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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, February 12, 2016

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

The day's quote: Civil War general Stonewall Jackson asked about a missing courier and was told that the boy had just been killed while delivering a message under fire.
“Very commendable, very commendable,” was Jackson’s reply.

Racing today:

Upcoming racing:

Alberto Contador ready to start the 2016 racing season

This piece came to me from Contador's Tinkoff team:

Alberto Contador will kick off his 2016 season at the Volta ao Algarve, next Wednesday, February 17th. According to Tinkoff's leader, he will head to the Portuguese race "very eager and more motivated than ever", referring as well to a year in which the Tour de France will be the main goal.

“I went through a good winter period because in Europe we had quite mild weather, something that helped me keep a continuity in my training", explained Alberto Contador. “I also tried to organize my schedule and the non-sport commitments so that I can train. I was able to complete two very good training blocks with the team, one in December in Gran Canaria and another one in January, in Tenerife. There, we also shared two weeks with Oleg Tinkov. Similar to last year, we worked together, he trained with us and we spent good moments. The team worked very well and I already look forward to starting competing".

Alberto Contador (second from left) at the 2016 Tinkoff team presentaton

Tinkoff's leader points out that when he hits the start line next week "nearly everybody will have already put on a race number on their backs and finished a race. I'm also eager to start because I enjoy competing as well"

Expectations at the Volta ao Algarve are simply these, to kick off the racing season. For now Contador has carried out “a sound working foundation, thinking in particular that this start will be very important in a season in which the goal is to reach the Tour de France in good shape. This is what I think about, at all times. The Volta ao Algarve always brings fond memories and I consider it to be a perfect race to finetune my form and start my first block of competition, where I hope to have a good level in all races".

Lastly, Tinkoff's leader expects "a nice and very competitive race. I believe we will see a very good lineup, with 12 WorldTour teams, while the route will be a bit harder than usual. It features two summit finishes and, in addition, a time-trial that is quite long and flat, being the first one of the season. Nevertheless, it will be interesting for the preparation towards the future goals".

Tinkoff will present its full lineup and ambitions for the upcoming Volta a Algarve at the end of the week. 

Lotto-Soudal plans for upcoming Iberian races

The team sent me this update:

Next week Lotto Soudal takes part in two Europe Tour stage races; both Ruta del Sol and Volta ao Algarve are scheduled from Wednesday 17 February till Sunday 21 February. Seven Lotto Soudal riders will start in the Ruta del Sol, or Vuelta a Andalucía. Because of the nature of the course in the south of Spain the team chose to mainly select climbers. Eight riders will go to the Volta ao Algarve, in the south of Portugal, they are riders for the classic races.

Maxime Monfort

Maxime Monfort (shown racing at the Besseges stage race earlier this month) will head to Iberia

Team Ruta del Sol: Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Mario Aerts.

Team Volta ao Algarve: Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Also Lotto-Soudal sent me this about checking out the Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race courses:

Some of the classics riders of Lotto Soudal did a recon of the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad today and yesterday. Together they could already start preparing mentally for the Classics and they could regain the feeling on the cobbles.

Wednesday Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Jürgen Roelandts and Jelle Wallays did a ride of 200 kilometres, on the course of the Tour of Flanders. Today the riders headed towards Kaperij to do a recon of the finale of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. On Saturday 27 February that will be the seventh hill of the day. Then they continued their way up to Taaienberg and Eikenberg. This year there is a new hill on the course of the Omloop: Boembeke. This hill is situated at about 30 kilometres from the finish, which isn’t at Sint-Pietersplein this year but on the Emile Clauslaan.

Stig Boreckx

Stig Broeckx finishes a stage at the 2014 Tour Down Under

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “We are satisfied after these two recons. The weather was good both days; today it was cold but dry. Even the sun came out today. Because the weather was good, we could do the trainings as planned. Of course our riders know the Flemish hills, but still, such a recon is important to get the right vibe on the cobbles. That has to happen before the first race in Flanders. This year the Omloop has a new finish, it’s good the riders saw that today, just like the roads up to the new hill.”

