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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Friday, October 2, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday, we had the big-deal Milano-Torino, a single-day race.

Today we have the second stage of the French Tour de l'Eurométropole plus the Italian semi-classic, Giro del Piemonte.

Lotto-Soudal happy with Tour de l'Eurométropole first stage

The team sent this report:

After fifteen kilometres an early break of six riders went. Simone Antonini (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Christophe Prémont (Verandas Willems), Alexander Geuens (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Thomas Wertz (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Jayde Julius (MTN-Qhubeka) and Arthur Vanoverberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) managed to get a maximum lead of 4’30”. Christophe Prémont won all the GPM’s and  starts in the mountain jersey tomorrow.

With only thirty kilometres left, the breakaway was caught. Quickly, eight riders took off: Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal), Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Giuseppe Fonzi (Southeast), Jan Dieteren (Leopard Development Team) and Emiel Wastyn (Verandas Willems). They didn’t get more than 25” from the peloton. Five of the eight attackers didn’t want to settle with a bunch sprint and attacked again. Le Gac, Ligthart, Wallays, Van Melsen and Wastyn got caught with only five kilometres to go.

In the bunch sprint, Jens Debusschere showed his fast legs and won in front of Raymond Kreder and Timothy Dupont. Jürgen Roelandts became fifth. This victory is his fourth win of the season, after he already won a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico, GP Wallonie and Omloop van het Houtland. Also this win is the 40th UCI win for Lotto Soudal this season! In the general classification Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondial) keeps his yellow jersey.

Jens Debusschere

Jens Debusschere wins

Jens Debusschere: “Today was an easy day. The breakaway went early and afterwards the team of the leader controlled the race. Only in the last lap we had to work. At one and a half kilometres to go, I still had four teammates in front of me. Sean De Bie, Tosh Van de Sande, Kenny Dehaes and Jürgen Roelandts put me in a perfect position to do my sprint. The tempo that they rode was so high that nobody else could pass us. Jürgen started his lead-out on the right moment and I just had to time my sprint. This was just a perfect lead-out!”

“My prologue wasn’t that bad, but also not super good. A better result wasn’t possible. I did my very best and couldn’t go faster. But the overall feeling in the prologue was good. Tomorrow will be the second decisive day for the general classification. If there is as much wind as today, they will definitely  race. I know the climbs in the local lap well. Occasionally, I ride those hills on training. A top 10 in the general classification is still possible. Both Jürgen, Sean and myself are still close in the GC. We will wait and see how the race goes.”

Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about the Tour de l'Eurométropole first stage:

Tour de l’Eurométropole threw windy conditions at the riders on a fast 160km stage, while Pavel Brutt and stagiaire Antwan Tolhoek fought their way through the day after having suffered from food poisoning. Nikolay Trusov, the squad’s designated sprinter, finished 4th behind Debusschere after the final burst for the line.

Nikolay Trusov notes after stage 1 that had hoped for more but feels content with the outcome.

“Today we had a windy stage. The last part of the race was very controlled. I want to thank my teammates for supporting me, especially Gogl and Tosatto, who were protecting me during the stage. Michael Mørkøv brought me into a good position in the bunch sprint. It was very, very fast, faster than 70 km/h and I ultimately took 4th place. I’m satisfied with this result, but of course, I wanted more. Tomorrow I expect a different stage, it will be hillier and we will ride on the Gent-Wevelgem parcours. I think tomorrow's stage is not for pure sprinters but I’ll see if I can reach the finale in the first group", says Nikolay Trusov, while teammate Michael Mørkøv describes the final part of the stage after entering the circuit.

Nikolay Trusov

Nikolay Trusov

“It was a windy stage here in Northern France and Belgium and we were at the front on the last laps in an attempt to create some gaps and potentially move Boaro up in the GC. After a downhill section, we approached the final sprint, where we were able to put Nikolay into a good position. I think that we got the best out of it today. Nikolay is going well at the moment, he is a fast rider and we’ll definitely look towards setting him up for the sprint again. Meanwhile, we will naturally see if we can create a situation, where Boaro can advance further in the GC”, tells road captain Michael Mørkøv.

Stage 1 came in the wake of an opening prologue and offered 160km in fairly flat terrain. Team sports director Lars Michaelsen explains that two riders, in particular, had suffered on the stage.

