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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, June 22, 2015

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Today's Racing

No racing today.

On Sunday the 21st, four stage races finished: the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland), the Women's Tour of Britain, the Dutch Ster ZLM Toer and the Route du Sud.

The coming week is national championship week. Then, on July 4th, the Tour de France and the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt) begin

New Bike Book

Before moving on to race reports from the teams, I got this press release regarding a book I think might be interesting. I haven't read or seen the book yet.

High Road: Chasing the Yellow Jersey

A must-read novel for Tour de France fans

Few would argue that professional cycling at the Tour de France offers a fitting backdrop for tales of intrigue, bizarre personalities and tests of character. In fact, the sport’s recent widely publicized doping scandals revealed true stories that could easily be labeled “stranger than fiction.”

High Road Cover

The inspiration behind David Chauner’s first novel, High Road: Chasing the Yellow Jersey is to serve up an intriguing tale of behind-the-scenes characters who make up the pro cycling world and the choices these characters make when caught up in the challenging environment of the Tour de France. In the balance are ethical decisions brought on by pressure from others and the overwhelming desire to win.

High Road’s central character, Kurt Dufour, is a talented young athlete who, through a strange set of circumstances, gets a shot at winning the Tour de France. But in order to do so he must face decisions that test his character, his ethics and his will to survive in a sport that is rife with deception and manipulation.

The story unfolds through Dufour’s unforgettable teammates, an American television crew assigned to cover an unfamiliar sport, an attractive young producer and a French team owner and his subordinates who diabolically plot to stop Dufour. With plenty of interesting characters, humor, romance, skullduggery and unpredictable plot twists, High Road is a fast-paced tale from the underbelly of the Tour de France, one of the World’s most unusual sporting events.

Phil Liggett, cycling’s best known English speaking television commentator says of High Road, “You don't need to be a cyclist to enjoy this book. I could not put it down, and neither did I work out the ending. This is a brilliant read, although Phil Sterling (a character in the book) did seem to come very near to home!”

Nine-time Tour de France finisher, Frankie Andreu, called the book, “…a cycling tale with plenty of drama and tension. It brings to life the gritty world of cycling while capturing the essence of the sport.”

Reviewers of books by independent authors have given high marks to High Road including a 5 star review by Indie Reader and 4.5 stars by Self -Publishing Review.

The author, David Chauner, has been involved in cycling as an athlete, television commentator, writer and event producer for forty years. He competed as an international cyclist for ten years and is a two-time Olympian. In 1983, he participated as an on-camera analyst in the first American coverage of the Tour de France by CBS and his articles on the sport have appeared in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. As a business owner, Chauner has produced many of the great cycling classics in the U.S. including a 28-year run of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship with its infamous Manayunk Wall, the Million Dollar Triple Crown of Cycling, the San Francisco Grand Prix and others. He is now a partner in World Cycling League, an innovative indoor track cycling league currently under development.

According to Chauner: “As an avid reader of fiction and many books on cycling, I realized that good novels with plausible, behind-the-scenes portrayal of the sport and the characters who follow it are rare. I wrote High Road to fill that void.” 

For more information on the book and author, please visit the author’s website: High Road, Chasing the Yellow Jersey is available as an ebook or paperback. To request a review copy or author interview:

Tour of Switzerland Reports

This came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka finishes 9th in the final time trial at Tour de Suisse and makes his way into the overall top ten. Satisfied with his performance, Majka’s strong TT effort concludes a good week for Tinkoff-Saxo, where team captain Peter Sagan managed to grab two stage wins and the overall points classification.

After finishing 1’26” behind stage winner Tom Dumoulin on the 38.4km time trial, Rafal Majka notes that he is satisfied with the progression made in Tour de Suisse.

