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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, February 29, 2016

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

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. - Seneca

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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Report

This is from Lotto-Soudal:

Cycling's 50 Triumphs and Tragedies

Today, the 68th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was scheduled. There was a strong wind and that determined the race. Eleven riders were part of the early break, their maximum advantage was eight minutes. At the Oude Kwaremont, the race really started. Jürgen Roelandts set the pace in the peloton, a lot of riders were dropped. Also at the Varentstraat the tempo of the Lotto Soudal riders resulted in splits in the peloton. After that many attempts occurred, eventually sixteen riders managed to get away, Pim Ligthart was one of them.

With seventeen kilometres to go, Jasper Stuyven attacked in the front group. Six riders, among others Pim Ligthart, chased him but they couldn’t bridge the gap. Stuyven rode alone to the victory. Alexander Kristoff won the sprint for the second place, Nacer Bouhanni finished third. Jens Debusschere was the first Lotto Soudal rider, he was twentieth in the ranking. Jens Debusschere and Marc Sergeant analyze of the race.

Jens Debusschere: “The first part of the race went fluently. A group got away and several teams placed a rider at the front of the peloton. Everyone knew that they had to be attentive after the Oude Kwaremont, especially with the strong wind. We did it very well at first, at the Varentstraat there was another split. But when a new strong group was formed, Pim Ligthart was part of it, Jürgen Roelandts and myself had to be part of it as well.”

“In the sprint for the second place I was badly positioned after the final turn. Therefore I couldn’t sprint as expected and I’m disappointed of course. My goal was to obtain a nice result and that didn’t happen.”

Marc Sergeant: “At a certain moment, a group managed to get away with a few strong riders, Pim Ligthart was part of it. Jürgen couldn’t bridge the gap but he was very close. Therefore we had to ride at the front of the peloton in the background. It lasted a while before the other teams helped and then you know it will be difficult.”

Stig Broeckx was hit by a motor rider during the race and he crashed really hard. He was transferred to the hospital of Deinze. This is the diagnosis: a displaced fracture of his right collar bone, a rib fracture and a bruised hand. Tonight, Broeckx will undergo surgery of the collar bone fracture. Due to these injuries, he won’t be able to race the following weeks.

Atig Broeckx

Stig Broeckx will be out of action for a while

Sagan 7th at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

Here's Tinkoff's news:

At the end of a windy day in Belgian at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Peter Sagan had a seventh place to show for his efforts over the 200km of racing. The 68th edition of the semi classic was won by a strong solo move in the final 16km with Peter mixing it in the sprint for second.

“Today was a nice race, cold with a lot of wind, and we came here with the same team as yesterday against a lot of fresh legs,” explained Sport Director Lars Michaelsen. “In the end Peter finished seventh and we can take the positive notes again from his performance here and over the weekend as a whole.”

 “I enjoyed this weekend in Belgium and it was another good ride for me today, a good experience and I tried,” said Peter after returning to the team bus. “My condition is still not optimal and I hope it will continue to improve.”

The action got underway with an 11-man escape pulling clear and establishing themselves at the head of the race, building an eight-minute advantage. Once the bunch started to react behind, the gap soon started to fall but over each exposed section of road and climb, the bunch thinned again and again.

Peter stretched his legs for the first time up the Kwaremont, causing splits in the peloton as he hit out on the steep cobbled slopes, but normality was soon restored with a long way still to race.

“On the Kwaremont Peter showed his strength when he came from behind on the cobblestones, accelerating and passing everyone,” Michaelsen continued. “The winner of the race was able to follow him there, but of course with 85km to go it was too early so he had to sit up. We knew if we didn’t try to do anything on the climbs it would most likely end up in a sprint.”

It wasn’t until under 50km to go that the next dangerous move came, and once again Peter was in the thick of the action, pulling clear with seven others over the final ascent of the day. With little cohesion, Peter pressed on, but in vain as the race once again came back together with the early break now in touching distance, 45km from the finish.

“I tried a lot of times to attack today hoping to force a breakaway, but it seems to be my destiny that people find it hard to work together with me,” Peter remarked.

Not long after the regrouping, the early escapee was also absorbed, igniting attacks and sparking a strong move of 15 to extract itself from the bunch, but with no Tinkoff riders present. The gap between the two groups hovered at around 30 to 40 seconds, and with 16km to race one rider jumped clear and would eventually hold on to take victory.

Little represented in the main bunch, Tinkoff had to leave the chasing to others on the run in and although the bunch managed to claw its way back to the breakaway before the finish, there was still one remaining out front.

Peter pushed hard in the sprint for second, but his earlier efforts took their toll. “Overall it’s been a good opening weekend for us in Belgium that we can improve on as well as taking the positive points. And we have time left between now and the big classics at the end of March and start of April to sharpen up certain areas,” concluded Michaelsen.  

