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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Monday, February 9, 2015

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

Over the weekend I got several interesting press releases from racing teams. Here are a few of the best:

BMC Racing Team's Dennis Breaks World Hour Record

Rohan Dennis break world hour record

Rohan Dennis breaks world hour record

Grenchen, Switzerland - Rohan Dennis of the BMC Racing Team established a new UCI world hour record Sunday, powering his BMC trackmachine TR01 a distance of 52.491 kilometers to better the previous mark by 639 meters.

He became the first rider to surpass the 52 km threshold since the UCI unified two classifications into a single category last year and in line with regulations for current track pursuit bikes.

"There was a lot of pain. I couldn't really enjoy it too much to be honest," Dennis said moments after hoisting the winning bike overhead as the crowd at Velodrome Suisse roared. "I am pretty tired, but really, really proud. With BMC, they made it easy. The whole week leading into this since the Tour Down Under was very stressful. But there was no pressure. Everything went perfectly. It almost feels too easy. But obviously, it wasn't."

Dennis said he exceeded all of his pacing marks immediately after 2011 Tour de France winner and 2009 world road champion Cadel Evans fired the starting gun. At the halfway point, he was 20 seconds faster than Matthias Brändle, the previous record holder, who rode 51.852 km last October.

I was probably going a little bit too hard the first half, but I was pretty comfortable," Dennis said. "I got halfway and was still good. I thought my pacing was fine. Then, we decided after halfway we would squeeze it a little bit and try to pick it up by point one, point two (seconds) for the lap, which was really what I was holding the whole first half anyway. So I just held the same pace. The last 50 laps we basically decided it was going to be max anyway."

The landmark achievement continued a string of early-season successes for Dennis. Two weeks ago, he won a stage and the Santos Tour Down Under overall. That followed a runner-up finish at the Australian national time trial championships in early January. His victory at the Santos Tour Down Under earned him the No. 1 ranking in the UCI WorldTour standings. Last September, he was part of the BMC Racing Team's victorious squad at the world team time trial championships in Spain.

"To pull it off is a huge relief," Dennis said. "But also I feel really proud about what the team has achieved over the last three or four months together leading up to this."

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the achievement ranks among the top performances he has been a part of during his more than 40 years in the sport of cycling.

"He did it by a large enough margin where the next person who is going to go after it has to be awfully good that day to break that record right now," Ochowicz said. "This hour record has really improved another level in the racing for the professionals. For us as a team, coming out of the Tour Down Under - Rohan winning that race and Cadel coming in third - and being the No.1 in the world right now. This is just another demonstration of what we are doing as a team and 2015 looks like a pretty good year so far."

UCI President Brian Cookson also extended his congratulations.

"Rohan's performance is absolutely stellar," Cookson said. "He is the first rider to top the 52 km mark. This performance is an indication of how good he is at the start of the season, confirming his demonstration at the Tour Down Under. Rohan is literally hitting the gas. I am delighted to see riders from outside Europe having a crack at this legendary record. I just can't wait to see more attempts coming soon both on the men's and women's UCI hour record. It is great news for fans of our iconic event."

BMC Racing Team Sponsor Andy Rihs said he was proud to see the record fall at the velodrome he helped create.

"This is a very proud day for me, for BMC Switzerland and for the BMC Racing Team," Rihs said. "Since the Velodrome Suisse was built, I have dreamed of one day having a BMC Racing Team rider break this historical record on its boards. Track cycling is a fundamental in a country like Switzerland where the winters can be harsh. Hopefully, this will inspire some young, enthusiastic Swiss cyclists to follow in Rohan's footsteps."

And this also from BMC: BMC Racing Team Wins Dubai Tour Team Title

Burj Khalifa, United Arab Emirates - The BMC Racing Team captured the team classification at the Dubai Tour for the second straight year Saturday while past world road champion Philippe Gilbert finished eighth overall.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert

Joining Gilbert on the winning team was Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Stefan Küng, Klaas Lodewyck, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Rick Zabel. Lodewyck was lost to a broken collarbone in a crash during Friday's stage.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said repeating as team champions was a good way to start a swing of three races in the Middle East that continues Sunday with the start of the Tour of Qatar and later with the Tour of Oman.

"We tried really hard yesterday with Philippe and we had a great team around him," Sciandri said. "It was a hard little finish so it didn't really come out as planned. Today, we had a great ride by Daniel Oss. I think the guys are coming out of it with great condition."

On Saturday, Oss was part of a five-man breakaway that held off the peloton until the last six kilometers of the 123-km race. A member of the gold medal-winning squad at the world team time trial championships last fall, Oss said he followed the move to protect the BMC Racing Team's three-second lead in the team standings.

"When the rider from UnitedHealthcare attacked, I followed," Oss said. "We controlled the sprint bonifications and that was good. I tried to attack with 20 kilometers to go, but it was not easy because of the wind. But it was good for testing my condition."

