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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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

Upcoming Racing

Next races are the "HC" ranked Four Days of Dunkirk (4 Jours de Dunkerque), and the 2.1 Tour de Azerbaidjan, both starting on Wednesday, May 6.

New: Women's Race Coverage at BikeRaceInfo

I've been waiting until I was sure I could do it properly and handle the extra work (I'm a humble guy who knows his limitations). But starting with the Amgen Tour of California Women's Race, beginning on May 8th, we're going to cover women's racing at the same level as we do men's races. That is, complete results for all races ranked 1.1/2.1 and higher, along with the day's race story and, when available, pictures.

I've long felt these superb athletes deserve the same attention men racers get and I'll try to do my share.

Also, I'll try to up the women's racing news content in our daily news page (this page). Women's team managers and race promoters: do you hear me? Have team or racing news? Shoot me the info. Our contact info is in the "Site Information" in the header.

Lisa Brennauer

I'll try to do justice to the efforts of terrific athletes like Lisa Brennauer.

I think this is going to be fun, as it should be.

More Teams Release their Giro d'Italia Rosters

Sky has settled it's Giro team:

Richie Porte will lead Team Sky for the first Grand Tour of the year, the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Porte, who has already won Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino this season, will lead the nine-man team which features Italian riders Salvatore Puccio and sprinter Elia Viviani, alongside Bernhard Eisel, Sebastián Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Leopold König, Mikel Nieve and Kanstantsin Siutsou.

The 98th edition of Giro d'Italia starts on Saturday 9 May with a team time trial in San Lorenzo al Mare and concludes on Sunday 31 May in Milan.

Team Sky’s race leader Richie Porte said: “The Giro d’Italia has been my main goal of the season. I’ve worked very hard through the winter and am entering the race strong, healthy and up for the challenge. The competition will be tough, and obviously anything can happen in a Grand Tour, but we’ve got a great group of riders going into the race and we are ready for it.”

On confirming the team line-up Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “Team Sky has had a great start to the year and we are going into the first Grand Tour of the season with a strong team, led by Richie.

“Richie is entering the race in good shape and with real focus and determination. He’s made a lot of small changes across a number of areas in his preparation and training this season after the illness that affected his performance in 2014. His results this season speak for themselves with excellent wins at Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino. This is one of the biggest and toughest races to win in the calendar but we go to the Giro confident about the challenge ahead.”

Richie Porte

Richie Porte enjoys his overall victory at the 2015 Giro del Trentino

The Team Sky squad for the 2015 Giro d'Italia:

Bernhard Eisel – age 34 – Austria
Lining up for his 17th Grand Tour appearance, the Austrian has carved out a reputation as one of the most respected road captains in the peloton. Few can read a race like Eisel, who also boasts renowned lead-out abilities and power on the flat.

Sebastián Henao – age 21 – Colombia
One of the most exciting climbing prospects in the sport, Henao made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro last year as the youngest rider in the race. The Colombian took the event in his stride, and with 12 months of experience he could be a rider to watch this year.

Vasil Kiryienka – age 33 – Belarus
The powerful Belarusian’s fifth appearance at the Giro will be his first in Team Sky colours. Often seen setting a fierce tempo on the front of the peloton, Kiryienka has also enjoyed individual success at the race, with two epic mountain stage victories in 2008 and 2011 respectively.

Leopold König – age 27 – Czech Republic
A new arrival at Team Sky over the winter, the Czech climber has a superb record in his blossoming Grand Tour career. With top-10 overall finishes already secured at both the Tour and the Vuelta, König has all the tools to make an impact on his Giro debut.

Mikel Nieve – age 30 – Spain
An elite climber suited to the steepest slopes, Nieve has finished in the top 10 on both his previous visits to the biggest race in Italy. 2011 saw him take a huge stage victory at Val di Fassa, and the Basque rider will by a key climbing ally for Richie Porte this time around.