“For me, Tour de Suisse was about getting back into race mode, building speed in the legs and improving my shape before July, where I want to be in top shape. Overall I think I managed to do a good Tour de Suisse, making it into the top ten. My shape has improved and I now have some days of recovery and I expect that my condition will be at a higher level than before the race started”, says Rafal Majka before adding:

“I’m happy to have been a part of this squad, we’ve supported Peter and managed to win two stages and the points classification. We’ve spent a lot of time at the front taking responsibility and we’ve worked well together. Maybe I could have been a bit further up in the GC if I had achieved a better result on the queen stage but, for sure, I look forward to the challenges to come”.

Peter Sagan netted two stage wins and several top finishes during the nine stages, which meant that he could finish comfortably in the lead of the points classification.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan did well at the Tour of Switzerland

“Today’s final TT was on a very hard parcours with some technical sections and hilly parts. We weren’t the favorites for this stage but overall, Tour de Suisse has been a good race for the team and also for me. I’m happy with my two stage wins because they were a result of great teamwork. I’m proud of my teammates’ effort, they have supported me and we have aimed to create results whenever possible”, asserts Peter Sagan before elaborating overall outcome:

“Maybe I could have won one more stage but that’s cycling, it doesn’t always go the way you wish for on every single stage. However, this was my first race since Tour of California and I’m satisfied with the state of my condition and it’s important for the morale and the team to have momentum before the Tour. Anyway, I will now focus on recovery and I will do my best at the national championship, which is my next obstacle”.

After 9 stages of racing in Switzerland Simon Spilak (KAT) just edges ahead of runner up Geraint Thomas to take the overall win. Rafal Majka, en route to Tour de France, finishes 10th overall as best Tinkoff-Saxo rider in the GC. For Sean Yates, team sports director, the team fulfilled its ambitions.

“As we said before the start of Tour de Suisse, our aim was to grab as many stage wins as possible with Peter and to provide Rafal with a good opportunity to improve his shape. We fulfilled our ambitions and Peter took two impressive stage wins, where he showed his class and the team provided excellent support. On stage 4 and 7, we definitely came close with Peter, who finished second both times. On stage 4, he started his sprint a bit too early and on stage 7 he came really close after he had been blocked”, explains Sean Yates and finishes:

“Nevertheless, there will always be stages where it doesn’t pan out and stages where it does. We can be pleased with our result. I saw a team that worked together to achieve our goals and Peter finishes Tour de Suisse with the same momentum, as he had after Tour of California. We didn’t just wait for a stage win to fall into our lap but we took responsibility at the front and that takes a team effort. Breschel, Mørkøv, Bennati, Brutt, Trusov and Valgren can be pleased with their effort as Tour de Suisse is no easy race to control”.

And Giant-Alpecin had reason to be happy with the Swiss Tour's final stage:

Tom Dumoulin (NED) raced to victory in the closing time trial of the Tour de Suisse, taking his second win of the week, after his victory in the prologue.

The closing stage of the Tour de Suisse was an individual time trial of 38.4km around the city of Bern. Dumoulin was the fastest, with a time of 48’36” and an average pace of almost 47.5km/h on the rolling parcours.

Dumoulin’s strong performance today lifted him to third in the general classification of the Tour de Suisse.

Tom Dumoulin (NED): “I am really happy with this win. The course went up and down constantly, with a lot of technical sections, which always makes it difficult to find a good rhythm, but that suited me well today.

“Underway I heard the intermediates of the GC competitors and I had mixed feelings because I had hoped for the GC win as well, but the others were very fast and I was strong enough to beat them in the time trial.

“My form is excellent at the moment, and compared to last year I have taken another step forward in my development, also as a leader within the team.

“I never focused on the result; instead I focused on my effort in the time trial. In the end I got the best result possible, and I don’t think I lost it anywhere. The goal was to deliver two good time trials, and I did this by winning them both.” 

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin delivering the goods at the Tour of Switzerland

Addy Engels (NED): “It was an exciting day, and we can be very satisfied with the outcome. Tom did everything well and rode an outstanding time trial, but his direct GC competitors were fast as well.

“In the back of our mind we had hoped for the overall win, which is normal when you are in the position Tom was in today. For now we are very happy, as it turned out to be the best possible result. His time trial could not have been better, and it’s an honest result.

