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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 15, 2016

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

A North Carolina soldier to Jefferson Davis on the street in Richmond:
“Sir, Mister, Be’ent you Jefferson Davis?”
“Sir, that is my name.”
“I thought so, you look so much like a Confederate postage stamp.”

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Just a quick note. I was a bit late in getting the Racing Results - year to date pull-down link at the top of each page of the site switched over to 2016. It's done.

Tinkoff plans for Ruta de Sol

Tinkoff sent me this update:

Together with the Volta ao Algarve, the Ruta del Sol signals the start of the European season for Tinkoff. We will send a robust squad, built around Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger, to the 62nd edition of the Spanish race that will lack last year's exceptionally demanding ascents but where the individual time-trial and time bonuses will play a crucial role in the overall result.

After three races in three continents, Tinkoff's racing season in Europe gets underway in Portugal and Spain. At the Ruta del Sol, Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger will lead our team's efforts and will be flanked by Daniele Bennati, Manuele Boaro, Oscar Gatto, Nikolay Trusov and Jay McCarthy.

Rafael Majka

Rafal Majka will be at the Ruta del Sol

Bruno Cenghialta commented on the lineup and ambitions of Tinkoff at the five-stage Spanish race, "We head to Andalusia with two riders, Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger, that are currently in very good shape and have a strong shot at the general classification. They will both come from a training camp, Majka in Sierra Nevada and Kreuziger in Gran Canaria, and right now we can't distinguish between the two in terms of form."

"Obviously, once the race gets going, the strongest of the two will receive the support of the squad. However, we will also have to check who our adversaries are and in what form they will take to the start of the race", said Cenghialta.

For Rafal Majka the Ruta del Sol is a demanding but beautiful race. "This will be my first participation but I heard a lot of good words about it from my fellow riders. My goal for the race in Andalusia is to provide the best leadership possible for Tinkoff. We will face a lot of strong opponents in the peloton but our squad is made up of strong riders as well", commented Majka.

"For my part, I would like to check up on the time trial and the two mountain stages, the third and fifth, whose finish at the Alto Peñas Blancas will make it exciting. I look forward to the start of the race and especially the fact it usually takes place in warmer temperatures, something that I love!", concluded Majka.

This year's parcours might not include the harsh ascents that led to a high-octane duel between Alberto Contador and Chris Froome in 2015 but will certainly throw at the riders its mix of challenges.

"The opening stage is better suited to sprinters. The peloton will face undulating terrain, then a descent and a flat finale to Seville. The second stage is mostly flat and has a climb with approximately 25km to go. Then it goes again downhill, with another flat finale. I expect to see a small group at the finish, maybe 20-25 riders, and it could be possible to have Majka and Kreuziger in there. It is important to play our cards right for the time bonuses at the finish", said Cenghialta on the first two stages.

"The third stage presents the riders with rolling terrain. There might be a breakaway but we have three riders that could be placed there, Boaro, Gatto and McCarthy, who showed at Tour Down Under he was on a the right track. The climbs aren't steep enough to make big differences and I think it will again be a stage for sprinters, with maybe a reduced bunch sprint at the finish", added Cenghialta.

"An individual time-trial is on schedule for the fourth stage where our focus will again be on Majka and Kreuziger. In my opinion, the overall result could be decided there. The race will close with the fifth stage that features a summit finish at the Alto Peñas Blancas, a 16km climb with an 6% average incline. Without any previous, tough intermediate climbs that could create big gaps, I still see a group of 8-10 riders coming together at the finish. This year, there isn't a hard climb that would give one rider the opportunity to build an important advantage and the time bonuses at the finish will be more important", concluded Cenghialta.

Co-leader Roman Kreuziger will go to the Ruta del Sol eager to make his race debut of the season. "I feel in good form and in my opinion I see the results of the hard training effort I carried out in the winter. Of course, it’s my first race of the season, so it’s impossible to know exactly where I stand but I feel confident. I have been able to train every day in Gran Canaria and I truly look forward to start racing again", commented Kreuziger.

"It will be the first time I race at the Ruta del Sol but it seems it will be an exciting race. The first two stages are for sprinters, so I will have the time to get into race-mode for the two mountain stages and the time-trial", concluded Kreuziger.

And here's BMC's Ruta del Sol news

14 February, 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will continue the Spanish racing program at Ruta del Sol from February 17-21.

"We are going in with Tejay van Garderen as team leader. After three sprinters' stages we have a 21 kilometer time trial on stage 4 and then the uphill finish on the final stage, so I think the General Classification will be decided on the last two days. We have a strong team as we saw in Murcia and Tejay is motivated for the overall win," BMC Racing Team Sports Director, Valerio Piva said.

Tejay van Gardeen

Tejay van Gardeen at the 2015 Vuelta a España

Van Garderen will be backed by the same team who helped Philippe Gilbert to win the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia on Saturday.

"Ruta del Sol is another solid race to start the season with after racing in Murcia. It's all about sharpening up my form before heading into the WorldTour races and racing here gives me another chance to do that," van Garderen explained.

Rider Roster: Darwin Atapuma (COL), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Samuel Sanchez (ESP), Tejay van Garderen (USA)

Sports Director: Valerio Piva (ITA)

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