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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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

Today's Racing

Tour de Suisse stage 4 is on today's menu. It's 193.2 hilly kilometers going from Flims to Schwarzenbach.

Wednesday sees the start of the Women's Tour of Britain. I've got the start list, stage one map and profile posted.

Eddy Merckx is 70

The greatest bicycle racer of all time, Eddy Merckx, turns seventy tomorrow, the 17th. It seems like just yesterday he was dropping the world's finest athletes at will and winning everything in sight. Merckx rode professionally from 1965 to 1978.

During that time he won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia five times, Milano-San Remo seven times, held the World Hour Record.... and on and on. His list of race wins is astonishing.

Eddy Merckx

Rather than my posting an endless list of his accomplishments, here's the link to our Eddy Merckx photo gallery.

And here's an excerpt about Merckx from Les Woodland's Paris-Roubaix: The Inside Story

Plus, we cannot forget Owen Mulholland's terrific telling of Eddy Merckx and the World Hour Record.

Philppe Gilbert Can't Ride Tour

Well, Hell! BMC sent this unpleasant news:

Santa Rosa, California - Philippe Gilbert withdrew Tuesday from the Tour de Suisse, citing an injury to his right leg that will keep him from being considered for the BMC Racing Team's Tour de France roster.

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa said a recent MRI revealed a small, non-displaced fracture on Gilbert's lower leg, likely related to his crash at La Flèche Wallonne in April.

"The MRI showed a small fracture of the postero-lateral tibia head," Dr. Testa said. "The fracture is small, and not involving the joint articular surface and the injury is not worrisome for his cycling career. Philippe had no particular pain on the bike. But he had been complaining of knee discomfort, especially off of it, and especially going up and down stairs. So we decided to look into it."

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said he and Gilbert mutually agreed the former world road champion and recent double stage winner at the Giro d'Italia will not participate in this year's Tour de France.

"We had a productive and open discussion regarding his current health and the second part of his season and goals," Ochowicz said. "The eight riders that we do select to support Tejay van Garderen will be chosen based on current health and performance. We want the best eight candidates at the start in Utrecht and right now Philippe is not at his best."

Gilbert said while it is disappointing not to be able to be considered for the Tour de France, he is already looking ahead to some big goals for the later part of the season.

Philippe Gilbert

Philipp Gilbert in the 2015 Giro d'Italia

"Of course, I was motivated for the Tour because it is going to pass in a part of Belgium and there is also the nice finish on the Mur de Huy," he said. "But the Tour de France is every year. It is not like I am missing something like the Olympic Games. So every year you have a chance to do it and I have already done it a few times and have had a lot of success at this race already.

"Also, a big goal for me is always the worlds and Il Lombardia, which is one of the nicest classics of the season," Gilbert said. "I know with these problems, I can maybe go to the Tour, but not at 100 percent. Even if I do this, I will finish the Tour completely empty and that will mean I will do everything - the Tour and the end of the season - at 80 percent. So at this point, I have to make a choice to skip the Tour. My first objective is to feel healthy again and not feel the pain anymore."

Ochowicz said the team expects to announce its nine-man roster for the race sometime after the Tour de Suisse, which ends Sunday.

Tour de Suisse team reports

Tinkoff-Saxo sent this news about the Swiss Tour:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s team captain Peter Sagan wins stage 3 of Tour de Suisse after having timed his sprint to perfection on the very difficult final kilometer. Sagan received valuable support from his team with Rafal Majka setting the pace at the front on the last 19 kilometers. “I'm happy to have won. Big thanks to the whole team, without them it wouldn't have happened”, says Peter Sagan.

After crossing the finish line as winner of stage 3, Peter Sagan attended the press conference, where he described the final sprint.

