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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, August 7, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Today's Racing

We've got five road races going on right now:

First, the 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal continues through August 9th.

Then the World-Tour ranked Tour of Poland, and in the U.S. the Tour of Utah are alongoing.

Two other stage races run through Saturday, August 8. In Denmark, there is the Post Danmark Rundt and in Spain, the Vuelta a Burgos.

Tour of Denmark team news

Tinkoff-Saxo was happy with how Denmark stage 3 turned out:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Matti Breschel took his fourth stage win on the iconic climb of Kiddesvej, which traditionally sets the scene for the queen stage in Tour of Denmark. Meanwhile, Chris Juul-Jensen moves to third in the overall GC, just 12 seconds from the lead before the decisive time trial Friday. “This is why we ride - to get wins like this”, says Breschel.

A fully committed Tinkoff-Saxo squad destabilized the queen stage by launching attacks in an effort to claim the win on the iconic finishing climb Kiddesvej with percentages above 20. After a flat-out finale, where GC captain Chris Juul-Jensen worked to set up his teammate from a small front group, Breschel claimed his record eight stage win in Tour of Denmark.

“It was a really tough finale but I’m very happy. This is why we ride - to get wins like this. It’s been a long time since my last win so it’s amazing when it all plays out. Today, we planned to create a hard race and the team did a great job to destabilize the race, as we got closer to Vejle. After my first attack on the climb up Kiddesvej, where I tried to open up the race, I could sense that I had to pace myself, as we had to do it three more times”, says Matti Breschel before adding:

“I had to control my effort but our attack had created a good group and we had distanced the group behind us. I have been aiming for this stage to take the win and Chris Juul as our GC rider knew when I would attack and for him it was about staying with me, when I attacked. Unfortunately, Lars Bak also made it in the group but Chris is now third in the GC trailing by just 12 seconds. He’s strong in time trials, so it’ll be exciting to see how the overall looks after tomorrow’s evening time trial”, adds Matti Breschel, who is now 4th in the GC, one place behind team captain Chris Juul-Jensen.

Matti Breschel wins Denmark stage 3

Matti Breschel wins Denmark stage 3

The 185km queen stage of Tour of Denmark consisted of no less than 2000 meters of altitude gain in punchy terrain. Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Lars Michaelsen notes that the team wanted to put on the pressure early on the stage and ultimately succeeded in grabbing the win and keeping the GC ambitions alive.

“I want to stress the fact that the entire squad put in a massive effort today from Michael Mørkøv, who led the guys, to McCarthy who put on the pressure with his attack before the final laps. They followed the plan and they used their heads and energy at crucial points to take the initiative in the race. Matti claimed his fourth win on this climb and proved that he is highly capable in this kind of terrain”, comments Lars Michaelsen before going into details with the winning acceleration.

“On the final time up Kiddesvej, Matti first put in an attack to catch the one guy out front, who had gone clear from the group a few kilometers earlier. Then he did right in waiting a brief moment to force the other riders to the front before he accelerated again, which proved decisive. At the same time, Juul-Jensen came in just 9 seconds later although he had been putting in a huge effort to keep the stage win within reach. He’s now in a good position before tomorrow’s time trial. We can only be pleased, we got the stage win and Chris Juul is still very much in play for in the GC. We now have to keep this momentum and stay attentive”, finishes Lars Michaelsen.

Here's what Cult Energy had to report on the Tour of Denmark's third stage:

Everything was in place for a spectacular race in today’s 185 kilometer long third stage of Tour of Denmark. More than 2000 meters of climbing in the undulating terrain with start and finish line in Vejle, the birth town of Rasmus Guldhammer, created the perfect backdrop and the scene was set for aggressive riding. In the end, the Cult Energy Pro Cycling Dane finished second.

Six escapees did their best to keep the peloton behind but the hilly terrain and the endless number of short steep slopes took the best out of the legs of the breakaway riders. In the peloton, Astana were defending their leader’s jersey and they kept the break on a relatively short leash through the first half of the stage.

Entering the final 50 kilometers, riders started to show signs of fatigue and apparently, the Russian Tinkoff-Saxo team sensed it and started pushing the pace in the pack. Instantly, riders were scattered all over the road and in a matter of a few more hills, the break was caught and the new front group of favorites counted no more than 25 riders including Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer and Troels Vinther.

As the group entered Vejle and the 6 kilometer long and hilly circuit counting 3 laps with especially Kiddesvej offering gradients of 20%, Vinther launched a solid attack leaving the group and giving Guldhammer the opportunity of staying in the back of the breakaway. But when Alexander Kamp (Coloquick) counter-attacked, Tinkoff-Saxo were forced to initiate the chase and they bridged the gap on the final 500 meters.

