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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, August 28, 2015

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

One race today, the Vuelta a España's seventh stage.

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Tom Boonen still not under contract for 2016, Quick Step signing still likely

Belgian paper HLN reports that though Tom Boonen has not yet signed a 2016 contract, Eitxx-Quick Step is his likely landing spot. His manager Paul de Guyter said, "Quick Step is in the pole position".

It is likely, that after thirteen seasons with Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevre, he will end his career with the famous West Flemish manager. Boonen might race until the spring of 2017, when Boonen will be 36 (thanks Larry Theobald for pointing out the earlier typo!).

Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen after stage three of this year's Eneco Tour

It always seemed that signing with Lefevre was a mere formality, but with lots of teams interested in the former world champion, de Guyter is taking his time to explore the market, "...if other teams show interest, it would be rude not to listen to any proposals."

Boonen has said that he prefers to sign with his current team. Lefevre joked that he is the one who can afford to pay Boonen, who surely will not come cheap.

Peter Stetina moves from BMC to Trek

Here's the news as released by Trek Factory Racing:

Peter Stetina has signed a contract for 2016 with Trek Factory Racing. The 28-year-old American joins the team as a support rider for the team’s overall ambitions in stage races, but also with a personal focus on the week-long races in North America.

Stetina fractured his right tibia, patella and five ribs in a crash at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in April when riding for the BMC Racing Team. He made one of the fastest recoveries on record to comeback at the Tour of Utah and went on to support his team’s overall success at the USA Pro Challenge last week.

Stetina: “I’m stoked about this. It’s a good move for me, I think. Because of my injury my position on the transfer market was a bit different. Teams don’t want "damaged goods", you know. But Luca (Guercilena) has been in close contact with me all along the recovery. He was very supportive."

"We are very excited about Peter coming to our team,” says General Manager Luca Guercilena. "He will be a very valuable rider for us. I remember him as a key support rider for Ryder Hesjedal, who’s also joining us next season, when he won the Giro in 2012. Besides this, I think he has proven to be strong when given his own chances and we plan to have him at the American and Canadian races to defend the overall."

Peter Stetina

Peter Stetina racing in the 2014 Tour de France

Stetina: “I started the Tour of Utah on just three weeks of training. The suffering on the bike didn’t hurt so much and I finished with some really good sensations. A lot of people are asking me if I think I can come back to my old level. I believe I can and TFR is the right program to make the next step towards a full recovery.”

Guercilena: “Peter has been through a rough time these past months. We want to give him the opportunity to come back to the highest level of racing and show his capacity. We want to support him to reach his best possible level.”

Stetina continues: "I really enjoyed my time with BMC, where I have spent two great seasons, but TFR was the right move for the next step in my career and comeback. I’m really happy to join the team. It's one of the top set-ups in America and in the world. I think it’s going to be a great move for my career. I’m ready for Stetina 2.0."

“In terms of goals and ambitions, I had a very nice chat with Luca (Guercilena). We still need to figure out details, of course, but as far as personal and team goals go,  I would support Bauke (Mollema) and Ryder (Hesjedal) in their races and then also target the American races as a personal goal."

“Finally, I’d like to brush up on my time trial skills. I was twice the U23 National Champion and sixth at the World Championships. Since I turned pro I haven’t really progressed in that area and it's awesome to see someone like Bauke Mollema not only defend his overall position since he joined Trek, but even move up in the GC, instead of losing places. I’m convinced Trek can help me improve my TT position and become a better time trialist"

Taiwan and Japan bicycle industry exports up

There's lots going on at the giant Eurobike Show currently running in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council held a product launch meeting there and Giant Bicycle boss Tony Lo announced that Taiwan exports are up 13.9% for the first four months of 2015 over the same period last year.

But, it's Japan's bicycle industry that's really booming. For the first four months of 2015 over the same 2014 period, its exports are up an astonishing 25.6%, despite an 8.6% fall in shipments to China.

Exports to the U.S. are playing no small part in these sales increases.

Vuelta a Espana team reports after stage six

Orica-GreenEdge had a good day at the Vuelta and sent this:

Colombian Esteban Chaves has pulled off his second stage win of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana to reclaim the red jersey he relinquished yesterday. The victory marks ORICA-GreenEDGE’s third stage win in six days following the 25-year-old’s victory on stage two and 21-year-old Caleb Ewan’s win yesterday.

