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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, August 8, 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 and these three finish today: in Denmark, the Post Danmark Rundt, in Spain, the Vuelta a Burgos, and the World-Tour ranked Tour of Poland

Both the 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal and the Tour of Utah continue through August 9th.

Orica-GreenEdge signs Amets Txurruka

Orica-GreenEdge sent this release:

Orica-GreenEDGE has signed Spanish climber Amets Txurruka to boost their power and experience in the mountains in support of the team’s young and developing team.

Txurruka, who will join the outfit from pro-continental team Caja Rural – Seguros RGA, previously rode four years in the UCI WorldTour with Euskaltel–Euskadi and has a palmares that includes a stage win at this year’s Tour of Norway and 14 Grand Tour appearances.

‘It's a real dream come through for me to start this next chapter of my career,” Txurruka said.  “I've had a great time at Caja-Rural-RGA and I have a lot to thank them for, but joining Orica-GreenEDGE is a once in a life time chance that couldn't be missed.”

“It's easy to see that it's a team with incredible unity and a great atmosphere where goals are defined and met together as a team. I would like to be able to help achieve those goals wherever the team can use me and see my work contribute to the team's results.”

The 32-year-old will support the likes of British twins Adam and Simon Yates and Colombian Esteban Chaves as the team looks forward to increasing its competitiveness in general classification rankings.

Amets Txurruka

Amets Txurruka having a good fourth stage at the 2015 Tour of Norway

“At Euskaltel, Amets was a right hand man to Samuel Sanchez,” sport director Neil Stephens said.  “He has a heap of experience, he can climb well and he is a guy that is very realistic about his ability and he just wants to ride at the top level.”

“He will be the final rider to support our young climbers in the hillier races. As well as the physical support, doing a turn or moving them up into position, he will also be there to pass on experience and tactics as well.

“During this process, when I asked Amets about his favourite victory he actually told me about a race that he didn’t even win himself. His favourite victory was riding for a teammate to help him claim the win. That’s a pretty strong sign of the type of characters we want around this team.”

Amets Txurruka


BMC's Tour of Utah news

Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) - BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter finished seventh on Friday's uphill finish to move into second overall with two days remaining at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Bookwalter said he did not go into the base of the one-kilometer climb to the finish in the best of positions.

"But Taylor Phinney and Michael Schär did a good job fighting for me," Bookwalter said. "Some of the Colombians kamikaze'd me off their wheel. I was really fighting them for it, but they made it clear they were willing to go down if it meant keeping their wheel."

Michael Woods won a second straight stage for Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies. Bookwalter arrived four seconds later and moved from third to second overall, four seconds behind Woods, who became the new race leader.

Michael Woods wins Tour of Utah stage 5

Michael Woods wins Tour of Utah stage 5

"It was a short, explosive climb at altitude so I sort of felt like I had to ride it at my own pace," Bookwalter said. "You saw guys fading really hard in the last 200 meters. Michael Woods showed he was clearly above the rest of us, with a big time gap and now the lead. But looking at the results, I am pretty proud of how I recovered on the climb. I did a good 200 meters to put some time into the other GC (general classification) guys."

Saturday's race is 125.5 kilometers over three mountain passes, culminating with a mountain-top finish at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. Sunday's final stage is also 125.5 kms on a circuit that starts and finishes in Park City.

Notes: Taylor Phinney earned the American First Credit Union "Fan Favorite" jersey for winning an online poll for the "most inspiring comeback" among six riders at the race. Teammate Peter Stetina, who joined Phinney in making a comeback at the race, finished third in the voting ... Phinney was not able to be recognized on the podium due to a severe thunderstorm that pushed over the finish line tress during the awards ceremony. At least one person was seriously injured by the falling structure and the ceremony and post-race press conference were canceled.

Etixx-Quick Step Tour of Poland report

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Petr Vakoc kept himself in a select group of riders, which formed on the final climbs of an undulating 174km 6th Stage of Tour de Pologne on Friday, and finished in 12th place.

Sergio Henao (Team Sky) won the stage solo, after counter attacking and going over the top of teammate Mikel Nieve, as well as Ben Hermans (BMC Racing Team) with 1.3km left to race. Henao is the new race leader after the stage.

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) finished 2nd, and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin) 3rd as the chase group behind Henao finished in small groups.

Vakoc tried his own attack with 10.6km remaining, but he was quickly brought back.

The peloton exploded inside 15km to go, due to the high pace set on the front by teams like Team Sky and Astana in steep sections of the climb.

Michal Kwiatkowski animated the race earlier, attacking as much as five times in the original breakaway. Michal Golas and Gianluca Brambilla were also present in the breakway that had as many as 20 riders present. That breakaway was down to just a few attacking riders, but the race came back together with 25.7km remaining.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski at the stage start

Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to the final, 25km ITT in Krakow on Saturday. The general classification will likely be decided on the final day, as Henao and Ulissi, currently in 2nd overall,,have the same time. Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal) is just 10" down in 3rd place.

