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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Today is the fifth and final stage stage of the HC-ranked Tour de Wallonie, 167.3 kilometers going from Chimay to Thuin.

The 2.1-rated Volta a Portugal, starts today and continues through August 9th.

MTN to end cycle team spnsorship

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Despite MTN-Qhubeka's more than successful Tour de France, the South African continental cycling team will lose its main sponsor, telecommunications company MTN.

The telecommunications company MTN is discontinuing the sponsorship because of poor market conditions. The MTN Group is a South-African based multinational mobile telecommunications company that operates in many African, European and Middle Eastern countries. It is the worlds 15th largest mobile telecommunications company measured by subscribers.

Doug Ryder, speaking for the cycling team, said however, that the team is not worried: "The team has enough options to go by, there is a lot of interest. The future looks great."

It is rumored that Dimension Data is the new main sponsor. The South African company is the technical partner of the ASO and during the last Tour de France did the race's GPS statistics.

MTN-Qhubeka received a wildcard for the last Tour de France and made a name for itself: team member Steve Cummings had one stage win. For several stages Daniel Teklehaimanot wore the climbers' polka-dot jersey and Serge Pauwels repeatedly made it into breakaways which resulted in a handsome thirteenth place in the final standings.

Daniel Teklehaimanot

MTN-Qhubeka rider Daniel Teklhaimanot in the climber's polka dot jersey after 2015 Tour de France stage 8

Tinkoff-Saxo on Tour de Wallonie

Michael Mørkøv came close to grabbing the win on stage 4 of Tour de Wallonie, as the team launched a long sprint in the headwind. However, the fast Dane had to settle for second place, as Van Genechten snatched the win on the dying meters of the finishing straight. “We’ll try again tomorrow”, says Michael Mørkøv.

Elaborating on the result of stage 4, runner up Michael Mørkøv tells that headwind made it difficult to time the final burst for the line.

“It’s always tough to finish second in a race - it’s never something that you get used. Going into the final kilometer, McCarthy and Juul-Jensen went to the front to keep me out of trouble and at the front. Headwind sprints are always difficult to time, Breschel did a strong lead out for me and I had the front with 250 meters to go. All the time, I thought to myself that I was going to take the win but Van Genechten just edged me out on the final meters”, tells Michael Mørkøv, who remains positive ahead of the final stage of Tour de Wallonie:

“Tomorrow’s stage is similar to that of yesterday, where we had a punchy climb up to the finish. Looking at the finale, it suits Breschel quite well but also McCarthy, Juul-Jensen and I are going well at the moment. We will go out there, try to create a proper bike race and do an effort to grab that stage win”, adds Michael Mørkøv, who’s satisfied with the preparations leading up to his home country’s race, the Tour of Denmark.

“Tour of Denmark is most definitely a race, where I want to be in good shape. It’s the race of my home country and we want to be ready to chase top results there as well. I feel strong at the moment, we’ve had a concentrated month of preparations with altitude training camp in Livigno, Italy and we’re definitely in the midst of getting our race rhythm here in Wallonie”.

Michael Morkov

Michael Mørkøv at the 2013 Vuelta a España

Summing up the stage 4 from Waterloo to Quaregnon, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Lars Michaelsen comments that it’s a pity that the strong team effort didn’t pay off with a win.

“We had our focus on the final part of today’s stage and in the end Michael Mørkøv grabbed second place in the sprint decision. Had the finish line been two meters earlier, he would have won but Van Genechten just threw his bike coming from behind after Michael and the team had launched a long sprint in the headwind”, says Lars Michaelsen about the near miss, before adding about the stage as a whole.

“Today’s stage consisted of 164.6 relatively flat kilometers and we wanted to focus our attention and effort on the final two laps in the stage finale. After reeling in the break, Juul-Jensen and then Breschel made a move on some of the punchy, short hills. They were caught again but then the entire team took responsibility and switched its focus to setting up the final sprint, where we wanted to lead out Mørkøv. It was a collective effort, which I’m very happy to see and Michael showed that he has a lot of speed in the legs. It’s a pity that we didn’t get the win, but we are going well here in Belgium and we’ll try again on tomorrow’s hilly stage”, finishes Lars Michaelsen.

The San Sebastian Classic is on August 1

This note came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Steven Kruijswijk aims to show himself in the Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday. The Dutch climber wants to convert his end of Tour de France form into a good result in the Spanish classic.

“I had a couple of good days towards the end of the Tour de France,” Kruijswijk said. “I want to continue that upward trend towards the Clasica San Sebastian. That race suits me. The profile is tough. There are many climbs and there is a steep and narrow one just before the finish. That’s where the race will be won. I have to make sure that I’m in a good position. Until that ascent, it’s about saving energy. If I succeed, I will be able to convert my good form into a beautiful result.”

Steven Kruijswijk

Steven Kruijswijk finishes 2015 Tour de France stage 17.

“It’s always a Tour de France rider who wins in San Sebastian,” said former winner Erik Dekker. “When you consider that, we have two guns with Steven Kruijswijk and Wilco Kelderman. If they’re able to keep themselves motivated after the Tour de France, they have a chance. They have to make sure that they’re recovering in an active way during the days in between. To race some post-Tour criteriums is a way to ensure that. To ride a hundred kilometres every night stops your body from becoming idle.

“The Clasica San Sebastian is a relaxed race until the final. The profile is tough, but there isn’t too much stress. That means that you only have to be focussed in a select part of the race. Until that moment, you have to think about something else and ignore the pain. It’s necessary for Steven and Wilco to be motivated enough to do that.”

Line-up: Brian Bulgac, Jos van Emden, Wilco Kelderman, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Leezer, Nick van der Lijke, Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants.

Sports director: Erik Dekker.

