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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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Tour de France stage 16 news

Stage winner Peter Sagan's Tinkoff team sent me this report:

The last stage before the last rest day of the Tour de France – this was the last chance for the sprinters before the Champs Élysées on Sunday. Looking to take a hat-trick of stage wins, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan battled with his rivals on the hard finale in Berne to take the stage win by a tyre’s width, while Roman Kreuziger finished with the same time in the bunch to hold onto his 11th spot in the GC, ready for the last few days in the mountains.

Half the stage in France, half the stage in Switzerland – the Tour de France moved into its third country of the race, having already visited Spain and the Principality of Andorra. Ahead of the second rest day as the race entered its final week, the 209km route from Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne, the Swiss capital, took in an undulating parcours that while hilly, crossed only one categorised climb – the fourth category Côte de Mühleberg. This didn’t mean the day was going to be easy, however, with temperatures approaching 30° and the long distance – the 7% and then 6.5% kicks just before the finish might prove too much for the pure sprinters.

Ten kilometres into the stage and the break of the day escaped – managing to stay out in front for most of the day. On such a long and arduous stage in such warm weather, the peloton was in no hurry to chase the pair down – although this didn’t stop the team working hard and upping the pace to deliver Peter Sagan to the intermediate sprint at 167km, who was first from the bunch to collect the remaining points to add to his green jersey total. With only the end of the stage to contest, the peloton reeled in the last member of the break, and the race was on for the finish.

High speeds and a winding street circuit were the theme of the final 10km as the race entered Berne. While the streets were beautiful and picturesque, riders had to contend with cobbles and tight turns, in addition to the high pace. Attacks came as the puncheurs tried to get away and deny the pure sprinters, and on the final drag just before the flamme rouge, the effort was showing on the faces of the riders. Peter was still looking strong however, and with an immensely strong finish, he took the win in the bunch sprint by a tyre’s width to extend his lead in the Green Jersey contest and to take his tally of wins in this year’s race to three.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan barely wins stage 16

After such a hard-fought contest for the win, Peter was thrilled with the outcome. “I am so happy, so proud of my team as they did a very good job, I'm so happy to win for them, for Tinkov and for Oleg. A lot of times I lose the race by this much and today I won. I believe in destiny and today it's turning back. There are fans here from Telekom Slovakia and it's very nice they can be here to see me and cheer for me today.”

With such a close finish, it took some time before he found that he’d won the stage after a photo finish review. “It was a very long stage, very hot and my teammates did a great job and pulled all day because we knew the final was good for me. We're in the third week so you can't say who's the best for a finish like this but I did my best and I think Alexander made a mistake in the jump for the line - I didn't know I'd won, it's was a nice surprise today.”

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, was full of praise for how the team had pulled together to enable Peter to contest the win. “It was a brilliant day for the team today. The guys did really well - Martin was out there with Alaphilippe and Martin is not an easy guy to chase so we joined the other teams to give them a hand as we had confidence in Peter for the finish. In his final jump he did really well, and it was an amazing finish. He's a real champion. Roman was also up there and did a good job as it was really hectic on the run-in so he had to move up from a little further back but he was there at the end.”

Having performed so strongly on yesterday’s mountain stage, Rafal Majka was pleased to be part of such a well-performing team. “Yesterday I was second and today Peter wins, for us it's great and we have three stage wins in the Tour de France and two jerseys right now so I'm happy. We don't have our big leader in Alberto here but we still give everything and it's another very good result. It might be our last season but we do our best still and when we have good condition we try to win everything. I think it was a nice finish for Peter today - he had strong legs and was very impressive in the sprint. For me, I went easy in the last 5km as I had a hard day yesterday and there are some big climbing days to come.”

Ahead of the rest day, De Jongh was confident in the team’s performances and was looking ahead to the final days of the race. “The green jersey feels like it's more secure after today and we also have the polka dot jersey, which is nice to defend over the last week. Tomorrow it's the rest day, and the boys will have a spin and a good lunch and get some sleep and massage before the last days here.”

The race goes into its second and final rest day tomorrow to prepare for the last five stages of the race. When the race returns, it will spend a whole day in the Swiss mountains on Wednesday with a 184.5km stage that covers four categorised climbs – rising from the start to take on two third category climbs, before a descent that leads us into the first category Col de la Forclaz before the Hors Catégorie climb to the finish. Riders will be rested, but this will be an incredibly tough day.

BMC sent me this update:

18 July, 2016, Bern(SUI): Stage 16 of the Tour de France saw Greg Van Avermaet battle it out in a hectic sprint into Bern, Switzerland, in a tricky finale that split the peloton.

Van Avermaet crossed the line in tenth place, with Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen finishing safely in the front group to retain their top ten placings on the General Classification.