"At the beginning there was a big breakaway with a few of my teammates," Vakoc said. "So I was sitting in the bunch and trying to save energy for the final. In the first climb of the last lap, there was an acceleration and we went with a group of 20 riders. I managed to stay with them. In the last downhill I tried to anticipate and get an advantage, because I wasn't in a threat for the general classification. But they came back to me, so I decided to stay there and recover a bit. The first part of the last climb was really steep and I couldn't really follow. I hung on, but at the end I paid a bit the bill. Anyway, I'm happy about my race, and tomorrow I will try to do well in the time trial. I feel good and I trained a lot in the last weeks on my TT bike. Let's see what I can do."

Tour of Denmark team reports

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s GC captain and Danish time trial champion Chris Juul-Jensen rose to the occasion in Tour of Denmark to claim the overall lead on the penultimate day of racing. Juul-Jensen placed 2nd in the intensive TT and now leads by 45 seconds. “I’m happy to have this team around me tomorrow”, says the race leader going into the last day of racing.

After crossing the finish line, Chris Juul-Jensen circled around the finish area until he received the final notion confirming his race lead. Before ascending the podium to pull on the leader’s jersey, Chris Juul explained:

“It’s great to be able to pull on the yellow leader’s jersey with just one day to go. It was a hard time trial, short but very intensive, and I had to fight from the start but that was of course the same for everybody. It was crucial to find a good rhythm from the start and try to keep it to the end. I didn’t get the win but I came sort of close and the yellow jersey was the main goal”, says the Danish TT champion, who finished 2nd, 15 seconds off the win on the 13.6km time trial.

“It’s unfortunate for Lars Bak that he had a puncture, from what I hear I had gained enough time already but it’s still a pity for him. I’ve felt good throughout the week, however we’ve spent energy riding at the front and I’ve supported Matti, who has gained two stage wins. Right now, I’m very happy to have such a strong team to back me on the final stage. But we definitely can’t rest yet, as a lot can and will happen on the final stage in Copenhagen tomorrow”, adds Juul-Jensen, who leads the Tour of Denmark by 45 seconds over Lars Bak.

Chris Juul-Jensen

Christopher Juul-Jensen

Stage 5 consisted of 13.6 fast kilometers. Sports Director Lars Michaelsen notes that the effort made on the previous stages, where Matti Breschel claimed two stage wins, adds significance to Chris Juul’s current race lead.

“Chris Juul is a strong rider and he rode a very good time trial today. I think it’s well earned that he can pull on the leader’s jersey today. He was second after Wurtz, who was better on the day. But we have to remember that Chris hasn’t had a quiet day, as he has played a very crucial role in both of Matti’s stage wins. I’m proud of our squads work so far and now we have to finish it off on the final stage tomorrow. It has been a team effort so far and it has to stay that way until the end”, tells Lars Michaelsen before adding about tomorrow’s concluding stage.

“Chris has a 45 second lead now, but as I’ve said many times, it’s never over until you cross the last finish line. There is no resting on the laurels. We’ll see a stage tomorrow, where many riders will try to fight for the stage win and for the general classification. It’s obvious that we need to make a last big effort to control the stage and the lead Chris has. There is no doubt that a lot of people would be glad to see Chris take this win, especially against such a strong competition”.

Tinkoff-Saxo also holds the lead in the team classification, while double stage winner Matti Breschel tops the points classification.

Here's Cult Energy's report:

The pressure was on the top riders in tonight’s 13.6 kilometer long, flat and regular time trial through the streets of Helsingør - home of Hamlet’s legendary castle of Kronborg. And it was a Danish youngster who took the stage win while another conquered the overall lead. Cult Energy Pro Cycling's Rasmus Guldhammer is now 4th overall.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Mads Pedersen surprised everyone by crossing the finish line in second place. However, it was Rasmus Würtz (Coloquick) who destroyed the stage classification by thundering through the 13.6 kilometer long course in 15.45 minutes and no one was able to remove the young Dane from the hot-seat.

Once again, Cult Energy’s Rasmus Guldhammer demonstrated high level consistency by performing a solid time trial and jumped to 4th position overall. The stage was concluded with pure drama as the leading rider, Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal), had a puncture on the final few hundred meters of the stage and had to change bikes. At the time, he had already lost the leader's jersey.

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

New man in the lead of race is Tinkoff-Saxo’s Christopher Juul-Jensen.

DS, André Steensen says: “We’re happy with the outcome of today’s time trial. Rasmus did his best time trial ever in Tour of Denmark and even climbed the GC to 4th overall. It’s a very good result considering the quality riders in the peloton and I think we can be content with the result and especially the way we have been riding through the race so far. Besides, we have both Pedersen and Quaade in the top-10 today. Mads Würtz was absolutely flying out there and I think the entire stage result bodes well for the future of Danish cycling. Tomorrow, I expect the Tinkoff-Saxo squad to control the pace and the field in order to prevent a surprise attack,” Steensen concludes.

The Eneco Tour starts the tenth

Eneco Tour podium history

LottoNL-Jumbo sent this Eneco Tour preview:

The versatile nature of the Eneco Tour offers opportunities for various types of riders next week. Team LottoNL-Jumbo, with Moreno Hofland and Wilco Kelderman leading the team, will aim to get involved on the various terrains in the only World Tour stage race of the Benelux.