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) won the final stage to capture the overall title a year after Taylor Phinney won the title and helped the BMC Racing Team win the team classification in the race's inaugural edition.

Orica GreenEdge on the Herald Sun Tour

Six-time track world champion Cameron Meyer has secured overall victory at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour with a second place finish atop Arthur’s Seat on the final day of racing.

Cameron Meyer

Cameron Meyer celebrates his overall victory

Meyer began the stage with four seconds advantage to his nearest rival.  Bonus seconds from the minor placing saw him extend his lead to 11seconds from final stage winner Patrick Bevin (Avanti Racing).

The battle on the Mornington Peninsula brewed as a fierce one with three ascents of the grueling Arthurs Seat climb. Well supported by teammates, Meyer was spared of work until the closing metres.

“That was just ridiculously fast,” Meyer said of the last stage.

“I am relieved that it is over and happy to get the second (place). That’s a good effort on this hill and hats off to Bevin, he rode a great race and so did Avanti.

“But my boys were really good, I only had to do 200m (work) of the whole race.”

Teammate Simon Clarke finished behind Meyer in third on the stage whilst the ORICA-GreenEDGE outfit were too strong across the week winning the team’s classification.

Meyer, a member of the team time trial win at the 2013 Tour de France, last won a stage race at the 2011 Tour Down Under in Adelaide.  The 27-year-old joins teammate Simon Gerrans and Stuart O’Grady as the only three riders to have won both Australian races.

“I find a lot of satisfaction in this (win),” Meyer said.

“When I won Tour Down Under in 2011 it was out of my control. It came down to that last stage and Matt Goss was sprinting for seconds and if he had run top two I would have lost and there was nothing I could to.

“Where as this (race), it was an actual hill top finish and it was something that I could control… I really get a good satisfaction that I was able to be the strongest on the Bendigo stage and then second on Arthurs Seat to secure the win.”

The race was on from the moment the flag dropped with a group of 13 riders immediately breaking away.

The situation was ideal for ORICA-GreenEDGE, the break not containing any riders within 20minutes of general classification, nor their much talked about overall challengers Avanti Racing who would be forced to chase.

The lead group split to pieces up the first ascent of Arthurs Seat, but six re-gathered over the top and survived over the second time up Arthurs Seat with a chasing peloton closing in.

All was left to the final climb but Meyer was well supported, much to the delight of sport director Matt Wilson.

“We spoke about the fact the first most important part for the day was going to be the beginning,” Wilson said.

“As soon as we got that right breakaway gone, the rest of the day was going to be easy.   We were on the front foot and the guys were in the box seat because the other teams had to work to control and in the end we had five guys going into the final climb when we were planning for scenarios where we were expecting one or two.

“It’s been a great end to our summer of cycling in Australia. We have been able to come here and get three stages and the overall so we are very very happy.”

Tinkoff-Saxo on the First Stage of the Tour of Qatar

Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain Peter Sagan finished 4th on stage 1 of Tour of Qatar, as the team took on its third race of the season – however not as planned. Mid-stage on the 128km route, Peter Sagan crashed hard due to a small rock on the road surface. In spite of the pains, the Slovak champion showed determination by participating in the final sprint, which José Joaquin Rojas won.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan in 2014

Sport Director Tristan Hoffman confirms that Sagan has only suffered superficial wounds.

“A rock on the road surface caused Sagan to crash in the peloton. He has lost skin and is naturally in pain, however he hasn’t broken anything. I’m very impressed by his willpower. He didn’t have to participate in the final sprint but he stayed up there in the front during the rest of the stage and finished 4th”, says sport director Tristan Hofman and adds:

“Overall we’re happy with the stage. Of course we wish that Peter hadn’t crashed but the team worked well to protect him afterwards and we’re still in the mix”.

Stage 1 from Dukhan to Sealine Beach took the riders on a 128km course across the Qatar peninsula along the open roads of the country’s interior. The stage was highly affected by shifting wind directions with crosswinds fracturing the peloton at several points during the stage.

Going into the final 25km, Matti Breschel rode away in a breakaway together with Astana pair Lars Boom and Lieuwe Westra but the trio was pegged back by the chasing peloton with few kilometers to go.

“Everybody was nervous in the wind today. The pace was really high on the sections with crosswinds, which meant that peloton split up and created a hard race. Michael Mørkøv also crashed but managed to get back in the peloton again. The guys were eager to do a good job, and we also saw Matti in the final breakaway. So I think that Tinkoff-Saxo showed today that we’ve come to race”, comments Tristan Hoffman.

In the end and going under the red kite with 1k to go, numerous teams battled for the front. José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was the first of the fastest to start the sprint with 200 meters to the line and nobody managed to surpass the Spaniard, who won the stage ahead of Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep), Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Peter Sagan in fourth place.


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