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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Saturday, September 19, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Yesterday we had the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen.

Today we've got two races, Memorial Marco Pantani in Italy and Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem in Belgium

Tinkoff-Saxo's Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen report:

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Nikolay Trusov claimed 2nd place behind Michal Golas in Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen Koolskamp after 192 intense kilometers of circuit racing. After several attacks, Trusov took part in forming the decisive front group that managed to keep the chasing main group at bay.

After the race conclusion, Tinkoff-Saxo Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh tells that Trusov’s presence in the front group was part of the team strategy.

“Trusov finished second after Debusschere was disqualified. It’s a nice result and start to the weekend racing. We are happy for Nikolay, he could do his own race and he delivered. It was a very fast start, at one point a group formed out front without any of our guys but the peloton closed them down again. Nikolay came down to the car and we told him to race aggressively. You have to be in the break to win this race, otherwise we had Mørkøv and Kolar behind”, says Steven de Jongh and adds:

“In the end he did second place behind Golas. For us it’s a nice result and I think he got the maximum out of today”.

Nikolay Trusov

Nikolay Trusov

Tinkoff-Saxo will keep up the pace, as the squad in Belgium is set to embark on Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem Saturday.

The team consists of Nikolay Trusov, Michael Mørkøv, Michael Kolar, Matteo Tosatto, Bruno Pires, Edward Beltran, Evgeny Petrov, while stagiaire Antwan Tolhoek replaces Michael Gogl.

“Today’s result was positive in the light of tomorrow’s race. We are looking forward to it and the team stays pretty much the same with only Tolhoek replacing Gogl. The course for Impanis-Van Petegem is a bit hillier but our three fast guys Trusov, Kolar and Mørkøv should stand a chance of securing a fine result. Today’s outcome is a good sign, as we saw that Nikolay has speed in the legs and we will approach the race in the same proactive manner”, finishes Steven de Jongh.

While we're at it, Tinkoff-Saxo also sent this regarding the Vuelta a España:

Despite the two serious accidents in which Peter Sagan and Sergio Paulinho were hit by reckless motorbike drivers and subsequently withdrew, Tinkoff-Saxo finished the 2015 Vuelta a España on a high note. The team believes that the organization provided an exciting and unpredictable parcours with the winner and podium only decided on the final stage to Madrid. In addition, concrete measures were taken towards ensuring the safety of the riders and the teams after the Vuelta organization had swiftly and in a serious manner entered into dialogue with Tinkoff-Saxo.

The 2015 edition of the Vuelta a España was marked by a number of ups and downs, both for Tinkoff-Saxo as well the race itself. The squad, led by Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan, went to Spain with the goal of a top-five position for Majka as well as stage wins.

Despite initial criticism of the opening TTT, the Vuelta organizers, Unipublic, provided a parcours that, undoubtedly, delivered an exciting and unpredictable race. With eight summit finishes that had never featured in the past and a mountain stage in Andorra dubbed by many as “the hardest ever in the Vuelta”, the peloton and the favorites were kept on their toes.

In fact, the red leader’s jersey swapped hands no less than eight times and the race winner and podium wasn’t decided before the penultimate stage after a thrilling fight. Tinkoff-Saxo's leader Rafal Majka was able to secure his podium spot on the final climb and missed second place by just 12 seconds, another proof of the close and tight racing. 

The opening team time-trial finished with bittersweet feelings as a very strong performance was not enough and the squad saw victory slip away by less than a second. Two days later, Peter Sagan delivered in the final sprint of the 158km stage to Malaga and bagged his first Grand Tour victory after a long period. Unfortunately, disaster struck Tinkoff-Saxo's Slovak champion on stage 8, when the reckless driver of a neutral assistance motorbike crashed into him, causing major injuries and burns. Despite his tenacity and determination, Sagan would withdraw the following morning as team doctors and sport directors deemed it unsafe for him to continue.

