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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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

Racing schedule:

Next up: Two races on Wednesday, the 30th. In Italy the single day, big-deal (HC ranked) Tre Valli Varesine will be held

In France, a short stage race begins, the Tour de l'Eurométropole.

Confirmaton of Mark Cavendish signing with Dimension Data

Here's the team's announcement:

Ryder Cycling, the owner of MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the team soon to be known as Team Dimension Data, today announced it has signed Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel. The addition of the three new members further strengthens and add depth to the team – the first African team to ride in the Tour de France – not only at races, but also as global ambassadors for Qhubeka.

Cavendish has raced for teams including HTC Highroad, Sky, and Etixx-QuickStep and has built a stunning palmarès. Some of his major achievements include becoming World Champion in 2011, and notching up 26 Tour de France and 15 Giro d’Italia stage wins on his account. Not only has Cavendish gained credibility as a sporting icon, he also shines off the bike.

The Team will announce further arrivals and its 2016 roster in the next few days.

Mark Cavendish – Rider: I’m super excited about becoming a part of the Team for 2016. It is a team that I have watched closely as it has grown, especially over this season and been really impressed with the spirit, strength and dynamics of the group. It’s fair to say that most of the peloton has seen how incredible the Team raced this year. To join it with the target of helping to win even more races with other strong, experienced household cycling names like Mark Renshaw, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Steve Cummings and of course Bernie Eisel is going to be real special, as well as assisting the talent of the young, African riders to top level success. Also, for me personally, one of the biggest incentives is riding for a greater cause in the Qhubeka charity. I’m really looking forward to having a successful year on the road alongside the other guys and helping directly to get more bikes in the hands of people who need them.

Mark Cavendhish

Mark Cavendish winning the first stage of the 2015 Tour of California

Douglas Ryder – Team Owner: Mark Cavendish joining our Team is a huge step forward for the team as we strive to get to the next level in world cycling. To also integrate Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel is a game changer in terms of performance and experience, which, added to the incredible talent we already have in the team opens up many possibilities for us. We have seen how success has brought fantastic new partners to our team in Dimension Data and Deloitte and the impact that it has had on our current bike partners like Cervelo. It is even more meaningful to tie that all together to achieve bigger impact for Qhubeka, the charity we ride for. Qhubeka, provides bicycles for African schoolchildren, enabling them to conquer distance every day to get to and from school. As the team’s visibility and success has increased, we are grateful for sponsors and individuals coming alongside to support our goal to provide 5000 bicycles for African schoolchildren via the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. We look forward to working closely with Mark and the other riders to accelerate the growth of the team’s contributions on and off the bike in 2016 and beyond.

Anthony Fitzhenry – Founder Qhubeka: We are excited at the impact that riders of Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw’ and Bernie Eisel’s stature can have on lives throughout the African continent This years riders have all been great ambassadors for the team, the African cause and the charity. It would be wonderful to see this community of support grow in 2016. We hope Mark and his fans will bring their support not just to the team, but also to Qhubeka’s mission and help make a difference for African schoolchildren and families.

Brett Dawson – Dimension Data Group CEO:Dimension Data welcomes Mark and his fellow riders to the Team. We’re very excited to be part of the squad’s next steps on its journey to accelerate their ambitions, and look forward to helping the Team to compete at the highest levels in world cycling, both on the African continent and across the world.

BMC for l'Eurométropole

Santa Rosa, California - The BMC Racing Team's six-man roster for Tour de l'Eurométropole will include Marcus Burghardt, who returns to action after a crash forced his withdrawal from the Vuelta a España.

Burghardt badly bruised his left knee and suffered a cut on his chin in the high-speed crash one day after helping the BMC Racing Team win the Stage 1 team time trial.

"It took a long time before I was without pain in my knee and I was also sick with a fever and off the bike for another 10 days," he said. "But I have recovered well from the injury. It is good to have another stage race at the end of the season. I had a long break - more than three weeks without racing - so I have to get back into the racing again."

Marcus Burghardt

Marcus Burghardt at this year's Giro

Joining Burghardt in the five-day race that begins Wednesday in Belgium is Tour of Austria stage winner Rick Zabel, past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär and stagiaires Tom Bohli, Kilian Frankiny and Floris Gerts. As announced earlier this month, Gerts will join the BMC Racing Team full time in 2016.

Riders: Tom Bohli (SUI), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Michael Schär (SUI), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

Lotto-Soudal's plans for l’Eurométropole

Tour de l’Eurométropole is one of the last stage races this year. Over the last years, sprinters played a huge role in this Tour. Riders such as Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) won the general classification in the last two editions. This year could be different as the Tour starts with a prologue.