“Third in the GC in a WorldTour stage race like the Tour de Suisse is very good.” 

Route du Sud news

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Tinkoff-Saxo and team captain Alberto Contador defended the overall lead on the final stage of Route du Sud setting the pace at the front of the peloton throughout the stage. Upon crossing the finish line, Alberto Contador and the squad had secured Tinkoff-Saxo’s second consecutive win at Route du Sud, 17 seconds in front of Tour rival Nairo Quintana. “I will keep my focus on my preparations”, says Alberto Contador.

After four days of racing in Southern France, Alberto Contador was proclaimed the winner of Route du Sud on the podium in Gaillac following a team effort to control the race.

"I'm happy with this victory at the Route du Sud but this doesn't change anything in view of the Tour de France. It would be a mistake to change the mindset right now, thinking that this win would give me more confidence. It was a hot day and it was about controlling the race and defending our position. The entire team worked hard and I'd like to thank everybody for their effort. I feel proud of them. We still have another 13 days until the start of the Tour de France and I will keep my focus on my preparation, in order to reach the start in the best shape possible”, says Alberto Contador.

Alberto Contador wins stage 3

Contador wins Route du Sud stage 3, setting him up for the final overall victory.

Stage 4 from Revel to Gaillac saw Tinkoff-Saxo at the front of the bunch in an attempt to control the events. The breakaway of the day was caught within the final part of the 166km parcours and Tinkoff-Saxo passed the front to the sprinters going into the final kilometers. Patxi Vila, team sports director, notes that the stage was harder than expected.

"Although it would appear it was an easy final stage it turned out harder than expected. It took more effort to bring back the breakaway but all in all we are, obviously, happy with the result. It has been a good and fruitful week. We came with two main objectives, to win the queen stage and have a good GC position. Alberto won both the stage and the race, so it is a result that satisfies us. Alberto was in good shape and, hopefully, he will keep his form until the Tour. However, it is still too early and we expect his rivals to be strong. His victory is the result of a very hard and dedicated work by the entire squad, especially in the two last stages", finishes Patxi Vila.

Cult Energy's Route du Sud report:

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Christian Mager spent the day in the long-lasting breakaway during today’s 166 kilometer long fourth and final stage of Route du Sud from Revel to Gaillac, which was concluded in a bunch sprint. Michael Carbel made his way to the front after two punctures in the high-pace finale.

Christian Mager took part of today's break with 8 other riders while being chased by the field where Tinkoff-Saxo took charge of the pace-making. However, as the stage entered the finale, Team Canondale took over the responsibility in the fire engine. With ten kilometers to go, the gap was still one minute and nothing was settled but the gap was coming down fast on the final kilometers and going under the five kilometer banner, the breakaway riders started attacking each other and soon after, they were all caught.

Michael Carbel

Michael Carbel

From then on, it was all about the sprinters and Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Michael Carbel was in a favorable position passing the red kite but in the final left corner, he lost a few positions in the hectic battle and finished outside the top-10.

Bryan Coquard (Europcar) won the stage while Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador took the overall win.

Cult Energy sprinter, Michael Carbel explains: "It was a tough stage concluding a demanding race so everyone seemed tired. I enjoyed the support from my teammates in the finale starting 35 kilometers from the finish where I had a puncture. Ten kilometers later, I had another one. Obviously these incidents stole most of my energy and I spent the next 15 kilometers slowly but surely navigating my way back to the front. In the closing kilometers, I was in a very good position but was out of strength and had to settle with nothing, " says Carbel and ads: "Now my focus is on next week's Danish national championships."

Cult Energy Pro Cycling DS, Luke Roberts comments: "Everyone was tired and sore after a few days of hard racing and Mads Pedersen had to withdraw from the stage paying the price of his breakaway activities in the last couple of days. Surprisingly to everyone including Christian, he spent the day in break after having trouble simply getting out of bed this morning due to fatigue. As everyone could see, he didn't have enough power to take part of the pulling in the break and could hardly follow the pace. But the fighting spirit and killer instinct is always there. Overall, I think we can be satisfied with our efforts here. Not only did we take part of the action up front, we came really close of going all the way a few times with different riders. Now, everyone deserves a few days of recovery before the nationals coming up," concludes Roberts.

