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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, June 12, 2016

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Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it. - Soren Kierkegaard

Recently completed racing:

Current Racing:

Upcoming Racing:

Melanoma book video

Training and racing for hours almost every day, we all spend too much time in the sun. And that brings the possibility of melanoma (skin cancer). I've had a (thankfully) benign spot removed. But former racer David L. Stanley was not so lucky. He's OK now, but he had a hard fight, which he brilliantly told in Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle.

You can get the book in print, Kindle or audio version here.

He wrote and performed the narration to this video:

BMC's upcoming racing

This came from the team:

10 June 2016, Santa Rosa, California (USA): BMC Racing Team will return to Rund um Köln on Sunday 12 June, and Ster ZLM Toer from 15-19 June, looking for success at both races.

A mixed line up of experienced and younger riders make up BMC Racing Team's Rund um Köln roster, Sports Manager Allan Peiper said. "For some of the riders it will be their first race since the Giro d'Italia, others are coming in off the Tour of Luxembourg, and for Taylor Phinney this will be his first race in Europe in a while. Rick Zabel had four top ten finishes at the Giro d'Italia, so he'll be looking to do well if it comes down to a sprint finish."

For Zabel, it's a rare opportunity to race in Germany. "I'm really happy to have the chance to race in Germany in front of family and friends. After my results at the Giro d'Italia, I'm hoping to get a good result at Rund um Köln," Zabel said.

Rick Zabel

Rick Zabel racing earlier this year at the Giro d'Italia

BMC Racing Team is bringing a well-rounded team to the five-day stage race, Ster ZLM Toer - GP Jan van Heeswijk, Sports Director Jackson Stewart said.

"We're bringing a strong squad to Ster ZLM Toer. We're not heading to race with a specific team leader but there is not one rider on the team who isn't capable of getting a good result on the opening prologue and who is the leader will fall into place based on that."

Like Zabel, Floris Gerts is looking forward to racing on home soil. "It's always great to race at home especially as there is one stage in the Limburg province. This is an area I like to train train in and I have had a lot of experience racing here in the past. I was in good shape in Luxembourg after some hard training and I was really happy with my form the and I was able to help the team well. My condition is really good right now and I am sure I can take that good form with me to this race as well."

Rund um Köln (12 June)

Rider roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Floris Gerts (NED), Taylor Phinney (USA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Manuel Senni (ITA), Peter Velits (SVK), Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sports Director: Allan Peiper (AUS)

Ster ZLM Toer - GP Jan van Heeswijk (15 - 19 June)

Rider roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Taylor Phinney (USA), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Peter Velits (SVK), Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Rick Zabel (GER)

Sport Director: Jackson Stewart (USA)

Critérium du Dauphiné team news

Team Sky is having a good race and posted this:

Chris Froome extended his race lead at the Criterium du Dauphine with a rousing late attack on the queen stage. The Brit accelerated hard inside the flamme rouge on the steep run into Meribel, distancing his key rivals to open out his advantage in the yellow and blue jersey to 21 seconds with one stage to go.

Froome crossed the line fourth after Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) fought it out as the only two survivors from a multitude of breakaway riders.

Pinot edged out his compatriot who, at just a minute and 34 back, had become a danger man in the closing stages. Bardet now sits in joint second place with Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who Froome was able to distance along with Alberto Contador in the final metres.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome finishes stage 6

"I'm super happy with that, it was such a hard day out there," Froome told after the stage. "The team were absolutely incredible today - they rode from start to finish. Each and every one of my team-mates emptied themselves. It was really touch and go whether we were going to hold onto the jersey or not and I can say with confidence that there's no way that I'd still be in yellow this evening if they hadn't ridden the way they did.

"Dan Martin kicked in the last kilometre to try and go for third place and I followed the best I could. I was quite surprised to get a gap to some of my main rivals Alberto and Richie. I'm definitely glad to have a few extra seconds heading into the final stage tomorrow."

Team Sky were equal to the task and put in an marvellously composed performance on a day that saw them placed under pressure from the stage's halfway point onwards.

Contador (Tinkoff) hit out with a long-range move on the Col de la Madeleine, dragging Fabio Aru (Astana) and a group of riders away, building up a gap of 30 seconds.

Team Sky didn't panic and, with six riders on the front in support of Froome, they set about pegging the dangerous move, eventually reeling in the Spaniard before a reduced peloton crested the hors-categorie summit.

Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, Sergio Henao and Froome rode together over the Montee des Frasses, and then upped the tempo to thin out the bunch and neutralise the threat of Bardet up the road. Froome did the rest, jumping on an acceleration from Dan Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step) to finish 1:07 back on Pinot, but more importantly padding out his advantage ahead of the final stage.

This came from Tinkoff:

With a profile overwhelmed by the sight of the Hors Catégorie Col de la Madeleine, riders knew that today was going to be hard. The Queen Stage of the Dauphiné brought with it not only a difficult parcours, but aggressive riders who wanted to take the stage win, and maybe create some gaps on the GC too. On a day where Alberto Contador showed he had the legs to attack on the Madeleine, he finished the day taking sixth today before the test of tomorrow’s final stage.

