s third Classics podium of 2015 at La Fleche Wallonne today. A consistent performer at the Belgian race, including a second place in 2012, Albasini was given the opportunity to lead the Australian outfit, one he made the most of.

The 34-year-old finished third atop the Mur de Huy, trailing Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) who claimed his third title and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick Step). “The Mur de Huy is a climb that suits me,” Albasini said. “This race is also my chance to go for a result because at Amstel (Gold) Race and Liege, I am mostly there as a teammate for Simon Gerrans or Michael Matthews.

Michael Albasini

Michael Albasini finishes this year's Flèche Wallonne.

“As my chance, I have to be good today. Valverde is one of the strongest guys in this kind of finish. You never know (if you can beat him), you always have to try. I was closer than ever maybe, but it still wasn’t possible today.”

Unlike Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, the day didn’t run perfectly for Orica-GreenEDGE, but Albasini battled on and was visible at the front up the final climb to give himself every chance. “It certainly wasn’t smooth running like the weekend,” sport director Matt White said of the 205.5km race. “Some of our boys pulled up a bit average from the big effort on Sunday and Christian Meier had a mechanical at a crucial time. But those that were there in the finish were good and they prepared Albasini for the final.

“In the last climb it’s every man for himself and Albasini showed once again on that climb that he is as good as anyone in the world.”

The days break formed without too much resistance in the first 10km of racing. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Mike Teunissen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), Brice Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty - Groupe Gobert), Reinier Honig (Team Roompot), Daniele Ratto (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport) stretched their advantage to eight minutes from the peloton but never posed too much threat.

Back in the peloton a tense race saw a number of crashes, but by the second ascent of the Mur de Hur the break had reduced to five riders and an advantage of just 50seconds. Late attacks on the final two climbs, including a move by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) that established a lead of 15 seconds, proved unsuccessful as those remaining groveled it up the final climb for honours.

Here's the Flèche Wallonne news from LottoNL-Jumbo:

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Wilco Kelderman fought for a top ten until the final metres in the Flèche Wallonne today in Belgium, scoring just that – 10th – on top of the Mur de Huy.

Robert Gesink made his comeback, finishing 25th at 23 seconds behind winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Mike Teunissen did the rest, showing the team’s yellow colours in the escape.

Kelderman started the final ascent in perfect position. The 24-year-old Dutchman sat on the front row when the peloton turned onto the Mur de Huy. “Short and steep climbs suit me,” said Kelderman, who was boosted with the return of Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam. “It’s nice to have them racing again after some injuries. They’ve had some setbacks, but they’re fit again. I think we’re heading in the right direction with the team. Everything will fall into place again. Unfortunately, Tom Leezer crashed hard. That was quite a shock.”

Robert Gesink suffered during the 205 kilometres between Waremme and the Mur de Huy, but enjoyed racing again. “I’m happy to be back, I’m feeling like a cyclist again,” Gesink said. “This was all I could do today after a long period without races, but I'm happy with my level. The hard work paid off. My knee feels good, but I still miss some power. My knee feels good, but I still miss some power. During the first kilometres, when the side-winds split the pack, I wasn’t able to keep the wheel of the rider in front of me. That’s never happened to me before as professional. I’m quite tough, though, and when the rest of the riders were weakened, I was able to follow.”


LottoNL-Jumbo together in this year's Flèche Wallonne

“We can and must do better, although Wilco’s 10th place is valid result and a boost for the team,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “We still can and need to do better, though. It’s definitely no ‘Hallelujah’, it’s a start. It’s really unbelievable what Robert showed after three months without racing. A big compliment to him and his coach Louis Delahaije for returning to the WorldTour peloton in the middle of the season and finish 25th on the Mur de Huy.”

Paul Martens fell during an unlucky moment. With ten kilometres to go, he hit the tarmac together with several other riders, including Sky’s Chris Froome. The German finished 104th at 8’04”.

“Paul’s crash was very unfortunate. Many riders went down today,” Zeeman said.
“Paul will be able to race again on Sunday. Tom Leezer won’t, he’s pretty banged up.”

Here's what Lampre-Merida had to say, post-Flèche Wallonne:

Lampre-Merida's jerseys were in the front of the race until 300 mt to the finish line of the Flèche Wallone (205.5 km), then the ambitions for a top result in the Belgian World Tour race vanished.

