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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Sunday, June 21, 2015

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Today's Racing

Four stage races finish today.

First, the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland). Today is stage 9, a hilly 38.4 kilometer time trial

The fifth stage of Women's Tour of Britain is 102.6 kilometers starting in Marlow and finishing in Hemel Hempstead. There are 1,383 meters of climbing in the stage.

The fifth and final stage of the Dutch Ster ZLM Toer will be 183.1 kilometers going from Eindhoven to Boxtel

In France, the Route du Sud will ride its last stage, 166 kilometers going from Ravel to Bastides et Vignoble du Gaillac.

Tour of Switzerland Team News

This is from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Daniele Bennati took part in the big breakaway of the penultimate stage of Tour de Suisse, where he finished fifth behind stage winner Alexey Lutsenko, who broke free within the finale. “Better if the group had been together, but I’m satisfied, also with the progression of my shape”, says Bennati after the stage. Sagan, Majka and Valgren finished with the decimated bunch.

Following the stage finish, Daniele Bennati says that he takes the stage as a good sign.

“Today was only 150km but it was the penultimate stage and everybody is getting a bit more tired. If we analyze the finale, I think I can be happy because we were 19 riders in the breakaway in the beginning and we went at a very high pace on the last two-three climbs. I felt good especially in the finale, but I couldn’t follow the two guys out front because they were faster than me on the climbs. I think today is a good sign, especially for the coming races and I now have some days of rest before the Tour, which I hope to do. I expect that my level will increase further after a period of recovery following this Tour de Suisse”, comments Daniele Bennati and adds:

“Of course it would have been better for me if the group had been together in the finale but it was difficult to control as we had many attacks in the group. We had Peter behind in the peloton and me in the front group, which meant that other teams had to work as well. Today was the last opportunity to win a stage so we wanted to make sure that we increased our chances. It didn't go our way but I think we can be satisfied”

Team captain Peter Sagan stayed put in the decimating main group during the tough local laps around Bern in case the breakaway was caught.

“The race profile of today’s stage was quite difficult, we rode around in laps. From the beginning several riders tried to break away. I also tried to escape, but eventually my teammate Bennati managed to do that. We let the race open up and eventually there was a group of riders that reached the finish ahead of us. Later, I could’ve been the first in the peloton but that probably isn’t worth much. Never mind, we had one guy in the front, so it turned out quite well”.

Peter Sagan and Steve Morabito

Peter Sagan (left) and Steve Morabito at the stage start.

Further elaborating on the course of events on stage 8, Sean Yates, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, adds that the many attacks made the day difficult to control.

“Today started out fast with constant attacks off the front of the peloton in an effort to establish the breakaway. It was the last stage before the TT so, naturally, a lot of riders were looking to get a result. We were hoping that a small breakaway would go but it didn’t happen and it isn’t easy for four or five of our guys to control a 19-man group so Bennati jumped across and went with the group. This, in turn, meant that some of the other teams had to take responsibility at the front”, says Sean Yates before finishing:

“Bennati did well in the break. Of course, it’s a bit disappointing not to fight for the stage win on the final kilometer. He tried to cover the attacks in the group, but you can’t follow every move and sometimes it’s down to chance, who gets away and if they make it or not”.

Lampre-Merida sent this Swiss Tour report:

Bern was the start and arrival city of the 8th stage of the Tour de Suisse.
The riders covered four times a hilly circuit for a total distance of 150 km, which was suitable for the attackers.

In fact, for most part of the race there was the battle between a group of 19 riders who attacked in the early kilometers of the stage and the bunch. The result of the fight was positive for the breakaway, since the peloton could not complete the chase, giving to Lutsenko, who counter-attacked from the head group, the opportunity to obtain the victory.

Lampre-Merida did not succeed in being represented with having even one rider in the breakaway and this fact kept the blue-fuchsia-green team from the top positions of the stage standing.

The first rider from Lampre-Merida at the arrival was Durasek, 39th at 2'21". The Croatian climber is 15th in the general classification, with a gap of 3'28" to the leader Pinot.

