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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, July 5, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today both the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) have their second stages today

The Giro Rosa (Women's Tour of Italy) continues as well

Change in BikeRaceInfo's pull-down menus

The pull-down menus across the top of every page of BikeRaceInfo have had an addition for a new feature. Both the "Racing Results & Archives" and the "Bicycles & Cycling Lifestyle" have a "Commentary" pull-down link now. That will take you to the pieces now being written by David L. Stanley and other contributors.

Tour de France team reports

This came from a very pleased BMC:

Utrecht, The Netherlands - BMC Racing Team's Rohan Dennis piloted his BMC timemachine TM01 to the fastest average speed in Tour de France history in winning Saturday's opening stage individual time trial.

Dennis averaged 55.45 kilometers an hour over the 13.8-km course through the streets of Utrecht, The Netherlands, to take the win by five seconds and earn the first yellow jersey of the three-week race. His average speed surpassed the previous Tour de France record mark set by Chris Boardman 21 years ago.

As the 38th of 198 riders to start, Dennis was in the "hot seat" for more than two-and-a-half-hours.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis enjoys his stage win

"It was nerve-wracking watching the screen," Dennis said. "I didn't expect to go that fast time-wise. When I got to back to the bus, I was told that it was the quickest time trial by my friend back in Adelaide. So that was a nice little bonus, you could say."

One-by-one, some of the world's top time trialists took their best shot at the former world hour record holder's time of 14:56. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin), one of the hometown favorites, arrived eight seconds slower to place fourth. Past multi-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) was five seconds slower and finished runner-up. And the 15th-to-last rider to start, multi-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, was six seconds off the pace for third place.

"We went with the tactic of going off early - there's no stress, you don't have to sit around all day - just set a benchmark and make everyone else chase me," Dennis said. "It worked out perfectly. Tour de France ... yellow jersey ... it's a dream. I have always wished to be in this position and now I am."

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the accomplishment, which comes on the day the U.S.-registered team was celebrating Independence Day, was "almost unbelievable."

"We are extremely excited and proud of Rohan's performance today," Ochowicz said. "It is a dream because we planned this for so long and put so many man hours into the preparation. I was convinced that his performance would be at such a level that it would have taken somebody very, very good to beat him today. And it didn't happen."

Dennis's teammate, Tejay van Garderen, finished 20th, 42 seconds behind, as his fifth career Tour de France got underway.

Notes: Dennis becomes the first rider from the BMC Racing Team to wear the leader's yellow jersey at the Tour de France since Cadel Evans won the race in 2011 ... He is the seventh Australian to hold the lead at the Tour de France, on a list that also includes Evans ... Saturday's victory was his third of the season, adding to a stage win and the overall title at the Santos Tour Down Under in January. He was also a part of the BMC Racing Team's win in the team time trial last month at the Critérium du Dauphiné, a result that propelled him into the lead at that race ... Ochowicz was also the general manager of the American 7-Eleven team in 1986 that captured the opening stage of the Tour de France (a road race won by Alex Stieda).

Tinkoff-Saxo was not unhappy with how the stage turned out:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador finishes 46th on the opening 13.8km TT at Tour de France, 15 seconds off last year’s winner Nibali. According to the team captain, he is satisfied with the sensations on the fast parcours, where stage winner Rohan Dennis set the fastest average speed in a Tour time trial.

After crossing the line in Utrecht, Alberto Contador tells that he decided to approach the first half of the parcours at a slightly lower intensity in order to finish off strongly.

“It was a very tough time-trial and I felt my legs quite well, I had good sensations. The race course was very, very fast. I decided to take the first half of the race at a slightly slower pace and then push hard. I got off slower but then I wasn't able to finish off strongly. All in all, I think it was a normal time-trial and all the favorites are within a few seconds of each other. We now have to focus on tomorrow”, says Alberto Contador, who adds about some of the challenges on the opening contre-la-montre.

“I don't think the wind was a factor because even if it blew strongly, it was the same for everybody. Maybe the current high temperatures make the heart beat faster but it wasn't an issue. Again, a few seconds separate the main rivals and that is, in my opinion, a good thing”.

AQlberto Contador

Alberto Contador turning in a pretty good time trial in stage 1.