Julien Alaphilippe and Tony Martin (both Etixx-Quick Step) formed a breakaway duo, gaining a lead of six minutes before being reeled in, in the final 20 kilometers.

BMC Racing Team fought hard at the front of the peloton to bring the duo back and position Van Avermaet, Porte and van Garderen well going into a tricky cobbled section in the final three kilometers.

Van Avermaet was right up there in the final kilometer but was edged out in the frantic sprint to the line.

Greg van avermaet

Greg van Avermaet racing in stage 7

The peloton will enjoy their final rest day tomorrow before the final battle for the podium starts on Wednesday with stage 17.

Greg Van Avermaet: "It was hard to get in position but I was there where I wanted to be. On the bottom the peloton hesitated a little as it was a bit too early to go I think, still 2.5km to the finish. So I waited and then on the top when I wanted to go the tempo was high so there was no point to attack there. We were just waiting for the sprint and I think I just tried to get into a good place but I never could get to the first row to sprint for first place. It was really good teamwork. Rohan Dennis did a really good job today and for us it was an important stage with Bern and Andy Rihs, our sponsor, here from BMC Switzerland. So we tried to do it as good as possible. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I don't think I could have gone better on this stage."

Richie Porte: "It was a mess of a finish. It was quite dangerous in that last 10km but the whole day was just so fast. I think with Tony Martin in the breakaway they weren't going to give him much. We just rode absolutely flat out all day. I think we averaged something like 46km an hour today so it wasn't easy. It was just absolutely flat out all day. I'm in good condition and it is a hard four-day block coming up after the rest day. I think I've got everything to play for now, I'm not too far off podium. It's a big goal so bring it on."

Tejay van Garderen: "I won't say the Tour has gone perfect but I still have good sensations and we still have me and Richie up there. So, so far it's been a successful Tour. Hopefully I can just recover and be ready for these last four days. We want to achieve the best result we can. As of now I'm not really going to put a number on it but we've got to be happy with our best. We have to see how things play out, there's a number of different tactics."

LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo-rider Sep Vanmarcke placed seventh in the 16th stage of the Tour de France into Bern, Switzerland. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) won the stage sprint ahead of a reduced group, after Etixx-Quick-Step duo Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe dominated the day.

Vanmarcke tried to escape on the cobblestone climb in the last three kilometres. “The team put me in the front perfectly and when I was in front, I looked around and I saw that there were a few riders on there limit. I went and Navardauskas joined me, and I thought we were free, they came back unfortunately and I had just enough left to stay in the front of the peloton."

Vanmarcke then tried in the sprint. “Valverde tried and I thought, this is my chance, but then Kristoff came flying by and it was over. This was the only stage where I could go for a win,” added Vanmarcke. “I wanted to wait until the top, but those cobbles were so beautiful that I started early. I thought that it was a wonderful final, everyone was on his limits and only the best men were left on the front."

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke earlier this year at Paris-Roubaix

"The men helped Vanmarcke well,” said Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. "We knew the final would be difficult and we wanted to bring Vanmarcke in the front so he could place his attack. It is nice to see that he can hold off the peloton after his attempt and that he can join in the sprint.

“We went for it today. We studied the final. It's a shame it didn’t work, but I saw a good team. We were perhaps the most active team in the peloton. When Alaphilippe and Martin managed to get away, Paul Martens still come up to eight seconds, then Bert-Jan Lindeman was trying to make it across and Timo Roosen was chasing the leading group.”

Roosen was joined by three other riders but could not get in the front.
“It was their right to drive ahead as a couple, but I think that it would have been better with six men and then Etixx would have had two men in front to ride for victory."

Timo Roosen: "I hate it, normally they'll wait if they want to have a chance,” Roosen said. “But they had so much desire to drive on as a couple. If you're with six, you can certainly go faster. We could have played a nice role in the final. “Now it is time to celebrate because it’s a rest day tomorrow, that means, stay in bed and chill out.”

Lotto-Soudal's Tour of Poland report:

Tim Wellens won the 73rd edition of the Tour de Pologne. Wellens already was the best during the fifth stage in this race after an incredible solo. Because of this wonderful performance and due to the cancelled queen stage, the Belgian rider started as leader in the closing time trial of 25 kilometres in and around Krakow. Alex Dowsett was the fastest, he won just ahead of his teammate Jonathan Castroviejo. Wellens rode a decent time trial, he finished thirteenth. His competitors on GC were unable to threaten him, he won this year’s Tour de Pologne with more than four minutes advantage.

Lotto Soudal obtained some very nice results. Tim Wellens won the fifth stage, Tiesj Benoot finished third on that stage. Benoot also obtained the fifth place on GC. Four riders finished in the top twenty of this Tour de Pologne. A stunning performance. Lotto Soudal also won the team classification. Sports director Mario Aerts is very proud of course.