Richie Porte – age 30 – Australia
Team Sky’s leader at the 2015 Giro d’Italia, the Tasmanian has enjoyed his best ever start to a season, with nine victories already under his belt. After back-to-back stage race victories at Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the recent Giro del Trentino, Porte heads into the race as one of the favourites. He also made his name at the 2010 Giro, wearing the leader’s jersey and winning the young rider classification.

Salvatore Puccio – age 25 – Italy
Another member of Team Sky who knows what it is like to wear the famous Maglia Rosa, Puccio had a debut Giro to remember in 2013 when he led the race for a day. Now in his fourth season as a pro, the Italian will have a key team role to play across the three weeks.

Kanstantsin Siutsou – age 32 – Belarus
Another man with a Giro stage victory on his palmares, Siutsou heads into the race carrying great form out of the recent Giro del Trentino. A key rider in Team Sky’s climbing plans, the Belarusian will be one of the last riders to pull off in the high mountains.

Elia Viviani – age 26 – Italy
The second of Team Sky's Italian contingent, Viviani has come close to an elusive Grand Tour stage victory in both his previous participations at the Giro. After a strong start to the season, the sprinter will be hoping to get a bit of luck to match his renowned finishing speed.

This Giro roster and news from Orica-GreenEdge:

Oroca-GreenEDGE has named a strong nine-rider squad it believes can deliver on the high ambitions of the team heading into the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia, which starts this Saturday. The Australian WorldTour outfit enjoyed great success in the first part of the Italian three-week tour twelve months ago, taking out the opening team time trial to wear the pink leader’s jersey for seven days and winning two further stages courtesy of Michael Matthews and Pieter Weening.

Sport director Matt White isn’t shy in his hopes for matching that success in 2015. “We are aiming for multiple stage wins and the leader’s jersey,” White said. “If we could achieve similar results to last year then it would be a fair call to say we would be satisfied. I honestly think it’s achievable. I think if we can win the first stage team time trial we are off to a sensational start.

“Then when you look at the stages throughout the three weeks, we have got multiple options with our fast guys in Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans, we also have a great group of opportunists to take on the medium mountain stages and even high mountains with Esteban Chaves.”

A team time trial again kicks off the 21-stage Giro d’Italia on Saturday. The 17.6km stage from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo is flat and un-technical.

ORICA-GreenEDGE is boosted by their core group of team time trial riders; including Luke Durbridge, Brett Lancaster and Michael Hepburn who were involved in last year’s success.

Brett Lancaster

Brett Lancaster

“We have four guys who have a wealth of experience in that event in Brett Lancaster, Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge and Sam Bewley and they’re the back bone to our team time trial,” White said. “All of those guys have ridden a world title with us in the event, three of the four of them are Olympic medalists in the team pursuit and Durbo is a world champion. They are guys that handle big pressure, they handle big events and they’re really looking forward to Saturday.

“And in the other half of the team we have some strong guys who we know can contribute at an incredibly high level.”

For the fast, punchy stages ORICA-GreenEDGE will enjoy multiple options from the dynamic duo of Matthews and Gerrans who will each receive their opportunities, whilst also working together. “Ideally we’d like to see both Simon and Michael leaving with a stage win each," White said. We will be taking it day by day. There are certainly a few stages that suit their characteristics and the decision on who leads the team will be made as each stage progresses.”

The medium mountain stages will be suited to the likes of 2014 Giro d’Italia stage winner Weening and 2012 Vuelta a Espana stage and mountains classification winner Simon Clarke who will be given a free reign to ride themselves to a result.

“Both Weening and Clarke will be getting multiple opportunities to go on the hunt for stage victories,” White said.  “Pieter has ticked that box a couple of times before, last year with us and a couple of years before he came to the team and it’s Clarke’s first Giro and I know he’s excited to race a Grand Tour in the country he spends much of his year.”