Stage 1 of Tour de France consisted of 13.8 fast kilometers of time trial in Utrecht. Ultimately, early starter and underdog, Rohan Dennis (BMC) took the win, while the big GC favorites weren’t able to compete with the more powerful TT specialists. Michael Rogers, who came in as 34th, shares his impressions of the parcours:

“I’m very happy with how it went. I was out there with the goal of doing the complete route at the fastest speed I could hold and I really tried to control it from the start. I made sure I didn’t go over my personal limit and I finished off very well, in fact it’s a very long time, since I’ve done such an intense individual time trial like this”, tells Michael Rogers and adds:

“The corners were relatively fast, I wasn’t as fast as I was ten years ago, but I don’t think I lost too much time around the corners. However, it was certainly a time trial for the pure specialists. The wind was definitely a factor on the later part of the first half, where it was a cross headwind and here it was really important to try to conserve energy for the final part, but I would reckon that the wind was the same for everybody”.

According to Steven de Jongh, Head Sports Director, Tinkoff-Saxo can be satisfied with the result of the Grand Depart in Utrecht.

“Overall, I will say that it went OK, maybe Peter, who was our fastest guy in 19th place, could have done it a bit faster, as we know that he is strong on these short time trials. Alberto did well and finished among the favorites, I think we can be happy. It was fairly technical and the course did suit Alberto okay, but it was naturally a day for the time trial specialists”, assesses Steven de Jongh before adding about the next challenge – a 166km pancake flat stage to Zélande.

“We are happy with the outcome of Alberto’s build-up and the Tour is now underway. It will be very exciting and the same goes for tomorrow. Right now, we don’t have any wind, but in the Netherlands that can change quickly so we are going to check again tonight. Wind would have a big impact on the character of tomorrow’s stage but what we do know is that tomorrow is going to be flat, flat, flat and very fast on a day suited for the sprinters. Our main goal is to protect Alberto and then we will see”, concludes Steven de Jongh.

And here's what LottoNL-Jumbo had to say about the stage:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo rode a good opening time trial in the Tour de France. Jos van Emden finished fifth in Utrecht, Wilco Kelderman had the ninth best time and Robert Gesink finished 11th – all well propelled by the home Dutch crowd on the 13.8-kilometre course in Utrecht. As a result, Team LottoNL-Jumbo leads the team classification. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) won the time trial and took the general classification lead.

“This was outstanding,” Jos van Emden said. “The people were all shouting. With 800,000, you have a feeling as if you’re riding in a big stadium. It was a 14km tunnel of noise. Especially so in the tunnels, were it was resounding.”

“It was superb,” Wilco Kelderman said. “It was one big wall of sound. That gave me adrenaline and I think that we all went faster because of that. I imagined it, but of course, it was even better. I’m very satisfied with my race. I started this Tour in a good way.”

“I tried to manage my energy as well as possible,” Robert Gesink explained. “Some uncertainty means that I started a little bit too fast. I tried to focus on the rhythm of my legs. That worked. I wanted to feel the noise as much as possible on the other hand, because it helps you to ignore the pain. It was one long scream from the beginning until the end. That carried me on.”

Laurens ten Dam did not win, but was not worried. “My time will come. It’s not the second or third week, already. A time trial like this isn’t made for Laurens ten Dam. If you ask me, I would like to start with a race to Alpe d’Huez. I did the best I could. It was unforgettable. A hurricane of sound. Together with the team presentation last Thursday, these moments will always stay with me.”

“The crowd gave me a real boost,” Steven Kruijswijk added. Kruijswijk looked back on a good time trial, as well, finishing 31st. “This is a once in a lifetime experience. It went quite good for me too. This isn’t my specialty, so the only thing I could do was giving everything. That succeeded and I’m feeling that I’m in good shape at the moment.”

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk showing off the special Tour de France team jersey

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven called the first day of the Tour de France a dream. “This was what we wanted to accomplish,” he said. “There is nothing better than delivering a good result immediately in The Netherlands. You start the Tour in a good way. We went beyond our goal.

“Our choice to let our best riders in the time trial start early turned out to be a good one. They were saved from the stress and pressure of a late start. Besides that, we really have a good bike. We are confident about this Bianchi Aquila and that helps a lot. We have three men with the best eleven riders, that proves it. The fifth place of Jos is great. He did a little dance to celebrate his victory. It’s a dream come true for him. We have to keep that feeling and use it in the tomorrow’s stage.”

Giant-Alpecin sent me this Tour de France report:

Tom Dumoulin raced to fourth place on the opening stage of the Tour de France, over an individual time trial of 13.8km in the city of Utrecht. Dumoulin finished in a time of 15’04” with an average pace of almost 55km/h on the flat parcours, losing just 8" to stage winner Rohan Dennis (AUS).

Tom Dumoulin (NED): “I rode a strong time trial, which I enjoyed but unfortunately it was not enough for the win. I didn't hear anything from my coach because I was riding through a wall of sound from the spectators, which was really cool.

