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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 5, 2016

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

I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel [bicycle]. - Susan B. Anthony

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2016 Giro d'Italia Video

Alberto Contador pre-Dauphiné press conference

This came from Tinkoff:

Olympics 50 Craziest Stories

On the eve of the Criterium du Dauphiné, Alberto Contador held a press conference, after carrying out the recon of Sunday's opening time trial and assessing the descent of Joux-Plane to the finish in Morzine, which will be the penultimate stage of the Tour de France next July.

How do you feel after these two months out of competition?

Well and eager, that is important. My last race was the Pais Vasco and that's a long time ago, but that allowed me to rest and train for the coming Tour. Considering the time of the season we are in, I feel well and I hope that this race can give my body the touch of shape that it needs.

What is the goal at the Dauphiné?

The number one goal is to finish in a good physical condition, ready for the Tour. And then there are also tough stages, in which we can do some tests to assess my form compared to the rivals. Of course, I don't contemplate the general classification, I'll see how the race goes and if I'm in a good situation, I would obviously try, but I know that is a big effort so I'll take it day by day.

Can you tell us what you did during the last two months?

Right after Pais Vasco I took a few days of holidays, not because I was tired, but because I knew they would be useful to face the stress and pressure of the Tour de France. Then I went to recon the Alps stages of the Tour and finally I did a three-week training camp on Teide, where I trained a lot and, above all, I did strength work. Right now, I might be missing some speed in the legs, but this is why we are here.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at this year's Tour of the Basque Country

How was your experience in high altitude?

My recent experience was good. Honestly, the biggest benefit I find on Teide, even more than the altitude, is the three weeks of concentration, thinking only about the bike, doing good training sessions, knowing that the weather will always be good, eating well, enjoying a massage every day and having lots of calm. I think these training camps suit me well for these reasons. At home it's more difficult to have the same rhythm.

Tomorrow's race course could be the first comparison test against your rivals. Is a victory possible?

Tomorrow is a good day to do a test, but on the other hand is the first race day and you don't know how your body will react, you don't know how you will feel. The time trial is very hard and we will see who is in good form. I will give my best because it's good to go full gas, but we'll see what happens.

What are your plans after the Dauphiné is over and until the Tour?

Unlike previous seasons, this year I will race at the Spanish Road Championships, because it suits me to get to pace and also because it is another one-day race in view of the Olympic Games.

Who is your biggest rival in the next Tour?

There will be many rivals and one must have the utmost respect for all of them, but if I had to choose two, it would be Froome and Quintana, the latter because he is very strong in the final week and Froome, of course, because he already knows how to win the Tour.

Sky posted this pre-Dauphiné interview with Wout Poels

After a flying start to 2016 Wout Poels is ready to resume his campaign at the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine.

Team Sky have enjoyed a superb record in the French stage race, which is well known as a great indicator of form ahead of July's Tour de France. Part of the winning team 12 months ago, Poels will again play a key role as he joins Chris Froome in a strong eight-man lineup.

On the eve of the race we caught up with the 28-year-old Dutchman for an update on the team's Tenerife training camp, Olympic selection and life as a Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner.

Hi Wout. The last time you raced you took a memorable victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. What have you been up to since?

Yeah it feels like quite a long time ago since Liege I'm really looking forward to racing again. I had a small break after that race and then I worked really hard out in Tenerife with the team at our training camp. Now it's time for the Dauphine - I'm ready for it and it's nice to be back in the saddle again.

Wout Poels

Wout Poels getting that classic win

You've already bagged five victories this year - did a part of you want to keep racing after Liege - or did you know it was time to get ready for a busy summer?

After Liege is was already the plan to have a break. I'd started my season in Valencia, so quite early. It wasn't a super busy programme, but if you're also doing the Ardennes, and preparing to head off to an altitude camp, it was nice to take a little break of one week. That allowed me to recharge the batteries again and then train full gas. It's such an important period now - starting with the Dauphine, the Tour and then the Olympics - you have to be ready for it, especially mentally in your head.

Sure if you're winning races you think you can do anything. But it's always good to have a really good condition, take a break and then start up again. Everything is a bit easier after that.

Is life any different now since that Monument win?

Not really to be honest. I think maybe a few more people recognise me now - but not the other day. I had a flat tyre, and the tyre I changed it to also needed a small repair. So I went to a bike shop just 10 kilometres from my house. I replaced the tyre and the guy from the shop came out and said "hey you're looking good, you almost could be in the Tour de France!" And I said "yeah, I'm doing it" and he looked really flabbergasted! He had no idea who I was (laughs).
How was the Tenerife training camp? Did you and the team get a lot of good work done?

We always train hard out there. We did plenty of kilometres and lots of climbing, but we had a really nice camp and a good group out there - riders and staff members. I think everybody had a good camp, trained well and took good care of themselves. As a team we're definitely ready for this next block of racing.
So with just short of six weeks out of racing, what are your expectations for the Dauphine?

The race starts with a really hard uphill prologue. So that's maybe not the best start to have for anyone but hopefully it will go well. In Valencia I managed to perform well in the opening TT of the race, so hopefully I can do that again. We'll see how the legs are.

The Dauphine team is incredibly strong - that must be quite exciting to be a part of?

Yeah we have a really strong lineup for the Dauphine. It's always nice to go into a race with a team like that. It gives you confidence and hopefully we can do a great job.

Congratulations on your recent Olympic call-up for the Dutch team. Is that another big target, especially because it's a good course for you?

Yeah it was a big goal to go the Olympics. That's why I did all the Ardennes Classics this year. The Tour de France is a really good race to do because if you are going well at the Tour then you're in good shape (for the Olympics). Last year I came really well out of the Tour and hopefully this year will be the same.

Groenewegen sprints to victory in the Heistse Pijl

This release came from LottoNL-Jumbo (note, we don't cover this race in our results):

Dylan Groenewegen won the Heistse Pijl. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter beat a small group during the Belgian one-day-race. Team-mates Timo Roosen, Robert Wagner and Tom Van Asbroeck escaped in a group that lasted until 1.5 kilometres to go.

“I was led out by the team to the foot of the final climb, so I was able to bridge to the first group,” Dylan Groenewegen said. “I came through the final turn in fourth position and started to sprint with 250 metres to go. It’s great to reward my team-mates' aggressive style of racing like this. It was a tough race with a cobbled climb that hurt. Because we had three in the leading group, the rest of the team was able to save energy.”

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen winning a stage at this year's Tour of Yorkshire

Team LottoNL-Jumbo was visible before that final kick as well. Paul Martens and Maarten Wynants rode aggressively during the first part of the race and Sep Vanmarcke was part of a breakaway of six riders early on. In the final part of the race, a leading group of 13 riders formed with Timo Roosen, Robert Wagner and Tom Van Asbroeck. They were caught on the final climb of the day.

“Sometimes everything goes to plan,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “Today, that was the story. We were part of every breakaway. Our first plan was to sprint with Dylan, but if that final breakaway was able to stay in front, Tom Van Asbroeck could have done it. Dylan saved his energy, during the whole race and was led out to the foot of that final climb eventually. That’s why he was able to finish it off. With only 1.5 kilometres to go, he noticed that his tyre was slowly getting soft, but he was able to reach the finish with it. A few minutes after the race, his tyre was flat. We were lucky.”

“With four kilometres to go, I hit a hole in the road quite hard,” Groenewegen explained. “I felt that my tyre was soft in the final 1.5 kilometres, but not too much to affect my sprint.”

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