Lampre-Merida sent this about San Sebastian:

Lampre-Merida has never won the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian and the team of the manager Brent Copeland would like to paint in blue-fuchsia-green the Basque race.

On Saturday, August 1st, sport director Mario Scirea will rely on an international selection, made up of riders from 6 different countries (Belarus, Colombia, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) and with two national champions (Portugal and Slovenia).

The eight cyclists from Team Lampre-Merida will be Mario Costa, Rui Costa, Koshevoy, Oliveira, Pibernik, Pozzato, Serpa and Valls.

One of the most important pieces of news is that Rui Costa will be back in races after his withdrawal from the Tour de France. He'll race the Clasica San Sebastian as a test in order to check his condition.

Rui Costa

Rui Costa having a good sixth stage at this year's Dauphine

Oliveira, Pozzato, Serpa and Valls have just completed the Tour de France and they'll try to exploit the fitness they gained on the French roads, even if it's important to consider that, because of the heat, in the Grande Boucle the riders faced extreme weather conditions which influenced their physiology.

Koshevoy and Pibernik raced at altitude in the Tour of Qinghai Lake and they'll be good outsiders, in addition to Mario Costa.

Giant-Alpecin's plans for upcoming races


This Saturday is traditionally the first classic after the Tour de France with Clasica Cyclista San Sebastian. Over the past few years the riders which come strong out of the Tour de France play a major role in the Spanish one day race.

Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian has always been a difficult race for the team, as no top 30 results were achieved over the past two editions. For this year's race Team Giant-Alpecin heads to Spain with Warren Barguil (FRA) leading the team, following a 14th place in the final GC in his first Tour de France. Barguil will be supported by Chad Haga (USA), Fredrik and Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE) and Zico Waeytens (BEL) who come from the team's training camp on altitude at La Plagne, France, to prepare for the second half of the season. As well as Koen de Kort (NED), who also completed the Tour de France, Thierry Hupond (FRA) and Lars van der Haar (NED).

Coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA) said: “Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian is a very difficult race. With Warren [Barguil] we have a rider who normally fits the course to aim on a good result, but we have to await how he recovers from his first Tour de France to be ready for another hard race. The rest of the team will support him in that.”

RACE: Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian (WT)


COACH: Christian Guiberteau (FRA)

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Koen de Kort (NED), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Lars van der Haar (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)


Team Giant-Alpecin heads to this year’s Tour de Pologne with the goal of winning a stage. The Polish race starts Sunday in Warsaw and features six stages on rolling and hilly terrain before concluding with a 25km individual time trial in Krakow.

The team was quite successful at the last two editions of the Tour de Pologne, achieving various top-10 finishes, including 4th place on stage 2 with Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), 2nd on stage 3 with Luka Mezgec (SLO), 3rd on stage 4 with Mezgec, 5th on stage 5 with Warren Barguil (FRA), 7th on stage 6 with Barguil and 14th in the final GC with Barguil in 2014. In 2013 Georg Preidler (AUT) took 3rd on stage 2, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 5th on stage 4 and Mezgec 4th on stage 5.

After a period of training, German sprinter Marcel Kittel will return to racing with a focus on obtaining good results in the sprints. Other riders in the Team Giant-Alpecin lineup are Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Luka Mezgec (SLO) and Tom Stamsnijder (NED), all of whom finished the Giro d’Italia. The roster is completed by Lawson Craddock (USA) and Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), who will both look forward to the hilly stages in Poland.

Coach Addy Engels (NED) said: “Our goal is to go for the stages that end in a sprint. With Nikias, Marcel and Luka we have fast guys on board, and we also have a strong team to lead out the sprint.

“With Lawson we will explore the possibility of doing a good GC, as he just left the team’s altitude camp and should be capable of that. There are some difficult stages, especially 5 and 6, with a sequence of short, steep climbs. It will be hard.

“The closing time trial will be decisive for the final GC. I expect that a very small group will remain to fight for the overall win in the time trial after the hard stages.”

RACE: Tour de Pologne (WT)

DATE: 02-08/08/2015

COACH: Addy Engels (NED)

Marcel kittel

Marcel Kittel will be at the Tour of Poland. Here he wins stage 2 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

LINE-UP: Nikias Arndt (GER), Lawson Craddock (USA), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Marcel Kittel (GER), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Stamsnijder (NED)


Team Liv-Plantur heads to Bochum, Germany, this Sunday for the Sparkassen Giro, the seventh race in the UCI World Cup. The women’s race will cover eight laps of 15.5km each, for a total of 124km.

Team Liv-Plantur looks back at a third place in the 2013 Sparkassen Giro and a ninth place last year, both with Kirsten Wild. This year the team will be led by Lucy Garner (GBR) and Amy Pieters (NED). The latter showed her strong form at the Thüringen Rundfahrt, where she took ninth in the final GC, as well as at La Course last weekend, where she finished third. Also in the lineup is Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), who will be extra motivated to race in her home country. The team will rely on Willeke Knol (NED), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE) and Julia Soek (NED) in support roles.

“The course for Sunday includes some uphill sections in the final kilometers, so it is hard to predict how the race will develop. For that reason we have two strong riders who will lead the team, depending on the race situation,” said coach Hans Timmermans (NED). 

“Lucy will be our sprinter for Sunday, and we have Amy in the case of a reduced sprint or breakaway. The final straight should be ideal for Lucy, but a breakaway could also battle for victory there.

“We will not count too much on a bunch sprint and will go on the attack as well with Claudia, as we have the goal to finish on the podium in Bochum, which is realistic with our capabilities.”

RACE: Sparkassen Giro (CDM)

DATE: 02/08/2015

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED)

LINE-UP: Lucy Garner (GBR), Willeke Knol (NED), Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), Amy Pieters (NED), Julia Soek (NED)

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