“Moreno feels good after a period of rest," Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “He showed that in some Belgium one-day race and in the London Prudential Classic, where he won the sprint of a large group and finished ninth. We will take a number of riders who can assist Moreno in the sprints. Our goal is to do well in those.”

Kelderman will focus on the overall. “But we shouldn’t instantly expect the world from Wilco, he ended the Tour de France not fully fit. He’s heading in the right direction, though.”

Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman on the cobbles of 2015 Tour de France stage 4

Perhaps to his benefit, the Eneco Tour gets tougher during the second part of the week. “The time trial on the fourth day is important,” Verhoeven added. “After that we head into the hills and especially the last two days are difficult. The sting is in the tail.”

Hofland is looking forward to making his debut in the Eneco Tour. “As a little boy I watched the race. Now people will come to watch me,” Hofland said. “The second and fourth stage finishes in Breda and Hoogerheide are close to my hometown Roosendaal. I want to get in the mix in the bunch sprints and post some good results. Of course, I would love to win a stage, but that’s always a challenge at WorldTour level. The feeling is certainly there after the races in Belgium and my ninth place in London.”

Wilco Kelderman starts the Eneco Tour with some doubt. “My back still feels a little stiff,” said the Dutch time trial champion.

“I don’t really know what to expect, but after my seventh place two years ago, I’m aiming for a top ten ranking once more. The time trial gives me extra encouragement. I look forward to putting on the national TT jersey in my own country in a WorldTour race. Hopefully, I can get better over the week. We start with a good team. I’m excited.”

Team line-up: Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Wilco Kelderman, Tom Leezer, Maarten Tjallingii, Robert Wagner & Maarten Wynants.

Sports Directors: Frans Maassen & Nico Verhoeven.

Lotto-Soudal is also planning on being at the Eneco Tour:

From Monday 10 August till Sunday 16 August, the 11th edition of the Eneco Tour will take place. In this stage race, the riders are led over Dutch and Belgian roads in seven stages. The peloton has to ride a few tough stages, where the sprinters and the classics riders will have their chance to show something.

The peloton starts in the Dutch village Bolsward, which is also the finish town of the first stage. 183.5 kilometres need to be covered in total, at the end there are two local laps of about twenty kilometres. The sprinters will try to show themselves for the first time. Also the second stage can be a sprint stage. With start and finish in Breda, the peloton has to ride a flat stage which ends with two laps of almost 30 kilometres. Day three has a similar profile, the riders need to ride from Beveren to Ardooie. Yet again, two laps need to be covered at the end of the stage, this time of about fifteen kilometres. This is probably going to be the last sprint chance.

On day four, the riders have to ride an individual time trial of fourteen kilometres in Hoogerheide. Stage five is the start of a tough triptych. From Riemst to Sittard, the peloton needs to surmount eighteen hills in a small Amstel Gold Race; something for the classics riders. The sixth stage is the longest one of this Eneco Tour, the riders need to cover more than 200 kilometres and have to climb ten hills. The GC riders will definitely try something in this small Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In the seventh and final stage, the peloton has to surmount twelve hills, among them the Berendries, Leberg and Valkenberg. This stage, which is situated in the Flemish Ardennes, traditionally ends on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Most of the time, the GC is decided in this stage.

Lotto Soudal will start in this stage race with riders as André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Tiesj Benoot. The winner of previous year, Tim Wellens, is also participating. They will ride against riders as Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra. Also the sprinters are well represented with among others Moreno Hofland, Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo and Arnaud Démare. Sports director Herman Frison and  Jürgen Roelandts give a short preview.

Herman Frison: “The course is a bit the same as the previous editions. The first two or three stages can be sprint stages, although there’s mostly a strong wind in the Netherlands so echelons can be formed. After that there’s a time trial, the GC riders will have to be attentive here. At last, there are three little classics; a little Amstel Gold Race, a little Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a little Tour of Flanders. The GC will be decided in these final stages.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens at the 2014 Eneco Tour

“It will depend on how the Tour de France riders will be recovered. If you get out of the Tour in a good form, you can hold that for a long time. If you come out of the Tour in a less good shape, due to injuries for instance, it’s tougher to be in a good condition. We’re going to try to win a stage, therefore we have André Greipel and Jens  Debusschere. Who will go for the overall victory isn’t certain yet. We have Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot or Jürgen Roelandts in our team for the GC. We’ll have to see how the race is evolving, it’s difficult to predict. In every race where we start, we try to do something nice.”

Jürgen Roelandts: “After the training week in Livigno, it wasn’t certain how the legs would be, everyone reacts differently on a training week. In the Tour de Wallonie I didn’t have a super feeling and afterwards I had some stomach ache. So I hope for a better feeling in the Eneco Tour, but I’m confident that it will be the case.”

“There are a few stages that I like, especially the fifth and seventh stage. I really love the classics courses and I hope to try something in those stages. Certainly in the final stage, where the start is nearby my place of birth. The first days I will do my job in the sprint train of André Greipel, afterwards it will depend on how the legs will react.”

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Herman Frison, Bart Leysen and Frederik Willems.

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