Chaves attacked from the peloton on the steep ramps of the final category three climb, flying past solo leader Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) to claim the victory by five seconds.

“I can’t believe I won,” he said at the finish. “It was a long, hot and hard stage today. Mid-way I spoke to Mat Hayman and he told me ‘if you have good legs you have to race because you never know what will happen tomorrow'. Daryl (Impey) put me in a really good position and I started the climb in first. I saw (Andrey) Amador (Movistar Team) suffering as he pushed the pace and when I saw that he wasn’t comfortable I tried and went for it.”

With bonus seconds for the stage win, the 2014 Tour de Suisse and Tour of California stage winner leads the general classification by ten seconds from Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

“I’m really happy,” Chaves said. “I want to thank all the team and staff again, they’re all amazing. Caleb Ewan won yesterday but today he went for bottles. This team is like a family.”

Johan Esteban Chaves

Johan Esteban Chaves wins Vuelta stage 6

Despite starting the stage with no specific plans to regain the race lead today, sport director Neil Stephens credited the team’s ability to think and assess on the road. “I always say to the boys that they should always trust in their own intuition,” Stephens said. “They are in the bunch, they see the faces of the other riders and they feel the suffering of the other riders.”

“They discussed it amongst the boys and decided if they felt good in the finish they were going to go for it. It was the right decision, they did the job well to put Esteban in a good position and he went for it.”

Stephen also praised the team’s attitude over the past days. “We knew a few seconds up or down yesterday wasn’t going to make a difference at the end of three weeks,” he said. “Hats off to how relaxed all the boys, and particularly Esteban, were about losing the jersey yesterday. Then to get the jersey back today, that’s something only champions can do.”

How it happened: It took over 60km for the break to form as the peloton showed resistance with a fierce pace in the first hour on stage six. Eventually a group of six riders formed but they were kept within striking distance at an advantage of around three to four minutes.

Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) started the final climb as the lone remaining leader and at one point looked likely to claim the stage victory as the peloton began to tire. Sensing his opportunity, and with the support of his teammates, Chaves made an unanswered attack from the peloton.

With two kilometres to go the Colombian bridged across to Cummings and immediately left him in his wake. Race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) was forced to answer with his own attack and despite being joined by Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) the pair had to settle for third and second respectively. The remaining race favourites finished in a group 11seconds behind Chaves.

Tomorrow’s stage seven is the first big mountain top finish with a category one climb concluding the 191.1km stage from Jodar to La Alpijarra.

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's take on Vuelta stage 6:

Rafal Majka finished with the main group of favorites on stage 6 of Vuelta a España to Sierra de Cazorla after 200km of racing in scorching temperatures. Tinkoff-Saxo’s GC captain finished 8th atop the final, short climb behind stage winner Esteban Chaves, as the squad looks to the tougher mountain stage Friday.

Stage 6 of La Vuelta took the riders 200.3km from Córdoba to Sierra de Cazorla, where the hot stage finished off with a 3km climb with steep sections. Esteban Chaves (OGE) took the win, 11 seconds in front of the main group with Majka, while Peter Sagan still leads the points classification by 5 points. After crossing the line, Majka sheds light on the stage.

“It definitely was a difficult day with extreme heat and temperatures close to 45 degrees. The final climb was tough but not extraordinarily and it was done at a fast pace. I was in the leading group, in a position to do the final sprint but I took eighth with three riders out front. I feel I can be satisfied with the result, as the squad positioned me perfectly prior to the final climb. I am sure a lot of riders must have suffered today from the scorching heat. Tomorrow it will even be harder since the climb is longer”, comments Rafal Majka before adding:

“I felt in better shape today but we have to be cautious. The Vuelta is still long way from finishing. I am close to the GC leaders, I haven't lost a lot of time and in my opinion the last week will be critical, although it's still too early”.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka climbing in Vuelta stage 2

Tinkoff-Saxo’s leading sports director at Vuelta a España, Tristan Hoffman, is content with the outcome of stage 6 finishing atop the climb of Alto de Cazorla.

