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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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Racing Today

Today is the Giro d'Italia's tenth stage. During Monday's rest day the race transferred up to northern Italy. Stage 10 is 200 km going from Civitanova Marche to Forlì.

The Tour of Norway (HC) begins Wednesday, the 20th.

Giro d'Italia Team Reports

This Alberto Contador inteview is from Tinkoff-Saxo:

Alberto Contador did a light recovery ride with his teammates of Tinkoff-Saxo during the first rest day of the Giro d'Italia 2015. After an hour of riding, the squad returned to the hotel and Alberto met with the press, after also having tested his time trial position ahead of Saturday’s long time trial.

At the press conference, Alberto Contador, who spends the first rest day of Giro d’Italia in the leader’s jersey, spoke about his race so far, his crash and injury and the challenges ahead.

-This morning you tested the time trial bike, did you want to adjust something?

“I've taken advantage of today’s rest day to test my position on the bike, and although I should feel better in five days, I still decided to slightly widen the position of my handlebars. It costs a little bit aerodynamically but it puts less pressure on my shoulder. In this situation I think it's more important to protect it”.

-Have you changed the position only because of your shoulder or also because the last part of the long TT is uphill?

“No, just to protect my shoulder. This is absolutely a time trial with focus on aerodynamic advantages. When I tested the route in training, I had an average speed of 40km/h and the last climb is very gradual”.

-How is your condition right now, are you satisfied with your overall position?

“I'm happy because I've been getting better every day after my crash. Yesterday my cadence was much closer to normal than during the stage to Campitello Matese. As for my situation in the general classification, I am also happy. I'm ahead of my rivals and they have to move, although it is true that the Giro has only just begun”.

-Aru asked for your collaboration yesterday and then he sprinted, how do you analyze this situation?

“It was something that I more or less expected. In the last kilometer I could have stayed on his wheel to save energy and avoid losing anything, but as I said yesterday, I hope this Giro won’t be won or lost by a second”.

-You began the Giro with the idea of conquering the double and in the first week you crashed. Did you think about all of this, when you crashed?

“Yes, I thought about it in the moment, when I crashed. I've never broken my collarbone and I feared that it was the case. Then I touched my shoulder and I instinctively put it back into position myself. Then I thought about all the sacrifices I had made and that I had sacrificed the beginning of the season for the Giro-Tour double. But it never crossed my mind to go home. As I later told a friend, if I had been forced to go home, I would have needed a psychologist”.

-After your crash, was it only your shoulder injury that limited you or did your legs also tell you to take it easy?

“After the crash, I have been more conservative instead of attacking - both yesterday and on the stage to Campitello Matese. Finishing these stages without losing time was good for me, because there is still more than enough terrain ahead. In this situation I preferred to be conservative”.

-How did the idea of the double start? Do you want to enter the history books after having already won the big three Grand Tours?

“For me it's just an extra motivation. If I’m successful, and that will be really hard, I might be remembered, but I do it only because of the difficulty of it, motivated by the sports side of it”.

-In your career, whenever you've taken control of the leader's jersey, you've never lost it again. Have you thought about where and when you could lose it here?

“I don't want to think about that possibility” (laughs)

-But is there any point of the race, where it could happen?

“The jersey can be lost on all stages, as we saw the other day, but we have to see what happens in the time trial, because Richie Porte is very strong there. Maybe this year, this tradition might not continue, but there are a lot of stages, where I could regain it again, if I lose it. In any case, this is just statistics”.

Alberto Contador fnishes stage 9

Alberto Contador finishes Giro stage 9.

-Has overcoming the shoulder injury given you even more motivation and desire to win?

“No, because it's almost impossible for me to have more motivation. I have worked hard for this, I have prepared not only physically, but also mentally… we'll see if I can do it”.

-Which of your opponents look strongest after the first week? Do you think that Aru has already spent too much energy and will pay for it?

“My main rivals are still Aru and Porte. Richie has some advantages at the time trial, but we have to see how the standings are after that stage. As for Aru, it is true that he has spent energy, but we have all spent energy. Aru’s terrain is in the high mountains, like me. So for me Aru and Porte are the most dangerous”.

-This first week has been very tough with a lot of stress. Now however, it seems as if there’s a few days of easier terrain before the time trial, are you worried about any stage before the time trial?

“Even though there haven’t been very tough finales, the first week was very demanding, the peloton has suffered and now it seems as if there’s is a period of relaxation, but we must remain attentive every day and above all save strength for the time trial”.

-Are you worried about losing the jersey before the time trial?

“No. We thought already about the possibility of transferring the jersey to Niemec, but when we slowed down the pace a little, Astana went to work and nothing happened. The real goal is to have it in Milan, until then the jersey might change owners many times”.

This team situation overview is from Lotto-Soudal:

The riders can enjoy a rest day after a first, hectic Giro week. Lotto Soudal already won a stage. A strong team performance led André Greipel to the victory last Thursday in Castiglione della Pescaia. In GC there are already considerable differences. Contador, Aru and Porte are the best at the moment. Jurgen Van den Broeck is now sixteenth at 3’33” of maglia rosa Alberto Contador and Maxime Monfort is seventeenth at 4’00”. Sports director Bart Leysen makes a first evaluation.