Peter SAgan

Peter Sagan finishes Vuelta stage 8, note torn shorts

Despite this initial major setback, Tinkoff-Saxo's remaining eight riders showed their strength at the mother of all stages in Andorra, which would be the first real test for the GC contenders. Unfortunately, Tinkoff-Saxo was victim of another reckless driver and Sergio Paulinho was forced to abandon after a collision with a TV motorbike caused a deep cut and strong bleeding on his left leg. Rafal Majka's strong performance was, effectively, overshadowed by the second race collision and Tinkoff-Saxo demanded guarantees that would safeguard the safety of all riders in order to continue in the race.

Following a meeting with race and UCI officials, a number of concrete measures were implemented. The team's management believed that these initial measures were a sign of attention to riders’ safety and agreed to continue as long as safety was guaranteed.

The second major blow to the team wasn't enough to deter its determination and the squad rallied behind Rafal Majka, who found his form as the race progressed but also managed to stay focused and calm after a fairly disappointing individual time-trial on stage 17. Majka, spurred on by a persistent effort from his teammates, put in a superb performance on the remaining three decisive stages and clinched third overall on his birthday, one day before the grand finale in Madrid. The Polish rider came of age in this year's Vuelta, stepping on a Grand Tour podium for the first time in his career.

It was an, overall, positive Vuelta for Tinkoff-Saxo, as its goals were achieved and that despite two major setbacks. The team looks forward to next year's edition and hopes organizers will continue on the right path to make the race even closer, more exciting, but also safer and more enjoyable for the riders, the teams and spectators.

BMC announces world's team time trial roster:

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team, defending champion of the men's team time trial, announced its roster for Sunday's UCI world championship in Richmond, Virginia.

Rohan Dennis, Silvan Dillier, Stefan Küng, Daniel Oss, Taylor Phinney and Manuel Quinziato are the six riders who will pilot their BMC timemachine TM01s over the 38.8-kilometer course.

Peter Velits, who has been part of the winning team all three years the event has been run since 2012, is the first alternate. BMC Racing Team Trainer Marco Pinotti said the roster selection process began with a review of which riders were best suited for the course.

"We started with the six riders who were part of the winning team last year," Pinotti said. "Two of them were not available: Tejay van Garderen, unluckily, had an injury in the Vuelta a España and Peter was good at the Vuelta but not at his top level yet. The other four are in good form, so we needed to replace those two. Phinney and Küng have recovered fully from their injuries, so they replaced them."

Dennis, Dillier, Oss and Quinziato are the returnees from last year's gold medal-winning squad. Küng, the reigning world individual pursuit champion on the track, makes his first appearance in the event. Phinney was part of the BMC Racing Team's team time trial squads in 2012 and 2013, but was sidelined by injury last year.

Roster: Rohan Dennis (AUS), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA).

Alternate: Peter Velits (SVK)


BMC getting their medals after winning the 2014 men's team time trial

Rohan Dennis: "Time trials are sort of my specialty, but I still get nervous. You do not know how well other people are going, but that is something you have to put behind you. There are no tactics. You just hope the preparation you have done is the best and that you win on the day."

Silvan Dillier: "Last year, we were sitting on the hot seat and saw the other teams still in the race - a few of them the favorites. We saw the last time split and knew we could win the race. But we were not sure until the last team crossed the finish line. So it was an intense moment. When I look back, it was a really special moment and I hope we can enjoy a moment like this again this year."

Stefan Küng: "I was really training hard for this and it was a big objective of mine. I am really looking forward to it. I am a little bit nervous because I have never done the world championships, which is always different. But I think we have a good group of guys."

Daniel Oss: "We feel great. We arrive from a big season where we won three big team time trials: at the Vuelta a España, the Tour de France and the Critérium du Dauphiné. So we are focused on the first position and the best result. But at the same time, we have one foot on the ground because it is never easy. You always have to understand each other and the effort you have to do."