"The tempo was high, Rafal Majka did a great job on the last hill and he held the group together for the sprint finish. Then it was my turn to launch and I'm happy to have won.  It was also difficult because the last curve seemed to be a left one so I went left. But it was to the right so I had to change my course. Big thanks to the whole team, without them it wouldn't have happened. I'm pleased we have the first victory at Tour de Suisse”, says Peter Sagan before describing the stage and work done by the team:

“I'm very happy with how the stage went and the work by the entire squad. Today's stage was difficult and on top of that it also rained. One group broke away with a lead of 6 minutes. Our team was leading out front on the last 40km and just before the last two hills the gap was only 2 minutes. They pulled very hard during the stage and Rafal Majka helped me a lot during the last two climbs. I can say that we won thanks to the teamwork we showed. I'm very happy with this victory but tomorrow is another day and we will see what happens”.

Peter Sagan’s stage win also netted him 10 bonus seconds and he moves to 3rd in the overall classification behind Tom Dumoulin (TGA). The 117,3km stage 3 from Quinto to Olivone finished off with a tricky run-in towards the finish line with the last sharp curve coming with just 75 meters to the line. Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Sean Yates tells that the squad had executed the team plans.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan wins stage 3

“We’re obviously very pleased with this stage win. Peter did a superb sprint in the wake of a very valuable work by Rafal, who pulled the last 19km at the front of the main group. Peter positioned himself for the final 300 meters perfectly and went past to take the lead through the chicane. We told the guys that the stage finish was very tricky with several sharp bends in the sprint and they executed our plan in great style. The entire team made a big effort to control the race and the breakaway and Peter showed that he is strong here in Tour de Suisse – something we’ve known since the prologue”, comments Sean Yates and continuous:

“Today Rafal was better than yesterday and very strong in the finale. Going into the last categorized climb, the break had 60 seconds. Peter was fine with Rafal just revving up the speed and on the top it had come down to 30 second. Thereafter, Rafal played a key role in controlling the race and Peter rode the finale well, stayed at the front and launched a very powerful sprint. Of course, you never know how it would have been, if Rafal hadn’t been there but it surely meant that we could control the finale to a greater extent”.

Lampre-Merida wrote this about the Swiss third stage:

The 3rd stage of the Tour de Suisse was raced on a short course, 117.3 km from Qunto to Olivone, with the climb of the Gotthardpass in the early kilometers and two KOM hills in the final part.

It was the hilly final kilometers that selected the lead group and reduce it to 30 riders. In this group there were the blue-fuchsia-green riders Durasek, who confirmed his good condition after the victory in the 2nd stage, and the young Italian gun Valerio Conti. The Croatian rider obtained 17th place, Conti was 19th, the sprint was won by Sagan.

Kristijan Durasek won stage 2

Kirstijan Durasek won stage 2

In the overall classification, Durasek is 8th at 18" to Dumoulin, Conti improved his ranking, climbing 19 positions to the 27th place.

The performance from Team Lampre-Merida in the stage is commented on by the sport director Simone Pedrazzini: "Durasek was competitive today too and it is a very good feedback from him because the final part of the stage was very intense and many riders tried to attack.

"We were aware that Kristijan could be competitive in the final sprint, so we counted on Conti, who is quite fast and managed to be in the head group. Unfortunately Valerio could not perform a good sprint, because he could not find space.

We're also happy for Xu Gang, who crashed in yesterday's stage, suffering bruises and a leg countusion. Today he succeded in completing the stage and the condition of the injuried leg is getting better".

Velocio-SRAM headed to Britain

The team sent this report on their participation in the Britain Tour:

Matera, Italy - 15 June, 2015 - Velocio-SRAM are ready to race in Great Britain for the Aviva Women's Tour of Britain starting on Wednesday 17 June. After a successful 2014 race, the tour organisers have again produced a five-day stage race what looks set to be on varied terrain and provides ample opportunities for spectators to see all of the action.

With some flat stages and some hilly stages, it gives the opportunity for a range of riders to take stage wins. Team Director Ronny Lauke said, "Last year's edition was really great, with large crowds and a great atmosphere not just at the start and finish, but all along the race route. The fans in the UK are definitely passionate about cycling and it was great to see. We're looking forward to racing the Aviva Women's Tour of Britain again."

