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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, September 14, 2015

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

Upcoming racing:

We had four races finish yesterday: The Vuelta a España, the Tour of Britain, the GP Montreal and the Tour du Doubs.

Next races we'll cover will be the Coppa Agostoni, held in Italy, and the GP de Wallonie, run in Belgium. Both happen on Wednesday, September 16

Adam Hansen completes thirteen Grand Tours in a row!

This one report came from Lotto-Soudal:

The end of the Vuelta also means an exceptional performance of Adam Hansen. The Australian rider of Lotto Soudal will complete his thirteenth consecutive Grand Tour today and that way he breaks the 57-year-old record of the Spaniard Bernardo Ruiz, who rode twelve Grand Tours in a row in the fifties. How exceptional this performance is, is indicated by the fact that in the history of cycling only about thirty riders succeeded in finishing three Grand Tours in one season, among them current sports director Mario Aerts in 2007.

Hansen started his road to the record at the end of 2011when he completed the Vuelta of that year and then he did the same at the Giro, Tour and Vuelta of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. On GC he always finished between place 53 and 129. In the Giro 2013 Hansen won the seventh stage with finish in Pescara, when he rode solo to the finish after a rainy stage. More than a year later he repeated the effort in the Vuelta, when he jumped away from the peloton in the finale and stayed ahead until the finish in Cangas de Morrazo.

Adam HansenAdam Hansen wins stage 19 of the 2014 Vuelta

Adam Hansen: “This performance is definitely special and unique. After each Grand Tour more and more people started talking about the record. It was only after the sixth or seventh that it became an issue, when I completed the three Grand Tours for the second time in a row. It didn’t become an obsession, but of course I’m proud that I could break the record.”

“The hardest Grand Tour was without any doubt the Tour de France of this year, when I crashed in the beginning, got injured and had to continue for three more weeks. Also at the Giro of 2012 I crashed early in the race. Physically the Vuelta 2012 was the hardest, because that was the first time I rode the three Grand Tours in one season and I was exhausted.”

“The highlights are of course my stage wins, but also the wonderful performances of the team, like the stage wins of André and the yellow jersey of Tony. I keep my race number of all Grand Tours, as I do of each race, a jersey and the road book. I hope I can still win a stage at the Tour. If I will continue racing all Grand Tours? Until I fall off my bike (laughs). The only thing that’s a pity is that I can’t ride a lot of other nice races, but who knows that might happen someday.” 

Vuelta a España team reports

Giant-Alpecin had a good day at the Vuelta's final stage:

John Degenkolb (GER) won stage 21 of the Vuelta a España, which ended as usual in the capital city of Spain. Following an easy run of 40km and 10 circuits of 5.8km, the peloton prepared for a bunch sprint in the streets of Madrid. Degenkolb won the stage after three podium finishes earlier in the Vuelta.

John Degenkolb (GER): "Finally! I am super happy to get this victory. We have waited 21 stages for this one. It’s really nice to pay the team back for all the hard work they’ve done in the sprint stages. Yesterday was a black day us. We were very disappointed, but that’s sport and that’s life; we cannot change it. We are all proud of Tom. The Vuelta was one day too long, but I am confident that he will be back.

"I think this is the most successful Grand Tour for the team so far, and I am very happy and proud of what we all achieved as a team during this Vuelta. This is a very nice way to finish the race, and we really deserved this victory. It gives us much more positive feelings to go home with.

John Degenkolb wins Vurelta stage 21

John Degenkolb wins Vuelta stage 21

"I feel good. Last week I was able to hang on and stay with the climbers for quite a long time, so I’m in good shape and I hope to recover well. I’m looking forward to the world championships. It’s all or nothing for me." 

Christian Guiberteau (FRA): "This was a great way to end this great Vuelta for the team. Everyone was disappointed after yesterday, and we made the shift again this morning and the motivation was really high to go for our final chance with John and redeem ourselves a little bit.

"The guys rode well during the stage, as they stayed together and the lead-out was also great. I am really proud of the whole team, not only the riders but also the staff. It was an intense Vuelta with a lot of exciting moments for all of us, and to perform like this in a Grand Tour is wonderful." 

Here's BMC's take on the day:

Madrid - Jempy Drucker of the BMC Racing Team sprinted to third in Sunday's final stage of the Vuelta a España to notch his first career podium result in a grand tour.