Colombian climber Chaves wraps up the nine-rider squad but, despite being the team’s first ever general classification consideration at the Vuelta a Espana last year, will not ride for an overall result. “We are thinking more long term for Esteban,” White said. “We want to use the Giro as a big block for him. It’s all still part of his comeback. He rode the Vuelta last year, with some great results and we are going to build on that at the Giro but general classification is not something we will be targeting as a team.”

Between Saturday, 9th and Sunday, 31st of May, the Giro d’Italia will present 21 stages, two rest days and 3,841 total kilometres of racing with six identified stages for both the sprinters and the climbers and much in between.

Orcia-GreenEDGE at the Giro d'Italia (9 - 31 May): Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Simon Gerrans, Michael Hepburn, Brett Lancaster, Michael Matthews, Pieter Weening

Tinkoff-Saxo's Giro Lineup and news:

Giro d’Italia is fast approaching and represents the first, major goal of the season for team leader Alberto Contador, who will receive support from the likes of Kreuziger, Basso and Rogers in an attempt to claim the overall win at the end of the 3,482km Grand Tour.

At the start in Sanremo, Tinkoff-Saxo lines up Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso, Sergio Paulinho, Manuele Boaro, Matteo Tosatto, Christopher Juul-Jensen and Ivan Rovny.

Last week, Alberto Contador talked in depth about his form, this year's parcours, his opponents as well as the strong squad that will support him during three demanding weeks.

According to leading sports director Steven de Jongh, Tinkoff-Saxo fields a competitive and driven team with the ability to support captain Alberto Contador in diverse terrain in the search for the overall win. “The main goal is to do the best possible GC result with Alberto. For the flat stages, we have big engines in Boaro, Tosatto and Chris Juul, while Paulinho, Rovny and also Boaro will be essential in the medium mountains. Our clear road captain is Rogers, who together with Kreuziger and Basso represent a very strong supporting trio in the mountains. I’m convinced that we have a really strong squad around Alberto”, says Steven de Jongh, who adds about the preparations made: “We all know that a grand tour is long and a lot can happen over the course of three weeks. However, if Alberto stays safe and fresh, he can play a main role in the GC. Alberto and the boys had a really productive altitude camp on Teide, where Rovny and Kreuziger also went earlier. And following the Ardennes Classics, I can see that Roman is in great form. I’m confident that the guys stand fully prepared on Saturday”.

Alberto Contador

Contador at the 2015 Ruta del Sol

Tinkoff-Saxo trio ready to support in the mountains
Asked about his view on the daunting three-week race, Roman Kreuziger comments that his main objective is to support the team captain.

"I spent the last few days recovering from the Ardennes Classics with some light training and I feel that I'm currently in good shape. With a few days left until the start, I'm completely focused on the Giro. I want to be as ready as possible and I will do my best to support our leader Alberto Contador in his quest to win”, says Roman Kreuziger before detailing: “I have raced the Giro twice, in 2011 and 2012, and it's a race I really like because of the country and its people. Although it's less stressful than the Tour de France, it isn't any easier! The climbs are shorter but they are steep and intense. I feel that I have the shape required to help Alberto in these climbs and I look forward to the start on Saturday. I feel excited to take part in such a prestigious race with such a great team."

Tinkoff-Saxo’s road captain Michael Rogers underlines that preparation is pivotal with key challenges such as Passo del Mortirolo, Colle delle Finestre and the long 59.2km TT on the menu during the 3482km route of this year’s 98th edition.

“To fulfill my goal of arriving at the Giro d’Italia with a balance of physical conditioning and mental freshness, the Tinkoff Saxo coaching staff and I decided to put greater focus on quality blocks of training, rather than the traditional early season competitions. Collectively as a team, we have done our best - both on and off the bike - in preparation for the Giro. I feel we have a well-balanced team, and we look forward to the numerous challenges that lay ahead in the next three week”, comments Michael Rogers, who returns to Giro d’Italia after having scored two memorable solo wins in last year’s edition.