“We were seven riders at the start but unfortunately two of our riders were sick. Pavel Brutt and Antwan Tolhoek had stomach problems during the night with frequent visits to the toilet with vomiting and they had hardly eaten anything before the start. We reckon that it’s food poisoning and in that light, they showed a great fortitude to fight on and finish the stage. Riding 160km in the wind is tough enough in itself and if you add this on top, their effort and determination was excellent”, comments Lars Michaelsen before adding about the stage conclusion: “It was nice and sunny, around 17 degrees, meanwhile the wind which was strong enough to make people hurt. We focused on the finishing sprint, however there was a moment of tension when Boaro had a puncture with 9km to go. Mørkøv gave his wheel and with help from Michael Gogl, Boaro made it back on. Mørkøv also made it back to the bunch with 3k to go, from where he took action and helped to position Trusov on the wheel of today’s winner Debusschere”.

And Tinkoff-Saxo had this to say about Milano-Torino:

Tinkoff-Saxo captain Rafal Majka demonstrated that he has carried on his shape from La Vuelta with a 2nd place finish in Milano-Torino, the undulating prelude to the final monument of the season Giro di Lombardia. Although unable to catch winner Diego Rosa, Majka deployed a series of accelerations on the final 5km climb of Superga to shake off the remaining rivals.

After a determined climb to Basilica di Superga, Rafal Majka tells that he didn’t have the best sensations just two days after his return from the Worlds but chose to push on.

“Today I didn’t feel so much comfort. I’ve been home from USA for just two days and I could feel that the body clock wasn’t adjusted fully. But I’m satisfied both with my second place and in the end also with my shape. Today was an important test ahead of Lombardia and I think that my legs will respond better on Sunday. The condition is there and that’s probably why I was able to push on and attack”, says Rafal Majka, who notes that he chose to attack early on, while receiving valuable support from his teammates:

“I was unsure about how competitive I would be on the final climb so I decided to attack early on, nearly at the bottom of the climb to try to open up the legs. My teammates supported me the entire day and Poljanski and Chris Anker were very important on the way to the final climb, where they positioned me, and also on the climb where Chris did a lot of work at the front. I could see that they were fighting for me – that was a boost. Normally I want to win in a situation like this, but I’m satisfied today. Diego Rosa was very strong, he attacked at a good moment and it wasn’t possible for me to catch him before the finish line after I had attacked the last time”.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka finishes second at the 2015 Milano-Torino

The 96th edition of Milano-Torino offered 186km in mainly flat terrain before the road kicked up within the final 20km, as the favorites had to settle the race by climbing the 5km Superga climb twice. According to Bruno Cenghialta, Tinkoff-Saxo sports director, the team can draw a favorable conclusion after the Italia autumn race.

“Today was super even though we didn’t get the win. Astana and Diego Rosa were very strong but at the end it was a fine outcome for us. Rafal was not super, super and he took the decision to attack on the first part of Superga to get the legs going. Chris Anker was very strong and he did a lot of loyal work together with Poljanski. Rafal told me that he wasn’t at his best and that he wanted to test himself, the outcome was good and I think he will be better for Sunday and Lombardia”, comments Bruno Cenghialta before finishing:

“The race evolved in a traditional fashion for Milano-Torino with a fast flat part until the last two climbs. It was better to wait for the last climb and from there it was very disorganized and Rafal followed some accelerations and also attacked on his own. In the end, he was among the strongest and we take that with us to Lombardia. Now we turn our focus on Gran Piemonte tomorrow, where Bennati will be our captain”.

BMC's roster for Tour of Lombardy:

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team has announced its roster for Sunday's edition of Il Lombardia, the final WorldTour race of the season.

Philippe Gilbert (winner in 2009 and 2010) and Samuel Sánchez (runner-up in 2012) will be joined by Vuelta a España Stage 14 winner Alessandro De Marchi, Darwin Atapuma, Damiano Caruso, Manuel Senni, Dylan Teuns and Peter Velits.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert wins 2010 Tour of Lombardy

The 109th edition of the race features a new course in the last quarter of its 245-kilometer route.

Riders: Darwin Atapuma (COL), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Manuel Senni (ITA), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Peter Velits (SVK).

Sport Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Max Sciandri (ITA).

LottoNL-Jumbo reports Van Winden contract extension:

Dutchman Dennis van Winden extended his contract with Team LottoNL-Jumbo through the following 2016 season. He will continue to lead the yellow and black train in bunch sprints.

“Dennis van Winden signs a one-year contract extension,” sports director, Nico Verhoeven explained. “We didn’t extend the contracts of Laurens ten Dam, Rick Flens, Barry Markus and Brian Bulgac on the other hand.

“Dennis returned with our team in April and had a tough period in the beginning. That isn’t odd when you consider that he didn’t start this season as a fulltime professional. He showed a very high level in the second part of this season. He gave us the confirmation in the Tour of Poland and the Vuelta a España. Our sprinters valued him highly as he is important element in the lead-out of the bunch sprints.”

