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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, May 16, 2015

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Today's Racing

The eighth stage of the Giro d'Italia, the sixth stage of the Tour of California, and the fourth stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt -Tour of Bavaria.

Plus, the second stage of The Tour of Picardie.

Giro d'Italia Team Reports

This Alberto Contador update came from Tinkoff-Saxo:

24 hours after dislocating his left shoulder twice, Alberto Contador rode 264km to consolidate his pink jersey on the longest stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. Like the rest of Tinkoff-Saxo, Contador expressed his satisfaction with making it through the stage despite having suffered ahead of tomorrow’s important mountain stage.

Alberto Contador, backed by a dedicated and concentrated squad, showed willpower and determination on stage 7 of Giro d’Italia. Crossing the line in Fiuggi, Contador explains that the day had been a big test.

“I’m happy because I made it through this very long day and that is something I wasn’t sure about before the stage and especially not yesterday. On the other hand, I have suffered a lot experiencing much pain. It was a stage of more than seven hours and after around four hours I had a moment where I didn’t know where to place my hand on the handlebar”, says Alberto Contador and adds: “Now I hope that with more days on the bike I will be a little bit better, but for sure I have some very difficult days ahead of me. I hope that I can make it through them as best as possible”.

Alberto Contador rides Giro stage 7

Contador stayed out of trouble in stage 7

Tomorrow, Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador will face another crucial test, as the Giro d’Italia moves into the mountains with an uphill finish to the 1st cat. climb of Campitello Matese.

“Yes, tomorrow is a complicated day for me. It’s a day that I was waiting for prior to my crash, because it was a stage, where I could have attacked. But now I have to be calmer and quieter on the bike and wait and see what my rivals do. At this moment, the only thing I’m thinking of is to put ice on my shoulder and knee to recover in the best way possible”, states Alberto Contador.

Stage 7 of Giro d’Italia was the longest in 26 years with its 264km. A decimated field arrived to the finish line, where Diego Ulissi (LAM) won the stage, while Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger maintained their positions as 1st and 4th in the GC. Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh tells that the squad did “more than a great job”.

“Alberto had a tough day with a lot of pain. We will see tomorrow, but we have two hard days before the rest day. Today the strategy was pretty simple. We wanted a small group in the front so we could take control of the situation, as we didn’t know how he would ride. In the end, it went well and the sprinters’ teams took to the front in the finale after we had been in the front to protect him”, comments Steven de Jongh before elaborating on tomorrow: “First we’ll see how the night goes after today. And then we’ll take a decision once we’re in the race tomorrow in terms of the tactics there. We will support him all the way like the guys did today. All of them were more than great. They assisted him with getting food and stuff out of his pockets and they were acutely aware of the responsibility we as a team have”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

Lampre-Merida was justifiably happy with Giro stage 7:

An emotional victory in the longest stage of the Giro d'Italia, Grosseto-Fiuggi (264 km), but not enough to be compared to the long period to which Diego Ulissi put the end thanks to his success, the 18th in his career and the 4th in the Giro d'Italia (the first one was obtained in the longest stage of the 2011 edition of the Pink Race).

Legs, concentration, feeling with the team mates; everything in the sprint which allowed the twenty five year old Italian talent to beat Lobato, Gerrans and Belletti.

Diego Ulissi wins Giro stage 7

Diego Ulissi wins Giro stage 7.

The Lampre-Merida team was once again stunning in the approach to the final kilometer, thanks to Ferrari and Richeze who raised the pace of the bunch, trying to launch Modolo, who could not complete his action on the light hill final straight. In that moment, Ulissi began his progression, after having exploited the perfect support by Mori: his sprint was amazing and the victory was impressive.

"It's such a joyful moment for me and I like to share it with the people who supported me in the past months: my family, my friends, my fans, the team mates, the sponsors and the team, which always gave me its help - Ulissi explained - The stage was very long and the sprint too: when we exited from the final bend, some riders began their action, but it was too early. I prefer to wait and to start to accelerate in a later moment, exploiting the work by my team mates.

"What a great feeling after the arrival, something difficult to describe, especially when I saw all of my team mates celebrating as they had won a World title: Mori was so happy, he spent many days with me in the past months, I thank him and all the other team mates, we're racing as an united team.