With eight participations and two overall victories in 2006 and 2010 as well as six stage wins, Ivan Basso comes with great memories and experience from the Giro. This year he’s not gunning for the GC, but underlines that he has prepared as if he were. "My determination, drive and will are identical to when I was preparing for the Giro d'Italia as team leader, where my goal was to win it. The only difference is that now, all my energy will go to serve the team and our leader, Alberto. I feel in great shape. We have put a tremendous amount of work, we tried to take care of every single detail and we are convinced we will hit the starting line the way we planned”, says Ivan Basso and notes: “Alberto is in great form himself and the entire squad is in the best shape possible. I think the quality of work at the training camp was excellent, we rode a lot, we talked a lot and discussed at length our approach. Our leader is the world's best rider and that fact gives confidence to the rest of the squad. The Giro is always difficult and there will never be an easy moment. The first days will be difficult including the team TT. Then, after the fifth stage the climbs start and we will always have arduous days. Simply said, the Giro is always complicated”, finishes Ivan Basso.

Veelers out of Giant-Alpecin's Giro roster:

Tom Veelers (NED) will unfortunately not line up for the start of the Giro d’Italia this Saturday in San Lorenzo al Mare. Veelers needs additional time to recover from the knee injury that he sustained at the beginning of the year. To overcome his injury, he underwent keyhole surgery at OCON in Hengelo, the Netherlands, four weeks ago. In consultation with the performance staff, the team’s physician and Tom himself, the team decided that more recovery and training time is needed before he returns to competition.

“I was hoping for a faster recovery so that I would be ready for the Giro d’Italia, but disappointingly we need to postpone my comeback again, after already canceling my participation in the Tour de Romandie. At this moment it is better to fully recover than to return to competition too early, and I am not yet at 100 percent. There are plenty of goals ahead of me this season, so I don’t want to force anything now,” said Veelers.

Team physician Anko Boelens added: “Tom is recovering from keyhole surgery to repair a small cartilage imperfection. He is improving steadily, but at this moment he is not free of pain, so the Giro d’Italia is too early for him.” 

Both Veelers and the team are disappointed that he will not be able to be present as a valuable member of the lead-out train for Luka Mezgec, but getting back to a normal performance level is the first priority. Veelers will work closely with the team’s medical and performance staff to ensure a gradual buildup in the intensity of his training. For the Giro d’Italia, Veelers will be replaced by fellow Dutchman Tom Stamsnijder.

Here's LottoNL-Jumbo's Giro roster news:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will start Saturday May 9th with Steven Kruijswijk as their leader at the 98th Giro d’Italia.  The Giro starts in San Lorenzo al Mare with a team time trial of 17.6 kilometers. The leader of Team LottoNL-Jumbo ensured  an extensive preparation on altitude on the island of Tenerife. "I've been working on this year's Giro d'Italia since last winter, a conscious goal set by me and my team. My team gives me both  confidence and chances to pursue a good classification as their leader, with the support of  riders around  me. I would like to meet the expectations that I have raised  in my first two seasons with two good Giros."

Just like Steven Kruijswijk, Moreno Hofland has targeted the Giro d’Italia well in advance. On Saturday he sprinted to a long anticipated first win of the season for Team LottoNL-Jumbo, as the Dutchman was unmatched in the bunch kick of the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.

Moreno Hofland wins Yorkshire stage 2

Moreno Hofland wins the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire second stage

"I gained a good feeling in Tour de Yorkshire,” Hofland said. “I had a difficult start of the season, things didn’t go as planned, but hopefully we can keep this trend going. I was already full of morale, but this gives me an extra boost in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia. In the difficult stages in the Giro, I will try to save energy. On the days that offer opportunities, I will go for it."

Team manager Jan Boven has great faith in team leader Steven Kruijswijk. "A top ten ranking is a wonderful challenge for Steven. He already proved  his abilities in the past. This year, however, there are a few more additional top riders at the start. The preparations went well for Steven. He has prepared at altitude, just like in 2011, when he finished with an eighth place. Steven is a quiet leader, who focusses well. Our team will try to create a relaxing atmosphere, ensure we have a clear daily plan and ride as a team."