On the opening day there is a rolling prologue of 7.8 kilometres with finish on Mont-Saint-Aubert. This hill is 700 metres long with an average gradient of 8%. The first stage starts in La Louvière and heads towards the Flemish Ardennes. During these 164 kilometres, the riders face five climbs. The day after, the start will be given in front of the mythical Vélodrome de Roubaix. This stage looks promising as the riders will cover four local laps of 26 kilometres in “Heuvelland” where they will climb the Zandeberg, Rodeberg and Zwarteberg during each lap.

During the third stage, Belgian coast cities host the start – and finish towns. The peloton starts in Blankenberge, goes towards Roeselare and returning to the coast side to finish in Nieuwpoort. The wind could be a determining factor in this stage. Otherwise, we are probably facing a bunch sprint. The last stage of this Tour de l’Eurométropole finishes like last year in Tournai. The peloton concurs the Croix de Jubaru seven times. This climb is situated next to the Mont-Saint-Aubert, the final climb in the prologue. The past years have taught us that avoiding a bunch sprint is a hard thing to do in this stage. Several riders tried to attack on the final climb during previous editions, but only few succeeded. Time will tell who will triumph, the attackers or the sprinters.

Mario Aerts: “We can certainly start this stage race with ambition and self-confidence. The whole team has shown during the last two weeks that they are in perfect condition. Both Jens Debusschere, Sean De Bie and Tosh Van de Sande won last week. Jens and Jürgen Roelandts are our two key riders for this race. Both are in good shape and capable of winning this stage race, like they already did in the past. This gives the confidence needed to go for it once more.”

Jens Debusschere

Jens Debusschere wins this year's GP de Wallonie

“The big difference with the previous editions is the prologue. Previous years there was no prologue and every second counted to win the general classification. This year, things could be different. The prologue is pretty hard. The final climb, Mont-Saint-Aubert, is not very long but there will be some time difference in the general classification. In our team, Jens, Jürgen and Sean can definitely handle this type of prologue. Sean is a prologue specialist. In the case of Jens and Jürgen, they need to make sure that they don’t lose toomuch time considering their general classification ambitions. After this stage we will make our battle plan for the next days.”

“During the next days, the weather conditions will play an important role. Both Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be tricky days for echelons. The stage on Friday will be the second important day for the general classification. The three climbs on the local lap will trigger the guys with GC-ambition to attack. During the last stage in Tournai I expect the same race scenario as in previous years. The final climb, Croix du Jubaru, is not long enough to break the peloton. Jens Debusschere has already shown that he’s capable of putting down a good result in this stage by sprinting for victory in the past editions.”

“We don’t need to be afraid to race. Our team is strong enough. If we believe in our own strength, it could result in something beautiful. The Tour would be a success if we won at least one stage and played a role in the general classification. We can’t be satisfied with less.”

Selection: Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Tosh Van der Sande

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Marc Wauters

Lotto-Soudal also sent this rider transfer news:

It isn’t a surprise that Jelle Wallays will join the Lotto Soudal team for the next two seasons. The oldest of the Wallays brothers will make the switch to the WorldTour after being part of Topsport Vlaanderen for the last five years. In those years, he proved that he’s ready for the next step in his career, with wins in Dwars door Vlaanderen, Paris-Tours, Omloop van het Houtland and the World Ports Classic.

Jelle Wallays: “Joining a WorldTour team is a dream coming true. The past five years I rode for Topsport Vlaanderen. A period where I built up a good relation with the staff and riders. I achieved some good results and everyone grants my transfer to Lotto Soudal. I already had some contact with Lotto Soudal, but after this spring the interest became serious. Already at the first meeting I had a good feeling, because my expectations and their vision matched. Obviously, I will help the team leaders every now and then, but I also get the chance to ride a Grand Tour, so I can become stronger. When the opportunity comes, I am allowed to take my own chances in a team that showed that an attractive way of racing pays off.

Jelle Wallays

Jelle Wallays at the 2012 Eneco Tour

Off course, the World Tour will be a step higher. I already raced some one day races on this level, but when it comes to stage races I only raced the Eneco Tour. This certainly will give me some new experiences, but the fact that I signed for two years gives me the opportunity to get used to the new situation and find my place in the team. I will strive to be meaningful in every race and it will be a pleasure to support riders like Jens Debusschere or André Greipel.”

