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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, April 8, 2016

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

In nine lifetimes, you'll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you. - Michel de Montaigne

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Melanoma (skin cancer) book news

Let me start off by guessing that nearly all of us have spent too much time in the sun enjoying our life on two wheels. I raise my hand as guilty party number one. I came to sun screen far too late in life. I now go to a dermatologist regularly and have had one suspicious bit of skin that turned out to be benign, removed.

I hope dear reader, that you will also get your skin checked out by a pro.

With that in mind, it is with real pride that I announce that McGann Publishing has released Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle by David L. Stanley. Mr. Stanley is a regular contributor to BikeRaceInfo as well as many highly-regarded magazines you actually have to pay real money for. As I was writing this, Melanoma just became available. The Kindle e-Book and Audible Audiobook will follow shortly.

Melanoma book cover

David L. Stanley's Melanoma book is available

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle tells of Mr. Stanley's discovery of a suspicious freckle that was initially dismissed as benign, but turned out to be the real roaring thing, skin cancer. The story is riveting and since Mr. Stanley really knows how to write, the book is a compelling page-turner.

He just did a podcast with Art Eddy and Ryan Hamilton where they discussed the book. I know you'll enjoy it.

Paris-Roubaix team news

This came from BMC:

07 April 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will bring a revised eight-rider roster to Paris-Roubaix following the crash at Ronde van Vlaanderen which ruled Greg Van Avermaet out.

Paris-Roubaix will be a chance for the team to take any opportunity, Sports Director Fabio Baldato explained.

"Of course we are going to miss Greg on Sunday but we are still going in with a strong team and we have a couple of different options. It's a great chance for all of our riders to show what they can do and take any opportunity that presents itself, which is rare in a race like Paris-Roubaix," Baldato said.

Paris-Roubaix (10 April)

Rider roster: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

Floris Gerts

Floris Gerts will be at Paris-Roubaix

And Lotto-Soudal sent this update:

Exactly one week after the Ronde Van Vlaanderen it’s time for another famous cycling monument. The 114th edition of Paris-Roubaix is scheduled next Sunday and takes the riders from Compiègne to Roubaix in 257.5 kilometres. The Hell of the North is a bit longer compared to last year but the amount of cobbled sections remained the same. 52.8 kilometres of cobbles divided over 27 sections will require the best of the riders. The weather forecast isn’t good, most likely it will be a rainy day with a strong wind.

Jürgen Roelandts: “I have been waiting for a wet edition of Paris-Roubaix for nine years, so for me it may rain on Sunday. It would be better if it is wet all over the roads instead of only some wet spots. That would be more dangerous.”

“The past two weeks I hap ups-and-downs what my health is concerned. It’s not quite as it should be yet. On Monday, the day after the Ronde, I had sinusitis. Yesterday I did a training ride and today was the recon. The last two days I feel that I’m getting better. I definitely won’t hide behind my health problems.”

“Paris-Roubaix is the toughest Classic on the calendar. In that race there are a lot more opportunities to escape than in the Ronde for example. Just think of the edition of 2011, won by Vansummeren, when a group could ride away pretty early in the race and those riders battled for the victory.”

“For Tiesj Benoot and Jelle Wallays it will depend on how they’ve recovered. Despite all the setbacks the team has had we still have a strong line-up. I expect André Greipel in the finale on Sunday, he was impressive in the Ronde. In the edition of 2011 he also showed himself on the cobbles (Greipel got 21st at 3’43” of winner Johan Vansummeren, LTS). The same year Lars Bak was fifth, so also he can set a result in Roubaix.”

Jelle Wallays

Jelle Wallays (shown back in 2012) will be wearing Lotto-Soudal colors this Sunday

The Lotto Soudal team did a recon of a part of the course today, also Tiesj Benoot participated. Benoot was involved in a hard crash during the Ronde Van Vlaanderen but will start next Sunday. Just as in the Ronde Tiesj Benoot will be one the two leaders in the Belgian team, next to Jürgen Roelandts. The competitors for the victory will be riders such as Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar, Sep Vanmarcke, Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff.

Tiesj Benoot: “On Sunday I crashed because a water bottle fell out of someone’s bottle cage. At that moment I was riding on the first rows of the bunch. We were riding on cobbles and it was slightly downhill. It was a road I know well, but crashing was unavoidable. Initially I was most concerned about my shoulder, but it turned out my elbow was most badly injured. Yesterday I did a first long training, on Monday and Tuesday I did a shorter ride. I didn’t feel so good yesterday, probably because of the medication. Also my knee hurt; one of the bones is bruised. During today’s recon though I felt good on the cobbles and after a check-up by the doctor it was decided I will start the race. Something I hadn’t expected last Sunday.”

“I have to wait what the exact influence of my injuries will be. During the recon I pulled a few times and that felt good. The condition seems to be still fine, but I would be a miracle if I am one hundred per cent in Roubaix. I don’t think I will be racing differently unless I am really bad. The first one hundred kilometre will tell a lot. I also have two more days to recover.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays. 

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco team news

This came from LottoNL-Jumbo:

Wilco Kelderman took over the lead in the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco on Thursday afternoon in Spain. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s climber attacked in the hard final kilometres of the fourth stage to make sure overall leader Mikel Landa (Team Sky) lost time. Kelderman finished eighth behind winner Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing).

On Wednesday, Sports Director Addy Engels said that Kelderman and Robert Gesink had to keep on riding instinctively during the final stages of the País Vasco. Those tactics paid off today. The tough fourth stage in the Basque Country had a tricky final 2.5 kilometres, where Kelderman attacked. The Dutchman didn’t get any space, but made sure that the race exploded with Landa as the main victim. His eighth place in the stage was good enough to grab the yellow jersey.

“We were familiar with the final of the stage and we knew that there was a very tough part in the end,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Wilco tried attack there instinctively. The fight is at the highest level in this race, so it’s great to see that Wilco and Robert are doing such a good job. They are confident and the rest of the team led them out perfectly to every key point in the stage. George Bennett got ill, unfortunately, and had to abandon the race, but the others did a fantastic job. Enrico Battaglin and Paul Martens were especially very important in the final of the stage. The leader’s jersey is a nice reward for the team.”

Kelderman’s proved his form. “I’m feeling very strong,” he added. “I dared to take the initiative because I knew that there were not many riders who were able to go faster than me. When I attacked, I saw Alberto Contador accelerating. I had to go all in there, but I knew that if I would give everything, we wouldn’t be able to distance me.

“We really raced as a team. We were focused all the time and were always in the right place. Paul told me during the race that I had to try it on the final climb. I was in the right position and took my chance.”

Wilco kelderman

Wilco Kelderman at last year's Eneco Tour

The race’s queen stage is waiting for the riders on Friday. The stage ends up the Uzartza climb. “We are going to fight for it and enjoy it,” Zeeman said. “Nothing changes for us. The differences are still very small. Even now that we have the leader’s jersey, we keep on approaching this race day by day.”

Here's Tinkoff's news:

The Vuelta al Pais Vasco entered the mountains proper today. On a stage that saw average gradients exceed 10% and maximum gradients approaching 30%, the riders were in for a brutal race. After a stage that saw Tinkoff riders test the GC leader throughout, and with attacks coming late in the day, Alberto Contador crossed the line in seventh position, with the same time as the stage winner and gaining a second in the GC race. With another day in the mountains before the final day’s time trial, the race to GC victory is just warming up.

In the first official mountain stage, the race was to cross six categorised climbs, starting with the first category Jaizkibel, and three ascents of the same mountain – the Aia – from different routes, taking place in the last 35km of the stage. The parcours looked relatively steady, but what was different about this stage was the toughness of the climbs, with the average gradient for many of them exceeding 10%. The weather was wet and saw some of the race’s descents take place in treacherous conditions.

Alberto Contador gave some insight into today’s racing. "It was a hard and complicated day because of the rain. It's been raining intermittently throughout the day and that made it even more difficult. The start was crazy and we had to wait 80km to see the breakaway become definitive. The average speed was very high despite the fact we had gone through various climbs and that made for a hard day.”

With a group of six riders having gone clear after 80km, building up a gap on the peloton of more than two minutes, Tinkoff had the luxury of sitting behind Team Sky, as they had the responsibility to defend the race lead. As the 30km to go mark came and went, Tinkoff started to test out the others inhale front group to see how strong they were, with Roman Kreuziger putting in efforts to up the pace at the front.

Of the team’s efforts today, Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, was full of praise. "Alberto was feeling good, he knew the last climb and tried to get away after some good work by Roman Kreuziger. Roman was on a good day and helped to make it really hard in the front group in the final, and the other guys also worked hard to stay in positioned to prepare for the climbs.”

Hitting the Aia for the final time, and one of the toughest climbs of the day, the attacks began. With five riders out in front, the aim was to bring these riders back in as the gap decreased steadily. As the climb hit 28% and riders began losing traction on the damp roads, Alberto chased Sky’s Henao as he went on the attack, taking Movistar’s Quintana with him, pulling in the last riders of the break.

Alberto was keen to test his legs, and felt the final, steep climb was the place to do it. “On the final climb up Aia I tried to see how my legs were doing but again the rain made it difficult to ride off the saddle. Despite that we passed the summit quite well, but there was no mutual agreement among the ones we were there and in the end we were caught by the main group.”

As the road levelled off at the top, the group was gaining on Alberto’s breakaway, but with the peloton in pieces and escapees scrabbling to get away, the stage was anyone’s with less than 3km remaining. With the remaining breakaway riders caught 2.5km out, more attacks came, first from Alberto, and then from BMC’s Sanchez, who would go on to win the stage.  Finishing with the bunch, the Tinkoff leader crossed the line in seventh position, taking the same time as the stage winner.

The second gained was a second closer to the lead, as De Jongh explained from the finish. "It was another good day for us today, and at the end we closed in a bit on GC. Alberto is now just 10 seconds down on the new leader, Kelderman, so it's even tighter at the top of the GC now ahead of two tough stages.“

After hard racing throughout the season so far, and in the past few days of the Vuelta, the team lost another member however, as De Jongh explained. “We are down to five now though as Matteo Tosatto left the race, he was just empty today and got dropped early in the day when the speed was really high so there was no coming back.” In spite of one member fewer, the team would still be in a position to fight, through not having to protect the race lead, as De Jongh continued. "Tomorrow is going to a be a hard day and we'll see what we can come up with. The responsibility is still off us to control the race so we can make our own strategy and hopefully we can be in the best possible position ahead of the final time trial."

With another day in the mountains to come, there were a number of potential outcomes, as Alberto explained, in light of today’s finish. “There wasn't any change in the GC, with the exception of Landa losing a few seconds. That was another effort added on the legs that will take its toll. Tomorrow will be another hotly-contested stage and people will try to get the breakaway because they know there are chances it reaches the finish.  On the other hand we will have to see how that will play out in the GC because there will be few chances to make a difference. Arrate is a tough climb but it's difficult to get away, so I expect the gap is going to be slim. Everything is at stake at the time-trial."

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