"The course was suitable for the breakaways, that's why we had planned to try to be in the attacks - sport director Pedrazzini explained - Unfortunately, after the opening 25 km of the race full of attack attempts, we didn't have enough energy for joining the good breakaway, which was the winning action".

In France, there was the Route du Sud

Tinbkoff-Saxo was very happy with how today's stage turned out:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador wins stage 3 of Route du Sud, 13 seconds in front of rival Nairo Quintana. Contador, who now leads the race with 0’17”, put in a determined effort on Port de Balès after his teammates had laid down the ground work decimating the group of favorites. The ultimate attack came on the descent of the final climb, where he dropped Quintana and Latour.

Upon crossing the line in Bagnères-de-Luchon as the winner of the queen stage of Route du Sud just three weeks after having conquered the Giro d’Italia, Contador says that he was very satisfied his shape.

“I'm very happy with this victory. I strive to win in every race not just for myself and my team but also for our sponsors. I'd like to thank Tinkoff Bank, Saxo Bank, Citroën, Specialized, Sportful and all the partners of the team for their invaluable help. That's why it's always important to try and win”, says Contador.

“All my teammates did a very good job today and for that reason I had to round off the effort. On Port de Balès I was with Quintana and I asked him whether he wanted to collaborate in order to bring Latour back, who was alone at the front. Quintana said he didn't want to because he considered I was very strong. There was still a long way to go but I tried to control the race to the top of the climb. At that point I got a few meters from Quintana and I realized it was a question of gritting my teeth and holding on to the finish line. I staged a few attacks, just enough to be able to control the race”, comments Contador before adding:

“Every win is always important and boosts your morale but this one doesn't mean much. The main objective remains the Tour de France."

Stage 3 of Route du Sud took the riders from Izaourt to Bagnères-de-Luchon, where Tinkoff-Saxo’s Michael Rogers also grabbed the stage win in Tour de France 2014. Tinkoff-Saxo put in a solid pace on the final climb to Port de Balès decimating the front group.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador wins Route du Sud stage 3

Midway on the iconic climb, Alberto Contador put in a series of attacks that immediately splintered the group. He crested the top with Nairo Quintana and Pierre-Roger Latour but shortly after initiated another attack on the fast downhill section towards the finish line. Patxi Vila, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, elaborates on the effort made.

“As we have said before, we came to the Route du Sud with one of the main objectives being to win the queen stage. The first two stages were meant to put Alberto and the team back into racing rhythm in order attack on the third stage. We achieved this goal and we are obviously happy with that”, says Vila and adds:

“Today, we took control of the race from the start and the squad did an incredible work. Every single rider, with no exception, did a fantastic job today. On top of that, Alberto was able to round off the effort when it seemed very difficult. He didn't manage to get away of Quintana on the climb as it was windy but he did it in the decent. He once again proved the great champion he is and the extremely wide array of racing skills he has. Most riders have just one way to win but Alberto can do it under various conditions, which makes it even more impressive”

Patxi Vila notes that it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about the relative shape of the favorites for Tour de France from today’s stage 3.

“It goes without saying that every victory in a race is encouraging but we think we cannot draw any conclusion today in what regards the Tour de France. Quintana showed today he was strong. In addition, he's also fresher and without any doubt he will be a strong rival next month. There will be other very strong rivals as well, so it's a long way until the Tour”, comments Patxi Vila and concludes:

“After today's hard work, all our riders are tired but so will be the rest of the peloton. We will enjoy our victory tonight, the morale is high but tomorrow is another day and we will have once again to be very attentive and fight hard to maintain Alberto's leadership. We will not take anything for granted”.

Here's Cult Energy's Route du Sud report:

The scene was set for a nerve-wrecking mountain battle among the big climbers during today’s 181 kilometer long third stage of Route du Sud between Izaourt and Luchon. Unfortunately for Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s hope for a top result, Linus Gerdemann abandoned the stage early. Instead Karel Hnik was free to go and he finished the stage in the top-20.

Once again, Cult Energy’s Mads Pedersen found his way to the first breakaway but unfortunately, Tinkoff-Saxo wanted to have the escapees in eyesight and the break was brought back with 45 kilometers to go. As the pace was intensified on the final climb, the pack was slowly emptied and 7 kilometers from the summit, Alberto Contador launched an attack. However, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) responded instantly and followed the Spaniard cresting the top of the climb.

