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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Saturday, February 21, 2015

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Tour of Oman Fifth Stage Cancelled

A sandstorm prevented the planned start of today's fifth stage of the Tour of Oman. The riders, represented by Fabian Cancellara, Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez, talked with the organizers, represented by Eddy Merckx. All parties agreed to travel by car to the 102 km point, where it was hoped they could ride three circuits of 29.5 kilometers instead of the two originally planned.

Stage four finish

Rafael Valls wins Tour of Oman stage four and takes over the GC lead.

When the riders tried to begin the race anew, they found it nearly impossible to continue with temperatures so high bike tires were exploding and the wind and sand continued to hammer the pack. The peloton again stopped and palavered with the organizers who agreed to stop the race, neutralize the stage and begin anew tomorrow with the final stage.

Rafael Valls remains the overall leader.

L'Eroica Vintage Bike Ride Coming To California

For twenty years, Italians and others who love vintage bikes have enjoyed the l'Eroica bicycle ride. Held in the Chianti area of Tuscany, the rides rules specify that all bikes must be made before 1987, have external brake cables, downtube shifters and pedals with toe clips. In addition, to enhance the flavor of vintage cycling, the event goes over lots of strade bianche, or dirt roads. The riders who come often wear vintage cycling clothes.

Riders on vintage bikes

Riders on vintage bikes will be able to enjoy the company of others who share their enthusiasm and enjoy the Central California coastal roads as well.

Already the event has expanded to Spain, Great Britain and Japan. Now California will get a chance to savor the flavor of vintage cycling. The California edition will be held April 10 - 12, starting and finishing in Paso Robles. Keeping the flavor of the event, there will be dirt road sections in the California edition. Riders will be able to ride 43, 65 or 123 mile routes.

Here's a link to the official Eroica website for more info.

BMC on on Tour of Oman Stage 4

This release came in from BMC:

"Green Mountain, Oman - BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen climbed his way into second overall Friday at the Tour of Oman with a runner-up finish to Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) on the ascent of Green Mountain. When van Garderen attacked in the final two kilometers, only Valls could follow. But Valls accelerated away from van Garderen with 300 meters to go to win by five seconds and earn a 10-second time bonus. Van Garderen earned a six-second bonus and stands nine seconds off the lead with two days to go.

"I was hoping for the victory. I was feeling good all day," van Garderen said. "The team rode superb on the last climb. When I attacked, I dropped (Alejandro) Valverde and (Rafal) Majka got dropped off my wheel. So I was thinking, 'all right, smooth sailing, those were the two guys I was worried about.' But Valls definitely got the better of me in the final."

Rafael Valls wins stage 4

Rafael Valls wins stage 4 with Van Gardeen not far behind.

For the second straight day, strong winds and warm temperatures slowed the peloton in the 189-kilometer race. Two breakaway riders - Stijn Vandenberghe (Etixx-Quick Step) and Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) - took advantage of the situation and built a 15-minute lead. The pair was only reeled in with less than 10 km to go as the BMC Racing Team headed up the chase with Dylan Teuns.

"We took the responsibility for the chase with Teuns, along with Movistar and Trek," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "It was a good job by the young guys. Then, the plan was to start the climb and make a good tempo for Tejay. We know he does not like the accelerations."

The BMC Racing Team assembled a formidable line-up to lead onto the lower slopes of the 5.7-kilometer climb up Green Mountain that averages 10.5 percent. Past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär initially set the pace, followed by two riders who were in the top 10 - Greg Van Avermaet, sitting fourth, and Damiano Caruso, in sixth - and finally Ben Hermans, who chased down a pair of attacks by Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team)

"Tejay asked me to go as hard as I could to put all the guys on the limit and then he could attack," Hermans said. "I pulled until 1.5 kilometers to go, so it was still quite long for Tejay. But I didn't have more in the tank. I didn't have the legs of two days ago because of the heat and it was a stage of more than six hours. So I think everybody was quite tired."

Van Garderen's first attack gapped Valverde and Majka. A second acceleration dropped everyone but Valls. "I was doing all the attacks to get rid of the big names," van Garderen said. "With him (Valls) being a dark horse, he was able to catch a free ride and sit on my wheel. He attacked, then I was on him and I countered. He countered and had that last little bit in the end."

Valverde (Movistar Team) finished third and is 19 seconds off the lead while Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is fourth, at 32 seconds. No other riders are within a minute of the lead.

Saturday's stage includes four climbs in the final 60 kilometers, making it another pivotal stage, van Garderen said. "Anything is possible," he said. "It is a hard stage tomorrow and who knows if he (Valls) is going to have the team to control. We will be motivated to attack him."