John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Alpecin) took the victory ahead of Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) in the 98.8-kilometer race that finished in the streets of Madrid. Winner of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic last month, Drucker's result added to a pair of fourth place finishes on Stages 3 and 5 and a sixth place on Stage 12.

"With 500 meters to go, I was a bit boxed in," Drucker said. "But I found some space. When I started my sprint, I was on van Poppel's wheel. I could still move up and was close for second. Degengkolb was simply the fastest."

Jempy Drucker

Jempy Drucker (in the BMC kit) earlier this year

Drucker was one of five BMC Racing Team riders who finished the three-week race. Alessandro De Marchi soloed to victory on Stage 14 and finished third on Saturday while Darwin Atapuma and Amaël Moinard both finished the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia this year. Drucker and Joey Rosskopf both completed their first career grand tours.

"I can't say I am totally done. I still feel pretty good," Drucker said. "Of course, I feel the fatigue but my tank is not totally empty, so that is already a good sign. The third week, there were riders who suffered much more than me. I hope to take a lot of profit from these three weeks."

In addition to De Marchi's stage win, the BMC Racing Team also won the Stage 1 team time trial and put Peter Velits in the race lead for a day. But Velits withdrew due to fatigue while injuries forced the withdrawals of Marcus Burghardt, Samuel Sánchez and Tejay van Garderen.

Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) won the overall title 57 seconds ahead of Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha), with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) in third, 1:09 back. Atapuma, in 56th, was the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider overall.

LottoNL-Jumbo sent these Vuelta notes:

Sports Director Merijn Zeeman looked back with pride at a good Vuelta a España for Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Bert-Jan Lindeman’s stage victory was the highlight in the grand tour in which all the three rookies reached the finish line in Madrid. John Degenkolb (Giant – Alpecin) won the final stage, Fabio Aru (Astana) the overall.

“It’s been a beautiful tour for us," sports director, Merijn Zeeman said after the finish in Madrid. “It was our goal to ride an aggressive race and force some good results from breakaway groups. We weren’t sure if a stage win was a realistic target for us, but we really wanted to show ourselves and invest in our youngsters. That we were able to win a stage is terrific, but the development of our younger riders is wonderfull as well. It’s a positive thing that Tom Van Asbroeck, Timo Roosen and Mike Teunissen were able to reach Madrid without too many problems. We’re satisfied with that. Besides that, we were in many breakaway groups, showed our jersey and delivered some fine results alongside that stage win.”

Bert-Jan Lindeman

Bert-Jan Lindeman wins Vuelta stage 7

One of the rookies who reached Madrid is Mike Teunissen. “I’m feeling satisfied,” he added after the final stage. “Today was a formality, but I’m glad that I reached Madrid. Three weeks of racing isn’t a piece of cake. The first ten days went quite well, but it got heavier afterwards. I really had to push through in the last week, several times. I felt that I was getting more and more tired, but I made it. Tom, Timo and I improved ourselves uphill. Even in the gruppetto, you have to go very fast on the climbs. We were getting better and better this tour. We had to, because it’s impossible to make it otherwise.”

“The biggest satisfaction was after yesterday’s penultimate stage," Zeeman said. “Everyone was feeling great after that last, heavy mountain stage. We wanted to lead-out Tom as good as possible in today’s final stage. That didn’t turn out perfectly in the end. We’re working hard on the development of our sprint lead-out. We’re in the beginning of that process. We can improve that part of racing, but we’re not there yet. That’s what we’re going to work on in the upcoming period.”

Here's Tinkoff-Saxo's Vuelta stage 21 release:

After hammering towards the finish line on the decisive stage 20, Rafal Majka sealed the deal in Madrid to crest the podium as 3rd in La Vuelta a España 2015.

It took a strong leader and a resolute team effort to reach the podium of one of the toughest editions of Vuelta a España in recent years. Rafal Majka was not late to thank his teammates after crossing the final finish line.

“This is a very big day. To reach the podium of a Grand Tour is something that I’ve always been dreaming about. I want to dedicate this podium to my teammates, they have helped me since the start in Marbella and I honestly wouldn’t be here without them. It is an honor for me to achieve this result for my team, it hasn’t been easy and we had ups and downs during the race. We lost Peter and Sergio and that didn’t make it easier. But finally, we are here and this spot on the podium is really for all my teammates”, says an elated Rafal Majka.