Despite in the race course a new hill was added (Cote de Cherave, summit at 5.5 km to go), it was once again the Mur de Huy that was the judge that assigned the victory of the Flèche Wallone: Valverde won the race thanks to an action at 300 meters to go, preceding Alaphilippe and Albasini.

Up to that moment, the Lampre-Merida was focused on the support the captain Rui Costa, avoiding all the crashes that occurred in the final part of the course (only Serpa had to stop his bike once in order to avoid to get involved seriously in one accident) and approaching the Cote de Cherave in the front of the bunch.
This Cote selected a Group of 40 riders that reached the beginning of the final passage on the Mur de Huy with Valls in the first position and Rui Costa following him: the Portuguese rider set a constant rhythm that was incisive until 400 meters to go, when the opponents overtook him.Rui's action could not be incisive enough any more and he managed to reach the arrival in 28th place at 28" to Valverde.

"I was aware of the fact that the Mur de Huy is more suitable for riders that are smaller and heavier than me and that can exploit explosive actions: these are not my characteristics - Rui Costa explained - Despite this, I started this morning with the will of being competitive as usual and during the race I really wanted to finalize the perfect support my team mates, as an example Ulissi, Bono and Valls, who help me in avoiding the crashes and in approaching the hills in the best possible position. On the final passage of the Mur de Huy, I tried to be in the front of the Group, setting a pace that was suitable for me, hoping it could be incisive, but it was not enough".

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about Flèche Wallonne:

La Flèche Wallonne was once again decided amongst the favorites on Mur de Huy after a nervous and crash-marred race. Roman Kreuziger finished 11th for Tinkoff-Saxo behind race winner Alejandro Valverde and now turns his attention to Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

After the race, Roman Kreuziger asserts that although Flèche Wallonne is a less draining race than its two Ardennes Classic counterparts, the flat-out effort up the iconic Mur de Huy made for a grueling race finish. “You might not feel as exhausted after Flèche Wallonne as you do in the other Ardennes races but in the minutes after the finish up Mur de Huy, you have lactic acid in the entire body and especially arms, since we pull the handlebars so hard. We rode at a hard pace until the last 200 meters, where the moves came. The very explosive riders really have an advantage here but, like in Amstel, today is a confirmation that my shape is good”, says Roman Kreuziger, who adds that the race finale was harder with the addition of Côte de Cherave 5.5 kilometers before the finish: “It’s a hard climb especially the first part and today we also saw that several riders used it to launch attacks. I followed to some degree, but decided to stay in the favorites group, as it’s vital to arrive as fresh as possible at the bottom of Mur de Huy”.

For Roman Kreuziger it’s now all about Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which, according to the Czech, suits him better. “It’s a matter of recovering and optimizing ahead of Liège. It’s different than Flèche since it’s longer and more tiring. After 200 kilometers many riders start to drop off, which means that it’s not a race that comes down to positioning but pure legs. I look forward to Sunday as my main objective during the Ardennes Classics.

La Flèche Wallonne took the riders from Waremme to Mur de Huy along a 205.5km parcours. In the end a decimated bunch arrived at the bottom of the 1.3km climb, where Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) prevailed after a final burst for the line. However, the race was affected by numerous crashes, which brought down Michael Valgren but fortunately left him unharmed. Teammate Chris Anker Sørensen, with eight participations at Flèche Wallonne under his belt, noted that the race was at times scary.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde's decisive win in this year's Flèche Wallonne

“It was a very nervous day with nearly 200 riders wanting to position themselves at the front. I must admit that in some of the hectic situations it wasn’t pleasant to sit in the bunch with a fight for positioning taking place at 60km/h and cars parked at each side of the road. But it comes with the territory as a rider and you have to keep cool and continue to perform your best for the team”, says Chris Anker, who spent energy in the final part of the race bringing Rafal Majka back to the front after a puncture.

Sports Director Sean Yates recognizes that Majka’s mechanical came at a bad time. “It was a tough race. Roman was strong, Kiserlovski was up there and Rafal Majka had some bad luck, which cost him quite a lot of energy in trying to get back into the bunch. Valgren and Chris Anker did a good job in bringing him back, while Rovny gave his spare wheel. But Rafal probably spent too much energy on getting back and he wasn’t there in the finale”.

“Now we are looking forward to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where Kreuziger indeed stands a good chance. The finish today didn’t really suit him but he got a good result and he showed that he is very fit and very strong. I’m sure that he can perform and he’ll get help along the way from the likes of Majka, Kiserlovski, Boaro and the rest of the group”, finishes Sean Yates.

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