Today, the riders were taking on the toughest day of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné. The 141km stage saw the race cross four categorised climbs before the final climb to the famous ski resort of Méribel. Dominating the profile was the fearsome Col de la Madeleine, its summit at almost 2,000m. The peak of the climb also marked the halfway point of the day’s stage before the long descent into Briançon.

Before the Madeleine however, riders would have to cover two categorised climbs – the ascents of which started just 6km from the start of the stage. First was the first category Col de Champ-Laurent, before going straight into the second category Col du Grand Cucheron. While these first climbs – and even the ascent of the Madeleine – might not have an impact on the outcome of the stage, the sheer difficulty of these climbs and the energy expended climbing and descending them would mark out who was going to be able to contest the pivotal final climbs of the day, and who was going to be dropped.

As has come to be expected on this incredibly aggressive edition of the Dauphiné, the attacks came the moment the flag was dropped to mark the start of the day’s racing. The pace in the first attack was so hard it fell apart shortly after going up the road – setting the tone for the day ahead of the riders – before a group of twenty-four escaped – a group that featured Robert Kiserlovski and Roman Kreuziger.

As the peloton hit the bottom of the day’s biggest climb, the Col de la Madeleine, Alberto Contador went on the attack, taking a small group with him that included Jesper Hansen, quickly gaining twenty-five seconds on the yellow jersey. While this attack was caught shortly before the summit, it was clear that the Tinkoff leader was confident in his abilities on the race’s hardest day. A kilometre from the summit, Alberto attacked again, and while this attack was also caught, the Spanish rider was taking the race to his rivals.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador finishes stage six just behind Louis Meintjes

While Alberto had two teammates further up the road in the break, the gap was ultimately too big to bridge across, as Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, explained from the finish. “We wanted to make it a hard day, so we succeeded there. We wanted people in the break to put pressure on, then Alberto went on the attack on the Madeleine too. In the later stages though, he decided to stay in the bunch, as the gap on the break was too big to bridge to and the bunch wasn’t catching it quickly enough.”

Reaching the foot of the climb to Méribel, with 10km left to ride, the gap on the breakaway, which was now made up of ten riders, was around two minutes and falling. An attack on the front of the breakaway group didn’t appear to trouble the rest of the escapees, who were keeping an eye out for the bunch, which was chasing behind. Alberto was riding comfortably with a group of GC contenders, even while other teams’ GC riders were falling off the back as the pace rose.

The mood in the bunch seemed almost too quiet as the race neared its final 5km. The GC top three were riding together, with no signs shown by any of them of any desire to attack. Each of them was keeping their cards close to their chest and not giving anything away. With the remnants of the day’s breakaway caught and passed by the group, it was clear that the remaining two escapees were going to take the stage win. In the final kilometre then, it was down to the GC riders to push for some time at the end of the stage, the potential for bonus seconds waiting for them, the pace rising gradually. As the attacks came, Alberto went, crossing the line in sixth on the stage.

While the Tinkoff leader had lost time on the GC, the race was an essential part of preparations for the Tour, De Jongh explained. “Alberto wasn’t able to follow in the end. After all the work he put in on the Madeleine, he just ran out of legs, but we’re happy with performance of the team – it was another good day of racing and shows our preparation for the Tour is going in the right direction.”

The Dauphiné’s final stage is in no way a procession to the finish – the race will be on until the final kilometre. The 151km route from Le Pont-de-Claix to Superdévoluy takes in six categorised climbs. While the parcours is more gentle than today’s tough Queen Stage, the positioning of these climbs has the potential to have far more impact on the outcome of the day – and the race. Starting with two climbs, riders will see who has the legs to take control at the end of the day, while the first category Col du Noyer may be the perfect place to launch an attack, with only the third category ascent into Superdévoluy to come after.

Ahead of the final day, the race was far from over, said De Jongh. “We’ll be racing until the very end. The team put a lot of pressure on Sky and the other GC riders today, and it should be another day like this tomorrow – it will be an interesting day. If someone has good legs there’s a good chance of an attack on the final climb before the finish. It suits attacks on the GC for sure.”

Tour de Suisse team news

Here's the report from stage winner Cancellara's Trek-Segafredo team:

Rain began to fall as Fabian Cancellara readied on the start ramp for the 6.4-kilometer prologue that opened the Tour de Suisse Saturday, adding an extra difficulty to the technical course but not preventing him from winning in a time of seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds, a mere six-hundredths of a second faster than Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal). 

Fabian Cancellara

Fabian Cancellara riding to victory at the Swiss Tour time trial

It was a sweet victory for Cancellara taking the start in his last Tour de Suisse, and had targeted the opening race against the clock.