“We were all the time at the front and we tried on all mountain stages to make a difference. It has been an important experience to be the captain of a team with big ambitions and a lot of responsibility comes along with this role. I hope that someday I will be able to win a Grand Tour. I will try in the big races next year, it might not happen then but in the future I will try to win. We will have to be patient, go through the schedule thoroughly and not least prepare intensively before we set any realistic goals”, explains Rafal Majka and adds:

“I only missed out on 2nd place by 12 seconds, but Purito was strong throughout the Vuelta, so I think that he deserved the spot. I came here after a very hard Tour de France and I wasn’t as fresh as I wanted to be but my shape progressed and I was better in the second half of the race. The ITT was a difficult moment and I didn’t perform at my top level, but as I said, the Vuelta was not over after the time trial”.

Vuelta final podium

The 2015 Vuelta final podium. From left: Joaquin Rodriguez (2nd), Fabio Aru (winner) and Rafal Majka (3rd)

Stage 21 to Madrid was concluded in a bunch sprint, where John Degenkolb took the stage win after a blazing finale. Rafal Majka finished safely to claim the podium place – a hard fought result according to team sports director Tristan Hoffman:

“I’m very happy with these guys. We’ve really showed strong unity and I want to pay my respect to all nine riders that started this Vuelta. Unfortunately, Sagan and Paulinho were taken out by motorcycles but we managed to pull through and come out on top even though it’s considerably harder with only 7 riders. We came here to win a stage and finish in the GC top five only hoping for the podium. We got the stage win with Peter and Rafal made his way onto the podium thanks to a persistent effort from the team and not least from him. The team didn’t stop believing for a single second. We were on the podium before the ITT, then there was a moment of disappointment but yesterday Rafal found the spirit and the legs to make the difference”, comments Tristan Hoffman.

Here's Lotto-Soudal's final Vuelta wrap-up:

The third Grand Tour of the season has come to an end. The Vuelta a España was won by Fabio Aru, ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez and Rafal Majka. Bart De Clercq finished on the fourteenth place on GC. Unfortunately Lotto Soudal returns home without a victory, but with nice results of Monfort, Hansen and Van der Sande. Bart De Clercq and sports director Mario Aerts make a review of the previous weeks.

Bart De Clercq: “Before the Vuelta I had the ambition to go for top ten. At the end I am fourteenth, a result I can live with. It feels like more was possible though. I crashed in stage eight, and had to recover a few days from it. In the stage to Andorra I lost some minutes because of that, and without the help of Jelle Vanendert and Maxime Monfort that could have even been more time. That day was the hardest of the entire Vuelta, also because it was the toughest stage of all.”

“In the last week I proved that my shape has stayed intact, that I got close to top ten and that I wasn’t less good than guys like Pozzovivo or Meintjes. In the time trial I even took back some minutes. Yesterday, I gained forty seconds on the group Dumoulin/Valverde, and that made I could stay on the fourteenth place and didn’t become seventeenth. The twelfth place was possible. The big breakaways played a role. The day I was in one, MTN and Astana really chased hard to get us back. Other days, like yesterday, that didn’t happen, so other guys could take back time on me. You always think about joining a break to aim for a stage win. Winning a stage would be a dream come true, and sometimes you can gain sufficient time to get a good overall result at the end. That can happen in smaller stage races and Grand Tours.”

Bart de Clercq

Bart de Clercq gets his bike to start Vuelta stage 13

“This Vuelta I learnt that a top ten place isn’t an unrealistic ambition. I have to keep that in mind for the future. A stage race of three weeks isn’t a disadvantage for me. The condition stayed quite consistent and I could recover enough during the three weeks. It’s hard to say where that can get me in the future. Of course there are limits. In 2013, I already was on this path, but last year I didn’t have a good season. This season I picked up where I left in 2013 and I want to continue that way in 2016, in the Lotto Soudal team. My contract has been extended with two years and in the future I will of course keep focusing on Grand Tours and one-week stage races.”

Sports director Mario Aerts: “It’s always a goal to win a stage, but we didn’t reach it this time. The last days we tried hard, after we had raced too defensively in the first part. We weren’t represented in too many breakaways that survived till the finish, while we did have the riders for it. We didn’t race aggressively enough, a bit too scared to hurt ourselves. But of course you have to be able to move along as well.”