Dennis van Winden

Dennis van Winden

“I’m very glad to extend with LottoNL-Jumbo,” Van Winden said. “This is a dream scenario for me. It’s great that I have been able to return at this level, and so quickly. The difference between the continental level and the WorldTour is enormous, and I have bridged it.

“I’ve been back on my bike only since January. It’s easy to improve in the first part of your rehabilitation, until you’re back at seventy per cent it goes quickly, but it’s becomes quite hard after that point. I faced that during the Tour of California, but it went well afterwards.

“It was important that I finished the Vuelta. That was the final step for me. I realised that I’m part of a beautiful team and I want to use my experience to support Moreno Hofland and Tom van Asbroeck in the sprints.”

Meier and Tuft continue with Orica-GreenEdge

Canadian duo Christian Meier and Svein Tuft will continue to add a little ‘Maple’ flavour to Orica-GreenEDGE with confirmation the pair will ride for the outfit for a further two years. Both men are regularly found on the front of the peloton supporting the high ambitions of the Australian outfit, a sight the team is excited to continue benefiting from over the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

At 38 Tuft is approaching the latter years of his career, but the 11-time Canadian champion is confident he can still deliver. “This team has been my home the last four years and could not imagine riding anywhere else, ever,” Tuft said. “I feel really fortunate to be part of it.”

“As I’m getting older, the races get harder, but I’m still very motivated and I’m convinced that I still have a lot to give. I love racing and I think my role going onwards will also be to help the younger guys – both in and outside races.

“My program will probably remain the same with the Classics and the Giro and then I’ll reassess with the sports directors to see for the rest of the year. I think we’ll have a great season.”

Orica-GreenEDGE agrees. “We certainly want Svein to finish his career with us - where and when that is will be up to him,” sport director Matt White said. “He is a guy that this year proved, even with the setbacks he had, that he is uber-professional and a guy that a lot of our young guys can learn a lot from.  He is a guy that gives 110% for the team every time he races.

Svein Tuft

Svein Tuft at this year's Strade Bianche

“Whenever there is a team time trial, Svein is obviously crucial but he is a very flexible rider and whatever the terrain he gives it everything for the team.”

Despite rarely seeing his name at the top of a results sheet, Meier is another crucial re-signing for Orica-GreenEDGE. The 30-year-old is one of the team’s most reliable and tireless workers. His efforts have contributed to many of the group’s successes in one-day races and Grand Tour stages, with the extension to general classification considerations an exciting prospect for the capable climber.

“I feel the coming years will be an exciting time for the team as our young guys continue to develop at a high level and our champions continue to perform,” Meier said. “Going forward, I hope to continue supporting our Ardennes riders and sprinters, but I’m excited to see how I can help support our future general classification ambitions too.

“Personally, I would like to seek out some races too and especially, I would love to qualify for the Olympics in Río next year.”

Without Meier’s willingness to suffer and sacrifice Orica-GreenEDGE would be missing a crucial cog to their wheel. “Christian in one of the mainstays of the team and a guy who’s reliable from January to October,” White acknowledged. “We know what we get with Christian and we need guys like him to win the big races that we do.”

Christian Meier
Date of birth: 21st February 1985 (30)
Nationality: Canadian
Turned pro: 2009

- 1st 2014 Bayern Rundfahrt – Mountains Classification
- 3rd 2014 National Championship Canada – Road Race

Svein Tuft
Date of birth: 9th May 1977 (38)
Nationality: Canadian
Turned pro: 2009

- 2014 1st National Championship Canada – Road Race & Time Trial
- 2014 1st Giro d Italia – Stage 1 (TTT)
- 11-time Canadian champion

Cult Energy re-signs Rasmus Quaade

Cult Energy-Stölting Group has signed a one year contract with time trial specialist, Rasmus Quaade. The 25 year-old Dane had a rough spring campaign where he was constantly weakened by illness but in the late part of the season, he re-found his strength, delivered a powerful performance in Tour of Denmark and finished 5th overall in Poitou-Charentes.

Rasmus Quaade

Rasmus Quaade

André Steensen says: “Rasmus had a season where he had to make the transition to the professional field and this season, he has had far more focus on road racing than before. Most of us remember that Rasmus took on the challenge in the spring campaign and showed a lot of guts by participating in a number of breakaways in for instance Liege Bastogne Liege, which requires stamina and dedication. In addition, we have seen that as the season has progressed, he has become stronger all the time, and his performance this fall in Poitou-Charentes and the Tour of Britain provides us with high hopes for the next season. With a pro-season behind him and a good winter break where he can recover, I’m confident that he will be able to combine his TT skills with his road race experiences, which will provide us with opportunities in several stage races with a time trial, and therefore we look forward to continuing working with Rasmus for the next season.”