Boven knows that winning a stage is a real challenge. Together with Frans Maassen and his riders, he will do everything to win a stage. “The spring season of Moreno was less successful than expected. That's unfortunate, but the Giro is  a motivation to show the world what he can do. His speed can help us to win  a stage victory. George Bennett and Martijn Keizer have also prepared themselves at altitude. Our team also has strong riders that will excel because of  spring power in their legs."

Team Line-up: George Bennett, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Steven Kruijswijk, Nick van der Lijke, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner.

Sports Directors: Frans Maassen & Jan Boven.

LottoNL- Jumbo's Tour of California Roster and News

This just came in:

Robert Gesink is aiming to get involved in the Tour of California after his strong performance in the Tour de Romandie. Team LottoNL-Jumbo is also counting on a good showing from Tom Van Asbroeck in the American stage race. In the Golden State, the Belgian sprinter can rely on the support of Dennis van Winden, who will make an immediate comeback to the team.

“I’m very happy to return to the highest level,” Van Winden stated. The Dutchman rode for Baku Cycling Project during the first months of the season and has signed with the Dutch squad until the end of the year. “I’m proud to be a part of the family again. I want to thank Baku for the opportunity they have given me. It is a project I believe in and I’ll keep following them for sure. I’m looking forward to assisting Robert and Tom as much as I can in the Tour of California.”

Sports Director Erik Dekker is content with the return of Van Winden. “Dennis is a strong lead-out man. Our sprinters will certainly benefit from his presence. In California, we’ll start working on the  Van Winden-Van Asbroeck train because in the sprints, we want to take on Cavendish.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink in the 2015 Tour de Romandie

Gesink has shown his class on several occasions in the Tour of California. In 2007 and 2008 he was the best young rider and in 2012 he triumphed in the overall. In total, he won two stages. “I think the Tour of California is a beautiful race. I’ve been successful here in the past and after riding the Tour de Romandie this is a logical step for me. I hope to be able to compete for top results even more than in Switzerland, because ultimately that’s what it’s all about. With Moreno Hofland’s win in Yorkshire the team’s year has taken off. I want to continue that success in America.”

Gesink will remain in the USA after the Tour of California with his family to train at altitude. “I want to prepare myself for the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. I like being in the States as it offers me the perfect combination of training and fun."

Team line-up: Tom van Asbroeck, Laurens ten Dam, Jos van Emden, Robert Gesink, Mike Teunissen, Sep Vanmarcke, Dennis van Winden & Maarten Wynants.

Sports Director: Erik Dekker.

Cult Energy's Tour of Dunkirk Lineup

The scrappy team sent this note:

Wednesday 6th of May, Cult Energy Pro Cycling will be taking on the French stage race, Four Days at Dunkerque covering five stages in the Northern part of France near the windy coastline, which is a crosswind adventure guarantee. Only three times in the past 15 years, the race has been won by a non-Frenchman and Arnaud Demare has conquered the overall win in the past two editions.

DS, Michael Skelde says: “After a fairly successful Tour de Yorkshire we are now ready for yet another stage race. Unfortunately, the team is currently slightly affected by the consequenses of crashes and we’re having difficulties completing a full line-up. However, I’m looking forward to seeing some results from some of the riders who primarily have been supporting other riders until now. The line-up consists of riders with an up-going form rate and they are very motivated. Personally, I hope for a race with plenty of opportunities for aggressive driving. The race is a very good match for a team like ours and in Russell, we have a guarantee for being able to participate in bunch sprints,” says Skelde.

Russell Downing

Russell Downing

The line-up: Russell Downing, Michael Reihs, Martin Mortensen, Mads Pedersen, Troels Vinther, Joel Zangerle and Christian Mager. Due to a crash yesterday, Zangle is still questionable.

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