“Rafal was good today, he’s feeling better and better after getting some race speed into the legs. He made one move in the finale and he was never in trouble. We are glad to see this sign as we enter some tough days starting tomorrow. The boys kept him at the front of the field before the final climb today and other than that our focus was on saving energy, eating and drinking, drinking and drinking to avoid dehydration”, says Tristan Hoffman.

“At moments we had temperatures above 40 degrees, so the air is actually hotter than the body temperature. When it’s like that, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that the team goes back and forth to the team car to restock on water. Otherwise, the effects will be felt the day after, and tomorrow we have a real mountain stage. It was important, especially for Rafal not to expend too much energy, he focused on staying at the front of the favorite’s group and he finished well”, concludes Tristan Hoffman.

Lampre-Merida's report of Vuelta stage 6:

Lampre-Merida was once again aprotagonist thanks to a breakaway (5th day in a row) and thanks to a rider who could obtain a place in the top 5.

Summit arrival in the 6th stage of the Vuelta a Espana at Sierra de Cazorla (3rd category KOM, 3.3 km at 6.3% at the end of a longer ascent which was approached at 20 km to go), 200 km from the start in Cordoba.

The very high speed in the first part of the stage (48.3 km/h in the first hour) had prevented every attack attempt to escape from the bunch (each time, a blue-fuchsia-green rider took part in the attempts), until Durasek and four cyclists (Gautier, Terpstra, Cummings and Velits) succeeded in taking the lead of the race after 60 km in the stage.

The peloton, led by the Giant-Alpecin, did not allow to the breakaway to have more than 4min 30sec, completing the chase with 10 km to go (only Cummings succeded in resisting further). On the final climb, the pace of the selected bunch (no more than 30 riders, Plaza included) was too high.

An amazing attack gave Chaves the victory (he preceded Martin and Dumoulin by 5sec) and the red jersey, while Plaza, after having tried to close the gap to Martin and Dumoulin, obtained the 4th place at 11" to the winner, preceding Valverde.
Cattaneo crashed without consequences in the final kilometers.

Ruben Plaza

Ruben Plaza at finish line in Vuelta stage 6, taking fourth place.

"When the action of a great Durasek was definitely over, my teammates began to work in order to allow me to approach the final climb in the front position of the bunch - Plaza explained - This fact was very helpful to me, since it gave me the opportunity to battle in the front. Chaves was irresistible, I tried to achieve the best possible result and I'm satisfied with the 4th place".

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

The peloton suffered considerably on Thursday, during the sixth stage of the Vuelta a España. Right after the start, the peloton exploded as everybody wanted to get in the breakaway. The high temperatures didn’t make the job any easier for the riders during the 200-kilometer stage.

The stage was eventually won by Orica-GreenEdge’s Esteban Chaves, who was the strongest rider on the final climb and he took again the lead.

Tom Van Asbroeck, who’s making his Grand Tour debut in this Vuelta, suffered. “The first seventy kilometers were hard. Besides that, it was really hot. For me, personally, it was too hot but what can you do about it? The only thing you can do is to drink water, put ice over your head, ride energy efficiently and that’s what I did. I expect that there will be more hard stages in this Vuelta.”

Merijn Zeeman saw that his riders did everything they could to get in the breakaway. “We really competed in the first hour and were often present, but nobody got space and so it became more and more difficult to get away. Timo Roosen was part of a small group with Sagan but it was the attempt after who made it.”

Zeeman wants his team to get involved at the front again on Friday. “We’ll see if the peloton is going to control or not. Until now the bunch always kept the break in mind, but we don’t care. We are going to give everything we have in order to get in the breakaway.”

BMC's roster for GP Ouest France-Plouay

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team's roster for Sunday's edition of GP Ouest France-Plouay includes five riders who have contributed to the team's 31 victories on the year.

Race winners Silvan Dillier, Philippe Gilbert, Ben Hermans, Stefan Küng and Greg Van Avermaet will be joined by past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär, Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen.

Silvan Dillier

Silvan Diller wins stage 4 of the 2015 Arctic Race of Norway

Hermans was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher last year, in seventh, in the 229.1-kilometer WorldTour race in France.

Riders: Silvan Dillier (SUI), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).

Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

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