Mads PEdersen

Mads Pedersen

On the 20-kilometer long descent to the finish line, Contador demonstrated superior descending skills and distanced Quintana to take the stage win and the overall lead. Behind, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Karel Hnik fought heroically and rode across the finish line a few minutes later in 17th place.

Karel Hnik says: "I was really motivated to do well today. I'm feeling stronger and stronger and wanted to see how far I could take it today so I was on the limit throughout the stage. Rasmus (Guldhammer) supported me to the foot of the final climb where I tried to set a fast pace without burning out and I'm happy to experience that my form is getting better before next week's national championships", says Hnik after the demanding mountain stage.

DS, Luke Roberts comments: "It was a tough day for the riders. Tinker-Saxo decided to maintain a high and steady pace on the first few climbs and Mads Pedersen's group was never allowed a gap bigger than three minutes. Entering the final climb, Contador went full throttle  splitting the pack completely but I think Karel did an impressive stage considering the level of competition here. Unfortunately, Linus wasn't feeling too well and he decided to abandon the stage and hopefully recover before next week's national championships.

And LottoNL-Jumbo sent this Ster ZLM Toer release:

Moreno Hofland was the strongest in the fourth stage of the Ster ZLM Toer. The Dutch sprinter won the bunch sprint on the La Gileppe and delivered Team LottoNL-Jumbo their second victory of the 2015 season.

After Hofland was beaten just by millimetres in yesterday’s third stage, Team LottoNL-Jumbo showed that they were resolute to win the stage on Saturday. On the hilly roads of the Belgium Ardennes, the team was in the driver’s seat all day.

“Lotto-Soudal wasn’t in a hurry while closing the gap with the breakaway,” sports director Erik Dekker explained. “Because of that, our guys took the initiative. They took it for Moreno, so it’s wonderful that he was able to finish it. Martijn Keizer’s job was done with 2,5 kilometres to go. He came to me afterwards, and said that he was sure that Moreno was going to win. That conviction makes it even more special for me.”

“This is absolutely fantastic, especially on this hard profile,” a happy Hofland said after his victory. “I felt that my legs were good early in the stage. We chose to ride as a team, and set a high pace on every hill together. I was one of the best uphill today, and it’s nice to confirm that with the victory. Last month, I started the Giro d’Italia in good shape and finished it with a good feeling, too. Now, I feel that I’m even getting better day by day, and I’m very happy to prove that with today’s win.”

Moreno Hofland wins Ster ZLM Toer stage four

Moreno Hofland wins Ster ZLM Toer stage 4

On Sunday’s final stage, there’s a lot on the line for Hofland in the Ster ZLM Toer. With his victory, he moved up to the third place in the general classification. When you look at the hundredths of a second, he is less than ten seconds behind leader André Greipel. Hofland therefore only needs ten bonus seconds to win the overall.

“It’s surely going to end up in a bunch sprint”, Dekker said. “The question is if there will be an opportunity to grab some bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints. There are more scenarios possible, and we’re going to take a look at that together.”

Alena Amialiusik Gold Medalist at European Games road race

This just came from Velocio-SRAM:

Elstree, UK, 20 June 2015 - Velocio-SRAM's Alena Amialiusik has won gold for Belarus at the 2015 European Games road race today in Baku, Azerbaijan. Amialiusik won in a three-rider sprint ahead of Poland's Katarzyna Niewiadoma who took silver, and Anna Van Der Breggen (The Netherlands) who settled for bronze.

The 125 kilometre race, made up of nine circuits through the city was in hot conditions and after several attacks and breakaways, it was only in the last half of the race that the winning move was made. Amialiusik was in a break with Van Der Breggen, Niewiadoma and Van Dijk. Ratto (Italy) had also been in the winning move until a reported puncture meant she was out of contention.

After Van Dijk had lost contact, it was three riders who turned into the long finish straight and while Van Der Breggen lead out the sprint, it was patience that allowed Amialiusik to power away for what she made look like an easy sprint victory.

Alena Amialiusek

Alena Amialiusik leads a break in a race earlier this year.