"Of course it’s very special to ride on home grounds. Right now I’m a little bit disappointed so I’m not the most enjoyable person to be around." 

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin at the 2015 Tour of Switzerland

Warren Barguil (FRA): “I was over excited actually and started a bit too fast really. I was expecting more of myself and I am a little disappointed with my result, but this opening time trial was not my primary goal of the Tour de France.

"The crowds made it even more exciting and I really enjoyed riding through Utrecht today. Now that we've started I am really looking forward to the nice stages that are ahead of us.” 

John Degenkolb (GER): "It was very special, very intense, and a lot of emotions, and a lot of crazy people around, with so many people. The Tour is the Tour, it is unique and looking at my effort I think I did a good time trial. It was not super perfect but it was a good start for me. The next stages should be good for me and also for the rest of the team. I think we have a really good team for the coming days and I hope we can fight for stage victories and achieve some good results." 

Marc Reef (NED): “Dumoulin really rode a strong time trial, and although the result was a little less then we were hoping for it was the maximum possible today. Normally we have to accept it but that is really hard at this moment, maybe we will be satisfied with the fourth place after some reflection.

"Technically, Dumoulin rode a good race and he paced his effort very well. Dennis was just faster today." 

Tour of Austria Team News

Tinkoff-Saxo sent me this report:

While Tour de France gets underway, Tinkoff-Saxo embarks on another mountainous race - the Tour of Austria - where Robert Kiserlovski will lead a squad of climbers in an effort to fight for the top spots of the GC podium. Bruno Cenghialta asserts that the team will come into play, when the road kicks up.

When Tinkoff-Saxo starts the nine-stage Tour of Austria today, it will be with Robert Kiserlovski as team captain flanked by Pawel Poljanski, says Bruno Cenghialta, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director.

“Robert Kiserlovski and Pawel Poljanski are in very good shape. Robert told me that he believes that he can fight for the podium places, and I agree that it’s doable. In the end, it would be a good result, as Tour of Austria is a very hard race looking at the stages the riders will face. We have a strong team, mainly in the mountains, and we will be able to support Kiserlovski on the climbs, while a guy like Chris Anker Sørensen will get an opportunity to go for it”, comments Bruno Cenghialta.

Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Robert Kiserlovski, Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Evgeny Petrov, Jesus Hernandez, Bruno Pires, Jesper Hansen and Oliver Zaugg.

Chris Anker Sorensen

Chris Anker Sørensen wins the 2015 Danish road championship.

The riders of this year’s 67th edition of Tour of Austria will face a versatile race route starting with a 5.4km TTT, while the later part of the race will offer serious mountain stage such as on stage 4 and 6, where the road kicks up.

“First up, we have a very short team time trial of just 5.4 kilometers. It’s a very fast parcours so if we stay in the top ten, I’ll be satisfied, as our team consists of mainly climbers. Then the first three stages are for the sprinters, where we will try to consume as little energy as possible. Perhaps we will seek to get in the breakaway, but our ambitions lie further ahead in the race”, says Bruno Cenghialta before adding:

“Stage 4 and 6 are real mountain stages and this is where the boys must perform. We will take it day by day to evaluate the situation and see how we are placed in the general classification. It’s the first race for Jesper Hansen after his crash in Dauphiné and the second race for Oliver Zaugg after his bad crash in April, so they will use the shape to get into race rhythm, while the other guys are ready to go out and perform”, finishes Bruno Cenghialta.

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this follow-up memo:

A bike check gone wrong delayed half of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad in Tour of Austria, as the last riders was sent down the ramp at least 15 seconds after the four riders that started on time. “It’s a shame, as we were fired up to deliver a strong effort on the opening day”, says team sports director Nicki Sørensen, who tells that the team is seeking compensation.

Tinkoff-Saxo finishes 20th on the opening 5.4km time trial of Tour of Austria as the last team, 27 seconds off the fastest team Katusha. Bike checks controlling measurements were carried out just before the start of each team. According to team sports director Nicki Sørensen, it was obvious that the controllers were unable to work under the tight time frame with teams starting two minutes apart.

“We’ve complained to the organizers, as all our riders were on site and present as required. It’s a costly mistake and it’s a shame, as we are here to compete for a top spot in the general classification. But we will have to wait and see what the result of the complaint will be and if we are compensated in any way”, tells Nicki Sørensen and adds about the unfortunate situation.