Taylor Phinney: "I am happy that I was able to make the team. I feel like I can contribute in a way that I was able to contribute before my accident, which is saying a lot. To be honest, I did not even think I was going to have the ability to make this team a couple of months ago, before I started racing. Then I started racing and I started doing well and exceeded most of my expectations at the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge. After those races, I thought I would try to make the selection, knowing it is not easy. I went to Belgium and rode with the guys and surprised myself - and I think I surprised the management as well. All of a sudden it was like, 'Oh man, maybe I will do the team time trial at the world championships.' It was on my radar, but something I was not getting my hopes up for because it is such an intense effort. I did not think my knee and my body could handle it."

Manuel Quinziato: "Last year, we won without being the favorite. So this year we have more pressure. It is the first time that we are the favorite. It is good for the morale and for the confidence, but it makes things harder because we really have to be focused and ready to suffer as much as last year."

Peter Velits: "To be the alternate is really harder than I thought. Last year, I won with this team, which was a really nice feeling - and one of the best victories I have had in the team time trial. Naturally, I would like to be on this team again, but the year was not really perfect for me. I was suffering quite a lot with injury and coming back. Even with all the titles and all the experience I have, I still do not feel I am at the level of the guys who are here."

Lotto-Soudal's World Championships news

This Sunday, 20 September, the World Championships road cycling in Richmond (USA) will start with the team time trial. This discipline, which is on the programme for the fourth consecutive year now, is contested by trade teams instead of national teams. Lotto Soudal selected Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens.

The distance of the team time trial is relatively short: 38.8 kilometres. The course, which runs mainly over straight roads, isn’t entirely flat. There are no real climbs, but there are some uphill sections, like Governor Street (300 metres, 6.9%) in the final kilometre. The Lotto Soudal team travelled from Canada, where the six riders had taken part in the GP Montréal, to Richmond on Monday. The previous days they did several recons of the circuit. Richmond is the capital of the state Virginia, at the east coast of the US. Sports director Herman Frison and rider Greg Henderson give their opinion of the course and tell us what ambition Lotto Soudal has.

Herman Frison: “The past days we did recons of the course. Our riders got on the time trial bike and also trained behind the scooter to get used to the high speed that will be necessary for the race on Sunday. We are doing all we can to be at our best and to stay motivated.”

“It’s a beautiful course over wide roads. Fifteen kilometres before the finish the course heads into a small wood, a recon of that part is really important because there are some corners. For the rest the roads are rather straight. It’s never really flat, especially not in the second part of the race, but there aren’t any tough climbs. The finish zone goes slightly uphill but it’s flatter than Governor Street.”

“This is a rather short distance for a team time trial, it will be a matter of finding the right rhythm quite soon. The riders will have to go full gas from the beginning. There is now time to doubt. You need a homogenous team, nobody should be better than the others. The team is only as good as it weakest link. We chose not to select riders of our Vuelta squad. The riders in our team first raced in Canada and are already used to the time difference for a while now; that’s definitely positive. We already had a fantastic season and it’s our goal to finish in top ten. My top three? In random order: BMC, Etixx – Quick-Step and Orica – GreenEdge.”

For the third year in a row Greg Henderson is on the roster for the team time trial.

Greg Henderson

Greg Henderson wins 2015 Tour de France stage 6

Greg Henderson: “I’m looking forward to racing on Sunday. As hard as it is, this is a discipline I enjoy. I like the idea of racing as hard as I can with five teammates. It’s a fast and flowing course. There are some technical sections, but also long straight pieces of road where we will go very fast. On the circuit you get a couple of uphill parts that could potentially cause some trouble if you don’t attack them correctly, but we already did a few recons so we know where all the potholes are and what lines to take through the corners.”