"I was aware that my form was improving, but I was also aware of the fact that it was important to wait for the best chance: the sport directors kept told me to be patient and they were right".

Jan Polanc retained the blue jersey as leader of the Kom classification.

LottoNL-Jumbo had this to say about Giro stage 7:

The longest stage in the Giro d’Italia 2015 became a quiet one for Team LottoNL-Jumbo. The team assessed the breakaway as too small to be part of and the profile was too hard for sprinter Moreno Hofland. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won the stage.

“It was a long day,” sports director Frans Maassen said. “That could have been different, but you need the riders and a favourable wind for a high pace. It was headwind the whole day, so it was hard for the escape riders to go for it with full motivation.

“We were initially planning to be part of a breakaway, but we didn’t want to be in a small, group without hope. It became clear that several teams didn’t want to let go a bigger group of riders, so we chose to go for plan B. That was to try something in the final with Moreno Hofland or Steven Kruijswijk.”

The final kilometres proved to be too hard for Hofland, however. “André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) was the only sprinter who was able to maintain his spot in the first group,” Maassen continued. “But he didn’t have the power to sprint any more. That proves that it was tougher than it seemed in the road book. Steven isn’t someone who has the abilities to force something in a bunch sprint, but he rode a carefree stage.” Kruijswijk has to prove that he is in a good shape in the summit finish stage on Saturday. “It’s the first uphill finish on a first category climb,” said Maassen. “It will be one for the overall riders again.”

Lotto-Soudal sent this Tour de Picardie report:

Kris Boeckmans has won the first stage of the Tour de Picardie. Teammate Jasper De Buyst was second. The stage from Moÿ-de-l’Aisne to Tergnier was about 162 kilometres long and finished with three laps of twenty kilometres. In the last lap five early escapees were caught. The stage ended with a sprint, won by Kris Boeckmans. This was his fourth victory of the season. The Lotto Soudal rider is the first GC leader in this three-day stage race.

Kris Boeckmans

Kris Boeckmans wins stage 3 of the 2015 Nokere Koerse. He's having a good year.

Kris Boeckmans: “Twelve kilometres before the finish we came to the front with the team. With four kilometres to go the road got narrower, that was a dangerous point. We lost each other for a moment, but we found one another again. There were a lot of turns in the last two kilometres. Jasper and I were first to get out of the last turn at 450 metres, we couldn’t doubt anymore. Behind us there was a crash. Now we have the leader’s jersey we’ll defend it. I expect support from the French teams like FDJ and Europcar who have a sprinter. We’ll definitely aim for another stage win the next two days.”

Tinkoff-Saxo Has to Be Happy with Peter Sagan's Tour of California

This from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Peter Sagan netted his second win of this year’s edition of Tour of California and took the overall race lead, as he smashed the previous times set in the 10.6km time trial. The Tinkoff-Saxo captain now eyes a small opportunity in the overall GC leading with 28 seconds after the fast TT, where also Bennati and McCarthy delivered top performances.

It looked like a motivated Peter Sagan has he vigorously forced his bike up to speed after rolling down the start ramp. And after crossing the line in a pulverizing time 15 seconds faster than the runner-up, Sagan also stated that he had been very motivated.

“I was feeling in great shape today and this shorter race course helped me. This morning I was feeling confident and I believed I could make it. I was aiming at the yellow jersey without focusing on a stage victory but I got both. I tried, I gave my best and I'm happy with the result. My sports director Patxi Vila was following me in the team car and as he was giving me my intermediate times, I saw I was getting faster, which made me confident in the fact that I would have a big advantage”, says Peter Sagan, who explains that he has been working on his time trial.

“Over the winter, I spent more time on my time-trial position and carried out tests in the Specialized wind tunnel as well as on race tracks in Europe after Paris-Roubaix. That had, undoubtedly, a positive impact on my time-trial performance. If Maciej Bodnar had been here, I am sure he would have won and we could have had two Tinkoff-Saxo riders on the podium”.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan enjoys his stage win and overall leadership at the Tour of California

With a 28 second lead in the GC to Toms Skujins and more than 50 seconds to the pre-race GC favorites, Sagan adds that he will do his best on the mountainous stage: “Tomorrow, I will try to be in the front and go for the GC but I don't know because of my weight whether I will be able to do that”.