“We can be satisfied with the performance of Bart De Clercq as GC rider. He could stay with the favourites for a long time, with a bit of luck he could have gotten twelfth on GC and when the selection was made in the mountain stages he could stay with the best for a long time. The first ten days the finishes were pretty explosive and that really isn’t his cup of tea. He has raced more assertively than in the past, that’s a positive evolution which he wants to continue in the future. Maxime Monfort could pretty easily change his strategy when it was obvious that a top ten place wouldn’t be an option. He did a great job supporting Bart De Clercq and the team and joined a breakaway a few times, which is new to him. That got him the third place on Friday.”

“Tosh Van der Sande rode a fantastic Vuelta. He showed himself, in bunch sprints and breakaways. In some stages a better result than third, fourth, sixth or ninth was even possible. We can also make a positive evaluation of the Grand Tour début of Jasper De Buyst. He’s not exhausted and will have become stronger. Adam Hansen tried to be in a break often, had marked certain stages, but didn’t have much luck with the composition of the groups or the race situation.”

“The crash and medical situation of Kris Boeckmans was of course very emotional. Each day we waited to hear how his situation would evolve, the first days we were really scared because the injuries were so severe. Something like that has a big influence on the atmosphere in the team. For someone like Thomas De Gendt, who was there when it happened and is close with Kris, it was hard to focus on the race. Apart from that Thomas hadn’t recovered enough from the Tour. He was empty, both physically and mentally.”

Tour of Britain team notes

This release is from BMC:

London - Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss of the BMC Racing Team earned "most aggressive rider" honors on Sunday's final stage of the Aviva Tour of Britain.

After riding as part of the day's breakaway during the 86.8-kilometer race, Wyss made a last-ditch effort to stay away with an attack on the second-to-last lap. But he was caught as the final 6.2-km circuit began.

"When I saw it was a technical course, I knew it would be easier in the front. That is why I tried so hard to be in the breakaway," Wyss said. "I was surprised I had fresh legs and was feeling really good today."

Danilo Wyss

Danilo Wyss at an earlier press conference

Elia Viviani (Team Sky) was awarded the stage win after André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) was relegated for not keeping his line in the sprint. Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) won the overall title, 13 seconds ahead of Wouter Poels (Team Sky).

Stefan Küng and Wyss were the only two of the BMC Racing Team's original six riders to finish the race. A crash Saturday knocked out Dylan Teuns - who had been sitting fifth overall - and Floris Gerts. Taylor Phinney did not start Saturday's stage to rest up for the world road championships and Rick Zabel withdrew due to sickness during Stage 1.

Cult Energy had this to report:

Today’s eighth and final stage of Tour of Britain was a criterium over 86 kilometers with start and finish on Regent Street in London and the peloton passed iconic landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall, Trafalger Square and Whitehall. Cult Energy Pro Cycling were focusing on retaining Rasmus Guldhammer's overall third position. But he held it by a thin thread in form of a single second to fourth overall, Owain Doull (Team Wiggins). Drama was in store.

In the first sprint, Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Michael Carbel and Russell Downing tried to take the bonus seconds but Owain Doull managed to get in between the two Cult Energy riders to take two seconds and then, the Team Wiggins rider was virtually third overall and Guldhammer fourth.

Unfortunately, a group of 8 riders then took off and swept up all bonus seconds, which left Guldhammer two seconds away from the podium. In the bunch, Team Sky, MTN-Qhubeka and Lotto-Soudal took the reigns of the pack and on the 13th and penultimate lap, they reeled in the final escapee, Danilo Wyss (BMC).

Rasmus Guldhammer

Rasmus Guldhammer

In the much expected bunch sprint, André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was first across the finish line but he was relegated for deviating from his line so the stage win went to Elia Viviani (Sky).

Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s Rasmus Guldhammer had to settle with 4th overall.  DS, Luke Roberts says:

"Basically, Rasmus' podium position was lost in the first bonus sprint where Owain Doull finished second behind Russell Downing taking the two seconds he needed to pass Rasmus in the GC. From then on, the breakaway swept up the remaining bonus seconds on the road and naturally, we're gutted to see the podium slip away from underneath us. Rasmus has been performing beautifully all week and he truly deserved that spot on the podium. However, he's had a very good season and he has a lot of good results to be looking forward to in the seasons to come," Roberts concludes.

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