Bart Leysen: “The stage win of André Greipel gave a boost to riders and staff. In the stage to Genova André started the sprint too early; that can happen. Apart from the actual victory that stage win is also good for the team spirit. Tomorrow the course is perfect for another bunch sprint and we want to grab that chance with both hands. Friday’s stage is completely flat, so we’re looking forward to that one as well. Our riders are really keen to win a second stage. The day after tomorrow the stage finishes in Imola, on the race circuit, there is a hill on that circuit. Depending on how the race develops that stage can end with a sprint as well, but it’s also an opportunity for a breakaway, just like Thursday. Adam Hansen will definitely have another go.”

Andre Greipel wins Giro stage 6

André Greipel wins Giro stage 6

“It’s obvious who the three strongest riders in this race are. Top ten is still possible for Jurgen Van den Broeck and Maxime Monfort. Saturday it’s an individual time trial of 59.4 kilometres, that will be crucial. Such a distance means one can lose minutes. Before the start I knew the first week wouldn’t be easy, but I hadn’t expected such time gaps yet or that three riders would be so much better than the rest as Aru, Contador and Porte are now. It’s unusual in a Grand Tour. I expect, apart from the time trial on Saturday and mountain stage to Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday, that the second week will bring less spectacle between the GC riders.”

LottoNL-Jumbo News

Chairman Bill's note: We haven't covered the World Ports Classic before, but we will starting this year.

This from LottoNL-Jumbo:

When it comes down to a bunch sprint on May 23 or 24 in the World Ports Classic, Barry Markus will be Team-LottoNL-Jumbo’s man to watch as his team-mates will assist him. The sprinter will give his all for his chance in the Dutch-Belgian two-day race.

“I’m very motivated and want to get a result. I trained a lot and hard. Next week, I’m going to train behind the scooter a couple of times,” Markus said. “A part of the first stage is similar to the Tour de France’s stage to Neeltje Jans,” knows Markus, after attending the official presentation of the course a few weeks back.

“We face a lot of open dikes in Zeeland, so there is a chance that the wind will create echelons.”

Merijn Zeeman knows that the wind can play a role on both days. That’s why the Sports Director takes multiple scenarios into account. “The course, with its narrow and open roads, has all the ingredients for an attractive race, but then it has to be windy. Last year, the racing was very dull”, Zeeman remembered.

“We have Barry in case we’ll get two controlled rides ending with a bunch kick. But like I said, there’s a chance that we’ll see an aggressive race. If there are moments, that we can force something, we will certainly look at those opportunities. We have riders who are capable of that, and something like that can also favour Barry’s chances.”

Team line-up: Brian Bulgac, George Bennett, Tom Leezer, Barry Marcus, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen, Robert Wagner & Kevin De Weert.

Sports Director: Merijn Zeeman.

Giant-Alpecin is also going to the World Ports Classic

The team sent me this note:

On the program for this weekend is the 4th World Ports Classic. The race that traces its origin to the Tour de France start of 2010 in Rotterdam is once again connected with the French Grand Tour, as the race crosses the same route as the second stage of this year’s Tour de France.

The Dutch two-day race begins this Saturday and will feature two stages. The first starts in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and finishes in Antwerp, Belgium, and the second starts in Antwerp and returns to Rotterdam.

In last year’s edition of the race, the team won the second stage and took second place overall, both with Ramon Sinkeldam (NED).

Sinkeldam is included in the Team Giant-Alpecin lineup again this year, and he will be supported by a strong team with lead-out and echelon capabilities. The roster will include Zico Waeytens (BEL), after his strong performance with three top-10s in the Amgen Tour of California, which ended yesterday, and Tom Veelers (NED), who made a successful comeback to competition at the Bayern Rundfahrt. Marcel Kittel (GER) returns to racing in the World Ports Classic and will focus on gaining race rhythm before departing to the team's altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada (ESP).

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel at this year's Tour Down Under

Also in the lineup will be Lars van der Haar (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED), who played an important role for the team in the two stage wins in the Bayern Rundfahrt. The roster is completed by Roy Curvers (NED) and Thierry Hupond (FRA), who come fit out of the Tour of California.

“We will aim to achieve a stage win through strong teamwork, and winning a stage also means that a good GC result is within reach,” said coach Rudi Kemna (NED).

“This World Ports Classic is an ideal opportunity to check out the course for this years Tour de France. We recently did a recon already, and now it is good to ride the same roads again while racing.”

COACH: Rudi Kemna (NED)

LINE-UP: Roy Curvers (NED), Lars van der Haar (NED), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Marcel Kittel (GER), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Tom Veelers (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL) 

Cult Energy is going to the Tour of Norway

The team sent this note:

Wednesday 20th of May, Cult Energy Pro Cycling takes on Tour of Norway. The race contains five stages in all kinds of terrain and the overall winner will have to be an allrounder in spite of the fact that the race doesn't hold an individual time trial. The Danish team enter the race with a strong line-up and DS, Michael Skelde has high hopes:

"We are looking forward to Tour of Norway and we enter the race with optimism. We want to make sure that we flash the jersey and we expect that we have a good chance of an overall result as well. Gustav finished 4th last year and on form, he can do something similar. Unfortunately, we don’t have any sprinters in the line-up so we have to do it from a distance if we want to make a stage result. As teams only count six riders in the race, we might see a different and a more exciting kind of race altogether,” says DS Michael Skelde.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s line-up: Karel Hnik, Michael Reihs, Rasmus Guldhammer, Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann and Gustav Larsson.

Linus Gerdemann

Linus Gerdemann is going to Norway.

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