Lauke added, "We had a very successful race program in North America where our team either won or was on podium for five out of the seven races we did. The highlight being Trixi Worrack's win in Amgen Tour of California empowered with SRAM and Alena Amialiusik's podium in the World Cup in Philadelphia. I think we can expect to see some good form from our team at this tour."



Lisa Brennauer and Trixi Worrack will lead the Velocio-SRAM roster, joined for a strong well-rounded team by Italian sprinter Barbara Guarischi, and Loren Rowney, Elise Delzenne, and Tiffany Cromwell.

Giant-Alpecin and Liv-Plantur upcomoing races

Ster ZLM Toer:

The Ster ZLM Toer starts on Wednesday with a 6.4km prologue, followed by a flat stage, two hilly stages crossing part of the Amstel Gold Race course and the Belgian Ardennes, and a final flat stage to Boxtel on Sunday.

Following a seventh in the GC and a third in the prologue by Albert Timmer (NED) last year, Team Giant-Alpecin will be heading to the race with the aim of stage success. After winning stage 3 in 2013 and stage 1 in 2014, sprinter Marcel Kittel (GER) will line up once again. Alongside Kittel will be Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), who recently won the Garmin Velothon Berlin, and Zico Waeytens (BEL), who took third in Berlin.

The experienced Roy Curvers (NED) and Bert De Backer (BEL) will guide the team on the road. The roster is completed by Lars van der Haar (NED), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE) and Tom Stamsnijder (NED).

“Our primary goal is stage success. In theory, stages 1 and 4 will be possibilities to work on our sprint preparation, but we have to watch for crosswinds as well. For different scenarios we will have different options to reach our target.

“The race starts with a prologue, which will give an indication of which riders will go for a GC result; this applies to us as well. We will wait for the results there to see if a good GC result is within reach and take the race day by day. Stages 2 and 3 in Limburg and the Ardennes will be difficult,” said coach Marc Reef (NED).

RACE: Ster ZLM Toer GP Jan van Heeswijk (2.1)

DATE: 17-21/06/2015

COACH: Marc Reef (NED)

LINE-UP: Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Lars van der Haar (NED), Marcel Kittel (GER), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL) 

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel will be at the Ster ZLM Toer

Aviva Womens' Tour:

On the program for Team Liv-Plantur is the second Aviva Women’s Tour, taking place Wednesday through Sunday. The British race features five stages on alternately rolling and relatively flat roads, with distances ranging from 102.6km to 139.2km.

It will be Team Liv-Plantur’s first participation in this race, but Amy Pieters (NED) and Lucy Garner (GBR) participated last year with their national teams. Pieters and Garner took sixth and seventh, respectively, in the GC, with both achieving four top-10 finishes.

The team is heading to Great Britain with sprinter Garner, who is extra motivated to perform well in the biggest race in her home country. The same goes for Molly Weaver (GBR), who is making her debut in the colors of Team Liv-Plantur. Alongside both Brits, the team can rely on the climbing capacities of Sabrina Stultiens (NED), who showed strong form with a second place in the GC of the Auensteiner Radsport Tage, and Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), who made a successful return to racing at the same race last week. The roster is completed by reliable support riders Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE) and Julia Soek (NED).

“In the bunch sprints we would normally go for the sprint with Lucy, but we need to wait until she is fully recovered from a double crash at yesterday’s Diamond Tour.

“We will aim to ride an attacking race, because certain stages are suitable for a breakaway to survive. With Sabrina we are aiming for a nice GC result. On paper the closing stage should be difficult enough for some GC action, but we have to see if this is the case in reality,” said coach Hans Timmermans (NED).

RACE: Aviva Women's Tour (2.1)

DATE: 17-21/06/2015

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED)

LINE-UP :Lucy Garner (GBR), Claudia Lichtenberg (GER), Sara Mustonen-Lichan (SWE), Julia Soek (NED), Sabrina Stultiens (NED), Molly Weaver (GBR)

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