“The riders normally race in warm countries these days, like Spain and Portugal, there is a big difference with the temperature in Belgium, so also therefore it’s useful to train here. If the weather is good we’ll do another training on the course a few days before the Omloop, but if we should have to cancel that recon it’s good that we had this.”

Daryl Impey wins 5th South African time trial championship

Orica-GreenEdge sent me this news:

South African Daryl Impey has successfully defended his national time trial title today in Wartburg, making it his fifth victory in event.

Over the last six years, Impey has claimed the national honours in every edition of the race he has started (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).

DAryl Impey

Daryl Impey at the 2015 Vuelta a España

Coming into the event as the clear favourite, Impey lived up to his expectations finishing the 48km route in 1hour 1minute and 23 seconds, giving him a 44 second advantage over second place Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Team Dimension Data).

"I'm pretty happy that each time I've started the elite champs I've been able to win," said Impey. "There's always pressure coming here, beacuse I've always been the favourite, so its a relief to come back here and back it up."

After winning four previous national time trial titles Impey entered the race with high ambitions, confident of his form after strong performances in last month's Santos Tour Down Under. "I've worked really hard in December and January coming off Tour Down Under," said Impey. "After the crash I had, I needed a few extra days to take it easier and I freshened up nicely in to this.

"I had a pretty tough fight out there from Reinardt, so I was just really happy to finish it off today and deliver when it mattered."

Being back in South Africa able to race in his home counrty, Impey was grateful to have support around him and thanked people with taking the victory. "It was great to have Miha (Peterlid) and Dean Edwards in the car following me, it kind of motivated me even more. They put a lot of effort in behind the scenes so it's nice to have support from the team and Dean. I am really pleased to be able to win on South African soil."

The South African National Road Race Championships takes place on Sunday 14th February, when Impey will be back in action aiming to bring the national road jersey to ORICA-GreenEDGE.

South Africa National Time Trial Results:

1. Daryl Impey (OGE) 1:01:23
2. Reinardt J V Rensburg (TDD) +0:44
3. Johan Van Zyl (TDD) +2:48

BMC's Tour of Qatar news:

11 February, Doha, Qatar: Greg Van Avermaet has taken second place behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in a sprint finish on stage 4 of the Tour of Qatar.

Van Avermaet picked up six bonus seconds to move him into second overall on the General Classification, two seconds behind Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) who reclaimed the leader's Gold Jersey. Manuel Quinziato crossed the line in sixth, retaining his third place overall on the GC at six seconds.

Multiple breakaways spent time at the front of the race before the peloton reformed in the last 15 kilometers. Strong winds created splits in the peloton as the riders approached the line, leaving a small group of six to battle it out for the sprint. Edvald Boasson Hagen, who started the day in the Gold Jersey, had a flat tire with ten kilometers to go, eventually losing his lead.

Greg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet enjoying the cobblestones of 2015 Tour de France stage 4

It was a good day in the saddle for Van Avermaet, who started the stage fourth in the GC. "You have to take Qatar by day. It wasn't so good for Boasson Hagen but unfortunately that's racing with crashes and flat tires. We will see what happens tomorrow. I was pretty happy with the race and how the team rode in the front. We were always there, and we're still up there in GC so it was a good day."

Van Avermaet believes the team has shown their form at the Tour of Qatar. "We have a strong team with the Classics guys here. It's always important to build the team around me and I'm really happy with the work they did. I think everybody is in good shape. Everybody knows what work he has to do, even the first guy who was pulling from the first meters until the last lap, so I think we have great condition."

The Tour of Qatar wraps up tomorrow with a 114.5 kilometer stage in the heart of Doha finishing on Doha Corniche.

With the top four riders on GC separated by only nine seconds, tomorrow's final stage is set for a battle for the podium places.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the team will do everything possible to remain on the podium after tomorrow's stage. "The course definitely plays in favor of the sprinters, but we will give it everything we have tomorrow. It's looking good for the Teams Classification which is a great reflection on how the riders have worked throughout the race."

BMC Racing Team retains the lead in the Teams Classification, 57 seconds in front of Katusha.

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