Hoffman: “Couldn’t have asked for more”

Due to adverse weather conditions, the scheduled 24.2k ITT at an altitude of 2000 meters was replaced with a shorter one of 10.6km at Big Bear Lake. Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Tristan Hoffman compliments the proactive decision by the race organizers as well as the performance of his captain.

“First of all, I would like to thank the organization for setting up a perfect race course in such a short notice. And most importantly of course, Peter was fully motivated and gave his best. Not only did he take the stage he was also able to move to the overall lead and claim the jersey. For us, it was a very good parcours, a very fast 10km circuit, not very technical. It was also more suited to Peter Sagan given it was short and fast”, Hoffman says.

The sports director also notes that he was happy to see Daniele Bennati and GC-hope Jay McCarthy pull off top ten finishes.

“I am also very happy with what Bennati achieved. He finished fifth, just 22 seconds behind Peter. McCarthy had a good performance as well, finishing eighth in the time-trial and moving to sixth overall. I don't think we could have asked for anything more from the squad”, adds Tristan Hoffman before looking ahead: “Peter now has a 28-second advantage over Toms Skujins but tomorrow's finale is extremely tough. Given the position he is in, I believe Peter will go for it but so will the pure climbers. They have been looking forward to the climb to Mt. Baldy for the whole week. Peter feels in good condition, he is very fit and has shown on the other climbs that he was able to follow the best. You never know but it will certainly be a tough and exciting stage”, finishes Tristan Hoffman.


Meanwhile, Cult Energy was at the Bayern Rundfahrt:

Today’s 205 kilometer long third stage of Bayern Rundfahrt from Selb to Ebern was practically an exact replica of the previous two stages. A breakaway didn’t get enough gap to make it last and a bunch sprint decided the outcome in spite of a late attack from Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Christian Mager. Teammate, Fabian Wegmann finished 10th.

Fabian Wegmann

Fabian Wegmann

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Quaade was a part of today’s initial breakaway but with tomorrow's TT coming up, he decided to drop back to the chasing field. With ten kilometers to go, the last standing escapee was brought back and Cult Energy’s Christan Mager launched a counter-attack with two companions. But the sprinter teams were in complete control of things and in the fast finish, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon) took his second stage win while CultEnergy's Fabian Wegmann was 10th across the finish line.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling DS, Luke Roberts states: "We had hoped that the race opened up a bit more today and more GC contenders wanted to create a gap before the time trial tomorrow and as we reckoned that the bunch had the break under control, we called Rasmus back so he can be ready for tomorrow. In the finale, Christan jumped away on a climb with a couple of riders but they were back in the pack going under the two kilometer banner. The rest of the boys did a good job setting up Fabian for the sprint. Tomorrow, we have three riders still in contention for an overall result, Linus, Rasmus and Gustav and I'm looking forward to a good result," concludes Roberts.

Ramon Sinkeldam extends with Giant-Alpecin:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) has renewed his contract with the team. The new agreement extends his commitment for another two years, until the end of 2017. Sinkeldam is currently racing his fourth season, as he joined the team in 2012.

A former Under-23 Dutch champion and winner of the Under-23 Paris-Roubaix, Sinkeldam has achieved three pro wins to date. His best results on the highest pro level include two stage wins at the 2012 Tour de Hainan, a third in the GC of 4 Jours de Dunkerque in 2013, a second in the GC of the Tour de Picardie in 2014, and a win in stage 2 of last year’s World Ports Classic. Recently, Sinkeldam finished third in stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire. 

“Ramon is an important member of the lead-out train; he is part of the core of the team and is increasingly becoming more of a specialist in the spring classics and WorldTour races,” said coach Rudi Kemna (NED). 

“I am very happy with the confidence showed by the team and with the chance to further grow and develop,” said Sinkeldam. "I want to be an important rider for the classics as well as the sprints. I feel at home with the team, and the positive atmosphere is an important factor in helping me feel good and perform well. I am really looking forward to the coming years.”

Team Sky lineup for Tour of Norway:

Team Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for the Tour of Norway [20–24 May]: Nathan Earle, Andy Fenn, David Lopez, Lars Petter Nordhaug and Chris Sutton.

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