Marc Sergeant: “When we searched on the Belgian market to find some strong riders who fit well in a WorldTour team, Jelly Wallays quickly grabbed our attention. Topsport Vlaanderen is anyway an important development team for young talented riders, but in the past years Jelle evolved into a rider who can ride finals. It will be quite logical that his role at Lotto Soudal will be different then his role at Topsport Vlaanderen, but his style of racing can remain the same. He rides with a lot of doggedness, is a go-getter and this is essential in the types of races he likes. He will certainly get the time to adjust himself. If he feels good, he will be there, I’m sure.”

Two riders who are already part of the team, will extend their contract. Sander Armée and Gert Dockx will try to confirm the trust from the team in 2016. For Dockx, it will be his sixth season with the team. Armée starts his third year in January.

Sander Armée: “I am already two years part of Lotto Soudal and I didn’t regret it for one moment. That’s why I’m very happy with this contract extension. The Grand Tours are races where I always look forward to. Thanks to Lotto Soudal, I already rode three Grand Tours in my career, which are my favourite races. My body recovers quick and without many problems I can fulfil my role in the team. Next to the Grand Tours, I really like the Walloon races. As a U23 rider, I rode my best results in these races. Also as a pro, I can assist the team leaders in the final of the hilly races. I don’t make myself any illusions. Also in 2016 I will be a helper. My objective is to assist the team leaders as long as possible. I will do everything I can to make sure that I am in top condition in April and May. If there is a chance for me to do my own thing, than I will go for it. This year I managed to win the Heistse Pijl. Winning is always nice and I hope to do it again in 2016.”

Gert Dockx: “I can describe this season in two words: bad luck. The first races went perfect. I started the season in the Tour Down Under. In Australia and also in the Flemish races, the feeling was good. Everything went perfect till the E3 Harelbeke. There I crashed and bruised my tailbone. Because of this bruise, my spring campaign was over. When I got back to racing, I crashed again, this time in the Dauphiné. This was both mentally and physically a big blow: I broke my collarbone and elbow. Now, four months later, I still feel some pain. After a long period of doubt I finally received a “go” to race again. In the last races, I started to feel better. I would like to finish off my season with a good feeling before going into the winter. Next season, I would like to show what I’m really worth. A whole season without bad luck would be nice. I would like to show myself in races like the Dauphiné and the Flemish classics. This contract extension is a sign of confidence from the team. It’s nice to hear some good news after all these setbacks.”

And here's Tinkoff-Saxo's release:

Tinkoff-Saxo is set to take on l’Eurométropole, the former Circuit Franco-Belge. The team starts the five-stage race with a strategy not yet set in stone, as the outcome of the opening 7.7km prologue will determine the final approach in search of a stage win as well as a top 5 GC result. DS Lars Michaelsen draws attention to late season motivation.

Tinkoff-Saxo fields Manuele Boaro, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Nikolay Trusov, Jay McCarthy, Pavel Brutt and stagiaires Michael Gogl and Antwan Tolhoek.

PAvel Brutt

Pavel Brutt at the Tour Down Under

According to sports director Lars Michaelsen, the opening prologue consisting of 7.7 intense kilometers with an uphill finish will prove decisive.

“The race starts with a prologue. It’s very demanding and it’ll be a matter of going flat-out from the start while keeping the momentum on the final steep kilometer. It will undoubtedly become a pivotal stage and decide our strategy for the next stages. We hope that Manuele Boaro can put in a strong performance. We know that he’s very capable on such a parcours, when he is at his best and he should be motivated. He went to the Worlds TTT with ambitions but his ambitions were hampered after just 1k, when he suffered a mechanical. So I reckon that he is focused and ready”, says Lars Michaelsen and adds:

“We hope that Antwan Tolhoek, our young stagiaire, can do a good time trial as well, since his ability to climb will present him with some opportunities later in the race. After the TT we will evaluate the situation and see who we’ll support in the GC and from there make our strategic plan day by day in order to play our cards in the best possible way. Other than that, we got strong experienced riders in road captain Michael Mørkøv and Matteo Tosatto, while Trusov proved with his 2nd place in Koolskamp that he can do well in the sprints. Brutt is equally going well – we saw that in the Worlds Road Race”.

Tour de l’Eurométropole consists of five days of racing mainly in Belgium. After the opening prologue, the riders will face open terrain with possible crosswinds and adverse weather conditions, while stage 2 and 4 feature an undulating parcours. However, Lars Michaelsen underlines that the level of motivation this late in the season will be the deciding factor.

