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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Thursday, September 10, 2015

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

Today's racing:

Two races today. The Vuelta a España will have its 18th stage. With a first-category climb that crests with about 14 kilometers to go, it will be no cakewalk. Race leader Tom Dumoulin should expect to get hammered. He does have a considerable descent to the finish to catch anyone who drops him.

And, the Tour of Britain will hold its fifth stage, Prudhoe - Hartside Fell.

Vuelta a España team reports

This was surely a report Giant-Alpecin was glad to send:

Tom Dumoulin raced to victory in stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, a individual time trial of 38.7km, taking his second win of the Vuelta and retaking the race lead. Dumoulin was the fastest on the rolling parcours, with a time of 46’01” and an average pace of almost 50.5km/h. His strong performance today lifted him into the lead in the general classification of the Vuelta.

Tom Dumoulin (NED): "I am very happy with this victory and with taking the red jersey again. My legs were great and I was able to concentrate on my performance. I wasn’t thinking about the intermediates, just focusing on my own effort to see what it would bring.

"I have been feeling better by the day, and even now I am still feeling relatively fresh. There are still some difficult days to come, though, which will mean a good show for the fans. There are some important competitors close behind me in the GC, and I hope they will attack each other as well. The Vuelta is already a success for me and the team with two stage wins. And we will do our best to make it even better." 

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin turning the big gear to his stage win

Addy Engels (NED): "This is super and we are really happy. It was a perfect time trial on a parcours that suited Tom as a specialist. Technically he did an awesome job, which was just enough for the leader’s jersey. He was motivated and managed the mental side well. The general classification is still close; we had hoped for a little more margin.

"It will be big fight and a challenge with three difficult stages ahead of us and the differences in the general classification this small. We have to be 100 percent focused and alert.” 

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Vuelta report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Maciej Bodnar put in a strong effort leading the 38.7km ITT at La Vuelta for most of the day but ultimately slipped to 2nd place behind stage winner Tom Dumoulin. Captain Rafal Majka sits 4th in the GC, while sports director Tristan Hoffman underlines that the podium is still a clear goal.

After stage 17 of Vuelta a España, runner-up on the stage Maciej Bodnar comments: “It is, obviously, never easy to accept second place but today Dumoulin was clearly the strongest rider. He has put on a very strong performance so far in the Vuelta and in that sense it is good to be beaten only by him. It is a pity though I spent most of the day on the organizers 'hot seat', waiting for the final result and at the end I was beaten by one of the last riders to start. I would like to thank the entire team because they believed in me for the time-trial since the very start of the Vuelta. We have worked on that a lot during the season and, hopefully, that will pay its dividend with a victory in the future”, says Bodnar, who finished 1’04” down on stage winner and new race leader Tom Dumoulin.

“I would also like to give special thanks to my coach and sport director, Patxi Vila. We have a very good working relationship and today, he was in the car behind me. It was the first time-trial we did together and the result was very good. This was a very good race and I am sure I will keep improving. It was the first race in which I wasn’t stressed but still focused. I was following my watts and I was consistent in my effort throughout the race without wasting any energy in the first part. That's why I was able to push even harder in the second half of the race and build an advantage over my opponents”, adds Maciej Bodnar.

Maciej Bodnar

Maciej Bodnar riding Vuelta stage 17

Rafal Majka took 17th on the ITT in Burgos – neither bad nor really good, says the team captain: “I’m not unhappy about this time trial. I lost my 3rd place to Dumoulin, but he is a time trial specialist and the gap was not big before the stage. It wasn’t easy but I did my best. It’s difficult to compete against Dumoulin’s high speed on the flat sections for a rider like me. But I gave it all I had. I wasn’t super comfortable today, it’s the third week of the Vuelta and the fatigue is coming. Now we have three important stages and we will see how the situation is in Madrid”, explains Rafal Majka.

For Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director Tristan Hoffman, the outcome of the stage was accompanied with mixed feelings. “We are of course very proud of Maciej Bodnar and his performance. Although second places are never fun, he did a very good time trial but we just have to acknowledge that Dumoulin was superior today. Maciej set the best time very early and waited for a long time in the hot seat. Then it’s naturally a disappointment, when you have to forfeit the top spot after building up all that tension. He approached the time trial in a smart way controlling the pace on the first kilometers and then building up the intensity and pace”, tells Tristan Hoffman and adds:

“Rafal Majka did a fairly good time trial today, but it wasn’t the best he has done. He was 17th and took some time on Rodriguez, while he lost time to Dumoulin, which we had counted on. We knew that Dumoulin would pass him in the GC and then it was just a question of whether he would take time on Aru for instance. In the end, Movistar got a very good result, which means that the top GC fight will be close and very exciting during the next days”

Tristan Hoffman underlines that the team will continue to aim for the podium during the coming stages. “We have confidence in Rafal and the team and we will go out there and try. Movistar, Astana, Katusha will all put on the pressure and we have to be a part of that. Then we will see, who comes out on top. For us, it’s more important that we try out for the podium than playing safe for 4th place overall. If you finish 4th or 7th doesn’t matter that much, what matters is that we can finish the race in Madrid knowing that we did everything we could to get on the podium with Rafal”, underlines Tristan Hoffman ahead of the mountainous stage 18.

LottoNL-Jumbo didn't have good luck today:

Maarten Tjallingii and Martijn Keizer finished 42nd and 45th in the 17th stage of the Vuelta a España. Martijn Keizer lost a top-15 result because of a late crash in the 38.7-kilometre trial, which new overall leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) won.

“Maarten Tjallingii and Martijn Keizer were going to give the best they could for a good result”, sports director, Erik Dekker said after the race. “The others had to make sure that they would save some energy for the upcoming days.