"It was not fun to be standing on the start ramp and seeing the rain," said Cancellara. "You know that it will be wet roads, and I knew then it would be like a poker game. Honestly, I was really nervous for today, and for me, it was really important to win. For many reasons: it's a home race, my last time here, the history…"

Rain fell on and off during the race, and an ominous sky ahead of Cancellara's start – the second last rider to tackle the tricky course – had the team's mechanics ready with wheels for dry and wet roads.

Cancellara: "I had wheels ready at the start for wet and dry and in the end I took the tires for the dry because super slick goes better. But then I had wet roads on some of the corners, and it was hard to maintain the rhythm, the speed.  I had rain from the climb to the chicane – around two kilometers, and the downhill was wet."

The wet roads did hinder Cancellara, who was eight seconds behind the fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint at 3.2 kilometers, but he slowly gained ground back in the latter part of the course. In the final meters, knowing it would be close, he sprinted out of the saddle, and with a bike throw at the line eked out the victory by the narrowest of margins.

Cancellara: "In the end, I did what I could, and it worked out. Having a win in my last Tour de Suisse means a lot, this stands out. I will enjoy the night and the day tomorrow in the yellow. I will do what I can to try and defend, but it's going to be a hard week, but we go on in yellow tomorrow, and that is what is nice."

Jasper Stuyven also put in a good performance, finishing in 17th place (+14 seconds), and also provided valuable checkpoints for Cancellara. At the intermediate split, Stuyven was one second behind Cancellara, until Spartacus hit the dry roads and powered for home.

And here's the Swiss Tour news I got from Tinkoff:

Taking place in Baar, the 80th edition of the Tour de Suisse started with an individual time trial. With dark clouds on the horizon and the course already damp from earlier rainfall, riders were careful not to push too hard on the opening stage, well aware of the fact that there were still a long eight days ahead of them on this nine-day race, Taking a time of 7’52”, Manuele Boaro was the fastest Tinkoff rider, with Peter Sagan close behind in a time of 7’57”.

The city centre circuit in Baar marked the start of the Tour de Suisse with an individual time trial. This 6.4km route featured a gently undulating profile, with the twists and turns expected of a time trial ridden in an urban environment, the middle section of the stage particularly technical with some tight bends that might catch riders unawares. The final third of the route however, was relatively straight and fast before a hard right hand bend before the finish.

On the day, parts of the course were damp from earlier rainfall, while rainclouds in the sky threatened to make conditions colder and more slippery in the later stages of the day. Similarly, racing through residential areas presented the added hazards of road furniture, traffic calming , road markings and safety barriers, while when the riders reached the outskirts of the town, the roads narrowed and were in a much poorer state of repair.

As one of the earlier riders out, Peter Sagan set a fast time, sitting in virtual third before gradually moving down the leaderboard as the day went on, in spite of having to do his run in some wet weather conditions. Over such a short distance, the time gaps were always going to be small, with riders setting times of under ten minutes around the route, and Peter came in with a time of 7’57”, the second fastest Tinkoff rider, after Manuele Boaro, who came in with a time of 7’52”.

While the team had kept a watch on the weather conditions, Peter, Manuele and Maciej Bodnar were unlucky to be caught in the rain, as Sport Director, Patxi Vila explained from the finish. “Looking at the weather forecast for the start times, we were just hoping the weather would stay off while the guys were out, with Maciej, Peter and Manuele out first, but it rained more at the beginning. Maybe we were just unlucky being caught out in the bad conditions. The guys did a good job in spite of this, but it was just wrong timing in the end.”

As the bigger name time trial specialists hit the course, the shape of the top ten, of which Manuele had been a strong part, began to shift massively. In spite of rain falling as the day neared its end, the best times dropped gradually. With all the riders in, Manuele was the highest-placed Tinkoff rider in 19th position, with Peter coming in 30th position. With eight days’ racing still to come, the team was relaxed and looking forward to seeing how the race progressed.

From the finish, Peter was happy with his time and was ready to see how his race would unfold. “Today it was a very nice day. Not every day is sunny and I started in the rain. I don’t mind – that’s ok. I finished with a time I’m happy with, and I think we’re ready for a good race. We’ll see day by day how it’s going and we’ll use the race to prepare for a good Tour de France.”

The race stays in Baar for the second day – a 187.6km route raced on a circuit covered four times over the course of the day. While the route will give riders a chance to assess their performance and recce the finish in race conditions, there’s a lot of climbing on the day, which may prove tough for riders hoping for a sprint finish. Vila was hoping for a good result for team leader, Peter Sagan. “Tomorrow will be a good opportunity for us. There are four laps of the circuit with around 2,000m of climbing, so it’ll be a tough stage, but we’ll work to get a good result for Peter. The guys’ performance today has been good, with some riders – Manuele, Jay, Ivan and Evgeny – coming straight off the Giro. We’re all focused on getting a good result for Peter. There are some other fast guys here, so it’ll be a good opportunity to see how we’re performing. Hopefully we’ll get a good result.”

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