And here is Lampre-Merida's Happy Report on the Oman Tour 4th Stage

After the victory in Trofeo Laigueglia for Cimolai, today Rafael Valls conquered the queen stage of Tour de Oman, reaching as first the arrival of the 4th stage (Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque- Jabal Al Akhdhar Green Mountain, 189 km) that was on the summit of the Green Mountain climb.

The Spaniard from Team Lampre-Merida, whose main role is to support Rui Costa on the climbs, have shown in the first part of the season an outstanding condition that allowed him to be the most competitive rider on the final climb of the stage (6,7 km at 10,5% of average degree), preceding Van Garderen (+5"), Valverde (+19") and Majka (+22").

The battle in the front of the group started in the approach of the climb, when Nibali attacked reducing the bunch at 20 cyclists. BMC chased Nibali and launched Van Garderen attack at 3 km to go: Valls and no other riders could followe the American athlete, who had to surrender to Lampre-Merida's climber in the final kilometer.

Valls conquered his second success in the career and the red jersey as leader of the overall classification (+9" on Van Garderen, +19 on Valverde). "I could hardly request something more to this perfect day: I won the queen stage, I'm the new leader of the race and I could finalize the perfect support I received from my team mates, among whom there was a champion such Rui Costa - Valls explained - I was aware my fit is good, in this first part of the season I demonstrated several times I was competitive, so this is a perfect result for me and for my ambitions in these races".

Sport director Mauduit said: "Valls was our captain for today stage, since he gave us so many good feedbacks in the races he took part in during this first part of the season. The whole team supported him in the best possible way and Rui Costa too was fantastic in giving him the necessary help in the final climb.
We'll try to defend the red jersey, even if it won't be simple, especially in tomorrow stage with the four passages on the climb of Bousher Al Amerat".

Tinkoff-Saxo On Contador's Andalucia Stage Win

Alberto Contador lit the afterburners and climbed to stage win on the steep Alto de Hazallanas in Vuelta a Andalucía. The Spanish captain of Tinkoff-Saxo followed up on a stage-long team effort by surprising his rivals with an early attack. Contador crossed the finish line 19 seconds ahead of main rival Chris Froome and extended his lead in the GC.

It was a happy team captain that crossed the finish line and he wasn’t late to praise his teammates, who had been pulling at the front of the main bunch from start to finish.

“I’m very glad for this victory especially because it came in place after such a big effort from all of my teammates. Every single guy on the team did an incredible job in controlling the race and setting up my final attack. They kept a consistently high pace throughout the stage, which cost a lot of energy for my rivals”, says Alberto Contador and adds, “After the short descent halfway up the final climb, I saw that Paulinho had stretched the peloton and Basso then created a gap by pulling hard. So I decided to go early, accelerate and go alone. I knew it would be difficult to catch me, I felt good and I wanted to repay my teammates with a win”.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador climbs in stage 3

The 160km stage 3 to the steep and snow-covered Alto de Hazallanas was marked by a hard tempo set by Tinkoff-Saxo in order to control the race. And with the slopes of Hazallanas insight, Tosatto, Valgren and Petrov turned up the heat and quickly reeled in the breakaway. Then Jesús Hernandez took over and sent a number of riders into difficulties before Sergio Paulinho stretched out the decimated front group on the short descent halfway up the climb.

Italian veteran Ivan Basso then took over as the road began to rise with seven kilometers to go and unleashed a hard tempo, which created gaps among the stretched out favorites. Alberto Contador, attached to the wheel of the 2010-Giro winner, then followed up by launching the final attack. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was the only rider that could respond to the pace and the time gap soared between 20-35 seconds for the remainder of the climb. Alberto Contador eventually sealed the team effort by winning stage 4, 19 seconds ahead of the Sky captain.

Leading sport director, Steven de Jongh, experienced the exciting stage first hand and labeled the stage as proper teamwork.

“We really have to thank especially Valgren, Tosatto and Petrov, who worked so hard during the entire stage and on a difficult parcours as well. They brought the team in a perfect position before the climb. Ivan then did a really nice move showing his experience and Alberto finished it off by showing his instinct for knowing when to attack”, de Jongh says. “It was a part of the plan but the guys also did a great job in executing the strategy and finding the precise moments to put on the pressure. I’m proud of the teamwork today, it was a thorough job done by the boys”.

Alberto Contador now leads with 27 seconds to Chris Froome in second place. However, the Tinkoff-Saxo captain underlines that the victory is not yet secured.

"Still, the time difference between me and Froome is not big and we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow, which is also a very hard stage. But I had a good day and I’m confident because of my victory and the way my team performed. I’m not yet in top shape, I still have to loose weight, but for this moment I’m pleased with my performance", finishes Alberto Contador.

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