“It’s difficult to predict both the weather conditions and outcome but everything at this late stage comes down to the motivation that each riders brings. It doesn’t matter whether it’s flat, uphill or if we have crosswind – if a rider is a few percent more motivated than his rival, it will create the difference. The motivation and will to dig deep is naturally crucial during the race but it has been at least as important during the period of preparation building up to the race”, notes Michaelsen before finishing:

“We have some riders coming directly from the US and the Worlds in Richmond so they will have to fight the jetlag. We must respect that and if they are affected, we hope that they will be ready during the second part of the race”.

Giant Alpecin's Upcoming race plans

Tour de l’Eurométropole: On Wednesday the Tour de l’Eurométropole stage race, formerly known as Circuit Franco Belge, gets underway with a 7.7km prologue, followed by four road stages. The race finishes in Tournai on Sunday.

Coach Addy Engels (NED) said: “We are heading to the Tour de l’Eurométropole with a team of adventurers with whom we are going to explore our opportunities. Our strategy will be to race freely and attack. Roy has shown good form in recent races, getting strong results both in sprints and from breakaways.”

RACE: Tour de l'Eurométropole (2.1)

DATE: 30/09-04-10/2015

COACH:Addy Engels (NED) 

LINE-UP: Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL)

Tom Stamsnijder

Tom Stamsnijder at stage 17 of this year's Vuelta

Sparkassen Münsterland Giro: The German one-day race Sparkassen Münsterland Giro will take place Saturday on a 190km course from Ibbenbüren to Münster. It is an important home race for the German-licensed Team Giant-Alpecin. 

Coach Rudi Kemna (NED) explained: “The Münsterland Giro is a race that often ends in a bunch sprint. On Sunday a lot of teams will be interested in a sprint, and we will be among them.

“With Nikias, Luka and Ramon we have a strong team for the sprint, with different options. Marcel aims to end his season in a good way, and we will have to wait and see how he feels during the race. I expect a great race with hopefully a nice sprint.”

RACE: Sparkassen Münsterland Giro (1.HC)

DATE: 03/10/2015

COACH: Rudi Kemna (NED) 

LINE-UP: Nikias Arndt (GER), Cheng Ji (CHN), Carter Jones (USA), Marcel Kittel (GER), Koen de Kort (NED), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Albert Timmer (NED)

Il Lombardia: On Sunday the last event of the UCI WorldTour calendar takes place with Il Lombardia, a 245km hilly race from Bergamo to Como in Italy. For many riders, Lombardia is the last race of the season before they enjoy a well-deserved holiday.

“Our plan will be to go for a top 10 with Warren,” said coach Christian Guiberteau (FRA). “He is still very motivated for this race, as it is one of his main goals for this part of the season. Of course, we hope for a surprise, but top 10 should be reasonable.

“Ending the season with a good result at Lombardia will be good for Warren.”

RACE: Il Lombardia (WT)

DATE: 04/10/2015

COACH: Christian Guiberteau (FRA)

LINE-UP: Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE), Georg Preidler (AUT)

Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke: The 28th edition of Binche-Chimay-Binche takes place next Tuesday in Binche, Belgium. The one-day race consists of one large loop of 129.7km and four laps on a relatively flat circuit of 16.2km, for a race total of 194.5km.

Coach Addy Engels (NED) said: “Binche is a race that requires an open approach. A bunch sprint is not a given, so we will have to engage in the battle, and we have the team to do that. With Ramon and Max we have fast guys too, but we will have to race aggressively for them as well.”

RACEL: Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke (1.1)

DATE: 06/10/2015

COACH: Addy Engels (NED) 

LINE-UP: Bert De Backer (BEL), Caleb Fairly (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Koen de Kort (NED), Fredrik Ludvigsson (SWE), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER)

Cult Energy reported this new rider signing:

The 2016 Cult Energy-Stölting Group roster continues taking shape and today we’re happy to announce the signing with the German rider, Sven Reutter who is currently riding for Team Stölting. The only 19-year-old German allrounder delivers a solid time trial and he has signed a contract lasting two seasons.

Sports director Jochen Hahn states: “This season, Sven has convinced me of being able to take the next step. He has proven to be extremely versatile, always useful during the races and a reliable teammate. Although he is still very young, he has a well-developed tactical understanding compared to more experienced riders. It's an early step for him but I think that he will live up to our expectations.”

Sven Reutter says: “It is a huge opportunity for me to turn professional after the first year as a U23 rider. Of course, I’ve been in doubt whether or not the step-up comes too soon. But even though there will be a lot of changes, many things will remain somewhat familiar. I have full confidence in the team, and I’m really looking forward to the full-time professional life and I’m happy that the sporting management has confidence in me”, Reutter concludes.

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