“Martijn crashed, unfortunately. That was a painful moment for him. It was his goal to finish between fifth and 15th, and he was going to finish close to that goal. He made a little mistake and crashed at a roundabout with only ten kilometres to go. He was well prepared and motivated. It’s a pity that he wasn’t able to reach his target.”

Martijn Keizer

Martijn Keizer earlier this year in the Dauphiné

“It’s a disappointment,” Martijn Keizer said. “I was provisionally 14th after 27.5 kilometres and I was feeling like I was riding a good time trial. I wanted to give it all today because it was my last chance at a good result in this Vuelta. That’s why I took so many risks. A little too many when you look at it now. I rode into a roundabout with too much speed. It’s a pity.”

The riders are going to face several climbs again in the 18th stage. “The stage starts with flat roads,” Dekker continued. “But the end of the race is very hard again. The finish line is just after a first categorised climb. This stage is a chance for us. We want to be in the early breakaway.”

Canadian racing plans

Lotto-Soudal sent this update on the two important Canadian races:

Yesterday, the Lotto Soudal selection left for Canada. Later this week two WorldTour races are scheduled there, the GP Québec on Friday and the GP Montréal on Sunday. Both races take place on a closed circuit. Most of our riders will directly head to Richmond afterwards for the World Championships team time trial.

The Grand Prix Cyclist Québec starts Friday at 11:00 am local time (17:00 CET) and consists of sixteen laps of 12.6 kilometres, a total distance of 201.6 kilometres. Each lap 186 altitude metres will be covered, that’s a total of 2976. There are four short hills on the course: Côte de la Montagne, Côte de la Potasse, Montée de la Fabrique and the last straight line Grand Allée. Last year Simon Gerrans won the race, but the Australian doesn’t start this year as he is riding the Vuelta at the moment. A group of nineteen riders fought for the win in 2014; Tony Gallopin got ninth.

Two days later, the peloton moves to Montréal for 17 laps of 12.1 kilometres, 205.7 in total with 3893 altitude metres. The three hills on the course are longer than in Québec: Côte Camillien-Houde, Côte de la Polytechnique and Avenue du Parc. Also in Montréal Gerrans was the best last season, ahead of Rui Costa and Tony Gallopin.

Sports director Herman Frison: “Benoot, Gallopin, Roelandts and Wellens should all be able to set a good result on those courses. That also means that I can only be satisfied when we at least animate the finale and get a top ten in both races. Montréal is supposed to be harder than Québec, but when you see that Robert Gesink won the race in Québec two years ago, it’s clear that both races are selective. Often we get into the final lap with 80 riders, but a much smaller group arrives at the finish together. The fact that the races are only 200 kilometres long makes the race stays closed for a long time and that more riders can compete for a good result.”

“Québec is a very nice course, perfect for a World Championship, but also Montréal is nice. This is modern cycling: you have the monuments, but also a new set of races like Hamburg, Plouay and these Canadian races. They take place in a smaller area, which makes it nice for the public, are a bit similar to the concept of a World Championship and are tough enough to get a selection.”

Tony Gallopin: “I’m ready to race in Canada, and to ride the team time trial and the road race at the World Championships. After the Tour I had to take some rest for my knee, but that problem is solved now. I couldn’t ride San Sebastián but that means I’m fresher now and very motivated for September, which is an important month. I restarted competition with the Olympic test event in Rio, the GP Plouay and Brussels Cycling Classic. Together with training rides that should be sufficient.”

“In Québec and Montréal you often think the race is decided, but each time the race starts all over again. Just like last year, I want to ride the finale twice. I love that type of races: a closed circuit, tactical, tough finishes,… The past years I was always there to race and I feel that I’m still making progress. And of course I’m already thinking about what comes afterwards. With the World Championships and Lombardia there are two more races coming up in which I want to perform well.”

Tony Gallopin

Tony Gallopin on the pavé of stage 4 of this year's Tour de France

Team Selection Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Tony Gallopin, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.

Sports director: Herman Frison

LottoNL-Jumbo is also headed for Canada:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo travels with ambition to Canada for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec (September 11) and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal (September 13). The team did well in past editions, when it always battled for the podium, but knows that past performances in sport are no guarantee for the future.

“We have shown that these Canadian races suit us,” Sports Director Jan Boven said. “Why? That’s a bit hard to say. Plouay is a similar race, but we never manage to make a difference there.”

Boven has not been a sports director on previous occasions in both Canadian classics. “But I’ve already talked with Frans Maassen. Both races have world championships worthy courses and the racing is like it is in a classic. The course is so heavy for example that Robert Gesink can beat Peter Sagan in a sprint, like two years ago.”

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink riding stage 10 of this year's Tour de France

Boven is counting on Gesink, who has won both races in the past. “Robert has shown that he’s able to perform here. Sep Vanmarcke is in good shape, as well. The real plan we’ll make the day before the start.”

Gesink won in Montreal in 2010 and in Quebec in 2013. Last year, he didn’t travel to Canada, but the Dutchman returns this year with ambitions. “I travelled to Canada a little earlier to get a small advantage over my competitors,” Gesink said. “This way, I can really focus on this race. When I arrived in Quebec, I immediately got the good feeling back. I worked hard to prepare for these races and trained intensively with Steven Kruijswijk. After a fantastic Tour de France, I’m back here and I’m aiming for the highest possible place.”

Team line-up: Jos van Emden, Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, Tom Leezer, Barry Markus, Paul Martens, Sep Vanmarcke & Maarten Wynants.

Sports Directors: Jan Boven & Mathieu Heijboer.

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