“We have a very strong team and the course suits us, it’s good that there are so many straight parts to keep the speed up. We already rode on Governor Street and I don’t expect it to be a problem either. The course really isn’t hard at all, because you attack the hills with speed. You often hit the bottom of the hill at 70 kilometres an hour because you come from a downhill section. The result is impossible to guess, everything has to go perfectly for all of us. The six of us have to be at our best. With the best possible scenario we could get a top five result. The difference at the top of the ranking will be very small, the usual suspects for the victory are BMC, Etixx – Quick-Step and Orica – GreenEdge.”

The men’s team time trial on Sunday will start at 1:30 pm local time, that’s 7:30 pm CEST.

Velocio-SRAM's plans for the World TTT

Velocio-SRAM go into this weekend's UCI Road World Championships with three consecutive gold medal wins in the team time trial (TTT) discipline. On Sunday 20 September, the team will take to the start line in Richmond, Virginia as it attempts to again defend its title.

The squad suffered its first defeat in the TTT discipline in over three years when RaboLiv beat the world champions in last month's Vargarda World Cup in Sweden. Sports Director Ronny Lauke said, "We knew that at some point the competition gets closer and that we eventually will not win a TTT. There was disappointment, that's normal, but we didn't put our heads in the sand crying. The races between Sweden TTT and now have shown that the form of the team is good and that we will be able, on a good day for the 6 riders, to compete again for the victory."

The first team will start at 11:30 (EDT) with the defending champions expected to start last. Teams will negotiate 38.8 kilometre undulating course. The course starts north of the city in Henrico County before heading into the east side of the city. After a small country loop with the potential for cross winds, the teams then head back to downtown Richmond for an exciting finish. Lauke said "The race itself will be interesting. It requires power, some technique and a good feeling for the team mates. We've been here a week now and had time to check the circuit and get used to the specifications of it."

Velocio-SRAM have announced their six rider squad for Sunday's race. Three-time TTT winner Trixi Worrack will lead the team, along with two-time winners Lisa Brennauer and Karol-Ann Canuel. Bronze medalist in this event in 2014 Alena Amialiusik joins the line-up, along with German time trial champion Mieke Kroeger and Italian Barbara Guarischi.

Trixi Worrack

Trixi Worrack at the 2013 World's

Lauke said of the team's chances to win its fourth consecutive title "Riders are healthy and in good shape. If it doesn't work out again, someone else must have been simply stronger and better skilled. But I like the fact that more teams are riding within close reach to each other, which makes the event more interesting and does show even more the beauty of it. Everything needs to be ready, in place and work out at a particular time on a particular day and we only can focus on ourselves, with no influence what others are doing. We do our race, our strategy and will need to see again, like each year, what it was worth."

LottoNL-Jumbo signs Campenaerts

Here'es the release from the team: Team LottoNL-Jumbo signed a two-year deal with Belgian youngster Victor Campenaerts. The 23-year-old time trial specialist will join from Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Sports Director Nico Verhoeven followed Campenaerts for quite some time. "Victor is a strong time trialist and in recent years, he has bagged some good results. In the U23 ranks, he became TT champion of Europe and this year, he was strong in stage races like the Ster ZLM Toer and the Tour de Wallonie.

“His climbing has significantly improved, too. We think we can develop Victor into a top time trialist. As a team, we’ll put in time and energy into getting him there."

Campenaerts sees Team LottoNL-Jumbo as the ideal place for his development. “I knew, from just following the team, that they pay a lot of attention to the scientific side of cycling. A conversation with Mathieu Heijboer really opened my eyes. The scientific approach of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was an important factor in my decision. Of course, the emphasis towards time trialling is a big plus for me, as well.”

Campenaerts is full of ambition ahead of his adventure with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. “I’m looking forward to giving my all at the highest level of cycling and being surrounded by a strong team. I hope to take a step towards the top of time trialling. I also aim to keep making progress in climbing so that I will be able to compete with the best in the final kilometres of though Ardennes-like stages at WorldTour level.”

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