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens

Mario Aerts: “Our aim beforehand was to show ourselves during the two important mountain stages. In the first real mountain stage, Tim Wellens immediately showed his climbing skills. That was a very strong performance. He also obtained a big advantage on GC so we had a lot of confidence for the queen stage. Eventually, this stage was cancelled and for good reason. The road was really dangerous. The riders started in the shortened stage, but after several kilometres the organization decided together with the riders to cancel the race. In my opinion, this decision didn’t have a big influence on the GC positions. We had a very strong team so I’m pretty sure that we would have been able to defend Tim’s leader’s jersey. Finally, Tim rode a good time trial so he won the race. We also finished with four riders in the top twenty. That’s a result I didn’t dare to dream about. We are absolutely very proud on the whole team.”

After the Eneco Tour, this is the second stage race at the highest level that the 25-year old Tim Wellens manages to win. Besides that, he also won the points classification and the KOM classification.

Tim Wellens: “I didn’t take too many risks in the closing time trial. It was very important not to crash so I could secure my leading position on GC. I tried to maintain an equal pace and that worked out really well.”

“I’m very happy with this victory of course. In theory, you can compare this victory with any other victory in a WorldTour stage race. But in my opinion, this race is less important than Paris-Nice for instance. I just wanted to check how good I felt on the bike after a very hard training period with the Olympic Games in mind. It pleases me that I was able to obtain this nice result, also the team did a great job. I like to compare this race with the Eneco Tour. The real climbers can’t perform as they would and the stages allow an aggressive way of racing. These kind of races suit me well.”

Joe Dombrowski re-ups with Cannondale-Drapac

This update came from the team:

American Joe Dombrowski has re-signed with the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team, marking a second term at the outfit for the 25-year-old climber. “It was an easy decision to stay. I've made a lot of progress at this team and I fit in great here. It's feels like family,” Dombrowski said.

He raced the Giro d’Italia this season and factored into the sharp end of several stages, finishing eighth in the uphill time trial and third over a mountainous stage into Sant’Anna di Vinadio. Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters doubles as Dombrowski’s trainer.

Joe Dombrowski

Joe Dombrowski at the 2015 Tour of Utah

“Joe has one of the highest VO2 maxes and highest IQs in the peloton,” Vaughters said. “And I’m happy to have those things on my side. There are some things he’ll get better at as he matures, but you can see just by watching the Giro, he’s starting to get a handle on how to use his physical gifts."

For Dombrowski, Vaughters’ coaching was part of the reason he elected to return for another term with Cannondale-Drapac. “To be completely honest, part of the reason I wanted to stay was having JV as a coach," Dombrowski said. "He's awesome. It is slightly unorthodox having the team manager write training plans but we have a good working relationship and I really believe in what he gives me to do, which makes it easy for me. I think it's really important to have faith in what you're doing because it takes all the thinking away for me and I can just focus on the racing."

Dombrowski won the “Baby Giro” in 2012 and the 2015 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the latter of which he was with Slipstream for. He will look to defend his Utah title and then head to the Vuelta in August.

“I took a good break after my last block of racing and I'm looking forward to Tour of Utah after that. I won it last year and would like to defend this year, and then I will finish with the Vuelta,” Dombrowski said. “I don't know what my objective is for the Vuelta yet, but I'll be aiming to finish the season strong.”

Liv-Pantur's racing plans

The team sent me me this news:

RACE PREVIEW: JULY 18 - 26: This Sunday just before the final stage of the Tour de France, the women's peloton will take part in the third edition of La Course by Le Tour. La Course is a circuit race of 89km, contested over 13 laps of 7km in the heart of Paris that features the most famous cobblestones of the Champs Elysees.

It will be Team Liv-Plantur's third participation and the team is once again looking forward to competing on the Champs Elysees. For this year's edition, the team heads to Paris led by sprinter Leah Kirchmann (CAN), winner of the Giro Rosa prologue and taking eighth place in the final GC.

Alongside the Canadian, Floortje Mackaij (NED) and Riejanne Markus (NED) who took second and fifth places respectively in the final overall classification of the BeNe Ladies Tour last weekend, will line up this Sunday. The roster of Team Liv-Plantur is completed by Sara Mustonen (SWE), Julia Soek (NED) and Kyara Stijns (NED).

"During the last months we have proved that we can achieve good results in the bunch sprints and La Course is considered as the biggest sprint race of the year,” said coach Hans Timmermans (NED).

"Our main goal will be to sprint with Leah in Paris as we are bringing a strong team with a lot of lead-out experience, especially with Floortje and Julia who are also both powerful sprinters. Leah managed to finish third in 2014, so she knows what it takes to achieve a good result. We will aim for a podium finish and with this team we are prepared for several different scenarios."

RACE: La Course by Le Tour (WWT)

DATE: 24/07/2016

COACH: Hans Timmermans (NED) 

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