"My Belarusian team mates helped me a lot and I have to thank them for their work to achieve this gold medal. I am so happy to win. I knew it would be a hard race, especially when the Dutch came with some of their strongest racers and it's almost their Olympic team. The most important thing for me was to be smart, remain calm and have confidence in myself."

Amialiusik will return to her professional team, Velocio-SRAM for the Italian ten-day stage race, Giro Rosa starting 3 July.

And Velocio-SRAM was also at the Women's Tour of Britain:

Stevenage, UK, 20 June 2015 - Velocio-SRAM's Lisa Brennauer has regained the leaders jersey after an exciting sprint finish in the penultimate stage of Aviva Women's Tour of Britain. Brennauer won stage four in a bunch sprint ahead of Emma Johannson (Orica-GreenEdge) and Lotta Lepistö (Bigla Cycling).

The 103.8km stage from Waltham Cross to Stevenage saw plenty of attacks in the early part of the stage but it wasn't until 30 kilometres to go that a break was successful. Elisa Longo-Borghini's (Wiggle Honda) attack on the second QOM finally cracked the peloton and she was joined by Liv-Plantur rider Sabrina Stultiens. The pair had an advantage of up to 55 seconds and managed to hold off the peloton until the final 500m before being caught.

Lisa Brennauer wins Britain stage 4

Lisa Brennauer wins Women's Tour of Britain stage 4

The technical final three kilometres was made more challenging in the rainy conditions. Lisa Brennauer said, "I knew that the finish was going to be tricky but I went around each corner safely and near good wheels. I know that I can completely trust my equipment in those conditions and I actually made up one or two spots in the last corner without even trying. The long 400m finish straight suited me and it was great to win a sprint finish. My team has raced really well in this tour and to get a stage win today, and regain the yellow jersey is really nice for everyone involved."

Brennauer now takes a nine second advantage over Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolman CT) and ten seconds ahead of Julien D'Hoore (Wiggle Honda) going into the fifth and final stage tomorrow, Sunday 21 June. The 106.6km stage from Marlow to Hemel Hempstead, predicted as the hardest of the tour, is setting up for what looks to be an exciting finish. "How the GC is now, and still with some seconds out on the road tomorrow, it only makes it more exciting and my team mates and I we are looking forward to it very much."

Amanda Spratt wins Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Sudtirol

Australian rider Amanda Spratt has raced to a solo victory in the one-day Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Sudtirol, winning by over 20 seconds, in her first victory this season.

After a great team effort from the five Orica-AIS riders, including a strong ride from Macey Stewart as she controlled the first 50km at the front in her first race back from injury, it was Spratt who took victory, breaking away from the group in the final descent.

“I am super happy with the win,” said Spratt after the race. “The team did a great job and we seem to be going from strength to strength. Both Kat (Garfoot) and I have been climbing well recently and once I had held the gap and the commissaire car was behind me I was pretty confident I had clinched it.”

“This area is really special to me after I was on the podium at the Junior World Championship time trial here in 2004. The win gives me great confidence going into the next month, which is a big one for me. I feel like the team is stepping up and you can see it in our results. There is a great vibe in the team at the moment and races like today can only build our confidence.”

“It was a great race,” said sport director Gene Bates was delighted by the performance of the team. “It was fantastic to see the team attacking from the front as they did, in what was a small but strong field.”

“Amanda rode a strong race and an outright win is the best way to do it! Macey also had a great race, leading the team out for the first 50km, as did Katrin (Garfoot) who was 2nd over the last climb. This was the last big race before the Giro starts and I am delighted that their hard work paid off and the way they finished off the job.”

The 103km race featured two climbs in the second half, and it was the final climb, just 10km from the finish line, which was the decider. With a group of 10 riders out-front for the final climb, Katrin Garfoot looked strong as the second rider to reach the summit.

It was Spratt, however, who was the strongest, taking the lead on the final descent to open up a 10 second gap, which she then extended to 20 seconds by the time she crossed the finish line as the winner. This is the second year in the row an Orica-AIS rider has taken victory at the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige – Sudtirol, after Valentina Scandolara took victory in 2014.

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