“Teams started two minutes apart, while it’s usually customary to have at least three minutes between teams on a time-trial. One rider from BMC was delayed, so as a result, the controls of our bikes started less than two minutes before the scheduled start. In essence, only Hansen, Chris Anker, Poljanski and Zaugg had their bikes controlled, when the gun fired, while our four other guys, including our GC-captain Kiserlovski, were held up”.

What will come out of the somewhat controversial situation is still unsure, as the a verdict is scheduled for Sunday, but Nicki Sørensen underlines that the squad will do its best during the nine day race regardless of the outcome.

“The team has put in a lot of effort and preparation to come here to Tour of Austria well prepared and as a serious contender in the race. We will look ahead and do our best as we always do on the stages to come. The guys, no matter what, are in shape and dedicated to the job”.

BMC was at the Tour of Austria:

Wien, Austria - The BMC Racing Team overcame confusion and a bit of chaos before the start of Saturday's team time trial at the Tour of Austria to finish third in the prologue.

Katusha Team won the 5.4-kilometer race against the clock, one second ahead of MTN-Qhubeka. The BMC Racing Team was five seconds off the winning time after starting without past Slovakian national time trial and world team time trial champion rider Peter Velits, who was held up at the pre-race bike check.

"The saddle of Peter was 0.3 millimeters out of the level," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "They usually do not check the road bikes before a race like this and they did not have a jig to measure the bikes. So the guys were a little bit stressed. Without this problem, I think we would have been fighting for the victory."

All 20 teams used standard road bikes due to the possibility of rain and for better safety, race officials said, as the course crossed several tram tracks.

BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter said with only two minutes separating each of the 20 teams, there was even more nervousness before the start than usual. Less than 30 seconds before rolling down the start ramp, several of the team's riders were still getting into position.

"We did a good job of refocusing once we were out there," Bookwalter said. "But there was still some confusion of how many riders we had and it took a minute to re-position. I felt like we finished very strong. But in such a short race, it's hard to pull back any time once we a couple seconds back."

Joey Rosskopf was the BMC Racing Team's first rider across the finish line and earned the lead in the king of the mountains classification. Rüdiger Selig (Katusha Team) is first to wear the race leader's yellow jersey. The nine-day race continues Sunday with a 206.6-km race from Mörbisch to Scheibbs.

News from the Giro Rosa

This came from Velocio Sports:

Ljubljana, Slovenia, 4 July 2015 - Barbara Guarischi has sprinted to victory in the opening road stage of the Giro Rosa in Ljubljana, Slovenia today. Guarischi finished ahead of Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) and to cap off a great day for Velocio-SRAM, her teammate Tiffany Cromwell sprinted to third.

Guarischi said "This win is really amazing. I have waited so long for it and I can't believe that I have won today, a stage of the Giro! I didn't feel great at the start but on the climb I was good. My team worked perfect for me in the last kilometres. I started to become nervous and it was Alena (Amialiusik) who kept reminding me to be patient. When you see all of your team mates in front and around you, working just for you to take the stage win, then it's incredible. When we turned the corner I could feel that Tiff was still with me. Brand went early, and I knew there was a head wind so I waited and I went with 100m to go. At one point just before the line I knew I was going to win, and it was almost too much. I couldn't believe it. The girls worked perfect for me in the lead out today and I am happy to repay them with this victory. We all will celebrate it!"

Barbara Guarischi wins stage 1

Barbara Guarischi wins the first stage.

The 102.5 kilometre Stage One from Kamnik to Ljubljana city was one touted for the sprinters but it was not a flat stage that greeted the peloton. An early break of three riders: Ana Covrig (BePink La Classica), Malgorzta Jasinska (Alé Cipollini) and Chantal Hoffman (Lotto Soudal Ladies) were away after the first intermediate sprint at 12 kilometres. A seven kilometre climb mid-race split the peloton and at that point, Covrig and Jasinska became a duo that continued to work together until they were caught by the peloton with six kilometres to the race. The teams then became organised for their sprinters and it was Velocio-SRAM that were able to deliver the Italian sprinter Guarischi to the finish.

Team Director Sportif Beth Duryea said "The girls did a great job today, we couldn't be happier. We set a plan before the race and they have followed it through right to the last corner. It's great to see Barbara take the win, it's well deserved and she hasn't stopped smiling since. We have a stage win already now, so we can enjoy it and we look forward to what lies ahead for the rest of the Giro."

In the overall classification, Brand now moves into the Maglia Rosa with a four second lead over Guarischi, and five second advantage to Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla Pro Cycling) who won last nights prologue. Stage Two returns to Italy with a start in Gaiarine and finish in San Fior for a 121 kilometre stage.

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