Zardini injured at GP di Lugano

Bardiani CSF sent me this update:

Bittersweet Sunday for Bardiani-CSF in Lugano. Besides the happiness for Colbrelli’s win, the #GreenTeam has to take note also of the injury suffered by Edoardo Zardini. Italian rider crashed at  high speed at 45 kilometers to go while he was facing a descent. Zardini heavily beat his back on a wall and has been immediately transported to Lugano Hospital.

Exams showed four vertebrae splintered (4, 5, 6 and 9). Zardini will pass the night at the hospital with his family and during the next hours will be examine by Lugano Hospital neurosurgeon to evaluate and decided, together with the rider and team management, how to face the recover. At the moment, the prospect for Zardini is not a short stop.

Edoardo Zardini

Edoardo Zardini wins stage 2 of the 2014 Giro del Trentino. He'll be out of action for a while.

Yet another injury report, this time Mathew Hayman

Orica-GreenEdge sent me this bad news:

Mathew Hayman of ORICA-GreenEDGE was involved in a crash at the Belgian race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and suffered a fracture to the radius bone in his right arm.

The road captain for the team’s Classics squad will be sorely missed in the coming weeks after playing a key role in the team’s success over the Australian Summer. The injury will see the Australian Classics specialist back on the road training in around four weeks time.

Thirty seven year old Hayman is a former Commonwealth Games champion and was carrying some excellent form into the Spring Classics season, together with his invaluable experience after more than a decade of riding the biggest one-day races in the world.

Sports director Laurenzo Lapage elaborated on Hayman’s importance to the team.

“It is a real shame that we will go into the next races without Mat. He was our road captain and someone who is always 100% ready for the Classics. His type of experience you cannot under-estimate,”

“When he crashed, he was sitting in the right position as always, but it just goes to show how luck and often bad luck is a deciding factor in these races.”
Lapage concluded by saying.

“We obviously need to look forward and as I said to the guys today before the race, we need to regroup and someone else will step up to take this role. We have real ambitions for the cobbled races and we will make sure we do our best to chase results we came here for.”

Hayman himself added. “'It is one of those things, part of racing, part of our sport, but still always hard to accept. I had spent months training for these races and to have it end like that, so quickly is disappointing to say the least.”

“It is not a complicated fracture, and I am hoping that it will heal quickly and I can be back on the road with the boys as fast as possible.”

Lampre-Merida's GP Lugano report:

The podium of the Gp Lugano is mainly painted in blue-fuchsia-green colors, however on the higher step there isn't a Lampre-Merida's athlete: Ulissi was 2nd and Ferrari 3rd, but the victory was obtained by Colbrelli.

Sonny Colbrelli

Sonny Colbrelli takes the GP di Lugano

The rain fell on the course for the whole distance of 184.9 km and made the race more demanding, however this not scared two attackers, Tvetcov and Nych, who escaped from the bunch after 20 km in the race.

Lampre-Merida controlled the breakaway, leading the first chasing group, since the peloton had split in two parts. When the group was united again, the breakaway, whose members had become three (Wegmann had joined the two leaders), had no different future than to be neutralized: this happened at 50 km to the arrival.

A few km later, Ulissi tried to change the development of the race, attacking on the climb of Cadro and he assembled a five cyclists breakaway, being joined by Cunego, Pantano, Fraile and Pirazzo, however their attack was neutralized at 22 km to go.

The last lap became crucial for the result of the race and Ulissi was once again the main protagonist: he attacked on the Cadro climb and on the last hill of Castagnola, selecting a trio with Colbrelli and Pantano.

Ulissi was aware that Colbrelli was too fast for him in a sprint and, considering that Ferrari, who demonstrated a very good condition, was coming back from behind to the head group, he preferred to be passive, waiting for the team mate to join the trio.

However, Ferrari completed the come back only in the last climb, when Colbrelli had already launched the sprint, so Ulissi tried to compete with him, but he obtained the 2nd place, just before Ferrari (3rd). In photo (Bettini), the blue-fuchsia-green duo after the arrival.

The comment by the sports director Pedrazzini is a little bit bitter: "The team performance was good and most part of the riders realized a good performance, however some details of the race prevented us from obtaining the victory. We wanted a selecting race, Colbrelli was very strong and he could resist in the head of the race when Ulissi's attacks made the selection.

"We too could rely on a great race by our sprinter, that was Ferrari, who reached the summit of the last climb pedaling in the head of the selected chasing group. Unfortunately, he succeeded in completing the come back to the head of the race only few meters before the finish line and he was 3rd, while Ulissi could beat Colbrelli in the sprint".

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