Here, Cult Energy’s Rasmus Guldhammer was in a perfect position behind two-time winner on Kiddesvej, Matti Breschel. Guldhammer grit his teeth and obviously gave all he had left but he wasn't able to pass Breschel on the finish line.

With a great result finishing second, Rasmus Guldhammer is now 5th overall:

“Naturally, I’m a bit disappointed. It’s my home town, I have been looking forward to this for a long time and I really wanted to nail it. But I was simply beaten by a stronger rider today and it’s no shame losing a sprint to Matti. With 20-25 kilometers from the finish, I had a puncture and struggled a bit to get back up. Entering the final circuit, Troels did an amazing job. He initiated an attack so I could stay in the back of the group while the others had to work to bring him back in. In the sprint, I was in the right position but lacked the power to go past him. Now, I’m 5th overall and within reach of 4th and I don't think the GC is set," concludes Guldhammer.

Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Poland news

The fifth stage was the toughest and longest one in this year’s Tour de Pologne. 223 kilometres needed to be covered and eight climbs of first category had to be climbed. There was a breakaway right from the beginning of the stage and six riders were part of it, among them three riders of Lotto Soudal; Kris Boeckmans, Boris Vallée and Vegard Breen. They rode at the front of the race for a long time but they were caught 60 kilometres before the finish. Afterwards, Astana led the peloton and they set a high pace. On the last ascent of the day, the race exploded. In the descent of that last climb, eleven riders were in the lead, among them Bart De Clercq. He attacked at 4.5 kilometres of the finish and won the stage. Ulissi and Reichenbach finished at three seconds. De Clercq is also the new GC leader.

Bart De Clercq: “The real start of the Tour de Pologne was today actually. It was a very long stage with two laps of about 54 kilometres. These laps were very tough because the climbs lay in that lap. When we entered the final lap, a group of riders was trying to get away with among them Sander Armée. I bridged the gap to that group.”

Bart De Clercqq wins Tour ofnPoland stage 5

Bart De Clercq wins Tour of Poland stage 5

“We were with nineteen riders in front at that moment and I felt that I had good legs. Many riders bridged the gap to the front group so the group consisted of about 40 riders. Afterwards, Astana was setting a very high pace and on the final climb I was really suffering. But I managed to stay in the front of the race and in the descent there were only eleven riders left. I then attacked at about four kilometres of the finish and it appeared to be the good moment. I stayed in front and won the stage. I’m very happy with that because it’s been a while since I won a race.”

“First of all, I’m going to enjoy this victory. For the rest, I’ll do my very best to maintain the first position on GC. Tomorrow is going to be a very tough day because of the many climbs. I rode this stage last year and no doubt, many riders will get dropped. It will be a matter of defending my jersey as well as I can. Also with the time trial ahead, it isn’t going to be an easy task. But I’ll give it my all to obtain the overall victory.”

BMC sent this piece about the Tour of Utah

Heber Valley, Utah (USA) - Brent Bookwalter finished fifth on Thursday's uphill finish at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah to move into third place overall with three stages of the race to go.

Bookwalter, runner-up on Wednesday and third on Tuesday, said his teammates set him up well as the peloton arrived in the final kilometers of the 204.4-km race.

"The team did an amazing job again," Bookwalter said. "They executed the plan for a world-class sprinter. Although I feel like I have done a decent job of sprinting the past couple of days in the smaller groups, today, when the group was a little bigger, you saw that I am not a pure sprinter - tactically and also physically."

Eric Young (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) took the stage win while Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop), in third place, assumed the overall lead from Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team). Bookwalter finished two seconds after Young and is one of four riders sitting four seconds off the lead.

Eric Young wins Tour of Utah stage 4

Eric Young wins Tour of Utah stage 4

Sport Director Jackson Stewart said it was nice to see the entirety of the BMC Racing Team involved in setting up the lead out.

"We had the young guys like Kilian Frankiny and Manuel Senni learning from yesterday and seeing what they had to do," he said. "(Taylor) Phinney was there today, so really we had everyone. Sprinting can be a little bit of a gamble at times. There was a lull there and maybe we just did not finish it off right."

Friday's race is a short one - 89.1 km on laps of a circuit through the streets of Salt Lake City - and features 1,500 meters of climbing.

"Physically, I feel really good," Bookwalter said. "I think I have spent a little bit of physical and mental energy fighting out these finishes the past few days that maybe other GC (general classification) guys have not. I still want to take it day-by-day. The yellow jersey is still in play for tomorrow and then we have two hard mountain days."

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary