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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir

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Oscar Gatto to lead Tinkoff at Arctic Race of Norway

Tinkoff sent me this update:

Tinkoff lines up this week at the four-day Arctic Race of Norway with an opportunistic team led by fast-finisher Oscar Gatto who comes to the race looking for stage wins after completing the first Tour de France of his career. Oscar will be looking to put the strength gained from the Grand Tour to good use in this fast-paced race.

The Italian will be joined by a young team, with Jay McCarthy adding more fire-power to the line-up here, as well as Michael Kolar and Slovakian road champion Juraj Sagan. The team is then completed by the experienced Yuri Trofimov and fellow Russian, Nikolay Trusov.

Oscar Gatto

Oscar Gatto wins stage 3 at this year's Ruta del Sol

"Oscar Gatto will be our leader with the goal of a stage win,” explained Sport Director Bruno Cenghialta ahead of the race. “In my opinion, Oscar is right now the rider of the squad with the best form and legs that suit the very fast profile of the race. Jay McCarthy is also a fast rider, as are some others of our team, and as a result, our strategy will be to seek stage wins. We will use all our riders and adapt our strategy on a day-by-day basis to win at least a stage.

“Taking place in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, the race is inherently difficult but its profile isn't a hard one. All our riders are used to tougher climbs and going from sea level to 550 meters with an average gradient of 4-5% is something they tackle nearly every day. These climbs aren't the Col du Tourmalet and what can make the race difficult to manage will be its very fast pace. As a result, our strategy will be to use the breakaways when they take place or create them ourselves.”

The race gets underway with a steady opening stage that features three classified climbs, the latter of which crests with only 18.5km to race. Depending on the race situation, this climb could play a part in deciding the first race leader in Norway. The second stage suits the sprinters, before a tough uphill finish on stage 3 on the climb of Korgfjellet. The race then ends with a rolling final stage, coming to a close in the town of Bodø, situated just north of the Arctic Circle.

Looking to the various stages, and where the team can target, Cenghialta said: “In what regards the four stages, one could single out the third one as the queen stage, with a summit finish. The GC could be decided there but the differences will always be very small, no more than a few seconds. We will try there to see whether Oscar and Jay have the legs to be with the leaders. As I said, in these climbs Oscar can also be competitive and we could eventually try to make a move for the GC, but our primary goal in the race will remain to win a stage."

Nikolas Maes joins Lotto-Soudal

Lotto-Soudal sent me this report:

Today Lotto Soudal can announce a first newcomer for next season. Nikolas Maes has signed a contract for two years. The 30-year-old Belgian will come over from Etixx – Quick-Step, a team for which he will have raced seven seasons. Nikolas Maes is a valued helper who will be a reinforcement for the Classics core of Lotto Soudal.

Manager Marc Sergeant: “Nikolas is a real flandrien, someone who loves the cobbles and isn’t afraid of bad weather. At Lotto Soudal we can definitely use an extra rider like him for our Classics team. This spring several riders were out due to injuries or illness, that’s almost unavoidable. The consequence is that you always need to rely on the same group of riders to line up a team for all races, that’s why reinforcement was welcome.”

“Nikolas is a very experienced rider, the past years he rode the Classics at the side of Tom Boonen. For the spring Classics we have young riders who can set results, just think of Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere. They can definitely benefit from having someone like Nikolas with them in the team, someone who can better judge if the right moment has come to attack thanks to his experience. Nikolas often goes training with Tiesj and I am sure he can temper Tiesj when he gets too eager.”

“I think Nikolas can also play an important role in the sprint. We have of course the sprint train for Greipel, but also for other riders we often set up trains. That can be for Debusschere, Roelandts or Boeckmans for example. Nikolas is a rider who shouldn’t be underestimated and he is a real asset to the team, I’m sure.”

Nikolas Maes: “I didn’t want to change team just for the sake of it, but I had a good chat with Marc Sergeant which made me realize that his vision on cycling and that of the team are very similar to my vision. Then it was an easy choice to make. I will be able to fully use my capacities in this team. Lotto Soudal has a strong U23 team and invests a lot in Belgian youth. There are a lot of talented youngsters in the team and I like working with young riders. I like passing on my experience, but I also want to support them during races. For all these reasons this is a good match.”

“I am very motivated to reinforce this team. I can play a role in the Classics and sprints. Lotto Soudal has some good sprinters in the team and I am looking forward to helping them by being part of the train. It won’t be a problem to fit in. I know most of the riders pretty well. I often go training with Tiesj Benoot for example. I’m sure I’ll be integrated quite soon.”

Stamsnijder and Timmer extend contracts with Giant-Alpecin

This release came from the team:

Team Giant-Alpecin is pleased to announce that Dutch riders Tom Stamsnijder and Albert Timmer have extended their contracts. Stamsnijder is currently racing his fifth season and will extend his contract until the end of 2018. Timmer joined the team in 2007 and has also signed for a further two years.

Coach Rudi Kemna (NED) commented: "We are happy with the contract extensions of Albert and Tom as they belong to the core of the team and fit in well within our culture and structure. They are reliable support riders, strong enough for an extensive race program and very valuable members in our process of teamwork. We are looking forward to their contributions over the next two seasons."

Timmer said: "After this season I've already ridden a decade for the team and it is a natural decision to extend my contract. I am satisfied with the role I have and to have the opportunity to continue my career with the team."

"The extension of my contract for a further two years is a good decision for me,” explained Stamsnijder. "I enjoy my role in supporting our leaders and guiding the young talented guys, and the appreciation I get is very rewarding."

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