Ster ZLM Toer News

This from Lotto-Soudal:

It was a successful Ster ZLM Toer for Lotto Soudal. André Greipel was the best in the second and third stage and he is the overall winner. The German is first in the points classification as well and Lotto Soudal is number one in the team classification. Matt Brammeier won the final stage, he escaped in the last kilometres and was able to stay in front. Greipel finished on the second place, teammate Greg Henderson was third. In the general classification Greipel is sixteen seconds ahead of Yves Lampaert and Moreno Hofland. Jens Debusschere, fourth on La Gileppe yesterday, is seventh overall.

Matt Brammeier wins stage five

Matt Brammeier wins Ster Toer stage 5

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We came to the Ster ZLM Toer to win a stage. The prologue was flat and ideal for sprinters. The team performed strongly there. That was already important for the victory of the team classification. Thanks to his good prologue André could put on the leader’s jersey after his stage win of Thursday. In that stage a reduced peloton sprinted for the victory, the day after it was a real bunch sprint. Greipel started a bit too soon and wasn’t at his best, but he could still beat Moreno Hofland. That’s strong.”

“The overall victory wasn’t a goal in itself, we didn’t want to do the impossible to keep that jersey. But the Ardennes stage was perfect, other teams led the chase and Greipel could stay in the first group. Today there was a front group before the first intermediate sprint, where bonus seconds could be gained. Those escapees were caught in the finale. The attack of Brammeier made that Hofland wouldn’t be able to take sufficient bonus seconds in the sprint to get the overall win. André was second in the stage, Henderson third. Except for the crash of Adam Hansen all went well this week.”

Lisa Brennauer wins Women's Tour of Britain

Velocio Sports sent this:

Hemel Hempstead, UK, 21 June 2015 - Velocio-SRAM's Lisa Brennauer has won the overall classification at the Aviva Women's Tour of Britain today that concluded in Hemel Hempstead. Brennauer finished six seconds ahead of Julien D'Hoore (Wiggle Honda) and seven seconds in front of Christine Majerus (Boels Dolman CT) who rounded out the podium.

The final stage from Marlow to Hemel Hempstead was won by young British rider Hannah Barnes (United Health Care Pro Cycling) and Brennauer sprinted to fourth. The fourth placing, along with one bonus second from an intermediate sprint meant that Brennauer held onto the yellow leaders jersey. The general classification was close going into the final stage and it was Orica-GreenEdge who immediately put the pressure on, working hard to get their leader Emma Johansson (+11 seconds) into contention for the overall podium. Attacks from Orica Green-Edge, Liv-Plantur and Wiggle Honda put pressure on the Velocio-SRAM team but they managed to stay in control of the situation. A late breakaway of Claudia Lichtenburg (Liv-Plantur) and Audrey Cordon (Wiggle Honda) was again caught only in the last kilometer of the stage making for a fitting exciting finale of the tour.

Brennauer was ecstatic with the win, "I am so happy to win this tour! I came into the race with no particular expectations or goals, just simply to race well and for our team to do the best we could. When I had the yellow jersey then my team mates were incredible around me. There are no words really to describe how much work they did for me! All week they were taking bonus seconds or helping to bring the break back, or doing a lead out for me. They were really incredible and I have to thank them very much."

Lisa Brennauer wins Britain stage 4

Lisa Brennauer wins Britain Tour stage 4

Team Director Sportif Ronny Lauke was pleased with the tour results. "I think overall, every rider has contributed to the team success this week. They have been working hard together, calculating and making decisions out on the road, and then have been able to finish it off by executing a tour victory for Lisa. I think it's great."

The team will have seven riders taking part in their National Road Championships this week, before the next stage race for the team, the Giro Rosa in Italy on 3-12 June.

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