Rasmus Quaade says: “I’m definitely content with my final part of the season while I can’t say the same thing about the early months of the year where I was struck by illness most of the time. However, I’m happy about being able to continue my development at Cult Energy-Stölting Group. I’m grateful that the management has been aware of my track career and has allowed me to take part of the 4000 meter Danish national squad. I’m confident that I’ve grown as a rider this year and I’m looking forward to bringing my experiences into 2016”, says Quaade.

Matteo Tosatto continues with Tinkoff-Saxo:

The statesman of the professional peloton will continue providing his invaluable services to Tinkoff-Saxo for another year, his sixth with the team. His experience and determination will be an asset in the squads that will help Alberto Contador and brand new World Champion, Peter Sagan, in 2016.

Tinkoff-Saxo is pleased to announce Matteo Tosatto's renewal for 2016 and looks forward to having him by the side of our captains in next season's races. His experience, determination and focus are the key factors that make him an important member of a Grand Tour squad and helper of big-name riders.

Matteo Tosatto

Matteo Tosatto in the 2012 Vuelta a España

Tosatto will now embark on the final races of the season in Italy and Abu Dhabi. Ahead of the races and the 2016 season, Tosatto elaborates on his renewal with the team, his goals, his nearly 20 years as a professional rider and what keeps him motivated to fight at the top of professional cycling:

How do you about feel renewing with Tinkoff-Saxo?

"I'm, obviously, very happy to be with this team for another year. I was already thinking about continuing and after the Giro d'Italia I saw I was still at a very good level and I could be useful to the team in 2016. I had a number of offers from other teams but staying with Tinkoff-Saxo was my priority. I wanted to continue being part of the group of one of the world's best riders, Alberto Contador, and with Peter Sagan now crowned World Champion, I am convinced I made the right choice."

What motivates you after nearly 20 years as a top-level professional rider?

"At this stage, motivation is mental. It's my head that drives me and the goals and objectives I have. It's extremely important to have clear goals in order to stay motivated. If you don't have this mental drive it will be very difficult to have the physical stamina to keep on riding. My goals might change every year but they keep me concentrated and willing to train, to live an athlete's life and go to races in top form."

"I could even say that in some occasions, in 2015 I felt better than 2014, especially at the Giro. I raced in top form and never felt worn out, even after the toughest stages. I raced in the Classics, the Giro and the Tour in very good shape, always pushing myself to stay motivated. One year more or one year less doesn't make much of a difference physically, it's your head that dictates your state."

Since goals are so important, which are your main ones for 2016?

"One of the team's main goals is for Alberto to be at the Tour de France in peak form, with a very strong squad around him. As a result, my main goal is to be at 100% of my form, physically and mentally, at the Tour in order to give my best for Alberto, the way I did this year at the Giro and Tour. If the team, prior to that, calls me to help Peter in the Classics, then I will be there to support the new World Champion, again in the best shape I can be."

How much different is training at 41 to training at a younger age?

"It's considerably different. You have to train more to achieve the same result. When you are younger, you are explosive, physically you are much fresher and you can recover faster. As you get older, you have to be more careful with your nutrition, your daily schedule, your sleeping hours, in general you have to live the life of a top athlete and abide to stricter rules. However, that doesn't bother me and I know that this is also due to the evolution of the sport in recent years."

How much has cycling evolved since 1997?

"There has been a huge change in professional cycling in the last 20 years. It requires much more sacrifices now and no matter what race you take part in, the peloton has a very high level of preparation. There has been a tremendous evolution as well in the technical aspects and there is an unprecedented attention even to the smallest details in materials, clothing down to sunglasses and helmets."

"Twenty years ago going to a wind tunnel was unheard of, while now one of the first things you do early in the season is to find your optimal aero position on the bike by carrying out wind tunnel tests. The way we race as well has changed. In the past, riders had more freedom while now we follow a much stricter tactical plan and we are in constant contact with the sport directors, at least in the major races."

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

"In hindsight, I don't think I would change anything because I started young, I had my chances to win, I won a stage at the Tour and the Giro, I pulled on the pink jersey and had my satisfactions. I then found my personal dimension in this sport, which was to be a key helper to team captains. That helped me as well and gave me the opportunity to be in big teams, supporting big-name riders. I don't consider this to be a minor achievement and the fact that there are various teams that would like to have me in 2016, at 42 years of age, in their squad is an important recognition of my value."

"The Tour stage I won in 2006 is the victory I'm most fond of because the Tour is the most beautiful and important race in this sport. I haven't had the opportunity to take part in the Olympics and represent Italy and it is something I would have liked to do. However, I have no regrets with what I have achieved in my career and I am now fully focused on the remaining races in Italy and Abu Dhabi and on helping my captains next year."

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